Someone in this room is going to change everything because they cared.
Seth Godin and his round-framed glasses stared back at a room filled with ambitious entrepreneurs-in-training, and I looked around wondering who would be the next person to “change everything.”
That’s how my experience at Copyblogger’s Authority event in 2014 began — looking into the audience like I wasn’t part of the audience. Still not seeing myself as someone who could take a chance and grow my own business.
But that’s not how I ended my experience.
By the conclusion of the two-day event, I wasn’t looking at the person next to me, envisioning her at her desk creating the next big thing. I was too busy scribbling down notes about how I could do it for myself.
These are the four revelations that drove me to quit my job and dedicate myself to my business.
1. I found my confidence and courage
Far too many people think that to start a business you first need a fancy degree, huge loan, or an office stocked with supplies.
People don’t always tell you that you need confidence and courage before all of that.
There may be a small seed of an idea already sprouting, but that seed cannot be cultivated without the confidence and courage to grow it.
And for most people, just getting started is the hardest part — the part that stops them from moving to the next phase of building their businesses.
But last year’s event taught me that feeling scared, uncomfortable, and nervous is totally normal — if fact, it’s completely necessary.
As Darren Rowse, founder of Problogger, reminded us:
Fear is there to make you pay attention.
It’s a sign that something important is about to happen.
Rowse wasn’t the only person at the conference to bring this somewhat life-changing fact to light.
Brian Clark used his speaker introductions as an opportunity to tell real stories about how he grew his business and dealt with his own insecurities and unknowns.
Sonia Simone told us that what matters most is what makes you uncomfortable. And all of the attendees at the conference — a community of people bravely moving forward — proved that it was possible despite fear.
How I used what I learned
Seeing that other successful people had made it through this early stage reminded me that I could too, and I decided to change my mindset.
I began training myself to think differently. When I used to think of an entrepreneur or business owner, I’d think, “Not me.”
But after last year’s Authority event, I starting thinking, “Why not me?”
2. I learned to not obsess about minor details
To be perfectly honest, it took some time before I grasped the importance of this point.
After deciding that I wanted to start my own business, I obsessed over finding the perfect name, designing an impeccable logo, and building an amazing website.
I probably wasted an entire month tweaking my website and buying domain names that I no longer use.
Then I remembered some vital information that Pamela Wilson shared during the design panel:
The dark seductive side of design is that it can distract you from the main drivers of your business.
I was wasting so much time on the small details of design and appearance that I had stopped building my business.
How I used what I learned
I took Pamela’s advice about minimum viable design and scaled back my big ideas and put them in a folder for the future.
- Chose two colors and one accent color for my site
- Selected two fonts (one serif and one sans serif)
- Created a simple wordmark for my logo
- Moved on to bigger tasks — the activities that were going to make money
Yes, my brand is important, but I was investing too much energy into making it perfect at the beginning, which actually prevented my business from growing in other — more important — ways.
After implementing Pamela’s simple steps, I was able to walk away from the hold-up and grow much quicker.
3. I accepted that I wasn’t going to be great… at first
I like things to be perfect. I prefer little boxes tied up with bows.
So, starting my own business was scary because there was too much work to be done to get it all perfect.
Similar to the way I was dealing with my branding, I was afraid to put myself out there because it wasn’t going to be my best work.
But then I thought of Sonia Simone on stage telling me:
You’ll never be able to do something remarkable until you’re willing to suck badly for longer than you’d like.
She told me I was going to suck, and I was grateful. It was exactly what I needed to hear.
I heard this message in many of the presentations, but it wasn’t depressing or discouraging.
Instead, it reminded me that holding out for perfection and waiting to know everything before I got started was simply another excuse.
No one knows everything or does perfect work when they start.
How I used what I learned
I accepted that I was going to make mistakes. I admitted that I wasn’t going to know everything. I would lose clients, and I would have to regroup and make improvements. And that was all okay.
By accepting imperfection, I was able to go into my first client meetings and take on my first projects with a new confidence.
Preparing for the worst made it easier for me to do my best, and know that every day my best would get progressively better and better.
4. I realized how to find value in everything around me
This is not a complete recap of all the valuable information I gained at last year’s Authority event.
There were great presentations on website design, the power of call-to-action buttons, building your audience, telling stories, building a meaningful platform, developing a community, and creating valuable content.
Copyblogger delivers useful information for people in a variety of stages of growth and development, and I’m sure that this year I will have a different list of most-valuable information since I’m at a different place in my business.
Here’s a recap of the most valuable tidbits I discovered, and some advice for you:
- Never say “I can’t …” — Don’t get freaked out by complex concepts that feel overwhelming. Absorb every new idea, take notes, and plan to work it out later.
- Never say “I already know this” and tune out — Pay attention even if you’re already familiar with a piece of advice. You may find new ways to approach old processes or something you hear may help you improve an old idea or strategy.
- Stop worrying about naysayers — Accept that others will say you “can’t.” Accept that others will want to see you quit or never begin. Accept it, and then ignore it.
- Stop sitting in your bubble — Get out there and interact! The people at the Authority Rainmaker event this year are your people. Don’t be afraid to walk up to a stranger (or group of strangers) and initiate a conversation. This isn’t an awkward school dance. It is a place where people came together to come together. So step out of your comfort zone and meet as many people as possible.
As entrepreneurs, freelancers, and authorities, we need community, education, and encouragement — especially when we are starting out or growing.
You can find all of those support systems if you look for them.
How I used what I learned
By absorbing the information that was delivered to me, I was able to picture the business I wanted to create.
On the flight home from Denver, I grabbed the notebook from my swag bag and listed out:
- My why — the real reason I wanted to start a business
- My service list — what I would sell as products, services, and packages
- My contact list — relationships I could cultivate for support and to grow my client base
- My financial goals — how much money I would need to make to continue my current lifestyle
- My processes — how I would manage my workflow
- My sales copy and pitch — how I would position my services and products in a unique and approachable way
- My ideal customer profile — who I wanted to sell to, and why
Last year’s event motivated me to create real goals and plans that helped me launch my business.
And now, almost a year since the conference, I am successfully operating my freelance writing and marketing business, and I’m headed toward the goals I set for myself on the plane ride home.
Seth Godin said that someone in that room was going to change everything. I’m still not sure if it is me — but at least now I know it can be.
Are you going to attend Authority Rainmaker this May?
Check out the incredible lineup of handpicked speakers during the cohesive two-day event that is intentionally divided into four segments — design, content, traffic, and conversion — to help you immediately build and accelerate your business.
The price goes up after March 31, so don’t wait!