story by Patricia Merrick | photography by Marlene Pollock
If you’re a woman who’s eager to awaken your inner entrepreneur, the Rural Women in Business Conference is for you. The second annual full-day conference, hosted by the Crossfield Chamber of Commerce, will take place May 30 at the Crossfield & District Community Centre.
“We’re really trying to dig in and focus on entrepreneurs,” said Nicole Vandenberghe, executive director of the chamber. “Most economic downturns typically bring out more entrepreneurs.”
The conference runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes inspirational speeches, workshops and a tradeshow. Guests can sign up for two of four one-hour workshops and registration is first come first served from 8:30 to 9 a.m. Lunch is included, followed by a five-minute stretch and tips on self-care in business.
“I know if I get too busy with work – and especially having a family outside of work, too – a lot of times my focus doesn’t really go to caring for myself,” Vandenberghe said. “If you’re running your own business, you have to make sure you’re also taking care of yourself, because your business can only be as healthy as you are.”
One of the workshops will be led by Meagan Saum, a women inspiriter and resilience coach who will be talking about how to grow your business.
“A lot of times in your business, you kind of hit that wall where you’re just stuck and it’s hard to move forward. She’s going to kind of help present those tools to help you get unstuck.”
-Nicole Vandenberghe, Executive Director of the Crossfield Chamber of Commerce
Suzy Rounce from Switchback Creative will be making a second appearance this year, leading a workshop about marketing.
“Marketing’s a huge one in business and it’s something that becomes a big part of business. We’re hoping to give some tools to women who might not have a marketing background or know much about marketing,” Vandenberghe said.
Sarah Kirkpatrick from Jumping Elephant, which is a marketing agency based out of Calgary, will be leading a workshop on how to create one month of social media content in one day. Jodie Eckert from Community Futures Centre West will be leading a workshop about networking.
Speakers will include Jan and Erin Johnson, co-founders of Prairie Girl Outpost, which is a business they started together to help women succeed. They will be talking about awakening the trailblazer within.
“If you can learn what your strengths are, then you know how to throw your focus into your business using those strengths to help propel you forward,” Vandenberghe said.
Elaine McKee-Doel, president of McKee Homes in Airdrie, will be speaking about building a legacy business. The day will wrap up with a question and answer panel with the speakers and workshop leaders.
Last year’s conference attracted nearly 100 women, and according to Vandenberghe, organizers are hoping to see at least 200 this year. Registration is now open and can be completed online at ruralwomeninbusiness.ca. Thanks to sponsors, tickets are only $40.
“We want to keep ticket prices as low as possible to allow this to open up to as many women entrepreneurs and business leaders as possible,” Vandenberghe said, adding it’s a great opportunity for networking.
“It’s perfect for any women entrepreneur. Whether you are a business leader, you’re just getting started; maybe you’re already successful and just wondering how to continue your success. Or maybe you’re just somebody who thought, ‘I’m interested in being an entrepreneur, how do I actually take that idea and go forward next?’ We really are hitting every single one of those avenues,” she said.
“We want to motivate them and, most importantly, we want to present them with the tools that they need to continue going forward and to be successful.”