One of the number one things that hold people back from hosting a virtual summit is time. A summit is a big project, and when you already have a lot on your plate, the idea of fitting in a summit on top of everything else might seem impossible.
I get asked quite a lot about how I do it all, including running 2 businesses, hosting at least 1 summit/year, and having two kids under 4 years old at home with only part-time child care. Usually, my answer to how I "do it all" is that I don't! Which is the truth!
But I know that there are so many of you who want to host a summit without it taking up your whole life, so today, I'm going deeper and sharing what really goes in to hosting a summit when you have limited hours.
I know there are all kinds of reasons why you might not want or be able to dedicate a ton of time to hosting a summit. So whatever it is for you, keep reading to find out how you can fit a summit into your schedule with out letting it take over your life.
This week I'm sharing a behind-the-scenes look at the key things that allowed me to host my latest virtual summit on very part-time hours, like…
Let's start by diving into what my schedule has looked like over the last few months to give you the full picture. In June 2021, we welcomed my second daughter into the world and I had planned to take a three-month maternity leave, then send her off to daycare part-time with her sister and jump right back in. I love working. So as I was making my maternity leave plans, that's what felt good to me.
I'm sure a lot of you parents can relate, but things just never really go as planned when there are kids involved. I got to that three-month mark and had zero interest in sending her to daycare. Less than zero interest, in fact. I was totally against the idea.
My four-year-old, who was three at the time, had been going to daycare full time during that postpartum period. Instead of sending the baby to daycare along with her, I completely switched gears. I dropped my oldest daughter down to part-time hours at preschool and decided to keep the little one at home with me until it felt right to send her, which still hasn't happened. And won't anytime soon.
As the 3-month mark started coming up and the end of my planned maternity leave was drawing closer, I decided that I wasn't ready to go back into work mode full swing. I just didn't have any interest in doing it, and luckily, I didn't HAVE to. Things were performing well on evergreen. Kate was kind of running the ship. We did a quick flash sale in September with emails we basically already had written from other launches to bring in some extra income.
We did a failed workshop launch, which was probably the most work I did during that period. It just went through the pre-sale stage in October. It didn't go well, so we canceled it.
And then, I ran a simple challenge launch in December because we'd done that challenge launch tons of times before. And that was really the only work I did in the first six months of having a new baby around. Maybe some of you're like, “Whoa, that's a lot!” But really it wasn't, because almost everything we did was rinse-and-repeat with things we'd already done and had ready to go.
I was putting very, very few hours into my business during that time, which is not like me! Usually, I'm at my computer every free second I have, just out of inspiration, if the girls are busy or sleeping or whatever. And I just didn't have that. And, and I was okay with it too.
It wasn't anything related to depression or anxiety or anything like that, which I did struggle with after my first pregnancy. I just didn't want to this time. I think once you get a taste of the freedom, it makes it kind of hard to come back.
Honestly, I think it's so important to allow ourselves that freedom as business owners. You're going to have seasons of feeling super inspired, and seasons of just wanting and needing rest.
You'll have things come up that force you to take time off; like having a baby, maybe experiencing health issues, family emergencies, or needing a mental break. And we didn't start our businesses to be forced to be at our desks all day long.
This is my story, but I think everyone else's story of needing, wanting, and finding a little freedom is different.
I honestly would have been very happy to continue at that pace for a lot longer, but then it came time to plan our sixth round of an annual summit we'd been running.
I knew we had to do this summit for two simple reasons…
But I still wasn’t willing to get childcare to make it happen. So I had to balance having both girls at home and working part time hours with prepping for and running a summit.
This left me mustering up time to work on the summit in the gaps that I had here and there, which basically meant going into Naptime Hustle mode!
Here's what my work schedule looked like during this time:
And that comes out to about 22-ish hours per week, give or take a couple. By the time this episode airs, this will have actually changed quite a bit. I'm recording this just a few days before we pull my oldest daughter from daycare completely and bring in someone we know from church to watch them for 15 hours a week, which I'm very excited about.
But when this Summit planning was happening, I was working about 20-22 hours per week. And doing plenty of other things in my business that I won't sit here and list for you.
So, I had to make the most of those precious 22 hours.
So let's get into these four keys of that made it possible for me to pull off everything that goes into hosting a summit while only working 22 hours/week.
