Reflections on #ArtfulBizCon for 2019
Some of you will know and some of your won’t that I have been running the Artful Business Conference since 2012. It’s been a journey of very high highs and very low lows.
2014 is a memorable year where I walked away from the conference having it cost me personally upwards of $30,000 – $40,000 of which I still owed and didn’t have. TALK ABOUT STRESS!
There were other years where the stress was similarly intense, the lead-up was full of tears and emotions and the flights to the event were often full of anxiety and outpouring of pain and anguish to my dear old mum who kept on keeping on and supporting me and empowering me to do what I wanted to do – even when I didn’t really want to do it.
Some of this pain, anguish, stress and struggle has absolutely been not just my fault, but on some level my intention. This conference is something I’ve always had a very clear vision around I’ve had a very clear understanding that could be successful and while it may sound silly that super clear vision often lead me to self sabotage.
I’m far more fearful of success than failure.
In the last few months something has shifted and whatever was creating the fear I had around realising my vision for this event seems to have faded away. My outlook is suddenly very different. My approach is suddenly very different. My plan for the next two years and then the 10 years beyond that, is suddenly very clear, very different and very much involves success both for the events and for myself.
I wanted to start by sharing that backstory with you because the insights that I have gained from this particular event are a combination of things that I learnt from the incredible speakers we had on the stage, and learnings that I have come to realise from seven years, of honestly painstaking struggle, largely at my own hand.
1. Marketing is not a DONE ONCE activity
Marketing should in fact be a daily exercise. To make it so, it needs to be small and simple actions you can take on a really consistent basis.
The amazing Linda Read shared a lot of marketing tips and really practical things that you can do in five minutes to help market your brand and sell your business.
It was a real shake up for me as I tend to market this event went it’s on sale and then I go quiet until it’s crunch time and my selling is desperate and scattered.
I need to be talking about this event and why it matters all the time. I love this event and it means so much to me and the people who attend. It’s not hard to talk about it – I just don’t! So I will be consistently sharing more about #artfulbizcon, why I love it and why you should buy a ticket all the time. Not every post will be a sales pitch of course but I can be sharing the values of the event, the stories behind it and most of all the amazing people who make up the community around it
2. Selling tickets can’t be just up to me
The marketing of this event cannot and will not ever again be solely my responsibility.
My OBM business is busier than ever, I have a young family and kids get sick. And this year add to that 3 months of school holidays, followed unexpectantly by 2 months of floods and chaos across North Queensland. This meant from December – March (prime selling time) I spent very little time online. When did get to my computer I was desperate to keep up with client work, not leaving much (if any) time to focus on this event.
That meant that this year we had a much smaller number than the past three or four conferences, which was not a problem but was a shame.
I’m building a team and training them NOW so if I do need to be offline for an extended period, there are other people to pick up where I left off and keep going. We are also working already on our automation of our marketing and customer care.
3. Be confident in your own convictions
Advice and support is CRITICAL if you want to be successful in business and keep your sanity. But advice is ADVICE not instruction. You don’t have to listen to people, even when you know they are smarter than you – because some decisions are more about your values and your impact than they are about always being smart!
Make sure you feel confident, at least with your own boundaries and exactly what you want your business to be and feel like before you get too much help from the outside, because otherwise you’ll be easily led towards someone else’s vision – which may not look at all like yours.
I have got help in the past but more often then not it is actually led me further away from my goals, while now I feel ready to get the advice and input from people I respect, people who are experts in their field and who can teach me. But I’m also ready to ignore the advice that doesn’t fit with what I want for this event and what I want to offer the #artfulcommunity.
While some of my avoidance to get support has delayed the success of the event, it has actually been a really good thing and I’m really grateful for it. Because now, more than ever, I feel ready to hear feedback, suggestions, advice knowing I will ultimately know what is best for the log term vision of this event.
4. Be Vulnerable, Be Honest
It came up in many of the keynotes and workshops across the weekend that the best way to build sustainable success was to do it by being yourself. Share yourself with your audience, be real with them.
Kate Toon talked about how to Be More Shark and she talked a lot about just doing business her own way, trusting herself, showing up as her quirky self and letting people make up their own minds.
Angela Henderson talked about why Human to Human marketing is the way to really connect with your audience but the only way to make those connections count is to show up. She talked in her panel session about how your vulnerabilities can actually change people’s lives so don’t be shy about getting real and sharing the struggles as well as the wins.
Shannon Bush talked about understanding your personality so you find actual marketing activities and strategies that FEEL good and energise you rather than suck your energy and leave you feeling stressed or exhausted.
It was a common theme across the weekend and a reminder that the way this business operates and the way I show up in it may not look the same to anyone else and that is OK.
I’m going to keep doing what feels good! I’m going to do more of what I love, which is events, talking to people and making space for people to connect. I’m going to show up, even on the bad days and just be present and available. Done is better than perfect, in fact REAL is better perfect too!
5. Follow the signs
I’ve tried many times over the years to shelve this little #artfulbizcon project of mine, and have found it physically impossible to do so. I can’t wait to be at the end of my rags-to-riches story and share in my tell-all-book about the really dark times just before I get to the fame and fortune I’m sure I’m destined for. But on a serious note, as soon as I got out of my own way, owned that this event and this business isn’t going anywhere soon and took actions to help it become what I dream it will be – the universe threw signs at me that that’s what I should have been doing all along!
So many things, that I didn’t know how we were going to pull off, just happened, and keep happening. As we make plans for Magnetic Island retreat in 2020 and #ArtfulBizCon in Perth 2021 all sorts of exciting things just keep falling into place!
We are launching something a little bit new and exciting this year as well and so far, everything about that has been easy and effortless! I’ve never felt more on-purpose when it comes to my work and my business, and how all the pieces fit together.
You know more than you give yourself credit for – including when to quit and when to stick it out. There have been literally hundreds of times over the last 7 years I should have walked away. But something deep in the bottom of my heart wouldn’t let me. And now, I’m so grateful!
I’m going to keep trusting myself, trusting my team and trusting the signs that we are on the right path!
Can’t wait to share more details with you soon! But until then, I hope these insights into my #arfulexperience were helpful for you too.
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