For the last 60 episodes of this podcast, we've been focusing primarily on summits for established business owners who have proven digital offers like courses, memberships, or other scalable programs. In that time we've been getting more and more questions from new business owners wondering if summits are something they can do.
The truth is that as a new business owner, summits are TOTALLY for you. You don't have to have a proven scalable offer that you're ready to launch through a summit to have a successful event. In fact, looking back at our past podcast episodes, the first 177 episodes were all focused on hosting summits as a newer business owner.
Apparently, I need to figure out a better balancing act for talking to both new and established business owners, to make sure everyone knows that summits can truly help them, when done correctly, no matter what stage of business they’re at.
This week we're shifting gears again, and I'm excited to share the first episode in a new four-part series for newer business owners.
In this episode, we're covering things like:
This episode is the perfect place for you to start, and from there, we’ve got a few next steps laid out for you including a virtual summit funnel roadmap, a masterclass covering how I tripled my email list and revenue with a summit, and even a curated playlist of this podcast just for new business owners. Get access to all of these resources here!
For now, let’s dive in!
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I want to start by talking about the most common doubts I hear that hold newer business owners back from hosting virtual summits. I’ve seen these doubts come from people who don't have a business at all, and they want to host a summit either to start their business or to support something they're really passionate about. And I've also seen it from people who have a business, whether they've just made a sale or two, all the way up to people with a couple thousand people on their email list who, in the grand scheme of things, still feel newer.
Whichever group you fall into, I’m guessing that these doubts I often hear from new business owners considering hosting a summit will resonate with you.
The biggest doubt I hear most is, “I'm not a big enough deal.” I'm guessing a lot of you have thought that, and I really resonated a lot with that when I started out, too. That's a big reason that it took me so long to host my first summit back in 2017 when I'd started kind of throwing around the idea for the first time.
Back then, it was only the biggest names hosting summits, and I thought they were going to think I was hilarious to try a summit on my own. I didn't do it for a long time until I realized I don't have to do it the way others were doing it! I could do it my way.
So I promise you, you are a big enough deal. If you have an idea, you're passionate about something that can help people in some way, whether it's helping them in their business and their life, whether it's supporting a passion they have for solving a problem, then you are a big enough deal to solve that problem through a summit.
I promise people don't care about the size of your email list, or how many people know your name, as long as you can support them with something they need support with, you have what it takes to host a summit.
The next doubt I hear a lot is, “There's no way I'll be able to land speakers!” And this makes sense, right? You're worried that no one's going to want to be a part of your summit if you don't have anything to offer. You see your audience as the thing you can offer, but really, that's just not how summits work.
You do have something incredible to offer your speakers through your summit, even without an audience. You’re doing something that they didn't do, for whatever reason. You're bringing other speakers who do have the audience and all that good stuff. If your summit is positioned well, and you have a solid pitch, then you can land speakers as a new business owner.
We've had students do it starting literally from nothing, no email, no brand, and they still can go on land big-name speakers when everything is done right.
The last doubt we'll cover here is the idea that you won't be able to get summit sign-ups without an existing audience. I think this doubt stems from the fact that a lot of strategies out there do need an existing audience in order to work.
For example, hosting a webinar isn't going to work if you don't have an audience. You can promote the webinar, but no one's going to sign up if you don't have anyone to promote it to. And if you try to launch an offer, who's going to buy it?
We have all of these experiences with strategies that don't work if we don't have an audience. But the thing is, the summit brings you that audience. You don’t need an audience to host a summit.
If you're experiencing any of these doubts about hosting a summit, these are mindset things you may need to work through.
You might need to shift from thinking of a summit as one big, huge project that you need to accomplish and instead, look at it as individual tasks.
You can do all the pieces; you just need to look at them as pieces and not one big, huge project that you're trying to do all at once.
I hope this helps you start seeing through those doubts. They're always going to come up. I still get freaked out and anxious at different parts of the summit hosting process, even though I've done lots of times, and at this point supported thousands of people. It's always going to be an emotional roller coaster, but that doesn't mean it's not worth doing!
You have what it takes to do this.
With that being said, let's look at this from a different standpoint, and talk about what you do and don't need before you can host a successful summit. I want to start with what you do not need because again, this ties back into those doubts and the reasons people give themselves for not being able to do it.
Again, in the past 60 episodes of this podcast, we have been speaking to people who do have successful digital offers, because there's another layer we can add on to summits when you have a successful digital product that you launch through your summit.
But you don’t need it. You can still host a highly successful summit without a digital product. My first five summits did not have anything I launched afterward, and they were still incredibly powerful events for me, my speakers, and my audience.
Waiting until you have a big email list before you host a summit is completely backward! You can host a successful virtual summit with no email list. Instead of having a trickle of leads coming in per day, you'll get hundreds or thousands all at once. And that's because of the power of the speakers all coming together and sharing the summit with their audiences.
Even if you have a smaller summit and only 500 people sign up, well, that’s 500 people you didn’t have on your list before. The next time you host your summit, you’ll have 500 more people to start from and it will grow from there, But the growth doesn’t depend on your audience. It really comes down to speaker selection, creating meaningful relationships, and hosting a summit that your speakers want to promote to their people.
