With so many women facing discrimination during maternity leave and even when at the potential age of thinking about starting a family, the flexible working movement has quite rightly, become a real focus of many women who want to start families and still work. The movement is starting to be recognised by the government and employers too, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before the appropriate opportunities and rewards are available for working mothers.
Having been made redundant on my first maternity leave, and starting my own business in order to achieve the flexible working and work-family-life balance I wanted and needed, I feel really passionately about this subject matter and supporting other women who feel backed in a corner of sub-standard work opportunities, treatment, pay and conditions. So when events like the Mums Enterprise Roadshow Manchester come on my radar, my ears prick-up with delight and I snap up a ticket to attend!
What is the Mums Enterprise Roadshow Manchester
It’s a 1-day event, on Wednesday 20th June at Event City, Manchester (there’s also a second event at London’s Olympia in September). It’s a child-friendly exhibition, focussed solely around flexible working and business. It’s free to attend and aims to give mums the confidence, support, guidance and right frame of mind find flexible work or even to start their own business and guess what? It’s a career-focussed business event that you can bring your children too!
Attendees can come and go as they please, join in numerous workshops, discussions and sessions as well as networking opportunities with facilities on hand for mums with babies and young children, including an on-site creche! I’ll be attending with a 1-month old and am excited that there’s a business event like this that I can go along to!
Our mission is to help change the work and business lives of mums for the better, forever and we can’t wait to welcome everybody to our exciting events in 2018 showcasing amazing initiatives, individuals and organisations, it’s these partners and exhibitors who really change lives and many can’t be found at any other event.
I was invited to interview the Founder and CEO of the Mums Enterprise Roadshow, mother – Lindsey Fish and here’s what she had to say…
What you’re doing is incredibly inspirational for other women and mums out there. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve experienced starting your own business?
I face challenges of all shapes and sizes all of the time but probably the most significant is managing cashflow, we have had £0 investment to organise these events and every year we push ourselves and it becomes a bigger personal and professional risk. But the feeling we have is that this will work, we can do it and they will change lives and ultimately have a positive impact on the UK economy so how can we not keep going? This will be my legacy, it’ s my passion and it’s my life. I take it step by step, a day or week at a time and do everything I can to try and get to our end goal.
we changed the life of 20% of those who attended for the better, and 65% said we helped give them confidence and kick-started them into action
Have you come across any negativity since launching your own business? And if so, how did you deal with it?
There is only one point of negativity so far and that has been about our decision to stop selling stands to any Multi-Level-marketing brands in 2018. Many of those who would like to exhibit and promote one of these brands have sometimes been negative about that decision but we are positive about it so we must stand firm about our decision.
We are now in year 3 and have many ‘resident’ exhibitors who have been at every show like Hannah of Talented Ladies Club, Nicola of Mpower Mastermind Groups, Nik of Vision Mag and Freddie from Raring 2 Go. We had around 30 exhibitors at our first events and this year will have over 100 at each event.
The best thing about our events is that we attract exhibitors who often don’t do other events, which make our exhibitions very special. This is a very unique platform and there are so many initiatives, individuals and organisations now who offer support, services and real opportunities for this audience that we really are facilitating a movement and connecting mums and anybody who is seeking help in their work or business life can meet and be inspired. Many attendees find opportunities they never even knew existed. It’s incredible actually.
As for the mums, it really is heart-warming to hear all the stories and receive messages of thanks. We surveyed our London 2017 audience and we changed the life of 20% of those who attended for the better, and 65% said we helped give them confidence and kick-started them into action. The mums are incredible, it’s crazy how much experience, talent and expertise is out there, but we knew it existed.
Past attendees have also turned exhibitors, we get sent attendee press stories about their successes and we even have a past attendee working with us on a freelance basis. We really are building an eco-system.
As a mum who is trying to grow her own business, I try to be open about the reality of freelancing. It’s not all extended holidays and daytime shopping is it?
Absolutely not! I have a 4 year old daughter Molly who is in nursery five days a week and I had a baby back in June, Rosie who I also put in nursery for three days a week. They are both in for school hours 9-3pm, so on a day when they are both in I set up work in my kitchen with just my laptop, note pad, landline and mobile by my side. I usually think about the mini goals for the day when I drive the kids to nursery so when I sit down I write down my mini to-do list, I also have tasks set for me in asana. So I pick out the things to prioritise that I must do that day and start getting on with it.
