I attended my first ever networking event and design min-conference this past Friday. It was a part of Kansas City Design Week and it was called Creative Entrepreneur 101. I heard about it by doing some research about design events in KC about a month ago and I was looking forward to this event ever since.
Not only was this the chance for me to hand out my legit looking business cards but I would finally be in the same room as other hopeful creative entrepreneurs in the same shoes as me, wanting to start their own creative business.
The day began with an 8:30 AM registration and capped off with a happy hour to finish the day. It was a day full of speakers and sessions and fellow creatives on the brink of starting their own business and some who had already made the leap to their own full-time gig.
Up until now I have been on my own doing research, listening to podcasts and soaking up valuable information about how to start and grow a business from blogs and newsletters. But here was the chance to be in the room with others who had similar interests as me, people who were passionate about their craft and speakers who would look at me while they talked.
Even though podcasts and webinars are wonderful. it's nothing compared to being in the same room with creatives and feeding off each other's energy and excitement and having people who have achieved the dream of working for themselves and doing what they love.
Throughout the day, some of the things I heard were familiar from my own research but as I said earlier, the main thing that stuck out to me was being in the same room with creative entrepreneurs. The energy, the excitement and the passion of creatives on the brink of launching their own thing was inspiring and there were definitely some key take aways that got me reeved up to continue on my own entrepreneurial journey. So here are 3 main points I learned from the day of Creative Entrepreneur 101.
1. Just Start
The first session had a panel of 3 people and each had their own business and they talked about when they knew they were ready to start. One person was a solopreneur who specialized in branding, the other was a graphic designer who owned her own smoothie shop and espresso bar, and the third owned a design agency.
Each had a very unique and different reason why they started their businesses but each one became successful with their perseverance. What struck me was, one of the speakers named Lindsay, the owner of Little Freshie, a handcrafted soda and espresso bar, said she had no experience in the restaurant business, no experience in the food industry, yet she always loved making sweets and treats and she just did it. She went for it and kept going, figuring it out along the way and now she’s successful with her little shop.
I was so impressed by her and the other panelists when, in their honesty all of them confided that they were figuring it out as they go along. It was very inspiring and also encouraging, knowing that even though I don’t know everything with what I’m doing, I can and will figure it out.
Something one of them said was “say yes now, and figure it out later.” Even though this phrase is terrifying to me, it has a lot of merit. When you commit to doing something you’ll figure it out and it will naturally push you to be better.
2. Branding Inspiration
Whiskey Design. So, I know this doesn’t apply to everyones interests, but something that was the most enjoyable for me was hearing the design process for Whiskey Design. It’s always inspiring for me to hear about the creative process for other designers but with Whiskey I was blown away by their craftsmanship, their expertise with marketing and their all around incredibly versatile and impeccable style.
Not only was their style completely distinguishable as bold and "causing a ruckus" but they had the opportunity and ability to only take on projects they were passionate about and that fit into their style. They didn’t sacrifice working on projects that didn’t feel would be a good fit.
They remained true to their style, design and work. The thing that most astounded me was the attention to detail within their designs and the scope of some of their projects. It was not just business cards and letterheads, it was an all around complete package that was tailored to be completely cohesive within their branding design. I was so impressed; it challenges me to bring in that attention to detail and intention in my own work.
If you would like to check them out, please do! www.whiskeydesign.com
3. The Elevator Pitch
While mingling at the happy hour, I was prepared with my super tasteful and profesh business cards in hand but when people asked what I did I found myself having a hard time articulating it. Why is describing what I do so difficult? I found that even though my description was completely crystal clear to me in my head, some people didn’t get it.
Even though I think everyone knows what branding is, I take for granted that some people really don’t know. I came away thinking that I need to refine my little pitch and make it into something anyone could understand. I heard it said on the podcast EO Fire, have a 3 minute pitch, a 1 minute pitch and a 10 second pitch on the ready so you’re always prepared in whatever situation to explain how you can help with your service or product.
So those were my 3 main things takeaways from the mini-conference. Just going for it, branding inspiration: quality in attention to detail and being intentional about each part of the branding process, and hone in on the elevator pitch so everyday non-business people can understand easily. I look forward to attending more events in the future but for now, it’s back to the design board to be exceptional in my own work!
Have you ever been to a networking event?
What is something you look forward to about a conference?