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What do I do now: Start a new business, reskill or specialize?

By: Nicole Filippo, CMP | Aug 2, 2021

For many meeting professionals, 2020 involved reflection and change. 
Several now find themselves wondering about the next chapter in their careers. During the MPI-CC March meeting education session “What do I do now: Start a new business, reskill or specialize?” Steve Kinsley, president of Kinsley Meetings, and Mekeda Johnson-Brooks, chief client experience architect of MJ Design and Company, shared their journeys as small business owners, and gave advice for those who are thinking of forming a business, changing jobs or looking to make themselves more marketable.

Johnson-Brooks recommended the audience look to combine skills they do well with what they love. Starting her own company provided her with the opportunity to work on “things that bring me joy” and “things that I feel make a difference in the world with people that I’m excited to work with.”

For people looking to start a business, Kinsley advised the following:
• Create an LLC to have a corporate veil to protect your personal assets
• Learn how to read a balance sheet and understand cash flow
• Hire a bookkeeper, a CPA and an insurance broker

“Step out the door with the whole team or at least know where you can go for those resources,” Johnson-Brooks added, referring to finances, taxes and insurance.

Kinsley also shared advice he received from his father: Create a relationship with a banker. He noted how his relationship with his bank helped his company secure a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan this past year. Not being seen as just a number to a national bank was important in the loan process, he explained.

Johnson-Brooks and Kinsley, both members of the MPI Independent & Small Business Owners community, encouraged the audience to think beyond the title of “event planner,” noting planners are also project managers, creative thinkers and meeting architects.

“Think in terms of ‘this is what I do’ as opposed to ‘I’m an event planner,’ and you’ll have more options open to you,” Kinsley said. “We’re more than just meeting planners.”

“Don’t diminish your work,” Johnson-Brooks urged. “The world in 2020 realized…the impact that our work has. People never realized how important coming together was until we couldn’t do it. We make that happen. We help people come together safely to learn, connect and grow. It’s a big job. It sounds simple, but it’s not.”


Nicole F
Nicole Filippo, CMP
MPI-CC VP of Program Development

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