Interview with event manager Lindsey Fish

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Don’t know what to do when your maternity leave ends? Lindsey Fish decided that, much as she loved her job, going back to work wasn’t an option for her. So she started her own event management company called Little Fish. She explains why and how she did it.

Tell us about your career before becoming a mum

My career began as an apprentice after my GCSEs in 2000. I moved into marketing in 2007 and completed my Professional Diploma in marketing in the evenings as I felt it was important to understand marketing theories and be able to apply them.

For the last seven years I have worked in client side marketing roles, mostly for companies in the IT and telecoms industry.  I was the Channel Marketing Manager in my last role for IT, Cloud and network provider Exponential-e.

Why did you decide not to return to work, and how tough was the choice?

Figuring out what to do once my maternity leave ended really did cause me a headache. I knew decisions would have to be made but I didn’t realise how difficult it would be.

There really were so many options and thoughts going through my head – a long commute, working out the money side, should I get a local job, should it be full-time or part-time and don’t even get me started on childcare options and costs! It was quite stressful and it didn’t help that there was a time limit.

Liking my last employer and the people didn’t make it any easier, but at the end of the day it seemed crazy to be paying a childminder to look after my daughter Molly for the three hours a day I would spend commuting on top of the hours I would actually be working.

The choice I finally came to (after working out what my take-home salary would be after childcare and commuting expenses) was to just go for it and start my own business.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I have always wanted to work for myself, but the stars have never aligned for it to happen. Maternity leave gave me the opportunity to really think about what I could do on my own and then research my idea.

Events are the thing I am most confident in doing and what I most enjoy. I found that people actually have a poor perception of event agencies – a lot of people assume they are expensive and dishonest, with money being made in the form of commissions and backhanders from suppliers.

So I wanted to break that perception and set up an honest event agency which is suited to the modern day needs of small and medium companies today. And that’s exactly what I did!

What skills and experience do you have that you believe will make Little Fish Events a success?

Now is a perfect time for me. I have the event and exhibition experience and the confidence needed to offer myself out there as an event expert. But I have also built up my marketing experience, which enables me to professionally build my own brand and present myself and my business to the best of my ability.

But that just helps building my company and spreading my word. To make Little Fish a success, it would have to come down to me as an individual. I am a people person, I am inquisitive so enjoy finding out about people, companies and different industries.

I feel I can build a good rapport with people which helps when meeting new people, building relationships, hosting events and when liaising with clients, attendees and suppliers. There is also that drive, passion and determination to succeed, the fire in the belly.

Who is your target customer, and how will you help them?

Little Fish was established to provide event expertise as a pay-as-you-go service, exclusively for B2B companies who employ under 250 staff and are based within Hertfordshire, London or surrounding areas.

My business takes on event projects from conception to completion – whether it be an event targeting leads, prospects, partners, suppliers, customers or of course staff. We work on a one-to-one basis, so we can get a firm understanding of a client’s business and objectives and devise an individual event project plan.

Then Little Fish manages every aspect of the event, from sourcing venues and other suppliers,to managing the event on the day and post event review. If needed, we can also devise and implement a promotional plan which could include copywriting, design and print.

As an original and modern event agency, Little Fish is honest, trustworthy and reliable. We don’t make any sneaky commissions, instead we pass any discounts on directly to our clients. There are also no hourly or daily rates, or added expensive on-site management fees – just one fee which is a percentage of a company’s total event budget, making the whole outsourcing experience easy, upfront and 100% transparent.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced so far in setting up your business, and how have you overcome them?

There have been a number of challenges, including starting a business with no budget. I am lucky that my brother is a graphic designer and so are a few friends, so I haven’t had to stump up large amounts of money for anything.

I also choose to pay monthly for the hosting of my website which I created myself using a web creation platform called Webflow which requires no code. I pay monthly for Google apps, Microsoft office and my virtual office address, too which makes it all affordable. And I mostly attend free networking events – no expensive lunches for me…yet!

I am also starting my business as a new mum in a new area. I only moved to Hertfordshire a year ago, so I am building up my profile and contacts from scratch. I am attending local networking events and have already made some great local contacts with whom I plan to collaborate with, which will help raise my profile locally.

How do you balance your work with Molly? How, when and where do you work?

I started to research my idea in March this year, and finally decided that I would go it alone in April with a launch date of 2nd June.  So I have needed to research, create my business and marketing plans and implement it all over the past few months.

I worked whenever I could around looking after Molly, who is now nine months old. I work when she is sleeping, in the evenings and at weekends. Now that I have  launched Little Fish, I’ve found a really flexible childminder so I can work during the day, attend meetings, networking events and make calls.

My childminder is great – she can have Molly for extra hours at the drop of a hat, which is essential for me so I am easily available for meetings when I need to be.

I do have a home office setup and use a virtual office as my address. I also work outside quite a lot as it is summer and I use the personal hotspot from my mobile phone so I can work anywhere and still access the internet. All my files are saved in Google drive which means I can access them anywhere, which is really useful.

How important is it to you to still have a career?

It’s very important to me. I love being a mum, but I have always wanted to work for myself and it feels as though my 14 year career working for other companies was all just preparation and training for when I start my own business.

I have always worked hard and applied passion to everything I do, and it’s even more rewarding now it’s all my own ideas and I actually like the responsibility it brings. I somehow seem to work well under pressure.

Who inspires you?

This is actually my folks. Both my parents have had to find new occupations (they owned their own business until the recession hit). Now my mum works supporting families in her local community and my dad works for the ambulance service, saving lives every day.

They have always encouraged me to do my best, to be a good person and have always been excited for me and wanted me to do well. So without their encouragement I wouldn’t be so inspired to feel that yes, I can actually do this. I want to make them proud.

What is your vision for your business?

For Little Fish to be recognised for breaking the traditional event agency mould, and be known as the original, modern day outsourced events agency. Also, to be well known and sought after by companies throughout the UK.

What advice do you have for other mums facing a similar dilemma at the end of maternity leave?

If you’re thinking of starting your own business or want to but just don’t know what you would do, don’t think try to think of an idea – think instead about what people want or need, what they may buy or what is popular now.

Look at things from a different angle. Write down what you are most confident at doing, what comes naturally to you or what do you really enjoy and you may find that this a seed from which you can explore and grow into the perfect business idea.

You can find out more about Lindsey’s services on the Little Fish website

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