A lot of first-time hosts will go out and pitch people they know, which is actually one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you're pitching summit speakers. If you feel like you don't have connections, and that's something that's holding you back, you're not missing out. Once you get those first couple of names signed on to be speakers, you can then use those names and your other pitches.
Along with that, you also don't need an elevated “expert” status. Again, you're putting together an event that's created to help people. People want that help. Unless you’re doing something around therapy or a really sensitive subject where you do need to be a credentialed expert, you don't need an expert status in the sense of being a known expert in your industry.
You can host a summit on a budget, without using one of these $10,000 event platforms. That's just ridiculous to me. I have always hosted my summits with the platforms that I already have and use. When my website was on WordPress, I hosted my summits on WordPress. Now that I use Kajabi for my business, I use Kajabi for my summits too.
We've had people host summits on every platform out there. Some of them are better than others, but if you have a website, especially if you're selling things through the website, you probably have everything you need.
You also don't need to be running ads or have a big team to help you. You can do it by yourself if you have the time for that, without needing a big budget to be able to host a successful summit.
On the flip side, let's talk about what I do like to see you have before hosting a summit. I have seen people prove me wrong with both of these things, but I’d like to see you have these done right in order to make sure you're set up for a successful event.
First of all, I would like you to have proven messaging in whatever area you're hosting your summit around. If you're already running a business, I'd like to see that you have people opting in for a freebie or even a couple of people who have purchased a product or service from you. That tells me that you know how to communicate a problem and the way you can solve that problem for people, which you can then translate into a summit.
You can feel a little more confident that your summit is going to work if your messaging is already in place.
I have had people prove me wrong with this though. We have a guest on the podcast coming up, who had zero brand, business, audience… nothing. She didn't have proven messaging when she hosted her summit, she just based it on her experience. She knew how to talk about it, used our templates to fill in the blanks, and was golden from there.
But this doesn’t happen for everyone, so one of the things I like for people to have is proven messaging.
The next thing I like to see is a little bit of tech know-how. Again, I've had students and clients come in who know nothing about tech. I had one of my favorite clients ever who didn't even know what Google Drive was when she joined our program. We had to teach her everything and she went on and hosted an incredible summit! It was not easy for her, but she did it.
But to make the process easier for you, I do like to see that you have a little bit of tech know-how so you're not trying to figure out the summit strategy, manage all the moving pieces, and figure out all the tech, all at one time.
Those are really the only two things I would like you to have. But I can't even say that you need that. Those are just things that are going to make this process easier for you and increase your likelihood of seeing success.
With the dos and don’ts out of the way, let’s talk about how virtual summits work, even if you don't have an existing audience. I’ve hinted at different pieces here and there, but let’s bring it all together.
One of the biggest questions we get asked is, “Why would the speakers want to participate if I don’t have an email list? How am I going to get them to say yes?”
First off, even people who have huge email lists are not really benefiting from that when it comes to their summit results. The point of hosting a summit is not to attract your own list, it’s to have speakers bring in their email list and that’s where your growth comes from.
Everyone comes together to promote the summit.
Generally speaking, the point of a summit is everyone comes together, and everyone does a little bit of promotion so even if you don't have a list, the speakers are still benefiting in three main ways.
For example, at Summit in a Box, we spend a lot of money on Facebook ads to get in front of a certain audience. I would much rather put that money towards sponsoring a summit, or no money towards speaking at a summit. Sure, the exposure isn't quite as direct as it would be if I was doing something like running ads, but it's free, and pretty darn easy to do.
There are a lot of benefits involved in hosting a summit, even when you as the host don't have an email list. And honestly, if your event is put together well, and someone says no, because you don't have a big audience, they are the ones missing out.
Hopefully, at this point, you understand that you have what it takes and can host a virtual summit as a new business owner. You might still have some doubts, and there might still be some discomfort there, but you know you can do it. So, what kind of results should you expect then?
The safest thing you can do is to release expectations.
We have had a huge range of expectations for people starting out. Let's say that you’re a host without an audience and you follow our strategies and do it the right way.
We have had people, usually with more general audiences and topics, bring in 500 leads and about $5k in revenue overall. From my standpoint, that's a pretty small summit, but if you're starting from scratch, that's pretty decent. I'm guessing you wouldn't turn that down.
We've also had people starting from scratch go all the way up to getting 10,000 leads, and almost six figures in revenue from the event.
That's why I say it's best to release expectations because it's going to depend on a lot of factors, such as:
There are so many pieces that go into it, which is what we cover in our programs, so release expectations, but also know that the sky's the limit as far as what you can do.
I hope this gives you some confidence, and lets you know that you can move forward with your summit, no matter how new your business is. We're going to get into this more in the next few episodes, so be sure to tune in and follow along.
Tune in to the rest of this series, where we'll cover:
Be sure to check out these resources for newer business owners to get you started with understanding the summit-hosting process, brainstorming, and even planning your event. We’ve got a funnel roadmap for you to map out how you’ll get people signed up for your summit, sell your all-access pass, and more. We’ve got a masterclass where I walk through how I tripled my monthly revenue with a summit starting with a smaller email list, and we even have curated podcast playlists for new and aspiring business owners and another covering the foundations of hosting a virtual summit. Check it all out and choose what you want to do next!
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.