Article by Jane Tweedy, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre
Learning is a lifelong process, and I constantly take up opportunities to learn new things, meet new people and push my comfort zone. Although I invest in some learning, like many small business owners, I take up and offer free events as well.
Running your own events
As an adjunct to your business, or to demonstrate your expertise to prospective and current customers, consider holding events. You can start on a very small local or online scale, and spread over time. For instance, a cake maker could offer classes in drip cake decorating. A business advisor may speak about marketing, or other business issues.
Conducting physical events at low cost
Many places offer venues for low or no cost, in exchange for exposure and a few coffees. Schedule a small room or space the first time, but eventually you may need a larger space. Alternatively offer to speak at an existing networking or industry event, or your own premises (note if your own home, you will need council permission). Western Sydney Business Centre has two meeting rooms for a reasonable cost.
Conduct online events
You can run events on Facebook. Schedule an event and then post in the event at the start time. Create a special challenge or training for a short period, often in a closed group with videos. Outside Facebook, webinars can be conducted affordably.
Should you charge?
Yes for physical events – even a nominal fee that may cover costs such as a coffee for participants. Why not free? Because even a token entry fee commits the person. No show rates on free events are 30-70%, so always oversubscribe a free event. Paid events typically have 0-20% no show rate.
If you go to a free event expect there will be a sales pitch, but as a presenter keep it minimal and relevant. If as an attendee you can no longer attend, let the host know. They may be able to offer your space to the waitlist, and adjust catering/room size to make for a better event. Essentially treat others as you wish to be treated.