Chris Burdge at SOHO Victoria

Photo credit: Derek Ford Photography, used with permission from bWEST Interactive

Attending the Victoria-based SOHO Victoria conference is now becoming an annual “date” with my entrepreneur self and many other like-minded people. SOHO is aimed at entrepreneurs and I’ve now had the pleasure of attending twice. As I was reviewing my notes and ideas that I took when I was there this year I decided that I might as well write a blog post about them so everyone can benefit.

The conference’s keynote speaker was Chris Guillebeau, author of the $100 Startup and Side Hustle. I had read $100 Startup a few years ago and enjoyed it so I was looking forward to seeing Chris speak. Unfortunately I took the least amount of notes during Chris’s keynote but I’ve been reading Side Hustle on and off since the conference and listening to his Side Hustle School podcast. While Chris’s delivery both on stage and on the podcast is a bit stilted (sorry Chris!) I have really enjoyed reading about and listening to the real life examples that he brings forward. While my entrepreneur “gig” is very much not a side hustle, it’s what takes up most of my time and is my main source of income, I’ve still been gleaning a lot from the book and podcast. I believe it was Chris that encouraged us to ask ourselves, Did today matter?, which is a great litmus test for us any day to see if the work we’re doing is making a difference for us or someone out there.

Steve Dotto was another speaker at SOHO and once again I enjoyed Steve’s vivacious speaking style and personality. I had seen Steve speak in Langford a couple of years ago and he also didn’t disappoint this time. What struck me about Steve is his utter willingness to share how he does his business, what works for him and even the type of money he makes in his ventures. Steve talked to us about building his customer list and, more importantly, being able to do it because he spent time and effort trying to figure out what his customers wanted and listening to their feedback. Steve recommended that we all start to video blog (I still can’t get my head around the term ‘vlog’) because, in his words, “people want behind the scenes…a peek at your private life”. He told us that half of the content we deliver is us and it’s the relationship with us that our clients in part want.

During the day I also attended a panel presentation sponsored by Douglas Magazine that included women from their 10 to Watch list 2017. Amanda Eyolfson stood out to me because her video production business, Roll.Focus. Productions, is a service that I sometimes need when developing e-learning (although I haven’t worked with her company nor met her yet). I don’t know if it was Amanda who said this quote I wrote down, but one of the women on the panel advised us to “get into create mode as opposed to consume mode” which I thought was pretty good advice. For me that means to not only take on and do the work that clients want me to do on a reactive basis when the work comes in (which is all good stuff of course), but also get more proactive about passion projects that I want to initiate for myself to learn and grow and stretch my creative muscles.

Lastly, a talk from Clemens Rettich encouraged those of us in the room to think more about creating value for our clients, to build trust – becoming a “trust-centred” business – and helping our clients to engage with us more. Rettich’s term for people who spread the news of our business for us is “sneezers”. While I dislike the term (not sure if he coined it or if it’s widely being used out there), I do tremendously value the people who talk about my work with others. In fact, this is how I get a lot of my work, from current and past clients still talking about me and recommending me. (Thank you clients!) Much of what Rettich said had me scribbling ideas and notes down to act upon this year, particularly around continuing to create the vision that I have for my business, especially while in a growth phase and now bringing on subcontractors to assist in my work.

There was more of course – the day was chock full of inspiring sessions and talks – but I’ll stop here. Thanks to Chris Burdge of bWEST Interactive who started SOHO and continues to run a great conference. More people should know about and go to SOHO, so watch for it to happen again in Victoria in January 2019. I’ll probably be there, taking down notes and dreaming up biz ideas for the future.