On October 15th my wife and I participated in what was called Reinvention Weekend, which was hosted by Melinda Emerson, also known as the Small Biz Lady. We had a nice time and a great experience, and I decided I was going to write about it like I wrote about the Blogging While Brown conference. This means I’m going to give you the good and the bad of the entire weekend in story form; you’ve been warned! 🙂
Let me get this out of the way off the bat. My wife and I drove down from central New York to Alexandria VA, which was a 7 1/2 hour trip not counting stops. I woke up Friday morning, the 14th, feeling extremely dizzy. I was dizzy the entire weekend, although things started calming down late Sunday afternoon. Overall it didn’t stop much of what we did, although I did fall out of a chair once. I was fine when I was sitting but not standing up, which is why I could drive… as I didn’t tell my wife I was dizzy until we got to Virginia… like most males would have done.
The ride down was pretty wonderful for a couple of reasons.
One, the scenery was fantastic. Seems we picked the right weekend to be on the road, as the flora was absolutely stunning and eye popping, and fell apart pretty much the week after we got home.
Two, we got to stop at Exit 194 on Route 81 in Pennsylvania to visit the Krispy Kreme store, where they still make them before your eyes. Turns out my wife had never had one; what the hey?!?!? :-O In any case, she’s now had them, likes them, and I got to have 3 for the first time in 7 years, since we don’t have one here anymore; sniff!
We had to make a lot of detours on the trip because of construction, and let me just say that Google Maps is a lifesaver. We saw areas that I never knew existed, let alone ever thought about visiting, and let me say that small town America is still greatly intriguing… and scary! lol Because of the detours and such we had almost no gas when we got to the hotel, but leaving to go find gas wasn’t an option. That’s because it would have cost us $30 to leave the hotel and come back… as it was, we paid $34 for parking anyway.
Friday night was a meet and greet on the 15th floor of the hotel we stayed at, which was the Doubletree (lots of free cookies). They had a pasta bar where I asked for a mixture of red and white sauce along with both chicken and shrimp, topped off with bow tie pasta; that was the only real meal we ate the entire weekend, but it was wonderful. We talked to a couple of people and I went to introduce myself to Melinda… who didn’t know who I was at the time. lol Still, with all the people she knows and was meeting, I could forgive that. 🙂
Saturday morning we got downstairs about 12 minutes before the event began. There was a continental breakfast… something I almost never eat, so I went next door to the restaurant where they had a breakfast buffet. Frankly, the hot foods were kind of disgusting… how many people actually like their eggs swimming in water… at least that’s what I think it was. The bacon was good, but the sausage… ugh. So I ate mainly bacon, not having enough time for anything else, and my wife joined me at the last minute, which means breakfast cost us… $17.50 a person! Oh well, at least I had something to eat.
Me & Melinda
Then it was time to begin the event. We’d gotten seats in the back row because that’s how I roll. Melinda started things off by introducing the master of ceremonies for the day, a guy named Trevor Otts, who got things moving by ordering everyone to shake things up by moving their seats to the opposite side of the room and the opposite position of the room. In other words, I was supposed to move to the right side of the room and the front row. Y’all remember that dizzy thing I mentioned above? Well, moving wasn’t an option I was going to entertain, and neither did any of the other ladies to my left. lol
Next it was time for some panel discussions. I found both of them pretty intriguing, although I’m not gonna lie and say I remember everything we covered. However, since I like using Twitter and I’ll pop out quotes I find intriguing, I did share these thoughts with the people I’m connected to. Here’s those tweets, in order:
“Prospect for your business every single, dingle day.” – Dianna Geairn
“You must be able to articulate what you do from your customer’s point of view.” – Dianna Geairn
“If you’re a business owner you must be prospecting every day.” – Che Brown
“Do not sign anything without having a small business attorney look at it.” – Jennifer Abernathy
“Most small businesses forget it’s not about profit, it’s about cash.” – Barry Moltz
“There is no e-commerce, there’s only commerce.” – John Lawson
“If you’re going to use a virtual assistant, get a referral.” – Barry Moltz
“If you want someone good but have difficulty paying their rate cut back on the hours.” – Jennifer Abernathy
“Don’t grow yourself broke.” – Barry Moltz
“The foundation of a strong business is knowing why you’re in it” – Pamela Slim
“Calling on a prospect & not leaving a message is like knocking on a door & running away.” – Dianna Geairn
After the two panel discussions, we had a boxed lunch which was okay, though I almost thought about going back to the expensive room for a better meal. However, it was only a 30-minute break before it was time to go into the breakout sessions. My wife & I were separated at this point, as the presentation I was going into was about sales and marketing, led by Trevor Otts and Che Brown.
This was a lot of great information and I started getting pumped a little bit. It was so much info that I couldn’t capture it all. I only got to tweet a few things from their presentation, which lasted almost 2 hours, but I took a lot of notes, which I’m going to share with you to see how much I remembered.
1. Work to monetize knowledge.
The premise of this was that most of us who are independent business people try to physically make money by working with clients to provide services based on the knowledge we have, but that’s actually the incorrect start to one’s business model. Instead, we should try to market our knowledge by product creation, something Donna Merrill recently talked about on her blog.
