Little Fish: Starting a business and a family

Little Fish is a business just starting out; founded on June 2 it aims to challenge the event management industry by offering modular and package deals to small businesses, removing some of the time spent formulating a quote and engaging customers by being open and transparent.

Lindsey – tell us more about this idea of “Pay as you go” event management.

Lindsey: I’ve been in events for a long time - I started out as an apprentice when I was 16 and events to me has always been part of my career. I decided that instead of going back to my 9-5 marketing manager job in London after having my child I thought this was the perfect time to launch Little Fish.

I did all my research whilst I was on maternity leave. I did a marketing audit and I did some research polls and things like that, and I found that there was a gap in the market for a young, fresh, vibrant, cost-effective, approachable, friendly event agency.

All the agencies I spoke to were really, really expensive and a bit old fuddy duddy with lots of different members of staff to deal with - and I just didn’t think that was approachable for small companies. So that’s what Little Fish Event Management aims to do, be an affordable events agency that is more friendly and approachable.

The idea being that you’re offering a more modular approach to event management?

Lindsey: A lot of people can’t give you a price there and then; they have to come and talk to you, they have to have a meeting, to discuss your specific event project. It’s what you have to do- but what I’ve started to do is put packages together - suggested packages with how much they would cost - so people don’t have to contact me, agree to meet me, feel like they’re obligated to buy from me just to get a price on a potential event idea. Of course every event is different but by formulating packages I am hoping to offer potential clients inspiration with a guide as to how much such an event could cost before they even get in touch.

On my website I’ve also –outlined what my fees are trying to be as open and as transparent as possible. Say conference company would like support with a conference Little Fish can organise the whole thing from start to finish from liaising with suppliers, booking the venues, booking the suppliers, getting their content ready, managing it on the day then following it up afterward to see how it all went. Or I can simply help out the event host with certain elements such as delegate management for instance. It can be as little or as much as  the client needs.

You started Little Fish on June 2 – how scary has it been making that leap?

Lindsey: Really, really scary! I’m a person who goes in with two feet first anyway, I’ve always been that way. The first month I was running on adrenaline – now the reality is starting to hit now that I’ve had my P45 and I’m running on what I’ve got in the bank it is getting pretty scary now. [laughs] It is pretty scary.

We’ve talked to a lot of people who have started up businesses and there does seem to be this fear factor where people start up business as a hobby or a sideline and they have that leap where they take it from a sideline to doing it for themselves. What advice would you give someone in that sort of situation?

Lindsey: It didn’t work like that for me. I set up Little Fish to be my profession from the get go but my advice to other people is to do it – for me doing it half-heartedly you’re not going to be able to give it your all so I would say grab it with both horns and just go for it. At the end of the day you could always go back to a job. It might work, it might not - do it, take it and run with it. I would.

You don’t want to be 90 in your rocking chair thinking I wish I’d done this or I wish I’d done that which is why I launched Little Fish, I don’t want to regret not trying to attain my dream.

How does it fit in with having a child?

Lindsey: I did all the background work for Little Fish Event Management when I was on maternity leave - I was liaising with work to see if I would go back or not. When the nine months came up, I started Little Fish instead of going back. My daughter goes into childcare but not for as many hours as she would have done if I had gone back to work.  Working for myself I am able to take advantage of the hours outside of the 9-5 such as evening and weekends as well as being available within the core working hours. 

One of the big things when starting up a business is finance. Did you find it hard to find finance?

Lindsey: [laughs] I don’t have any finance.

I set up Little Fish with my last month’s salary and I am very lucky that my partner is right behind me and Little Fish, he is the person who is actually enabling me to do this, although I do have clients now so I will be able to invest more into Little Fish the more work I do.

Smarta offer Start Up Loans to new businesses which have been trading for less than twelve months with additional business software and mentoring.

Lindsey: That’s brilliant, I am not sure I am ready to source funding for Little Fish just yet but when I am ready I will certainly come to Smarta.

How do you see things progressing?

Lindsey: Because I’ve been doing so much, trying to get so much coverage, getting Little Fish out there and I am getting a good number of hits on its website – I need to have plans in place for growth.

I would like a Little Fish office that would be awesome, but I need to ensure I am not ever at a point where I need to turn away a job because of time limits.  So short term is to manage my own workflow, then make plans for growth which would be planning for additional event managers to be able to deliver an increasing number of events for a growing client base.

I am open to working a little differently, perhaps other event manager mums could be suitable who could deliver for Little Fish and our clients but who need the flexibility to work around family life.  It would be great to have an office, with a crèche attached and have people working for Little Fish how believe in it as much as I do without the need to confirm to the typical office based 9-5.

Longer term - I know there is a market opportunity which is to be a UK agency for oversea clients who don’t have a marketing or event team based in the UK.  Why couldn’t Little Fish go global?

Thanks Lindsey for talking to us and best of luck with Little Fish in the coming months.

If you want help to grab a business opportunity with both horns and you’re near Croydon tomorrow night, why not come along to our free event? It’s a chance to learn from fellow entrepreneurs about how they started their businesses, a networking opportunity – and the Smarta Start Up Loan team will be on hand if you are looking for help with funding.

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