The Benefits of Belonging to Your Local BIA

Involvement with community organizations like Business Improvement Areas can boost your business

Written by Advisory Board

Welcome to Advisory Board, a weekly department in which a panel of experts—made up of entrepreneurs and professionals—answer questions you have about how to run your business better.

This week, a reader asks:

“I’ve been approached to run for the management board of my local Business Improvement Area (BIA). Are there real benefits to this kind of community involvement, or is it just a waste of my time?”

Here’s what the experts have to say.

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“My knee jerk answer is ‘Yes, of course it is!’ But then this is coming from a woman who once woke up to find herself on four boards, two young kids and a business to run. The boards had to go, except for the one I was extremely passionate about and the one which significantly affected my target market.
—Mandy Farmer, President and CEO, Accent Inns and Hotel Zed, Victoria

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“It is not a waste of time—it is an investment in the community in which you run your business. I can’t see any downside, and in fact there could be some real business benefits. You would have an opportunity to help shape decisions affecting your business environment, and to meet, learn from, and build strong relationships with business and civic leaders who you may not have otherwise met. It’s an excellent networking opportunity and a strong network is definitely good for business.”
John Wilson, founder and CEO, CEO Global Network, Toronto

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Connections are the benefit to this kind of involvement and it very much is a ‘get out what you put in’ kind of thing. Does your bottom line rely on connections and referrals, and do you have the time to give and the personality to engage in a way that would benefit that bottom line?”
Kelsey Ramsden, business guide and founder, SparkPlay Inc., London, Ont.

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“Networking and community involvement is an important part of any business. However, if you are going to commit to it, make sure you are truly able to commit the time and effort to the project. Otherwise, you will end up doing a mediocre job and perhaps even resenting it.”
Phoebe Fung, proprietor, Vin Room and VR Wine, Calgary

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“This can be a great addition to your resume and benefit your business. Depending on the type of business you run, you can certainly benefit from connecting your company to others invested in the community. You will keep abreast of changes that may impact your business and may have the opportunity to influence change.

“Questions to consider when making the decision: Would your company benefit from weighing in on regulatory issues? Is your overhead or revenue affected by community improvements or barriers? Are their synergies to be leveraged between your business and the others in the BIA? Are their lucrative networking opportunities?”
—Christine Faulhaber, President and CEO, Faulhaber Communications, Toronto

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Do you have a question you’d like answered? Email us and we’ll put it to the experts. Have any advice to add to this list? Share your thoughts using the comments section below.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com