So first things first, I could not have hosted a summit in the timeframe I did on part-time hours without a team. Could I have extended my timeline by a couple of months and pulled it off on my own? Yeah, probably. But I have an awesome team and I think it's important to have one as you grow. And they were a big reason it was possible.
At the time, my summit-related team included…
I will say that Kate was the key to me being able to do this. She can take our processes, which we also give our clients, and execute those processes.
The biggest time savers that she helped me with were…
Those were probably the biggest time savers. The things related to your speakers are where the biggest time sucks happen because it has to happen for every single speaker.
If we assume it takes 30 minutes per speaker, and it was probably more from start to finish, that would've literally been one week of work for me that I didn't have to do. And it would have obviously taken me more than one week to be able to put in a week's worth of hours for the summit, because it's not the only work I had on my plate!
So, an incredible team was a huge key for me being able to host a summit on part-time hours. I recommend having at least a VA or assistant on your team to help you with running your summit. It makes things SO much easier, and with the limited time I had for this event, it would not have happened without my team.
Number two is the timeline. I have people come to me all the time wanting to host a summit in 4-5 weeks. And I honestly have to kinda laugh thinking about it. That timeline would give you one or two weeks to do all of the planning, positioning, copywriting, tech setup, speaker pitching, and more before you open promotion two to three weeks out. Good luck with that! That's a hard pass for me.
With that being said, I don't care how experienced I get with summits or how many times I've run the same event over and over… We always give ourselves at least 90 days for summit prep, which is what we did here.
My first task was scheduled for December 27th, and the event started on March 20th.
Scrolling back through my Asana calendar, my days were full! Not just with summit tasks, but with other things we had going on:
That 90-day timeline was really critical.
You could even allow yourself 120 days to go slow with the process and remove even more pressure. I promise, you will not regret doing that. An extended timeline is really helpful when you're trying to host a summit on limited hours.
The next key is having a step-by-step process for hosting a summit.
Even though I fully understand summits, I still have zero interest in attempting to run one without something that tells me exactly what tasks need to be completed at every step of the way along with how to do them. And of course, after running 7 summits and teaching others how to do it too, we have that!
We use the same exact project plan that we give our clients.
I literally go into our Summit in a Box Accelerator course platform, follow the same steps our clients take to get started, download the project plan, use our tool to calculate due dates, and load it into Asana.
I truly would not want to attempt to plan a summit without that, even with my experience. I would 100% miss things if I didn't have something that I created in the past telling me what to do. There is so much that's below the surface with a summit that you don't see from the outside or think of until it's already overdue or you just don't even realize you needed it at all.
And then we also have our step-by-step process templates in the Accelerator, but we made those original processes with our first summit. So, both Kate and I have those to follow as we go, which saves just an incredible amount of time.
And the last key is templates! Since we've hosted this event five times before, our templates came in the form of our previous website pages, social media posts, promo emails, speaker emails, surveys, templates, and everything else.
We already had all of that stuff created and were able to duplicate, copy and paste, or make updates live on a page and put those things in place.
As you can imagine, taking 15 or 20 minutes to revisit and tweak your copy for a registration page feels pretty darn nice compared to the 5+ hours I probably spent writing it from scratch the first time!
With all of those templates, we have cut our planning time into a fraction of what it would be otherwise. And I honestly couldn't have hosted the summit without those things.
And in case you're like, “That stinks. This is my first summit, so I don't have that.” This is exactly why we add every single one of our templates to the Summit in a Box Accelerator.
I truly believe with all of my heart that no one should have to host to summit from scratch when all of the resources and processes have already been created. It's just not a good use of time when the templates are already there, ready and waiting for you.
My goal for our Accelerator clients is that they are never left staring at a blank page. Instead, they get to fill in the blanks on our templates and then tweak as much as they want to from there.
Even if you haven't hosted a Summit before, you’re still able to take advantage of our proven templates.
Those are the four keys that let me host the summit on really limited hours.
Overall, I hope this was insightful and helps you imagine what it would look like to fit in a summit in your already full life and business. The key pieces for me were…
Consider taking advantage of the same things that I did if you are in a similar situation.
Learn how much time to set aside for planning and launching your profitable, stress-free online summit and use my calculator to set the due dates for you.