Scaling New Heights is days away and I am so excited to be going back this year! I have been going since 2019 and even went during 2020 and 2021 during COVID challenges. Many thought I was crazy for going in 2020 and 2021 but these conferences were the best experiences of my career. I made some amazing friends that I still talk to and have been instrumental in my business. I have also changed my business because of the investment I have made in going to Scaling New Heights, aka SNH.
So how do you conquer something like SNH and not feel so overwhelmed?
#1: Do NOT work at SNH - 100% focus ON the conference and YOUR business
My first year of going to SNH was in 2019 and to say I was overwhelmed was putting it mildly. I went with my business partner, Lynn Brannan. We thought we had a plan because we had been to QuickBooks Connect for several years. Our plan was to learn as much as we could and get the most out of the conference.
But our plan did not include having to deal with client issues and we mentally struggled with leaving work behind. We did not plan on our team calling us because technically we were working. We were not 100% at the conference, only partially there.
Why do I tell you this?
I see people every year working from SNH. We go there to learn, see different technology, and meet new people. How do you do that if you don’t leave your work behind? The Woodard team does a fabulous job of bringing quality content, speakers, and vendors to the conference. Not to mention all the amazing people you will meet.
Why not take advantage of it?
Do you have to answer that call right now? There are no accounting emergencies (maybe payroll emergencies), so most things really can wait.
Do you have to check your emails? Put your out-of-office autoresponder on and worry about it when you get back. Let your clients know you will be at a conference and will be unavailable. Or have a certain time during the conference to skim emails to make sure there is nothing that must take place right now.
I have talked to so many sole practitioners and asked them this question. Why do you feel you need to work at SNH? Many of them say, "I have no one else to do the work, so I have to work. I don’t want to feel so behind when I get back."
I challenge them with this. Can it wait until you get back? Most of the time the answer is yes.
Be FULLY PRESENT! This way you can get the most out of the conference and not shift your mind from work to conference to work over and over.
#2: What do you want to get out of the conference?
When Lynn and I started coming to SNH, it was with the purpose of learning more than just accounting. We wanted to learn how to be advisors and give our clients more value. We had a plan, and we followed that education plan. There are so many “shiny new things” at SNH and you can get so distracted. Pick out what you want to learn and stick with it.
Scaling New Heights offers tracks for different types of things to learn. You can follow one track or you can mix up sessions if that works best for you. Either way, consider these questions:
- What do I want?
- What do I want for my business?
- What do I need to learn?
- Where do I want my business to go in the next year?
Most importantly, figure out what types of classes you need to answer those questions. If you are struggling with pricing, then go to all sessions they offer for pricing. Then make yourself an action plan for how you are going to work on pricing BEFORE you leave the conference.
#3: What technology do you need for your practice and for your clients?
When we come to SNH, we have a plan for technology. We have looked at the vendors beforehand (you can review all of them here) and we know what software we need for our tech stack.
For example, if practice management is your top technology need, know which vendors offer practice management solutions. Research them before the conference and make your list of the vendors you want to explore. While speaking with the vendors, schedule a demo to take place after the conference.
One thing I love about SNH is there are so many different types of vendors that you can talk to in one place. In fact, there are over 110 vendors this year! Creating a plan before the conference will keep you from getting sucked into technology overload!
If you have clients that are looking for certain technology, find out exactly what they want and need before the conference. Then create a plan for this, too. This way you can stick with your plan.
- What is painful in my practice that new technology will help with?
- Do I have time to implement it?
- What exactly am I looking to solve?
- What technology am I trying to solve for my firm?
- What technology am I trying to solve for my clients?
#4: Network with your peers
The one thing I absolutely love about SNH is meeting new people. I have made some amazing connections at SNH. They truly help one another, and even though we are all technically competitors it never feels that way.
.That is one thing I love about the Woodard community. The first year I came to SNH I noticed people genuinely care about each other and want to help each other succeed.
Networking is hard for some of us, including me! But networking is a huge benefit of attending a conference.
Make time for this activity and don’t be afraid to walk up to someone. Ask them where they are from and start a conversation. This was one of the best uses of your time at SNH. You don’t know what you don’t know, and people are so willing to share their stories that might benefit you.
The other networking question that I use is, “Do you have a niche?” Most will tell me no because I can’t decide, and it just opens the conversation. For those that do have a niche, I will ask more questions about that niche. The result is that I have referred clients to niche providers that I have met at SNH!
#5: Make a plan for when you get back to your office
I see so many (myself included) that come back from SNH recharged with so many new ideas. Then all you hear is the sound of crickets. You end up not doing anything you said you were going to do.
Before you leave Orlando, make a plan of the three most important things that you want to accomplish when you get home. Break them down into how they are going to happen.
Remember that networking I said to do? Identify one to be an accountability partner with you and schedule check-in calls for the weeks and months following SNH.
Shiny Object Syndrome is Real!
Remember these five hints and you will have an amazing conference. Create a plan to keep yourself focused and on track. Decide to be present during the entire conference and put up boundaries for yourself, your team and clients while you are out of the office.
Stay focused on what you want to get out of the conference and don’t let anything distract you from it. This is your time to work on yourself and your business. The rest can wait!