A weekend ago, I attended the LessMoney workshop put on by Allan and Steve from Less Everything. While I have been in the industry for a long time, I’m kind of a rookie when it comes to attending events and conferences. After attending a few last year I was somewhat disillusioned when it came to evaluating my return on investment. I knew Allan and Steve had been thinking about putting on this event for a while, so it was on my radar, but I didn’t want to be disappointed again.
This is a long post, so if you are just reading this to see whether or not to attend if one is scheduled in the future, I will sum it up for you in one sentence. I don’t care if you have to beg, borrow, steal (at your own risk), or quit your job, if you run a web consultancy or have the desire to one day, you must attend the LessMoney workshop.
Why it was worth it
I know Allan and Steve are talking about writing a book. If the book is half as good as the workshop, you must buy that also. These guys know what they are talking about, and more importantly know how to build a community, or a circle of friends. The people I met met at LessMoney are some of the coolest, most talented people I have come across in a while. With that said, I don’t really get out much. So why do I feel like LessMoney was the best $500 I have spent for my business in a long time? Below you can find a brief list of reasons. A lot of what I learned I won’t even mention here right now. You will have to come back for that. I want to have a chance to implement it, and record my findings, but rest assured I will got into further detail down the road.
- I gained some knowledge from practice advice that I have already implemented in my business. Sometimes when you hear or read stuff, it doesn’t always apply to your situation exactly. By meeting with other guys (and gal) who have the same goals, aspirations and issues, in an honest and open environment where people feel inclined to share, you are going to learn. Steve and Allan did a really good job of getting people to speak up, as well as sharing their own experiences of their many successes and the one time they failed.
- I made some very talented and amazing friends. I feel like I will definitely work with some of them in the future, but even if I don’t, it’s always cool to make friends.
- I will never get screwed by another customer again. This alone was w0rth 100 times the price of admission alone, at least. Learning how to put a better contract out is priceless. Learning that you absolutely must get paid upfront, may seem obvious, but it was reassuring to hear that this has worked in practice for a company who has been very successful.
- When you have goals, you should always seek out the advice from someone who has accomplished those same goals. Someone who hasn’t been there just can’t offer you the right advice, only theory.
- Allan helped me close the gap on an idea I have for an app. Even if the app has flaws, it will launch by 8/8/2011 (my 31st birthday and present to myself).
- I had some long burning questions about sales that have finally been answered. One of those surrounded how to discuss budget when first talking to a prospect. This has always been a difficult topic for me, because I always felt like the person on the other end of the phone didn’t want to answer the question in fear that I was trying to take them for their money. The problem with this is, it’s the most important thing to understand so you can know how much you can help if at all. For instance, if someone comes to you with $100,000 in capital for a project, they shouldn’t be spending all of it with you on design and development. If they do, they will have a site with no money to market and sustain it. You should coach them on launching with the least they need to have their site, then take it from there. This is something I have always tried to do in my own consultancy, but when people are not upfront about their budgets, it makes it hard for you to help them. I have had a chance to throw this out there a few times since the workshop, and while I need to get better at it, at least I’m touching the subject now.
- Maybe the most interesting thing that I picked up on was that you should be marketing to your peers and not to clients. At first it doesn’t make sense, but once you let it marinate, it starts to make sense. Going to conferences and doing cool things for others attending is one way you can do this. You need to go to every Bar Camp around. Designers could offer up their services on open source projects as they often lack good design. Tech articles always bring good traffic to your blog, and there always someone who will be out there tomorrow looking for the stuff you just learned today. They should learn about it from you. Pizza, cupcakes and t-shirts can be very good friends for you.
- I’m going to finally move ahead with re-branding my company, something I had been sitting on for over a year and a half. The logo and actual name are not so important to those on the outside, but if they mean something to you internally, go with it. Whatever helps you deliver success.
- I learned not to waste my time with RFPs. Unless you have been promised the work in advance, and they are just a formality, you can sink a ton of time into doing these and never win any business. Business is about relationships, it always has been. RFPs do nothing for this. I was about to start down that road, and could have wasted way more than $500 worth of time filling them out.
There are so many more notes and details that I could talk about, but that wasn’t the point of this post. Again, if you are thinking about attending LessMoney, just freakin do it. At the end of the day, everything that went on was great. The only thing that would have made it better is if it lasted longer, not because more material needed to be covered, but because the discussions that were taking place were awesome. Which leads me to my closing shout-outs to those who attended LessMoney with me.
