"9 Questions For…" is an interview series in which I ask founders and solo entrepreneurs to share their experiences of doing "their thing, their way". The questions might be the same but the insights certainly aren't! If you fit the bill and would like to share your learnings please get in touch.
Q: Are you a founder, co-founder, solo entrepreneur, consultant or something else?
Maybe I am a bit of all of these? But mostly, I want to connect people through what I do. I never really have been good in giving me job titles.
Self-employed since 1999, and in those times, when I used to have a business card, it never had a job title on it.
Q: What type of business do you run?
I run a series of events for the web and design community. I hope to offer motivation, inspiration and a fresh view on things you do for work through my events.
Next to this, I am also always happy to help people building communities and setting up and running events.
Q: Why did you start your business?
In 2001 I ran the first conference. Since then, I loved the idea of setting up a friendly, warm environment for people to gather and exchange ideas.
Later, around 2008, when I decided to go full-time into events, I looked back and found out that this was the most enjoyable bit of all the things I was doing back then.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you are facing in your business?
The massive change that came with and after the pandemic. Not only was it a really hard time during the pandemic, but even more after the time of the lockdown.
It changed people and their behaviour in terms of how they decide to attend an event like mine, when they decide this, and when they buy their tickets.
2.5 years is also a long time, causing a vacuum in which the lives of people who used to come to my events changed a lot. It was a long time and a hard cut, which I usually don't experience.
Each year, people attending tell other new people about my event. That did not happen. With the downfall of social media, and especially Twitter, the channels where people followed beyond tellerrand activities died and it got so much harder to spread the word for me.
Another struggle is one that has always existed but has gained more emphasis through the pandemic: Where do I get new "clients" (aka attendees)?
Q: What’s going well in your business?
My biggest benefit is that beyond tellerrand has such a good reputation. It is, as described before, a tough time, but it helps if you have a positive image and people know you for good things.
Q: What skill do you excel at, and which one do you want to get better at?
I think I am really good at connecting people and creating environments that bring people together. I am good at networking, in my opinion, and finding new people who might be interested to come and speak at my events.
I could be better at selling what I have. I think I am doing ok with this, but I could be more confident that the things I make are good and have a strong value.
I am really bad at structuring my work to make life easier for me. I need to work on this ;)
Q: What will be different about your business this time next year?
I want to work on a more regular newsletter, on using the assets and content I generate through my events in a better way and on making people get their tickets earlier again.
Smaller events like mine depend on people getting their tickets early as this — especially in this time after the pandemic — means cash flow for the upcoming event to work with. Savings are gone, and therefore, organisers like me need the ticket (and sponsor) money as early as possible to work with for the next event.
Q: What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your entrepreneurial adventure?
I was thinking about this for a long time after reading your question, but actually there is nothing I can think of. The things I did not know are usually things I learned on the way. Every day, really.
Looking back at 23+ years of what I do, I see mistakes I made and how I learned from them, but nothing where I think, "I wish I would have known before". Sorry. ;)
Q: Where do you live, and what do you love about your city?
I live in a small suburb of Krefeld in the middle of a German forest with roughly 3500 citizens. I like a walk in this forest, and I really like coming back here, after I have been away running or attending events.