Like thousands of ambitious mums out there I launched my own business rather than return to my city job. I found my love of events as an apprentice 16 years ago, and since then climbed the career ladder until I had Molly in October 2013. My last corporate job was as a Channel Marketing Manager for a tech firm. Whilst on maternity leave, when it came to thinking about my working future it was clear that the figures wouldn’t work in my favour after taking out living expenses, childcare and commuting, so I started to research my options.
As a marketing manager I knew how to assess markets, audiences and competition and I had a good idea of how to write a business plan. I had always wanted to run my own business and was eager to start putting thoughts on paper.
First I listed all the things I could do. It really only came down to marketing and events as a service. I chose to focus solely on event management because although I have a CIM diploma in Marketing and have worked in business to business marketing for a long time. I know there are experts far more specialist and knowledgeable than myself. But when it comes to events I knew, 100% that I could deliver events for external clients. So I set about my research and created a marketing audit where you look into various aspects of the internal and external environments which will highlight any key challenges you need to overcome. And also may highlight areas which will help you create a key differentiator over and above your competitors.
I did a couple of surveys throughout the time from initial idea to launch, this was to get feedback on business names and whether or not people would use a service I was planning to offer. Thankfully I had a few yes’ which was enough for me to go for it.
When it came to funding, I literally had the last of my maternity pay which would have only lasted a couple of months. I didn’t get any loans and I set the business up on a shoe string. My website hosting was only £15 per month, my domain name was cheap, I use gmail but you pay to use your domain name (xxx@my company.com) which is only £3.50 a month. And thankfully my brother is a graphic designer so he created my logo and brand colours which is very important. Design and aesthetics are important, again from a marketing background I wrote my brand personality and values and provided my bro with a comprehensive brief which included background about my idea, target audience etc.
I set a date to launch Little Fish Event Management on 2nd June 2014 and that would be when I would officially be open for business. I needed to secure my first client within 2-3 months, otherwise I would have to consider looking for a ‘real job’. Luckily for me I managed to win a bid to help organise the National Apprenticeship Awards. Pretty cool and almost like fate, seems as though I started and found events as an apprentice myself 16 years ago…spooky.
This was a total cold call, from doing my marketing audit I had decided who my audience would be which helped when I started to sell. I looked companies up on the web and basically started to cold call, it isn’t the best approach I have now found out, but that is what I used to do when I used to sell so that’s what I started with. I don’t cold cold call now, rather I am always increasing my network and have found linked-in to be a great way to connect with your target audience, and when the time is right you can approach them about your business or idea. I have done so well from this for Mums Enterprise.
Back in about March 2015 I started having an idea for Little Fish’s own event. Because I had launched my own company I found just how many awesome organisations there were out there, specifically supporting mums and women in business. I also spoke to many other mums about the challenges they faced about work and career. I knew for certain that an event would be an ideal platform to bring support, advice and opportunities together so ambitious mums can find the support they need face-to-face and be inspired. I now know just how much of a common conundrum it is, deciding what to do after a career break or maternity leave, it’s a big big deal.
I did some research as always, but this time Talented Ladies Club helped me and sent a link to my survey to their email database as I had ran the idea past Hannah Martin, Co-founder, the same with Debbie Gilbert who runs a local networking group Viva Networking and Mums Unltd – both were so supportive and thought it was a brilliant idea.
So when I decided to go for it, again it was time to start planning. Writing a business plan for this project and another marketing audit.
I pretty much launched this idea in the same way I launched Little Fish. Researched, planned, then created the name, brand and website. Mums Enterprise needed a lot of branding and design work and is why I now have a business partner in the form of Lucy Chaplin, she is a friend of mine who was also a freelance graphic designer. Again I wrote a comprehensive brief for Lucy, gave her background to my idea, what I was aiming for and she came back with an amazing mood board. I literally cried of happiness when I saw it, Lucy had got exactly what I wanted. It was perfect and the match was too good for us not to become business partners.
The events are taking place in Hertfordshire this June (2016) and I am really excited and of course nervous. But they have been so well received so far, the brands we have on board are just fabulous like our partners Virgin StartUp, Talented Ladies Club and My Accountant Friend. We have over 25 exhibitors on board now with more coming on board every week, all are just as passionate as me about supporting ambitious mums. It really is amazing.
My aim is for the Mums Enterprise Roadshow to be the UK’s number one event of it’s kind I have no doubt I will succeed at this, something special is happening. And for Little Fish I am still organising client events and very much intend to grow that side of the business and bring in further support so we can deliver more events for more clients. I really am considering angel or crowd funding investment to really get things moving.
So that’s it really.
I have been working for the last 18 months in my kitchen, literally just pushing and pushing every single day. I have written all my own copy, press releases, marketing plans, newsletters, web copy, content and blogs. Everything you see is from my head and I am just loving every moment. I am working so hard but I know, I can feel it in my bones that both Little Fish and Mums Enterprise will be the success I can see in my mind. Because I won’t stop until I make it happen. So there you go my Mumpreneur story.
These are just three things which may just help give insight if you are thinking of starting a business.
1) Speak to an accountant before you launch the business. I started as a sole trader and now wish I became Ltd from the get go. I have just turned Limited and basically the company doesn’t have the value of the turnover I made in my first year. I am gutted about that as its just lost revenue which could have been and should have been owned my Little Fish.
2) Think about setting your family’s expectations: When I started the business I didn’t really take into account the sacrifice my family would also be making for me to #shootforthemoon. It may be 2 or even 4 more years before I actually earn a salary anywhere near the one I had before Molly. My partner pays most of the bills, there isn’t much chance of a family holiday aboard for a while yet and there is certainly no shopping trips for me. It’s a big change and it’s not just your change, it’s a family change. I also work in the evenings and although I try to avoid it, I do work at weekends sometimes. I don’t think my partner expected my work to consume me like it has, although I absolutely love it. I guess it’s just a big shake up to the usual 9-5 routine. But my thoughts are a baby shakes all that up anyway, so why not shake your whole life up?
3) It really is like taking one step forwards and two steps back. Expect it to be hard work and don’t expect instant results, be patient. I have cried tears of joy but also tears of frustration, anger and sadness. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. But it’s your roller coaster
Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars.
You can find out more about the Mum’s Enterprise Roadshow here:
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