MicroConf 2015 Recap

I've just returned from MicroConf 2015. MicroConf, if you're unfamiliar, is a conference for self-backed startup entrepeneurs. Most of the talks center around how to grow out a small business. The audience is split roughly evenly between consultants and product.

There were two stand-out talks for me this year. One by Patrick McKenzie and the other by Steli Efti.

The first talk of the conference was by Patrick McKenzie (or patio11 as he's known around the internet). He talked about his original product, Bingo Card Creator (which does exactly what it sounds like), and how it's audience was different than his next product, Appointment Reminder (which calls people to remind them of their appointment). He wasn't able to leverage his existing audience of teachers. In terms that I use, he wasn't able to use the assets he had (a wide network of teachers) as a superpower in his latest endeavor. Patrick also had my favorite quote of the conference.

If your business isn't enabling you to lead the life you want to live, no amount of success will excuse that." – Patrick McKenzie

Steli Efti had another fantastic talk on selling things. Steli runs close.io, a CRM tool for sales folks. Central to his company's strategy is education. Educating people on how to sell means they'll have money that they can pay you with. A portion of his talk was on how to get referral leads to your business. He talks a bit more about this on his blog post on how to do referral sales. My favorite thing about this is simply the notion of having someone who was referred send a thank you note to the referrer if they are happy. This makes everyone feel great and sounds like it would be immensely satisfying. A more central aspect of his talk, however, was the notion of following up. Steli said "90% of winning is following up when no one else does." I'm as guilty as anyone else here, but I'm adding some processes (like using Boomerang for Gmail) to try to do a better job on this front.

Beyond the talks, I got a great deal of value out of talking about what it is I'm doing with other entrepeneurs. I started out the conference by saying to people "Well, I'm thinking of starting a..". Kai Davis and Kurt Elster asked me over lunch "Well, what's stopping you?". A small thing, but hugely helpful!

One topic that comes up a lot at MicroConf is the notion of a mastermind. Masterminds are groups of like-minded peers who speak on a regular basis (like weekly) on what's going on with them (or their business, as the case may be). Ken Wallace, the guy behind MastermindJam, ran a questionaire to match people for groups like this. While I haven't quite managed to pull together a mastermind group, I met several of the people on my list and they were great!

There was also an intangible aspect to MicroConf. Some of it is hearing other people's numbers so you have an instinctive gut-check on what your churn numbers should look like. To some degree, that's just an exposure thing. More than that, though, the motivation of all of the attendees is simply infectious. It's one thing to be surrounded by people who are excited about what they do, but it's quite another when they're ALSO good at it! I'm excited about continuing with the enthusiasm I've gained, and looking forward to when I can meet up with these fine folks again.

If you'd like to read a recap of what happened, Kai did an amazing job at http://microconfrecap.com/