The Mums Enterprise Roadshow is a series of events helping ambitious mums facing the conundrum of what to do when maternity leave ends. The great thing about this roadshow is that it’s a startup itself! Created by Lindsey Fish and Lucy Chaplin these events bring together all the organisations that can help mums follow their dreams and start their own businesses. In this blog, ahead of the last Mum Enterprise Roadshow of the year we asked Lindsey to tell us about her start-up journey.
Me and Lucy started working on the Mums Enterprise Roadshow back in March 2015. Since then we have come a million miles and we couldn’t be prouder. For me when I set about organising and planning these events I had a very strong vision of what I wanted them to be. For Little Fish and in my working history I organise more corporate style events, you know the kind. Suited and booted, even when the temperature is soaring.
For the Mums Enterprise Events, I wanted personality, I wanted them to be different than any other event in the entire world and there were a few key things I wanted them to achieve.
I wanted them to be professional, of a high standard but without the corporate feel. I have organised events for 16 years, I know how it’s done. The difference about organising my very own event was that I called the shots, I made the decisions and I could say no. That my friend is what you call freedom and it feels amazing.
I wanted the atmosphere to be relaxed, no pressure and I certainly didn’t want the content to be controlled by money. So many events these days sell workshops, sell extra’s. Yes of course I want the events to be commercially viable and successful. But that will come when the brand has value, it will take years for these events to be financially beneficial for me and Lucy. It wasn’t about money, other than trying my best to cover as many costs as I could. My main priority was to make sure the visitors were happy. 100% my sole focus was making sure they came to an event, were not cheaply sold too, didn’t have to sit through content that really didn’t appeal to them. That is why workshops were my choice and exhibitors were invited to speak in one. I also made sure not one bit of content, workshop, speaker was a forced to see. Everything is at an attendees pace and a choice made by them. That I believe is quite unique. These days everybody tries to control everything, not us, truly I curated these events for attendees. I actually turned away exhibitors. I said no to paying customers purely because they didn’t have the same working ethos, brand values or just weren’t relevant to what the events were all about.
I know that if our visitors are happy, in turn our exhibitors would be happy and the events will then have a bright future.
I wanted to keep the ticket price as low as possible for visitors. But because we are not hosting these events at Excel or the NEC there was a challenge as local venues do not allow us to have food or drink sold on-site, we have to order it through them. Which means the ticket price rose, I kept the price as low as I could afford. I never want to make money out of visitors, I just have to cover costs and I don’t ever expect our ticket prices to rise, certainly not in the near future. I know the value in what we are doing will come from the brand value, the price large corporates will pay to reach a targeted audience. But of course any brand ever associated will be totally relevant and have value, expertise and something to offer our audience of ambitious parents. (See how I am saying parents now not just mums! Live and learn)
Once I had decided to go and organise the events, I had already come up with a name. I already had a strong idea in my mind of what the theme should be, I certainly didn’t want babies, flowers, puppies or fluffy things to be any part of it. I wanted it to be strong, unique, professional but different. For it to appeal to mums but not be stuffy and corporate. Because this is an event, the very first one which I have organised as my own idea. I knew I didn’t have to be afraid of being me, and actually showing some personality. I don’t think I would have made the decisions I have if I was 25, I think being over 30 has actually helped me feel more confident in myself and not afraid to express who I am. I am sure the same goes for Lucy, as our confidence grows, our brand seems to just get better and better.
Step in Lucy. I have known Lucy for a long time now and she had done some freelance graphic design work for Little Fish and other clients of mine. So I sent a brief to her for Mums Enterprise.
I have written a blog about this whole story of the brand and the brief which you can see here.
There is just no way, these events would have had the impact they have had without Lucy. It is one thing me having an idea in my head. It takes a creative genius to interpret a thought and a brief, and then give it their own spin. There is not one idea Lucy has suggested or created that I have said no to, it really is like she understood what I was trying to achieve from the word go and it only gets better. Lucy now owns our brand, it’s hers and I am 100% confident in her looking after it. I couldn’t be more pleased and excited to be working with her and feel we have a great friendship and business future together. That is why we are business partners in all this now. I have worked in marketing and I know and appreciate just how important branding and design is. Don’t ever underestimate it. Ever! An idea is an idea, but if it looks s*** nobody will ever trust or buy into it.
So what have been the struggles in all this
Don’t get me wrong I have cried many a happy but also many a worried tear. It’s hard, it’s hard because there is so much pressure and the pressure is on the unknown which is ticket sales and attendees. I also set myself high standards, if I am doing this. I don’t just want to be another local brand, another local event. I am aiming big, I want to take this brand, these events all over the UK. My sights are set high, and believe me I have the drive in me to achieve that. The reason why I know I can do it, is because I know there is a need and I sincerely care, I really want to make a difference to the lives of other ambitious mums. It won’t be me that makes the difference, it’s all the amazing support and opportunities out there offered by our amazing exhibitors who I know are out there, who have trusted in this idea and paid to exhibit at our events.
I think the reason I can curate such specific and relevant events is also because we are in the same shoes, I am trying to grow Little Fish the corporate event management side of the business and organising these events is one huge challenge and we are learning everyday. Me and Lucy both have children and face the same challenges that our visitors and many of the exhibitors do.
But the is why it’s been so hard and nerve wrecking is because the success of the events depend on people buying tickets and attendees actually coming to the events and trusting us, investing in themselves and also it takes courage for attendees too. At the moment they are buying tickets and not really knowing what to expect. So really we are asking a lot, but now we have the success of Rickmansworth under our belt my hope is that women will see this and commit to the very last event of 2016. These two events will shape our future. We are planning 4 events in 2017 and will soon be launching a crowdfunding campaign. Everything relies on ladies buying tickets, this could make the difference between us securing funding and being able to sell stands to exhibitors for the events in 2017 or not. That is seriously so, so scary. The only way we could get around that is with more marketing budget, but we are a start-up. I have invested money in this but we can only afford so much. And with only one week to go until the 18th June we have to rely on the mediums we have chosen. So yes, big,big struggle for me this one.
We are already learning from them. An error I made very early on and have not changed up until a few weeks ago was to communicate that these events are family friendly. Of course kids, babies and toddlers are welcome. Durrrrr, I feel so stupid now for not really believing in this sooner, perhaps it was my corporate brain overriding. Yes of course, our events welcome mums, dads, and grandparents to bring children with them. The joy of the next venue is that it is on the site to an animal wildlife park, like a zoo and they are offering all our guests discounted tickets. So that’s a bonus. I am mad at myself for not communicating or really embracing that sooner. I think that has cost me ticket sales, as mums haven’t been able to sort childcare and why the heck should they. So yes, our events are family friendly, bring your babies. Like I say these events were made for you.
There is still time to be part of our first year history at the second and last event of 2016 takes place on 18th June at Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne, EN10 7QA – Hertfordshire again. Your family can take the kids around the animal park (discounted tickets available for that to) and come join you at our event afterwards, they are most welcome so you don’t have to rush off. Ticket available on our website www.mumsenterprise.events/visit. You can also see the agenda here www.mumsenterprise.events/agenda-broxbourne