Last Saturday I attended the What Next conference hosted by the Manchester Entrepreneurs. I'm not a business student, nor have I an idea for my own business, but I went to the conference out of curiosity to find out what is next. I also went because a bunch of my friends are involved with Manchester Entrepreneurs.
Even though I'm "just" studying Spanish and Screen Studies I was not disappointed by attending and I even understood what they were talking about, no joke. I learned so many things that can be applied to life in general and not just to business. There were some great speakers who gave talks like Harrison Woods, Naomi Timperley, Tony Attard, Julie Meyer, Emma Vites, Steve Abel, Colin Burke, Dmitry Artemiev and then there were workshops organized by Junior Ogunyemi and Tim Dingle. The cherry on the top of the cake was "The Perfect Pitch" where people could pitch their idea for the chance of winning ₤250.
But what did I learn exactly? Firstly I finally learned how to spell entrepreneur, I know but talk to when you can say it in Icelandic (frumkvöðull). But the speakers also taught this and that. Harrison said that he didn't really come up with anything new and that he just took two ideas that were already there and made them better. Naomi, like Harrison, shared with us her Dragon's Den story along with how she became successful. She made an excellent point when she said that we need to grab the opportunities when they come along. Tony educated us about his multi-million company Panaz and said that it's not about life-work balance, it's about life-work integration. Emma emphasized that it's all about selling. We speak in one of four dialects which means we instantly connect with 25% of people whilst we might not connect with the rest. And 75% is a lot. In her workshop she talked about emotional intelligence and how to pitch ideas to different types of people. You can go to http://www.ima-strategies.com/ to find out what type you are so you can work with your strengths. Her line, that probably got retweeted the most, was connection is essential because you don't build business, you BUILD people and the people build the business. Steve gave a brilliant talk about his career and life. You have to be a 10 (emotionally and mentally) before you go to your and do your business and if you're under a 5 then you should just turn around and go home. I couldn't agree more with him on how ridiculous it is that people let the weather effect their mood. The interesting thing Dmitry said is that we need to get out of our comfort zone, do unconventional things and challenge ourselves. This goes well with one of my favorite quotes
If your dreams don't scare you, they are not big enough.
Not only did I learn a lot but I also networked. I was reminded of twitter's power. You can see what people were tweeting by looking at #whatnext2013. If you scroll down and keep on scrolling you might find my gnarly surf tweet. In a way the conference was documented via twitter since people tweeted things and saying as they were happening. And if you are starting up your own company then you need to work the social media.
If you are interested in any of the things I've been talking about, whether it's creating your own business or sharing ideas, then just get involved. You can get involved with the Manchester Entrepreneurs or you can get involved with all the amazing companies the speakers created or co-created, for example Entrepreneur Country. A little birdie told me that next year's conference is going to bigger and better so it's definitely something to keep an eye on.
Basically it's just about sharing your ideas with people by networking and you even might just find your business partner on twitter like Naomi did. Even I know that and I'm not a business student. Nora Roberts said
If you don't go after what you want, you'll never have it. If you don't ask, the answer is always no. If you don't step forward, you're always in the same place.
So go out there, meet people, share your ideas, do something a little bit better and just do it like Harrison and Nike would put it.