Conferences: The Many Returns on InvestmentLets Get Started
AUTHOR: Kim Miller & Heather Mason
By Jennifer Dolmage – Bookkeeper at Mason Miller Accounting & Taxation
Conferences might seem like the professional equivalent of a field trip mixed with a dash of a holiday getaway, at a price tag that can seem somewhat steep.
The time and money you invest in having your staff attend a conference, however, often yields dividends far beyond the time to escape the office. Conferences pay an incredible return on investment.
I attended an industry conference with Kim (1 of the 2 partners at our firm), where we quickly discovered and experienced several dividends.
The first is the most obvious: It’s rejuvenating. It renews your enthusiasm and gives you the energy to face what awaits at the office. Why? As industry speakers share their stories, they make you and your team feel better equipped to better serve your clients.
In our industry, conferences are where we learn about new products and software – and this learning goes beyond reading about it. As well as case studies from industry leaders, conferences include trade fairs – demonstrations and product trials – and discussions.
Shaping the tools we use
For example, at QB Connect last December, the QuickBooks developers listened to what we had to say and what we would like added and in turn, we helped refine the tools in our industry.
It was during one of these chats that we got a first-hand look at the new QuickBooks features and received some training on how to make the most of the program. We also got an immediate bonus: We discovered features that were already built-in and how they would help us serve our clients better right then and there! We could quickly deliver more value to our clients and make running their business even easier. It was a win-win for us and for our clients.
Learning with others
At that same conference, we met and learned from our industry peers in other communities. Whether in sessions or over lunch or dinner, we could share ideas about speakers and products and how we would use them most effectively. As we shared wisdom about public policy and management best practices, we understood we were really all working together on behalf of our clients. Coming from a wide array of backgrounds, we all had different experiences, insights and ideas – which are priceless in building our businesses – and yours.
Recognizing that travel can be expensive, plus the costs of taking time out of money-generating work, conference organizers often offer other business-building and personal sessions. At QB Connect, the sessions included Digital Advertising 101, Cloud Workflows, small group discussions about apps and about marketing, as well as entrepreneurship and cultivating a sustainable work-life balance. There was food for thought for our work life and for our personal well-being, courses taking place with others who understand our business and industry.
Investing in our team
A dividend that will pay grandly for years was the investment in our team. Not only were there more industry connections, but I also got to know my boss better as we learned together, relaxed and bonded. I felt much more connected to Kim, who is much more of an accounting specialist than I am. The conference reminded me of the value of my own experiences and expertise in business management, profit analysis and cashflow planning. I was reminded that we each bring certain talents and skills, and together we serve our community better. We each got to indulge in our own learning needs and desires in specialized sessions while exploring our common calling as accounting and taxation specialists; we are diverse but complementary, and you can read more about this part of our work here.
While only Kim and I attended, I would certainly like to bring along more people from the office next year. Kim and I were so excited to share our learning and new ideas. We could only attend so many sessions and absorb so much – and I felt at times like we couldn’t get it all in. I would have liked to have others’ perspectives on the workshops and how to integrate our learning into serving our clients even better.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that three days in December – just weeks before the Christmas holidays – Kim and I connected with each other, with other like minds, with new ideas, with industry experts, with innovators, with potential partners. The opportunity cost of taking the time away from generating income coupled with the expense of spending time away were high – but they were by far a small investment that generates returns that continue to pay an incredible return.
Contact us today to find out how we can use our experiences and insights to help you not just grow your business, but enjoy growing it.
By Jennifer Dolmage – Bookkeeper at Mason Miller Accounting & Taxation Inc.