Where do entrepreneurs go to learn their craft?
Mainly they learn from doing – however, looking for any possible edge against formidable entrenched competitors they also learn from books and blogs, they learn by watching others, they find mentors, they hustle to meet other people they can share experiences with and who can help them refine their value proposition and vision. Almost all of them would credit their success, at least in some part, to the people they have spent time with on their way. In fact, one of the most important things an entrepreneur can do when starting or growing a business is to seek the advice and help of other entrepreneurs.
While this can often be daunting – wading through an endless array of dinners, breakfasts, coffees, conferences and introductions; it’s necessary.
I’m often asked by entrepreneurs to improve the signal to noise ratio for them and the best conferences all have several things in common – (1) quality – both in the attendees and in the speakers; (2) smallish — they also tend to be smaller to allow for more quality interactions and (3) track record – they’ve been in existence for a number of years and have established credibility.
One conference that’s coming up along those lines is the Business of Software Conference (held in Boston 28-30th October). It’s been held now for six years, the last three in Boston. It is a very different conference for a small group (limited by design to just 400 people), who come from around the world to listen to a small number of extraordinary speakers – academics, entrepreneurs who are growing great businesses, experts in their field. Topics covered this year range from strategy to culture, UI to crisis management, software pricing to even coping with depression as an entrepreneur. This year, the organizers have also put on some half day masterclasses at the end of the event (that include an invitation to the networking party on Monday night too) so that if you are short on time you can opt to take part in that alone.
Another conference that I recommend to entrepreneurs is AWS ReInvent where you can learn everything you need to in order to thrive in the AWS cloud and convenes the most important developers and technical leaders from the AWS community. Last year (ThisLife, Mortar Data and BitYota) actually launched at the conference – something that is unsurprising given the fact that Amazon has been a positive disruptive force for founders allowing them to get a service up and running on AWS with close to zero upfront investment. This allows them to test their value proposition, refine their go-to-market strategy and get early customer validation – something that will make fundraising easier and help founders retain greater ownership in their companies.
This year, for the Business of Software conference on Oct. 28-30 at the Seaport Boston Hotel, here in Boston — I am purchasing a ticket for an entrepreneur in Boston to come and attend as my guest. Further, anyone using my twitter handle in the ‘discount code’ when they register – @mjskok – will get a 10% discount on a ticket. Granted, tickets are not cheap but, if you want to meet people who will change the way you think about business and some very good people from around the world who care about building great businesses, they are great value.
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