Looking back to where last year started can be a lot of fun… or not depending on how you view what happened and what you learned from the experience. mistakes will be made, it’s what you do with them that counts, right?
Have you learned stuff? Of course you did!!!
Was it useful? Well… Some of it.
Did you put the useful lessons into motion???
Oh… I see where this thought’s going, I hear you say.
It all started on the 1st January, much like any other year. There were parties the night before and the year was off and running, not stopping for anyone.
The year started with some big dreams, a little frustration left over from the year before but “This is going to be MY YEAR…”
The Big goal was to have 8 Incubator Groups through the year that would get team training, Masterminding and also 1:1 mentoring. (We’ll talk of the results later)
I’d put myself through the coaching I’d learned, started to put the right things to hit the ground running and even appointed a coach to keep me on track.
I’d started to form my ‘Incubator Groups’ and even hosted some information sessions.
I had established some great sales funnels and I just needed to maintain the follow up.
And we were off… First group commencing late January. Yay. I was looking to commence a new group every 6 -8 weeks.
There was some frustration around my office accomodation, hit by the November 2014 hailstorm of 2014 the roof had been smashed and when I returned the following day it appeared to have been raining in my office. By Late February 2015, I still had no Idea when the office would be returned to me and I was left with no option but to find suitable accommodation.
A speedbump on the road
So In February, I moved to share offices. It was a quirky studio (an old converted barn) it had a really cool feel. There were some challenges but the leaseholder promised these issues would be addressed quickly. 6 Weeks later they were not. Realising the mistakes early I was left with no option but to search again.
By April, accommodation found, lease signed and moving in accomplished. The second of the groups commenced and we were on track (almost).
I’d also been working hard at developing and building an online community. I’d managed to secure, the rights to “Brisbane Small Business” for a Facebook group, Meet up and also created a LinkedIn group. Now just to coordinate the three into one community.
This will be great for my business and others. Until… I got in my own way.
In creating the group, I decided on 3 simple principles:
- No Advertising
- Be Inclusive
- Play Nice
And, I kept to those rules myself also. Even though I was investing significant hours weekly personally and with the addition of a VA to assist in the venture I strictly adhered to these rules.
I shied away from promoting the successes I was having with clients within the community, not wanting to boast.
Other coaches were joining and promoting themselves yet I maintained a “moral High ground” (I was really just too scared to step up).
The distraction of trying to build the group took away from the structured approach I had created to fill the Incubator Groups, and by Mid Year I only had the 2 groups. Filled.
I did have 15 new clients for the half year so it wasn’t a complete loss.
By mid-year, I had a mixed report card. Some mistakes, some successes.
The Brisbane Small Business ‘brand’ had started to gain some traction (maybe this could develop to the funnel it was created to be… maybe. Although taking 10 months to get the first 100 people in the group, post Easter we’d had another 100+ join and were sitting at around 250 people at the end of June.
So, Let’s hold a party… Celebrate the New Financial Year. Ask the Facebook group of 250 people and three Meetup groups ranging from 120 – 280 people to celebrate the Financial New Year, come and discuss your wins and share your dreams. Heck, I’ll even buy the first drink. Combining these groups with the 200 plus people I’d met networking, who were receiving my weekly blogs, there would have been around 500 unique guests invited.
Just 20 showed up.
I was disappointed, in fact I was actually a little devastated.
A New Hope
I knew I was heading in the right direction and I also appreciated that as yet I hadn’t quite found the path. It was still clunky at best.
With the Mid Year review I knew I needed to improve my marketing and so decided to go to the Digital Marketing Summit in Sydney. Being just a couple of days after the very small party, I was still wondering if all the effort was worth it.
I recall saying to one of the loyal guests at the event that “I know I’m doing the right thing and I’m not going to give up.” BUT “I’ve got to find a better engagement strategy” or words to that effect.