I personally believe that our interactions with people and the relationships we make with each other are one of the centerpieces of life. God designed it to be this way. While I didn’t get a chance to connect with everyone as much as I would have liked to, here’s what I learned about those that attended the workshop with me. Everyone who attended this workshop was talented. You don’t get to say this too often.
We already know about Steve and Allan, so I won’t go into too much detail, but I will leave you with this. They are genuine individuals and what you see is what you get. There is no façade. I know it’s cliché, but they keep it real. I look forward to meeting up with them when they come to Tampa, and the start of a new friendship.
@natecroft - From the instant I first heard Nate speak about why he was there, I knew him and I shared a lot of common ground. He is an amazing designer, and along with his partner @necker47, they form a great duo at 47m. If you want to learn more about these two, check out the hilarious Kick Awesome Show. Don’t miss episode 5. There is a really good story behind that one. I really look forward to an opportunity to work with these guys at some point.
@ericdarnell – Besides being really good at creating videos, Eric is a no BS, fun dude to talk to. Apparently he is also a ridiculously good Crossfitter, who accomplished most of my personal fitness goals, by the time he was 15. I can only wish to be more like him one day. Beyond that, if you ever need to capture something on film, Eric is the guy to call. Check out his video work.
@philipzaengle – I really wish I had more time to speak to Phil, as we only got to speak personally over lunch on the last day, but I did check out his design work, and it’s impressive to say the least. Phil doesn’t live too far from me, so I expect him and I will have an opportunity to meet up and work together often.
@16toads- Paul and I didn’t really get to talk much at all, but we didn’t need to. His work and his words tell you everything you need to know. Again, another very talented artist. At first I thought he owned a company called 16 toes, but later found out it was 16toads. He is also doesn’t like Work for Hire contracts very much. Paul has a crazy amount of experience, speaks his mind, doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and like those mentioned above, is someone I would love to have an opportunity to work with.
@hughbutler, @dorisuzanne, @keithburnson, and @timothyrobbins are fellow Tampans, or Tampanian’s, however you choose to call it. They do some pretty amazing work over at Gauged2. Since they are right down the street, I’m going to have to stop by eventually. They may even get involved in some shenanigans with a collection that Steve and I are going to try and make when he is down in Tampa. I really look forward to getting to know you guys better.
@BrownWebDesign and I had a chance to sit down at the very end of the workshop after I promised him a ride back to his hotel. The good, we got to have a really great chat. The bad, I didn’t realize the car we rented only had room for 4, so I couldn’t give him the ride I promised. Jess, I’m glad you made it back that night anyway. Jess will probably be the first guy I work with, as I have a deal that I’m looking to close this week, then send his way for some help with it. LessMoney in action already!
Besides being a developer, @turnandface is also a phenomenal photographer. Another guy close to home that I hope to work with as the overflow work pours in from implementing the secrets shared in the LessMoney workshop. I may have also infected him with my CrossFit/Paleo brainwashing. Adam, perhaps I will see you at CrossFit Firebase next time I’m in Orlando.
@wesgarrison is going to be launching a product very soon. I’m glad I was one of the first to break the news, so when he becomes rich and famous from it, perhaps he will remember me. I will be the next one in line after him to get an app off the ground, and if I become half as rich and/or famous, the LessMoney workshop can be considered two-thirds successful.
I’m going to be honest, @kylecordes and @siffring were two guys I didn’t get to chat with very much. We need to fix that. They are both developers, from St. Louis and Chicago respectivly, so geography is not on our side, but geography isn’t important anymore.
And then there was @garethsprice. Holy cow. This dude can type. He pretty much transcribed the entire event. I think there were something like 663 pages of notes by the time he was done. He’s also a kick butt Drupal developer out of Orlando, which means I’m sure our paths will cross in person again soon. I really enjoyed spending time with him while over at Allan’s house for dinner. A super nice and geniune guy. I also have some envy of his Herman Miller Embody Chair.
Uncle Bear was not part of our live group, but I feel like I know him. Maybe one day I will have the pleasure of shaking his hand.
Last but not least, thanks to @frshnk for hosting the event. They have a really awesome space that you can co-work in and need to check out if you are ever in Panama City. Besides their space, they some pretty cool stuff with pixels.