Over the years, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been challenged by industry associations telling me to chill out, not rock the boat, and to bring myself aligned with their way of thinking. Of course, I knew if I did, I would be running redlined 7.62×39 bulk ammo against the competition, doing everything by the approved method, the same methods that they created to put barriers to entry and blocks to newcomers coming into the sector. I’m not anyone’s lapdog, nor were our franchisees, you see, I’m a former franchisor founder. Now then, should you join an industry Association if you are a startup entrepreneur? Let’s talk.
It depends on what type of business you are running, and what your knowledge of the industry is. If you are disruptive business, a startup with a great idea ready to revolutionize the industry, then you may not want to join, but you may wish to be privy to all the information in the Association. In this case you may wish to join under false pretense, and before you say that’s unethical, it’s plenty ethical considering all the unethical things that industry associations engage themselves in, especially if they start crap with you first.
If you do join an industry Association, and as part of joining you have to submit to their honor code, and their style of doing things, then you’ve already given up a sense of self, and limited the possibilities for innovation in your business. Further, they might make an example of you and kick you out of the industry association, and don’t think it hasn’t happened, I’ve had threats myself. And when these guys go to war they use peer pressure of other companies in the industry against you, they pull out all the stops, they contact industry lawyers, and regulators. They want full control of the industry, and they don’t want anyone coming and disrupting their cash flow or changing the way business is done.
True entrepreneurs, those that don’t play crony capitalist games, aren’t interested in cartels, and will only become a monopoly because the customer chooses them overall the competition, thus, won’t engage in such nonsense. Some might say that cooperation is better, and often it can be, but if the industry group is out to control your business model you shouldn’t have anything to do with them.
You should soak up all the information they have available to use it to win in the market place, and if they attack you first, use that intelligence and information against them. Because once they start to attack they will use all their power against you, you can bet on it, especially if they see you as a threat with your disruptive strategies and new innovations. “Check Six” early and often and always opt for the whole-nine-yards when the ammo is available. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.