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What is a good rule of thumb for budgeting for conferences and seminars?

I am an independent marketing consultant and enjoy attending conferences where I can keep up with trends in my field, network with colleagues, and make new business contacts. Is there a good rule of thumb for how much to budget for attending conferences and workshops? Some of them can be expensive, but I have been known to be too much of a penny pincher in the past. I am just not sure whether I am spending too much or not enough.
Tim Berry answered September 8, 2008
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/answer/221620
Your budget doesn't stand alone. It fits your strategy. Prepare a sales forecast you can live with, and then a cost of sales and expense budget to make sure you have enough money to cover costs and support your company.

Trade conference spending should fit the overall strategy. The more important it is for generating sales, contacts or leads, the more you might reasonably spend. Never forget that what you spend on this part of your budget rules out spending it somewhere else.

Always look for your most reasonable spending opportunities, using your best judgment to compare what you get to what you spend.

Then make sure to manage those forecasts and budgets by reviewing them every month to compare what actually happened to what you thought would happen.

There is no general rule of thumb. It's a matter of making your spending match your strategy.

Tim
Tim Berry is the chairman of Eugene, Ore.-Palo Alto Software, which produces business-planning software. He founded Bplans.com and wrote The Plan-As-You-Go Business Plan, published by Entrepreneur Press. Berry is also a co-founder of HavePresence.com, a leader in a local angel-investment group and a judge of international business-plan competitions.