Yep, you read that right. I went to a conference and they pointed out my failures. Doesn’t sound like something you’d want to experience? Think again… keep reading to find out why realizing your failures is not a bad thing.
Picture this: I’m in Denver at the Creative at Heart Conference. My flight arrived just the night before at 10:30 pm; however because the airline I flew was having some scheduling issues we couldn’t get off the plane until about midnight which after a train and an Uber ride got me to the hotel room a little after 1:00 am. So, I’m tired. Breakfast was delicious though and it gave me enough energy to be ready for the amazing lineup of speakers we had that day.
First up was Shay Cochrane talking about finding your niche. Ok, cool, I thought…I got this. I’ve narrowed down my niche already – I’m a bookkeeper for Creative Entrepreneurs that have been in business more than a year. She gave some great info and tips and I know that many women walked away from the conference with a niche that they are going to completely rock!
Next up was Bonnie Bakhtiari. “Winning Hearts through your Client Experience”. Oooh, this one might hit home a little, I thought. I know this is an area that could be improved. Sure enough, this is where the realization of my failures began. Bonnie talked about creating and inspiring emotion, being consistent and adapting to client needs. One big thing that hit me in the face like a ton of bricks:
Ouch. That hurt. Now, hear me out. I LOVE MY CLIENTS. Seriously, I do. I gush over the creative work they do day in and day out, I love getting to know them and the reason they started their businesses and I love sharing stories with them about life experiences. But, I’m here to admit that in the day in and day out “busyness” of business, I feel like sometimes I treat them like a transaction and I don’t do a good job showing that love. We pump out their monthly bookkeeping, reconcile their accounts, file the sales tax, run reports and move on to the next. Ugh, that’s hard to admit. But, it’s true. I mean we’re providing the service we are hired for, we’re doing it accurately and efficiently and everything else we promised but for me, that’s not going to be enough anymore. I don’t know about you, but when I receive exceptional service where the provider goes above and beyond, it makes my day! I absolutely love when someone takes the time to learn something about me, remembers something I said I like and uses that later to surprise me. Bonnie said, “There is always room for growth in the client experience” and she is so right. Thanks Bonnie for making me realize I’m failing in this area and for giving me practical tips on how I can improve the client experience.
The rest of that first day was filled with more amazing speakers. Reina Pomeroy, Michael Alsop, Heather Crabtree, Ashlee Proffitt and Jordan & Amy Demos – they all spoke from the heart, filled my notebook with tips and real, actionable ideas that I’m ever so grateful for. We also broke out into panel groups and were able to really dig deeper into the topics we had been learning about throughout the day. I loved our little group and got so much out of our talks. Thanks to Nevica Vazquez and Kelly & Andra of With Grace & Gold for being awesome panel leaders.
That night we had a late night treat and there was hot chocolate and cupcakes, y’all. It was so much fun!
After a good night’s sleep and another yummy breakfast to start the day, I was ready to dive into another day of learning. After looking at the schedule for the day I had that feeling again of “oh man, some of these might hit home”. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a bad feeling to have. I’m a true believer in always working to improve your business. Even when you’ve “made it”, you haven’t really made it. Technology is always evolving, times are changing and we have to adapt our business to these changes which means there is always room to improve.
Natalie Franke talked about the brain behind the business and I was mind blown. She says she is a bit of a nerd, and I can relate, I myself am nerdy but this woman is smart. She’s done her research, knows her stuff and it shows. She talked about engaging the senses and bam! Here we were back to me realizing that this too can play a part in my client experience – I’ve been failing to engage the senses, failing to have empathy with my clients. Note to self: change these things.
Then, we heard from Davey & Krista Jones about SEO. S.E.O. – something that literally does not exist for me. Another ouch. I’ve majorly failed here. Honestly, most of the business we receive at Steadfast is based off of referrals and I love that but seriously, why have I just avoided SEO like it’s the plague? I’ll tell you why – because it’s not my cup of tea. It’s not my 10. It’s number crunching in a completely different area than I’m used to. They gave such practical tips on ways to optimize your blog content and they explained it in a way even I could understand. I’ve already implemented a couple of things and I plan on hiring someone to do the rest because I’m also a true believer that if it’s something you are going to dread doing and you will just feel frustrated doing, it’s worth outsourcing it. Don’t induce that kind of stress on yourself, totally not worth it.
Oh, Katelyn, you are a sweetheart and the passion you have for life lit up the room!
Katelyn spoke about micro changes you can make that produce macro results. Again, this is one that really hit home for me. She said “hustling does not have to equal heartbreak”. Whoa. I needed to hear that. I recently went through a season in my business where I was non-stop hustling hard. Working way too many hours, putting my business above other things like family, friends, even my faith. I had already started to make changes and re-prioritize but it was so good to hear Katelyn say it and it really validated for me that I was making the right decisions. I’m a work-a-holic y’all, I just love what I do but this isn’t all I’m called to do. I’m a wife, a mom, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a mentor and oh so many other amazing things I get to do in life.
With the “failures” I had just recently recognized it was great to hear her say that just small, little changes can make a huge impact. You don’t always have to have a huge plan with big huge goals to make a difference in your business.
Kat closed out the conference talking about the lies we believe and how we can combat those thoughts. She’s so passionate about helping others and her heart behind this conference is reason enough to attend.
Just look at all these ladies who got to soak in all of the knowledge. What an amazing group!
So, you see, these failures I recognized are ok. Failure is not a bad thing. I’m not upset or hurt or wishing I hadn’t heard these talks. I’m SO thankful for the speakers for pouring into us and helping me realize these things.
I encourage you to take a good look at your business, analyze some things and if you see areas that you are “failing” in, make changes, even if they are small changes. The way I see it, failures just give us an opportunity to start over, each time doing it smarter, more resourceful and more effective. We’re going to fail, bottom line – whether in business, in life with family and friends, whether big or small. What matters is how you react to the failure. Instead of beating yourself up, simply view it as an opportunity to change. Heck, you could even remove the word “failure” from your vocabulary and just say “this is an area I can improve in and I now have the opportunity to do that”.
Thanks so much to the entire Creative at Heart team, all the speakers and all the sponsors for an amazing two days. Also, thanks to the event photographers – Bulloss Photography and Alicia Lacey Photography for taking all of the pictures in this post + so many more. Such great memories!
Guess what? There is another Creative at Heart Conference this November in Memphis, TN! If you want practical tips and advice from knowledgeable speakers in your industry check it out! You won’t regret it and it’s totally worth the investment.