Within seconds of meeting Kat Gordon and Julie Gordon White, it's instantly apparent that these two ladies were meant to be long-term friends and partners in business. However, it was just only a couple years back at QuickBooks Connect.
Kat is an entrepreneur who founded The 3% Conference, while Julie heads up The WELL, a consulting and mentoring business for female entrepreneurs. We asked them both to share more about the story of how they met, and what they're both most looking forward to at this year's conference.
What originally inspired you both to attend QuickBooks Connect?
Kat: I will be totally honest — I went to hear Oprah speak!
I ran my own advertising agency for eight years. As a small business owner, I felt like I had a lot of knowledge and didn't really need any guidance, but I was still in need of some inspiration. Seeing Oprah speak and share her story was the highlight of my day.
Julie: I agree, Oprah was amazing!
For me, anytime I have an opportunity to be part of an event where I can be with other small business owners and entrepreneurs, I will be there. Those are my people!
At QuickBooks Connect, the speakers are always my favorite. There is a lot of great content available at the event for small businesses owners who are working on growing their businesses. If you want to connect with other small businesses and form partnerships or find sponsors, it's all right there.
For those who really want to scale, I think the keynotes are where it's at. There are always so many highly aspirational speakers they bring in. I love love love that part.
Tell us the story of how you both met at last year's event.
Julie: We were both drinking wine in the Community booth at the end of the day. And we were totally wiped out. A mutual friend had previously said that we had to meet, so we happened to find each other at the same place and the same time that evening.
We started chatting and sharing our stories. Kat told me about how she started her business, and how the concept evolved into a conference. We also talked about parenting and raising kids as entrepreneurs. We had a lot in common and a lot to share, so I decided to be bold and ask her if she would speak at my conference. She said yes!
Kat: It was one of those conversations where the deeper you got, the more you realized you have common ground. We even have the same last name and we both turned 50 around the same time.
When we said goodbye that night, it was like "To be continued..."
What are some of the highlights from your own experiences at QuickBooks Connect last year?
Kat: I was very inspired by the peer-to-peer community at the event. Being an entrepreneur can be extremely isolating. It can feel like you're working in a vacuum when you don't know any other people who are like you.
When I was in the audience, I just started talking to the people next to me. One woman and I struck up a conversation and I just loved hearing her story. I loved learning more about where she was from and more about her business.
It's so inspiring for the people at the event to be amongst their own. Everyone can learn from one other. There is an incredible spirit of generosity at QuickBooks Connect.
Julie: I've attended both of the last two years, and each time it's inspiring.
The year before last, I participated as a mentor during the speed mentoring event. I think that part of the experience is extremely valuable because it allows small business owners to connect with experts in different areas. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet other people one-on-one within such a large event. It's also a huge benefit to be able to access mentors and people who usually charge a lot of money for the information they provide. I encourage attendees to sign up and take advantage of the speed mentoring sessions.
As a mentor, I got to chat with small business owners and entrepreneurs and help them answer questions like, "Does my business model make sense?" and "Is this a good idea for me to pursue?" Together we validated their ideas and talked through what they were currently working on.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
Julie: I always look forward to making new business connections and meeting new people through speaking or participating in the speed mentoring events.
Every year I also invite some of my own small business clients and the people who work with me to attend. It's so much fun having my bookkeeper there and being able to introduce the people I work with to each other.
Kat: I'm looking forward to participating in the sessions and meeting small business owners who I can help with their marketing and branding. That stuff is so important, and I love that I can offer my expertise — even if it's just a short conversation.
Are you going to QuickBooks Connect 2017? What (or who!) are you hoping to find?
I hope to go to my first QuickBooks Connect conference in Atlanta next year.
For my business, the most effective way to get customers has been by providing outstanding service which has lead to amazing connections and referrals.
How do you get new customers??
It's great to hear about Kat and Julie's experience from QuickBooks Connect last year. I wanted to share that if anyone wants to go this year, there is an early discount which ends Thursday so you might want to consider it. Register here for the special discount to QuickBooks Connect 2017 -- just for self-employed business owners!