Industry Resources

The Best Conferences for Small Business Owners

Owning a small business can be challenging. Between managing employees, keeping track of finances and growing your customer base, there are a lot of balls to keep in the air. But if you’re a small business owner, this isn’t a challenge that you have to face all on your own. There are a number of conferences specifically geared toward small business owners that offer tips and strategies to help you maintain and even expand your company. Not only are these conferences a great way for you to learn how to be a better entrepreneur, but they’re also a great place to network.

So if you’re a small business owner who is looking to get a leg-up on the competition and take your company to the next level, consider attending one of the following conferences.

1. Small Business Expo

This trade show and networking event is the largest B2B conference in the country. The Small Business Expo is held at various times throughout the year in seven different cities. At present, there are conferences in Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco. Highlights of the event include informative workshops, getting customer leads, shopping for innovative new services and products, and networking with peers. The expo also offers entrepreneurs the chance to reach decision-makers by exhibiting on the conference floor as well as being a sponsor of the event itself. And the best part? Each Small Business Expo is free to attend as long as you register before the deadline.

2. America’s Small Business Summit

Held in Washington, D.C., this Chamber of Commerce-sponsored conference is a great opportunity for small business owners to interact with peers in their industry. With a focus on helping businesses and government work together more successfully, America’s Small Business Summit affords businessmen and women direct access to congressional staffers. Along with learning expert strategies and gaining tools to help their businesses succeed, attendees gain insight from distinguished speakers like Steve Forbes and CIA Director Michael Hayden. While the conference does cost $500 for non-members, the opportunity to interact with politicians and other entrepreneurs might prove invaluable for your business.

3. Entrepreneur Magazine’s Growth Conference

Are you an aspiring entrepreneur? Entrepreneur Magazine’s Growth Conference in New Orleans offers the perfect opportunity to pitch your business ideas to a knowledgeable audience. Whether you’re looking to break into a new industry or acquire more clients for an existing business, the Mentoring in Minutes sessions at the Growth Conference are a great way to fine-tune your ideas and strategies. Although this year’s conference is already over, small business owners should definitely consider attending next January’s event. Because admission to the event is free, you truly have nothing to lose.

4. America’s Small Business Development Center Conference

Interested in free small business consulting and affordable training? America’s Small Business Development Center Conference helps connect entrepreneurs with sponsors and other businessmen and women in their respective industries; it also provides access to invaluable workshops and seminars. Although registration fees haven’t been posted yet, the 2014 conference is scheduled from Sept. 9 to 12 in Grapevine, Texas, and offers a great opportunity to get the word out about your small business.

5. Inc. Women's Summit

Female entrepreneurs often recognize that succeeding in the business world can require them to break through additional barriers and roadblocks. The Inc. Women’s Summit enables women to participate in workshops and networking events with some of the most successful female business owners out there, offering invaluable feedback and advice from industry peers. If you’re thinking of attending this New York City conference, remember to register early to save $100 on the $395 regular cost.

6. Global Entrepreneurship Week

The prospect of launching a new business venture can be intimidating. By attending one of GEW’s Startup Open Competitions, entrepreneurs gain the opportunity to design practical business models with the help of experienced leaders in the industry. Additionally, contest winners receive a free trip to Moscow to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Congress in person. Although Global Entrepreneurship Week runs from Nov. 17 to 23, applications are due Sept. 13, so start working on your business plan today. Registration is free for this exciting event.

7. National Veterans Small Business Conference

Specially designed for veterans who own small businesses, the National Veterans Small Business Conference is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and offers an invaluable opportunity for vets to enhance their business acumen at more than 400 training sessions while networking with other professionals. Additionally, entrepreneurs can sit down with procurement decision-makers in the government and commercial sectors, and these mentors may be able to help them grow their businesses in the coming years.Stay tuned for information about the date and location of this event.

8. COSE Small Business Convention

Based in the Midwest? If so, then you may want to consider attending this event held by the Council of Smaller Enterprises. Along with the opportunity to pitch their ideas, conference attendees enjoy access to workshops and training sessions on a broad range of topics, including “Finding the Right IT Support” and “Branding Your Way to Higher Profits.” Held in Sandusky, Ohio, on Oct. 22, 23 and 24, the COSE event is $249 for non-members and only $99 for members.

Attend a Small Business Conference in 2014

As any business owner knows, meeting people and making new contacts can pay off enormously, often in ways you’d never expect. By attending one of the above conferences this year, you’ll be putting yourself and your business in a position to grow.