Business owner plans different kind of small biz conference

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Colorado Springs small business owner Chris Coughlin is a sales and marketing junkie, and wanted to take his staff to a professional development marketing conference out of state.

It was going to cost him a whopping $15,000. He decided there had to be another, cheaper way to get the training.

So he recruited local experts and organized his own small business conference here in the Springs. He calls it a no-frills conference where a participant will get a 15-cent name badge and a two-day schedule packed with 60 sessions on the topic of growing a business.

“There are no bags with pens – we don’t do any of that,” he said. “We focus on content.”

Chris Coughlin

Coughlin modeled the Small Business Growth Summit after his 15-year-old successful business, the Glazier Clinics, where he produces professional development conferences for football coaches across the country.  He organizes conferences jammed packed with experts and material and foregoes the goody bag, the chicken dinners and swanky evening drinking parties, he said.

“We’ve trained 50,000 football coaches and we do it really inexpensively,” Coughlin said.  “We are doing it for $35 a person . . . and I’m looking at $15,000 to do the same for my business just because it’s marketing.”

The small business conference is organized under a new arm of his business, Revenue North. It costs $99 per person, or $299 for a five-member staff, to attend the two-day event Jan 20-21 at the Antlers Hilton. He is expecting about 600 participants.

If Coughlin succeeds here, he wants to take the model to other states.

To keep the cost down, Coughlin secured 13 community partners and 23 corporate sponsors. He also isn’t flying in “fancy celebrities” to give pep talks, he said.

Revenue North features dozens of local experts such as Action Coach CEO/President Chuck Kocher, who will discuss tips on how to grow a business, and Colorado Springs Technology Incubator CEO Ric Denton, who will talk about getting funding for start-ups. The first day of the summit is 12 hours of back-to-back seminars.

“Everyone has the same challenge and that’s revenue growth,” Coughlin said. “We’re not going to talk about vacation policy. Every topic is related to growing your business.”

Revenue Growth Small Business Growth Summit is Jan. 20-21 at Antlers Hilton Hotel. For details, visit www.revenuenorth.com