I returned from The Wedding Stationery Collective Retreat a couple weeks ago, and the experience has left me feeling so motivated, inspired + excited for the 2017 season and where my business can go! I’ve already implemented some important changes in my business and I can just feel the energy of positive change all around me. (Be sure to read at the bottom of this post my advice on investing in creative conferences!) My friend Heather of Heather O’Brien Design and I decided to take the leap and arrived at the coolest hotel in Richmond, Virginia. (BTW, check out her amazing new branding + website!) The Quirk Hotel was branded from head to toe and kicked off the creative inspiration from the get-go! Amanda Day Rose + Chloe Minyon were the founders and spearheaded an amazing 2 days of stationery + business inspiration. You could tell they poured their heart + soul into every detail, and reminded all of us that when we value #communityovercompetition, we all win. The swag did not disappoint! We had amazing sponsors, including Ruffled Lane, Emily Ley, Creative at Heart, and many more. (See all of them on the conference site!) A huge benefit to these conferences is the people. Being a solopreneur can be a lonely place, and connecting with others that not only understand your business, but understand the life struggles that come along with it will build you up in a way that you can’t get from just friends + family.It was a fabulous mix of speakers, talking about everything from business contracts to working with photographers. Creative entrepreneurs constantly search for a balance between the artistic and the nitty-gritty business stuff. (On any given morning do I want to play with new calligraphy pens or input expense reports? Hmmmm….). Well, this conference got it all of it packed into the schedule! (Oh, and don’t forget about new headshots! Heather Chipps was amazing; I only wish I wasn’t 7 1/2 months pregnant + bloated for them!) My favorite speaker was Kat Schmoyer from Dear Sweetheart Events, who discussed the lies we tell ourselves. It’s easy during (and right after) these conferences to feel overwhelmed, seeing all these areas for improvement in your business and not knowing how + where to start. Kat brought it back to why we do what we do. And I find when I’m emotionally inspired, I become super organized + concrete in my planning. After her chat, I was ready to put pen to paper! Creative conferences can be a scary investment for small business owners. It’s a big expense and the rewards aren’t as concrete as say, buying new equipment or hiring an employee. But I’m here to tell you, a conference has an incredible return on investment, as long as you find the right one for you. (And, obviously, one called The Wedding Stationery Collective Retreat was a perfect fit!) My first piece of advice is to assess how much money you make off of one client and how much the conference is. If the cost is equivalent or less than two client incomes, then it is totally worth it. If you truly make changes to your business as a result of what you’ve learned from the conference, then you should be able to book at least 1-2 clients because of that. However, the most important piece of advice I can give you: you get out of conferences what you put into them! It’s easy to come home and put your notes in a bag and never look at them again. But you need to capitalize on that fresh dose of ideas, energy, and motivation right out of the gate. Set goals for yourself: small goals you can achieve within a month, then a couple within 6 months. Continue the investment long after you’ve left the conference table. As creative business owners, we must constantly reevaluate and grow. In a world where social media moves at the speed of light, and trends + client behavior are always changing, the way to survive in the long one is investing yes, money. However, it’s also about using our focused energy on planning the next phase of our business life.
(All photos courtesy of Heather Chipps Photography)