10 Conferences You Should Attend As A Business Owner

If Richard Branson is going to speak at the National Retail Federation's BIG Show Convention, shouldn't you be there, too?

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By Thomas Smale

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

What's the most important investment you can make as an entrepreneur? An investment in you. And that willingess to grow and learn is something that conferences can help feed. Not only do they offer valuable opportunities for you to get away from the grind, but they help you make new connections, learn actionable strategies and sharpen your entrepreneurial instincts.

Related: Conferences Are Good for Networking but Great for Marketing

Here are 10 conferences that, as a business owner, you should attend (with names of speakers at each event listed, if available):

Software Summit

Software and SaaS business owners should take heed of Software Summit, a place you can go to learn about how to scale a software business. The first-ever summit is scheduled for December 4-7, 2016, and you can still claim a spot for free to hear from Jason Fried of Basecamp; Clay Collins of Leadpages; Pat Flynn of Smart Podcast Player; Eben Pagan of Get Altitude; Nathan Barry of ConvertKit and other names that have become familiar in the online space. This summit is entirely online, and it's coming up soon, so act fast.

National Retail Federation

NRF's Retail's BIG Show Convention & EXPO is just around the corner. It will be held in New York City, January 15-17, 2017. The lineup for this upcoming event includes Jodie Fox, co-founder and chief creative officer of Shoes of Prey; Jerry Hum, co-founder and chief executive operator of Touch of Modern; Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel; and Meg Lustman, CEO of Hobb. If that's not enough to pique your interest, Richard Branson is part of the speaker lineup, as well. So, if you're in retail in any capacity, this is where you need to be.

Rakuten Marketing Symposium

Affiliate marketers, unite! Rakuten Marketing's 2017 Symposium will be held at the Camelback Inn Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Arizona, February 1-2. Danny Kourianos, SVP of product at Rakuten Marketing; Kip McMillan, head of marketing at Vinomofo; and Bob Buch, CEO of Manifest Commerce, have all graced the speaker roster at past events. From emerging trends to discussions on buying behavior, if you're an affiliate marketer in any capacity, the Symposium is worth a look.


The next SearchLove event will be held in San Diego, February 23-25, 2017. SearchLove will also be in Boston June 5-6 and in London, Oct. 16-17. The San Diego event will feature speakers such as Rand Fishkin of Moz; Larry Kim, CTO and founder of WordStream; Marcus Tober of Searchmetrics; and Seer founder Wil Reynolds. At the SearchLove conference, you'll have the opportunity to learn about search, analytics, content creation, SEO, paid media and more. Hone your online marketing game at SearchLove.

Related: 6 Ways Introverts Can Avoid Feeling Shy at Conferences


Interested in keeping up with the latest trends and happenings in ecommerce? In a fast-changing industry, the survival of your business depends on it. From eBay and Amazon to Yahoo! and Bing, most major brands have a presence at Catalyst. Past speakers have included Simon Johnson, director of Seller Services at Amazon UK; Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman and executive director from Ogilvy Group; and Tom Clark, head of European E-commerce at Samsung. The next conference will be held at Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee, March 6-8, 2017.


At the 2016 conference, Dx3 attendees got to hear Andrea Stairs, managing director of eBay Canada; Ryan Archibald, managing director of VICE Canada; Neil Stevenson, executive portfolio director of IDEO and others sharing valuable insights into digital marketing and retail. Business owners looking to learn about the latest technology in these sectors will benefit greatly from being a part of Dx3 2017, a two-day event at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Canada, scheduled for March 8-9, 2017.

Adobe Summit Online

The 2017 Adobe Summit will be held in Las Vegas, March 19-23. Last year's speakers included actor, producer and activist Colin Farrell; Alistair Kirkwood, managing director of NFL UK; Giles Richardson, head of digital analytics at the Royal Bank of Scotland; and Simon Sproule, vice president and chief marketing officer of Aston Martin Lagonda. Weezer also performed at last year's conference. To learn from the leading digital marketing experts, check out Adobe Summit.

SMX West

SMX West is put on by Search Engine Land and, unsurprisingly, it covers the ever-changing world of SEO and SEM. If you want to keep up with the latest best practices and leverage search traffic to grow your business, you need to add this event to your calendar. At the 2016 gathering, attendees heard from David Roth, CEO of Emergent Digital; Casey Meraz, founder of Ethical SEO Consulting; and Soren Ryherd, president and co-founder of Working Planet. Brush up on your SEO and SEM in 2017 at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center March 21-23.

B2B Summit

You guessed it: The B2B summit is all about the practice of marketing and selling between businesses. Details for the 2017 event are forthcoming, but last year's conference was held at The Business Design Centre in London. The impressive 2016 speaker lineup included Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute; Jason Miller of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions; Carlos Hidalgo of Annuitas; and Rebecca Halls of Thales Alenia Space. If you're selling B2B, you need to register interest right away.


Marketing is a key piece to every business, and there is always lots to learn at Confluence. With speakers like Maree Jones of Luckie & Co.; Giovanni Gallucci, award-winning social media strategist and photographer; and Larry Kim of WordStream, it's hard to go wrong. Details for the 2017 conference have yet to be announced, but keep an eye on the Confluence website for more information. This year's conference was in Oklahoma City in September.

Final thoughts

As you add relevant events to your schedule, don't forget to come up with a game plan for each. Make goals. Make note of whom you want to meet. Think about which breakout sessions to attend. Refresh your supply of business cards. Learn what you need to know to take your business to the next level.

Related Book: Networking Like a Pro by Ivan Misner

The right conference will have you walking on clouds, and you'll be ready for another round of hustle once you get back.

Thomas Smale

Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor

Founder of FE International

Thomas Smale co-founded FE International in 2010. He has been interviewed on podcasts, blogs and also spoken at a number of industry events on online businesses, exit strategy and selling businesses.

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