Sitting at the airport, feeling exasperated, I posted “Just testing the temperature, what if we organised an Expo”. Suspecting a mediocre response and believing I’d host it in my office, we could fit 10 exhibitors and 50 guests. That’s 3 times the engagement.
BOOM… When I got off the plane, I found 30 replies. This is the biggest string we’d had at the time. GREAT.
Through the night, it reached 60. The suggestions were running wild. This was fantastic.
People were suggesting everything, even Judo demonstrations, Pony rides for the kids and face painting (not sure what these have to do with small business). The excitement was electric.
“I think we found the Temperature” was my reply, the 101st comment on the string.
A little Overwhelmed
I really wasn’t ready for this. Was this another of the mistakes, I was like a deer in the headlights. Stunned. What had I created? Sure my goal with creating the group was to get people communicating, connecting and collaborating. Helping each other out, making new friends and growing their businesses. BUT I’d not imagined building an Expo.
It took me a month to get my butt into gear and organise a meeting. 50 people showed (and I didn’t promise to buy them a drink).
40 people promised to book a stall at the event that evening at a price guide of $100 – $150 (my initial pitch when it was going to be in the office was $50) and everyone felt that we shouldn’t charge for public entry to the event.
Suggestions were made as to guest presenters and we were almost on our way… almost. That overwhelm wasn’t going away.
Another 2 weeks and I realised that we just had to get on with it. I started to build a picture of what we were really creating and things started to fall into place. I decided on a Venue (Brisbane Racing club – Close to the city, ample parking and a quirky venue), a date mid-October and put together a small organising committee.
With a clear picture of the event, that overwhelm went away. We started to build the plan and the event.
This was an Expo for small business by small business.
Efficacy… Effective efficiency
The event kept running away with itself. Great, I thought. With all this momentum, let’s use this as an opportunity to help these guys. Let’s get some of the country’s best marketers in to present on marketing.
In fact with that, let’s create a VIP Experience and have drinks with the Presenters for just a select few (50). That way I can actually make some money from the event.
Now, here is where the effective efficiency kicks in, or not…
As I’d been immersed in creating the event, I’d gotten to know the presenters, I was hearing of their achievements and started to be familiar with them. GREAT – Except, I forgot others weren’t. As a result, my Marketing was crap. I’d fallen for the old ‘field of dreams syndrome’. You know – where you start to believe, if you build it they will come.
10 days out and I think we’d sold about 5 tickets to the presenters and 8 VIP tickets. In a mad scramble, I managed to sell about 20 of each. Not a great result but at least a break even effort.
On review, I realised that when creating the event, I’d never really valued profitability for the event. As a direct result, IT WASN’T PROFITABLE. It didn’t quite break even.
All up, we had 65 Exhibitors @$164, 22 VIP’s @ $297 and 23 Weekend Presenters tickets. This included complimentary tickets to those that has assisted in establishing the event. The revenue was about $15,000. Costs associated with the event, approximately the same.
It was time consuming, all consuming leading up to the event. The last 5-6 weeks was focussed on getting the event right.
We’d asked, and expected exhibitors to promote the event believing if each attracted just 10 people we’d have over 500 easily, at 16 we hit 1000.
Unfortunately the event attracted just 150-200 guests. It was clear, that although the exhibitors that asked for costs to be kept to a minimum, many hadn’t promoted the event far and wide to their clients and prospects.
There is a lesson in this, I promise, learn from your mistakes, but more than that, by following the 5 steps I’ll give you, you can establish habits that ensure, you don’t repeat the same old mistakes again next year.
Oops, I’ve gone over my word count so I’ll have to share those 5 Steps later in the week. Make sure you don’t miss them.
Hey, by the way I’m running a bootcamp to help you make 2016 your best year ever – Find your Business Mojo is about helping you use your Emotional Intelligence to build the business you Imagined First. It’s on the 2nd and 3rd February in Bowen Hills. Here’s a link!
IF you would like to find out what they are you can always contact me firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07 3121 3272, we could even catch up for a coffee or skype chat.
Speak to you next week.