Survival Tips for Scaling New Heights

Carrie KahnEvents

Scaling New Heights is a QuickBooks centric conference that takes place in the late Spring each year. It is lead by Joe Woodard and his team. This event started eight years ago. I have attended every year except one since 2009. SNH was designed to challenge small business advisors to “Scale New Heights.” The conference provides a deep emersion in learning and offers the opportunity to build connections with likeminded professionals.

The mission is to encourage business advisers to be brave and have courage. Many have shared their story of having faced difficulty in their business and overcome the challenges showing real courage. I submitted “Face the Yeti” story to Woodard Group this year. You can read it here along with many others. It is inspiring and motivating to share with others which is one of the biggest reasons to attend events like Scaling New Heights.

Many of my partners have asked for tips, so I have compiled some of my survival tips for making the most out of your conference.

Spend your money wisely

Before you decide to go, you should evaluate what attending this event will do for you and your business. Determine what your objectives would be for attending. I consider this an investment in my business. Not only do you pay for the conference, but you also pay to get there, and you are not doing any work during this time. I set clear goals and make sure I stay on track to make the most of my investment.

Some turn the event into a vacation. The events are always at fun locations; this year is at a Disney Hotel in Orlando, FL and last year it was at the Atlantis in the Bahamas. You should have a good time, but you have to decide what the appropriate balance is for you. There is nothing wrong with just going to have fun as long as you are aware of what you are doing in advance.

In the past, I’ve added days to my conference so I can vacation with family and have them arrive then. If my family comes before the conference is over, it can be quite a juggle and distracting. You may feel torn because you are not having fun with your family and you will not be able to focus effectively at the conference.

Book early

There are always early bird discounts on the conference that can save you a few hundred dollars. They always block of rooms at a negotiated rate which makes it affordable and convenient so you can make the most out of conference activities. I highly discourage staying at a different location. If you are on a tight budget, try to find someone to share a room with you. I recommended that you look at the schedule before you book your flights and hotel so you can ensure you don’t miss out on something that you really want to do.

Plan out your schedule in advance

Study the class offerings before you go. See who the teachers are, and sign up for classes that will help you in your practice. At SNH they always offer a track to help you gain certifications, if you are not certified, make that your top priority. Learn more here about becoming a ProAdvisor. This year they are offering ACE, if you are Advanced Certified in Desktop, you are now required to get ACE hours every three years to maintain your certification. For me, as a CPA it’s important to get my CE’s.

This year I am teaching my first class, Fundamentals on How to Grow your Practice Using Facebook. It will be Monday at 8 am. I hope to see some friendly faces there and connect after the session.

Communicate with your clients

Give all your customers a heads up, especially the ones that are active and might need to get in touch with you. Let them know that you are going to a conference where you will learn about cutting edge add on programs, and you will keep in mind their needs to see if there is a solution to save them time and money. Clients get excited to hear this.

When you leave, be sure to set an away message on your email. Schedule time in your conference schedule to return all calls and emails each day but do not plan to make calls during the conference. It’s unrealistic, outside of an emergency. If you communicate this with your clients and any members of your team in advance, it will eliminate lots of stress.

Dress for success and comfort

The dress is business casual, but remember you want to meet other ProAdvisors to collaborate with and it’s best done with your best foot forward. Wearing the right shoes is critical for you to be able to walk and be on your feet all day. The last thing you want slowing you down is a terrible blister. You will also want to pack a light jacket or sweater, even though it may be warm outside the conference rooms tend to be very cold.

Be prepared to network

Have your elevator pitch perfected and bring LOTS of business cards. However, make sure you also COLLECT business cards each time you hand one out. You will meet so many people over the week, and you don’t want to miss an opportunity by waiting for someone to call you. One of my tricks is to write a note on the card to help remember why you want to contact them again. When you get home, be sure to follow up with anyone you met during the conference!

Anyone going to be there that you want to spend time with, pre schedule a lunch meeting. The conference will be over before you know it.

Stay healthy. Conventions are a marathon, not a sprint

The daily events start early with Power Breakfasts at 7 am and keep going some of the nights with socials until 10 pm. To maintain your stamina for these long days, you need to stay hydrated. And that doesn’t mean with Cocktails. Drink lots of water. Lunch is provided most days, and the options are pretty healthy. Eating healthy is important, so you have plenty of energy. Don’t try to survive on coffee and cookies!

A few drinks socially are ok, but you can easily overdo it at some of the socials – especially the ones that give free drinks. A hangover the next day will derail you; leaving you feeling guilty that you wasted time and money.

Capture the event

Take lots of photos to post later. You never know where you might pick up a sale because a blog post you share. Not standing on a table with a lampshade on your head, but you with Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit or a collaborative partner that helps you support clients with construction accounting projects will go a long way. The photo in this blog is my partner event last year at SNH.


Wifi is usually TERRIBLE in the conference. Try to enjoy the moment and absorb everything around you rather than checking emails, facebook, etc.

All the slides for all the classes will be available later. Most likely you won’t look at them again, take brief notes of things that are game changers to review later. Keep everything organized in one place like a notebook or notes in your iPhone/iPad, laptop.

Don’t forget to have fun

Have fun! Seriously these people are like family. For the most part, you will find people that feel your same pain and might share a small nugget that ends up being a game changer for you. Take the time to talk to people during lunch and while in sessions before they begin. Listen to your gut, if someone doesn’t have the same spirit as you, move along.

If you are a CBG partner, be sure to include our Partner Luncheon/Social on your agenda for the week. Learn more on our events page. Hope to see you there!