Three Takeaways from Founder Summit 2021

Last month, I flew to Mexico City to attend Founder Summit by Calm Company Fund and SureSwift Capital. I decided to attend the event months earlier when business was going well.

We had a lot going on between my decision to attend and the event… I even thought about cancelling my ticket. But I went and I’m glad I did.

Here are three takeaways I’ve taken to heart since attending. If you’re a founder or sales leader, you you may find these helpful too.

1. How to Make Friends and Influence People

If you are running your own business, it can be lonely. Forget influencing people, just making friends can be hard sometimes. I have been active in a number of online communities and met some great new people… But I have to say there’s nothing like meeting people in-person. And events of the last year haven’t made it any easier.

I’d encourage you to attend in-person events (as-appropriate) where you can connect with people who are working to reach your level, are your peers, and who are farther along in their journey Founder Summit had a mix of all three and it led to so many great conversations. Knowing you could walk up to any group and introduce yourself? That was nice.

I’ve been intentional about keeping in touch with several people since the event. I’m collaborating with a few of them in different capacities, too. These relationships are making running my business easier. And it’s fun! We are on this peculiar career path where it can be hard to find others who understand what it’s like.

Worth noting: Founder Summit did a particularly good job creating an inclusive environment and creating literal space for people to connect. We weren’t stuck in a hotel ballroom for a week. Some of my best conversations were over tacos, which is how I think it should be when you’re in Mexico City.

2. Building a Business That’s Awesome to Own

The sessions led by Kevin McCardle and the team at SureSwift Capital helped address another huge thing that’s been on my mind since starting my own business. I am not actively trying to sell the business. It is early days and we have a lot of work to do. It’s also true that some of that work is annoying.

My ah-ha moment from these sessions was that a business that’s awesome to sell is also a business that’s awesome to own. And it’s for the same reason. The things that an acquirer will want are the things that make your life easier as the business operator.

One great example was having manual billing workflows. These are the kinds of things that come up in due diligence. An acquirer is not going to want to deal with these things. They will lower the valuation of your business because they’ll either have to sustain the workflows or fix them. They’re annoying for you as the operator too, so why not just fix them today for your own good—and maybe make more money later too? I’ve been actively identifying bottlenecks like this and resolving them.

On a personal level: These conversations also touched on personal finance and planning in a way that I’ve never seen at a conference before. I made several decisions immediately up on my return. And they’ve each lowered my anxiety around how my business and personal responsibilities intersect.

3. Calm is a Goal

The interesting thing about an event where everyone is talking about building calm and sustainable companies is that it’s not a daily reality for every founder at every stage of their business. In-person, this is clear and everyone gets it. On the Internet, not always the case.

If everyone had everything figured out, then there wouldn’t have been so many conversations about health and wellness, personal development, and self-care. The programming alone shows that these things are a daily goal. And in fact, something that people have to work hard to achieve. I met so many interesting founders working on so many interesting problems, and all of them working hard.

Here at Intro, our transition to a tech-enabled service provider is nearly complete. Delivered by a talented global team, across four defined offerings, using two separate software tools we’ve built along the way. Has it been calm every day? I assure you, it has not. And that’s okay. I’ve incorporated some healthier habits since the event while also recognizing that what we’re building, at the pace we’re building it, and entirely self-funded… Yes, that can be stressful at times.

A little context: In January of this year, 100% of my income came from fractional sales executive consulting work delivered by just me. By the end of this year, none of it will. My last client project ends in December.

Was Attending Founder Summit Worth it?

For me, yes. If you’re curious, feel free to reach out to me directly on Twitter @harriskenny and check out the Pipeline Meeting podcast for advice for founders and sales leaders.

It seems like the hosts are planning more events in the future, so stay tuned for that. In the meantime, there’s the active Founder Summit Slack community. And if nothing else, go visit Mexico City. What an incredible place.

If you attended, what were your takeaways? Are there any other events you think I should check out?

Let me know in the comments below or contact us.

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