After working during the school hours, I have a break when I have the kids to do all mummy things like cooking, baths, playing and then when they are in bed I set up camp again, usually every week night in the kitchen and start working again, just as I was doing in the daytime. The Mums Enterprise team are all mums, and we all work flexibly so we often have Skype’s, emails and phone calls in the evenings too. Whatever we need to do to keep going and #shootforthemoon.
I know lots of peoples’ fears, when thinking about taking the leap to start their own business or go freelance, is money! How long did it take for your business to earn you a living?
Money and cash flow has been a huge thing for us and if I’m honest, we still have a long way to go. We started with a pot of £0 I put in £200 or so just so we could build our website but that’s it. I booked venues and started booking suppliers without any means to pay them but I knew we would be able to as I was confident we could sell enough in terms of stand space and we did. When we push ourselves to do bigger events and attract more people, the venue and all costs increase ten fold. It’s very scary and again we are just relying on our confidence that we can and will sell enough sponsorship and exhibition stands to cover costs with the intention of course to make profit. We are now in our third year and have just started earning a living from the business. But it depends on your ambition. When I started my first business, an event management company in 2014, before the idea struck for Mums Enterprise, I won clients within 3 months and earned over £1000 a month, which wasn’t a huge amount but more than I would have been left with sticking in my corporate job in the city after childcare and commuting, so surpassed my earning goal back then. But now, this isn’t just about money it’s about much more than that. The more successful we can make these events for other people the more successful we will be as a business ourselves. We are after all shooting for the moon, and it’s about the long game now not a quick win.
What support do you think is still needed out there for women like us wanting to create a flexible-working situation for ourselves and our families?
The biggest support any employer can offer their staff, in my opinion is flexibility, trust and understanding. Raising a family isn’t easy and this support shouldn’t just be for women either. 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.
I also believe there must be more support for women as standard surrounding mental health which ultimately affects our work. The change we experience, to go from independent woman to care giver within a matter of hours is a tremendous strain and one we don’t give ourselves enough credit for. If we realise that we need support in dealing with this massive change in our life it would positively affect our ambition, motivation, confidence and ability. So more access and more open discussion about this will help us all.
Where would you like to see Mums Enterprise Ltd in 5 years time?
I want Mums Enterprise to be a well-respected brand and I want it to the number one brand mums think of when they are facing a work or business challenge, need or dilemma. I want to help as many mums as I can feel fulfilled in work and family life. We say we are going to the moon and taking thousands of mums with us and I really mean that. I want to be able to leave a mark on the world and do my ‘little’ bit to help change it. There was an EBay report out back in 2014 which predicted that the Mum Economy would be worth 9.2 billion by 2020, I want to prove that with Mums Enterprise in existence we helped far surpass this prediction.
What is your one proudest moment since launching your business?
In 2016 we had just 200 visitors across two local events in Hertfordshire, we then switched the business model, made the shows free to attend and went to bigger regions and as a result, had almost 4,000 attendees at our events last year. Now in 2018 we are going to Olympia! That in itself is an organisers dream and we anticipate an audience of over 10,500 – I mean that to me is awesome!
It’s all about helping mums gain confidence and find new opportunities and grow and the fact that we get amazing comments, and visitors come back year after year is just brilliant. Our aim is to help change the work or business lives of mums for the better forever. Another achievement I am so proud of is the fact that exhibitors have kept coming back and re-booking. We still have companies who were with us at our first events in 2016. I mean how amazing is that, and the fact many exhibitors do not do any other events, or are new to events means we have awesome, amazing and unique exhibitors that can be found no where else.
Is there any advice you’d give other women looking to get into flexible working or start their own business?
That nothing happens as quickly as you would like. You can have big dreams and goals yes of course, but they are not going to happen over night. I really don’t think there is such thing as an overnight success. Even the ‘over night successes’ worked for years before they ‘were known’. So it takes years not weeks or months so I think that is something everybody should know. That if they don’t see results right away, to keep the faith and keep going. It will come if they believe it will and think positive and take it seriously. Your new career, your course, new vocation or new business needs your time, the dishes don’t. Get yourself in a new routine and let the other disappear, it’s just another change you need to get used to.
But not meaning to be negative but it’s a reality, be brutally honest with yourself if you feel it’s not working or you can’t give it the time and attention it needs and your belly just ain’t feeling it then don’t be afraid or ashamed to give it up. It takes guts to say something isn’t working than to keep going, and what you did may just be a stepping stone to your ultimate destiny. Mum’s Enterprise was never meant to happen, it was never part of my plan. I launched another company first then closed it because it led me to this, so just follow the path life gives you with the ultimate goal of being ‘happy’ doing it.