Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend my first Ohio Growth Summit in Columbus, Ohio. A good friend gifted me with a ticket and I was both grateful and excited to finally see why so many raved about this event.
I wasn’t disappointed. The event is now in its ninth year and was founded and conducted by the [themecolor]Ohio Small Business Development Center at Columbus State[/themecolor]. There are a series of speakers, both well-known and local, who present valuable insights on starting a business, running one successfully, and how to balance it all so that you don’t go crazy.
What I expected and what I got
What I received from this event was a little different from my expectations (which focused on networking). The room was filled with (my guesstimate) around 200 – 250 people, from a variety of backgrounds and intent. Some were business owners and had been for years. Others were brand new at the game. Some were employed and some were investigating whether they wanted to start a business.
But all wanted to understand what they could do to improve their livelihood. I sat next to a “sixtysomething” woman who had been laid off and was wondering what she could do next. She was already heavily involved in her community, but realized she wasn’t quite ready for retirement. She was looking at the possibility of doing something creative.
Our speakers ranged from a panel of young entrepreneurs talking about what it took to start, fund, and grow a company to Canadian [themecolor]Amber MacArthur[/themecolor], who talked about technology and productivity.
My favorite presentation, though, was our very first. [themecolor]Anthony Iannarino[/themecolor], who owns several businesses, lives in Columbus, and is an internationally-known sales trainer with Fortune 100 clients. (He also has the popular blog, [themecolor]“The Sales Blog,”[/themecolor] which I now will be following.)
Anthony was the perfect person to kick off the Summit because he emphasized the need to be intentional about what so many business owners underestimate.
Building a business isn’t just about creating your brand or fine-tuning your service or product. It’s about finding people to buy what you’re trying to sell. And it’s about creating the right system that will funnel sales to your business.
I was mesmerized because in essence, I’ve been bitten by the “sales bug.” Not all business owners are like this. In fact, many absolutely loathe the marketing and sales part of their business. They reluctantly admit “it has to be done” but yet in my opinion, have the wrong perspective and attitude.
To me, sales and marketing isn’t “just another department” like accounting or research & development. It’s at the heart of a business. It’s the vehicle that convinces a customer that your business is The One for them and because of that, they’ll buy what you’re selling. That “heart” keeps a business alive, including all the other departments of a business. Without sales, there is no business.
A clarified vision
Anthony’s presentation reminded me of why I love what I do and why it’s important. I help businesses stay in business. Period. Without marketing collateral that properly explains how a business can help someone and persuades them to buy, there are no sales – which means there is no business. And I don’t want to see businesses close their doors simply because they couldn’t figure out a way to clearly communicate their value to their prospects.
The Ohio Growth Summit is a place where you will get inspiration, but not just from the speakers. Throughout the day, there was a great energy that permeated conversations in the hallways, before and after presentations, and during lunch. People were genuinely excited to be there and share their own stories with those they just met. Since I’ve been networking locally for years, I saw quite a few familiar faces and enjoyed reconnecting with them.
But what I took away was a renewed sense of determination to go above and beyond what I am doing with my own business. To be dissatisfied with my current state and push forward for more growth. I’ll be ramping up my activity on social media, increasing the frequency of blog posts (which won’t be too difficult given the infrequency of this blog), and trying new things like Vine and Google+ Hangouts.
The Ohio Growth Summit did exactly what it advertised: motivated me to grow my business and gave me the keys to do it. So if you missed it this year, plan on attending in June 2014. And don’t expect to be comfortable. The ideas presented will knock you out of your comfort zone and make you think.
But isn’t that the point? No one grows without the discomfort of change. And change is what makes the world go ‘round.
I couldn’t help but think that so many of us who have started our own businesses are still vastly underrating what we’re bringing to the world. However, after attending the Ohio Growth Summit, I’m starting to get an idea. Thank you, Ohio Small Business Development Center and all of the sponsors, for bringing such a great event to Columbus.