Save the Start-up, Save the Economy

There are many great professional associations and non-profit organizations in Puerto Rico. It seems that for every niche you can think of, whether it is sales or advertising agencies, there is a dedicated group of individuals that is working hard to promote and support their members. By combining forces and collaborating , these associations render valuable services and opportunities for all involved.

Unfortunately, sometimes the fees associated with joining some of these associations are beyond the means of a start-up company. When you are counting your pennies and watching where each one goes, spending a large amount of those pennies just to enter into one of these associations makes determining priorities problematic. A start-up must focus on survival, any less and the new company will very soon be out of cash and then ultimately, out of business.

For us here at Dó, we know all about the challenges of starting a new company and yet, we also recognize that the Association of Sales and Marketing Executives of Puerto Rico is a great organization for us to join. We recognize that this organization potentially holds the keys to help bring us out of our start-up status and move us into a more mature (and stable) status. Unfortunately, we can't part with the funds necessary to become a full-fledged member. While relatively moderate, as far as association fees go, we just can't be sure that the $550 necessary to join, is worth the investment. For a new member there is a $450 regular quota, plus $100 entrance fee. They pro-rate the quota through out the membership year according to the number of months remaining. So, since we've been struggling with this decision since July, the total investment right now is $400.

Even though I'm sure that the SME believes it is our most important investment, the reality is we can't part with so many hard-earned pennies. If only there a way for a start-up to join the SME on a trial basis...

What we wish were available is a one-time only start-up membership. This start-up membership would provide full membership for the period of one year. To qualify a prospective start-up would have to demonstrate that they are within 2 years of launching their business and have less than 5 people working in the company. The start-up membership would be available to one person from each start-up and cost a hand full of pennies. I would suggest somewhere between $50 and $100 (maybe just the current initial setup fee, and waive the first year's quota). Brain-storming, maybe the SME could even through in one complimentary e-mail blast to announce the new start-up and give them a chance to generate some quick sales.

By giving a leg-up to new start-ups, the SME would be providing a valuable service to the entire Puerto Rican economy. As we all struggle to make ends met in these dark economic times, in my opinion, the only thing that can save us is a full pipeline of new companies. For with those new companies comes new spending and many new jobs.

I would encourage all professional organizations to come-up with a similar offer for start-up companies and maybe, just maybe, we can work together to build that pipeline of new business and restore economic growth to our island.