In essence, a better way to go is by thinking of what we do as a circle and based on a circular model (see #2 below). Trevor used a “getting healthy” analogy to help explain the theory:
a. Do it yourself; write a book, create a product, and market that to people looking for knowledge and want to try to do it for themselves;
b. Do it with you; set up things like group coaching, webinars, exercise classes, speaking engagements and such, where you can reach lots of people at once. It’s easy to put together things like this, some of which you don’t even have to leave your house to do.
c. Done for you; this is where you get into the true consulting or one-on-one piece, where you can charge the most amount of money to people. That’s because this phase takes a lot more of your time so you get to decide how much your time is worth… and make sure you charge high enough to show its value.
d. System/subscription based services. The analogies used for this one were Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig, where people subscribe and pay monthly for continuing education. This model takes time to set up, but once you’ve got it going it’s a recurring cash register, even if you need to continually add new information.
2. You don’t need unlimited numbers of customers; you only need 100.
You might not remember when I talked briefly about the concept of 100 true fans in the article I just linked to. I’ve talked about this for years after reading it in a newsletter way back in the day. This was another concept Trevor talked about, and it was pretty intriguing.
In essence, he said that once you determine how much money you’d like to make in a year, double that amount and think about how much you’d need 100 people to pay you to reach it. Say you wanted to make $150K a year; double it to $300K. This means that if you only had 100 true fans you need to make $3,000 a year from each of them at a minimum.
The basic idea is to find those people who you know are truly interested in what you have to market to them, where they’re as passionate about something as you are. Think only about those people because they’re your true life’s blood. Everything you do, everything you sell, is because of these 100 people.
The thing is, even if you’re only concentrating on 100 people, other people will come to you, either because you’ve enthused the 100 enough so that they’ll bring in new people or, probably because of your social media presence (yeah, you need some of that) or your marketing skills (how good are you on the phone?) you can only increase the numbers while you’re increasing the value of your products and services.
You’re probably wondering how you can keep creating things… well, this is addressed in #3…
3. “Turn a problem into a product.” – Trevor Otts
Here Trevor used the analogy of smartphones. Smartphones were created to address a lot of issues many of us had while in the phone that took multiple products: GPS, notepads, address books, etc. They were very helpful, but of course there were things that needed to be created around them.
For instance, we needed ways to charge our phones in the car. We needed carrying cases and protective cases for our phones. We needed ways to speak on our phones wirelessly; on and on. If you’re the one who creates the product that solves people’s problems, they’re always going to need something new to solve a problem that the one you solved creates… thus, we’re back to our circular business model. Isn’t that cool!
4. “People like people that are just like them.” – Che Brown
I don’t want to leave Che out because he said a lot of good stuff as well. For instance, he said that a big problem most people make for themselves is going to networking events and start trying to sell to people, most of whom are trying to get away from you because they came for their own reasons. Instead, he advocated what he calls “permission based sales” processes, which begins by thinking of a model of asking people’s permission for their time, often at a later date, where you can talk to them about their business.
Because that’s the second problem people make, both during networking and during sales calls or meals, that being to make the pitch instead of finding out more about the needs of a potential customer. The idea is to not be pushy, but to listen, ask questions, think about things and then ask permission to discuss their issue or offer them potential solutions. It not only goes over better but it adds to the circle theorem of business. After all, if you can make personal connections with your clients and help them solve their problems, not only will they appreciate it more but they’ll probably continue to be customers of yours.
Once the breakout sessions ended, we all met back up in the big room where we were treated to some absolutely wonderful cupcakes because it was Melinda’s birthday. Then it was time for another round of breakout sessions, and this time my wife and I got the opportunity to hear straight from Melinda herself.
Once again I’m not gonna lie. I knew all the stuff as it pertains to social media. Luckily she talked about more than that, including her background, all the years she’s been in business and some of the struggles and successes she’s had. She’s a very engaging presenter and I was glad to be sitting there with my wife, who felt inspired as she admitted while we were on the road heading towards home.
I found myself feeling a bit more of a spark, which is the reason I decided to drive down there in the first place. Sometimes we feel like we’re either on a treadmill or walking through the La Brea tarpits, thinking we’re doing a lot to work towards our goals but feeling like we’re not really getting anywhere. This is how I’ve been feeling lately, so I knew I needed the jump start that Melinda and friends provided.
Then it was time for a group picture, and it was during this period that I went to sit on my chair, barely made it and toppled over. I didn’t hurt myself, and only 3 people, which included my wife, saw me do it. But that was kind of cool, even though there was no way I was ever going to fit into the t-shirt they gave all of us. lol
After her presentation there was going to be a 45-minute Q&A, but we decided it was time for us to leave because we had a long drive. We had a nice and inspiring conversation with each other as we were coming back towards home as I shared things with her that I heard and she shared some things with me.
Was it worth going? Absolutely! Would I go again? Well… I’m hoping I won’t have to! 🙂 Right now I’m feeling pretty good, and I’ve been thinking about what I want to do next regarding my business and business model. I’ve love to be really busy next year around this same time, making so much money that I wouldn’t have to go again unless I was achieving so much that I was asked to be a presenter (which won’t happen since I believe they already have 2017 booked lol). If you’re thinking about it for next year, you can look on Melinda’s website, which I gave the link to in the first paragraph, for more information.
That’s all I’ve got. What do you think? What more would you like to know? Since I’m a lousy closer, let me introduce and link to the other people’s Twitter accounts who presented: