If it looks easy, it’s not

It’s weird (both flattering and a little insulting) when people look at what you do, and think, “well if he’s doing it, I can do it” vs. possible partnership, etc.

Sure there’s a part of all of us that wants to do things on our own, or own way. But in business especially I think that’s a kiss of death more often than not.

In particular I’m talking about conferences. I’m pretty good at it. I find interesting people, technical experts, etc and get all together under one roof. It’s a ton of fun, I wake up every day loving it. The actual days of the event, I’m moderately calm and collected, because I have my shit together. I obsess, and freak out up until the first day, after that I’m reasonably sure I’m good to go.

So yeah, the days that people actually see me, I’m happy, I’m talking to people, hanging out an joking. That doesn’t in any way shape or form, mean the 6 or so months leading up to that aren’t full of stress, craziness, and working my ass off.

Yet somehow it’s caused at least a few folks I know of to decide they want in on the action. Fair enough, after all, it’s business.

It’s business!

You don’t go into business without a plan. Heck, the first 360|Flex, wasn’t a business, it was a one off, a completely lark. After that Tom and I realized it was fun and we enjoyed it, and other people seemed to like the event. THEN it became a business. A not profitable business the first few events.

This ain’t the field of dreams!

You can’t just say, “Hey everyone! I just made up a new event, come on out” and expect to be a success. Well if you live in Boulder that seems to work ok, otherwise not really. You have to get people involved, wrangle speakers and sponsors, etc. I’ve seen one event almost implode costing the organizer a buttload of money because it seemed they thought, that just organizing the event was enough. That people would flock from near and far to attend. I’ve also seen a recent event (most likely, sadly I’m the only conference organizer that believes in transparency as far as I know) lose a ton of money because the organizer didn’t realize how much everything costs, didn’t realize how much to charge attendees, etc.

I’m no expert, I don’t intend to stop learning, but I did learn the hard way, what works and what doesn’t. I’m still learning that.

What really irks me about this “problem” is that not only does it impact my business in the short term, people choosing that event over mine (when they’re in the same space) but it hurts consumers/attendees, and even sponsors. They waste their money on what turns out to be a less than awesome event, with little chance of repeating, and are now jaded.

Thankfully I have a history of success now, but still, kinda bums me out.

Oh and if someone tries to tell you conferences are dead, just turn around and walk away. They’re either an online event snake oil peddler, or out of touch with the realities of business and events.

Just sayin.

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

Your Cart
%d bloggers like this: