Lindsey Fish is the founder and CEO of Mums Enterprise Ltd.
Lindsey’s professional passion has always been events ever since she was an apprentice at just 16 for an exhibition event organiser.
Fast forward 14 years and she launched her own event management company instead of returning to her city job as a Marketing Manager, it was that experience that led her to the idea for the Mums Enterprise Roadshow.
She had experienced the conundrum herself about what to do about work after maternity leave and could see and hear women all around her experiencing the same and decided an event was the perfect solution and so the mission to the moon commenced.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I started my professional career rather early. Instead of going to university I decided to do an apprenticeship when I left school at 16. I held out for an interesting placement, I could have easily ended up in a mobile phone shop but I wanted something better than that. Luckily for me a start up exhibition organiser was seeking some affordable help locally and I was just the ticket. For two years I helped organised two large-scale garden exhibitions, sold stands and helped out on site and was involved in company meetings, so got to see what goes into organising such a big show. So when that ended, I worked for my local newspaper again organising exhibitions and event until I decided to spread my wings a little and move into marketing.
I completed my CIM Marketing Diploma, which took me three years working full time and doing the qualification in the evenings but I’m really pleased I did it. My last corporate role was as a Marketing Manager for a London Tech company and then I had my first baby in October 2013. I decided not to return to corporate life and instead set up an event management agency.
I personally didn’t want to leave Molly 11 hours a day and cutting a day also meant a 20% cut in salary so I thought to myself, if I have 15 years work experience and I can’t earn £600 a month on my own then what has it all been for. So that was my target, the amount of money I would be left with after childcare, travel and other costs. Then after a year of organising events for other organisations the idea struck for the Mums Enterprise Roadshow.
I was a mum, I had set up my own business after facing the conundrum about what to do about work after maternity leave, I had made a lot of new mummy friends who all seemed to be facing the same challenge. I thought there was an event in this, so I set about researching and planning. I joined forces with friend and now business partner Lucy Chaplin and we organised two exhibitions in 2016 which attracted almost 200 visitors, then in 2017 we hosted three events for almost 4,000 attendees and now we anticipate over 10,500 visitors to two large-scale exhibitions in Manchester Event City on 20th June and a flagship two day exhibition in its new London home, Olympia on the 28th & 29th September.
We still work from home, and I had a second baby in June last year so we truly understand the challenges surrounding mums and work which is why I believe they have become so popular. Everything we do is for our attendees and we have created an amazing platform for all the amazing initiatives, individuals, charities and companies out there who can help mums, women, dads, grandma’s….anybody who is seeking a more balanced family and working or business life.
So now that’s what I do, I no longer organise events for other people my focus is on building and growing Mums Enterprise Roadshow as well as our digital offering so people can find the opportunities, support and know-how they are looking for all year round.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Well no, I never sat down to plan it but I did think about it. I was excited about doing an apprenticeship and very early on I knew that if I went to university I would just waste my time. I wouldn’t study, I would be out having a good time and I knew that would just be such a waste. I could do that anyway…ha. I learn better on the job so an apprenticeship sounded perfect for me and I am really pleased I held out for a really great and unusual opportunity.
I am a very focused and determined person and if I want to do something, I will do it. Like marketing, I wanted to move into marketing without any marketing experience, went for an interview, landed it and that company and my boss really helped give me the experience, and they paid for my qualification to become a true marketing professional. It was that experience that enabled me to become a Marketing Manager.
One of my passions and something I would like to do one day is help school leavers with making the tough decisions and choices about what to do after school. It’s a hard time and often as a kid you make the wrong decisions and it’s easily to go down the wrong path for years so I would like to help there some day.
Have you faced any challenges along the way? How did you deal with them?
Yes quite a few but my main one has been public speaking. When I started in my first marketing job back in 2007, I was very intimidated and my boss really pushed me. He put me in manager meetings very early on and I found it difficult to speak up. I only learnt later on what they were, but I had mini panic attacks. Even when it was easy things, like working around the table to introduce yourself, I tried to speak but nothing would come out. It was horrendous and even worse when I had to speak in front of peers. But over time I have got a lot better, I have always tested myself and pushed myself. The only way to over come a fear is by facing it so I have purposely put myself forward for things where I would have to talk out loud in public. I still have a lot of work to do but it’s a confidence thing and I am getting better. One day I will be an amazing public speaker, just not quite there yet.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor or do you mentor anyone?
I personally have never mentored anybody but have had a good few mentors or go-to contacts over the last few years, particularly whilst I have been in business. The difficulty I have found is deciding what advice to take and what to leave, now that is the tricky bit. To be able to do that I think you need to be really confident in what you are doing and the direction you are heading, knowing what end result you want so you can take on board advice and decide what strategy will be best to help get you where you want to go. Hannah Martin of Talented Ladies Club has always been a really great person to know and now a good friend of mine. Only the other week was she giving me some amazing support and advice about leading the Mums Enterprise brand and becoming a spokesperson for it. We had some great advice after the first two events at the end of 2016 from Paul Dolman-Dorrall, he helped us when it came to changing our business model and making the events free to attend. More recently I have been speaking to my old boss, Founder & CEO of Exponential-e, he has built a multi-million pound business from scratch and I am in contact with a very well respected exhibition organiser which is great because now the shows are increasing in size and are becoming national exhibitions he can help us avoid costly mistakes. So yes, I am lucky that so many amazing and talented individuals can spare time on occasion to help us.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
Flexibility, and this isn’t just for women. I think the whole world of work needs to change and I truly believe it will. The 9-5 it’s just not the way to work anymore, I mean people who work 9-5 don’t really shut off at 5pm. People work non-stop, especially if they have access to work on their phones and laptops at home. It’s really frustrating and talent is going to be an increasing challenge for UK businesses, to find it and keep it. Organisations will be forced to become more flexible as they recognise that talented people need flexibility. So job sharing, working from home, flexible hours will be a must. Plus I don’t think you can imagine the kids of today standing for a 9-5 working life, can you?
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Well as an exhibition organiser taking your show to Olympia is a pretty amazing achievement. That to me is one of my proudest announcements and so I will probably cry even more tears of joy when I stand in the middle of that show and look around to thousands of people and hundreds of exhibitors thinking………wow…. Lucy and I did this.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
It is always a big challenge when you take an event to a new region. We are going to Manchester for the first time this year and it’s not going to be a small event. It is at Event City and we expect around 3500 visitors to that event on 20th June. So that is a big ask but we always achieve it. We have some pretty tried and tested marketing methods now as it will be our 6th exhibition so I am hoping we can rely on those and test a few new ones.
The future, we did a startup incubator program in October 2017 with News UK. We were lucky enough to be one of 6 chosen startups. That really helped take the blinkers off and open up our minds to the huge opportunity that stands before us. There is a movement happening and I am pleased to say we are facilitating it across the nation, perhaps even spearheading it.
Now we need to be able to help this audience all year round so we are working on creating a digital hub where people can access and find the support, know-how and opportunity they need to retrain, find flexible work, start or grow a business whenever they need to find it. We also want to organise a big exhibition in Scotland in early 2019 and we must start organising smaller, more regional bootcamp type events from 2019 too. We want to make sure Mums Enterprise is accessible to all and we can only do that by doing events in smaller regions as well as the big national shows. So yeah lot’s to do but I am excited. Our aim is to be the UK’s number one brand mums turn to for their work or business needs. So that is what we will do.
How do find working in a partnership?
I went to Lucy very early on, I had this amazing idea but I knew to be taken seriously and get into the big companies we needed the brand to look amazing. I had the idea for Mums Enterprise in March time 2015, Lucy was a friend and freelance graphic designer at the time and had done some work for my previous business so I went to her with the idea and a design brief and I literally was so happy when she sent me her ‘mood board’ designs back.
Because I didn’t have any budget at all we decided to become business partners and have worked together ever since. We work really well together, we have different skills and together they compliment each other really well for what we do. We work mostly over skype as she lives in Staffordshire whilst I am in Essex, but again it’s fine and we both have kids to work around. I couldn’t ask for a better business partner. This is a blog I wrote actually about how the brand was created, it includes links to my original brief and Lucy’s very first designs. Pretty amazing to look back, I remember that moment very clearly. ‘How the Mums Enterprise brand was created, blog post from October 2015’