We all saw it. Businesses large and small, turned down the lights, cut magazine subscriptions, let good people go and hunkered down for a storm of unknown length. Just as with the Great Depression, the Great Recession has changed lives forever. Many of us who own our own companies made severe sacrifices to keep the doors open. Now we want to flourish. Is that how you feel?

One of the best ways to find support and good ideas for growth is by joining an association. There are thousands of associations in every state and there’s one for the most obscure industries. Don’t think of others in the association as competitors. They are just like you, hard working, hopeful and willing to help others strengthen your type of business.

The best part of belonging to an association is knowing you are not alone. Networking brings in business. Industry seminars and education offer valuable knowledge to keep you at the top of your field. In fact, those who volunteer for positions of leadership in associations say that involvement is the real value to them.

And, along the way, you just might have some fun and make lasting friendships. Now there’s value.