After I graduated from university (2:1 BA Hons in Event Management from Leeds Metropolitan University) I worked for event management companies in Manchester and Liverpool. The company I worked for in Liverpool then downsized and in essence closed its events department, leaving me without a job. I applied for a few positions but there weren’t many events jobs advertising at the time and although I somehow got a few interviews they were ideally looking for people with 5 years minimum experience and I wasn’t successful. At the same time a plan started to form that perhaps I would set up my own event management company, which would then also give me the freedom to do things my way!
At the time of setting up the company over 9 years ago the industry seemed even more London-centric than it is today and so the name emerged as I wanted to offer quality event and conference management services across the North of England. To this day this remains our primary market, however we have also run numerous events nationally, plus international conferences both in the UK and abroad.
I had always imagined that one day I would set up my own company and follow in the footsteps of my father and grandfather (who both set up their own businesses and always worked for themselves). I didn’t however anticipate that I would be setting up a company before I had reached my mid twenties! At first I was very conscious of my age, thinking that it would hold me back but I soon realised that age is irrelevant as long as you are offering a quality service, and so I stopped worrying.
I accessed an eight week evening class which helped me create my business plan. For the first 6 months I worked evenings and weekends in a bar as well as for Events Northern to give me an income until the company could start paying me a wage. Within the first week of the business I tendered for a conference working on behalf of numerous prestigious partners including Arts Council England. It was a great boost when I won the contract and delivered a successful event, receiving lots of fantastic testimonials. Early on I cemented our niche of conferences for the health, arts and business sectors, however we work across many sectors for very varied clients to date. Many of my earliest clients are still clients today and most of our business comes from personal recommendations.
The events industry, technologies and business in general has changed immensely since 2004. It is funny to think that for many years event registration forms were filled out with a pen and faxed or posted back to us to then be typed into our database (no online registration systems!) and very traditional outbound marketing was used, social media and other inbound marketing was unknown!
Early in the life of the company (2004) I won the handbag.com Barclays Business Plan Awards, under 25 category. I was also runner up in the Everywomen Business Awards in 2006.
We have organised every type of event you can think of. Conferences are my ultimate passion and I am excited about the many developments and opportunities the event industry offers today. Our largest project was a complex 4-day conference with a gala dinner at the Natural History Museum and a launch party at which Diversity performed. Over a thousand international delegates attended from 100 countries worldwide and we had over 30 event management staff. As well as the conference plenary and concurrent keynote strands there were also 80 individual workshop panels comprising over 200 presenters.
Setting up your own company is not a decision to take lightly and as well as the highs there have certainly also been darker times too, such as battling through the recession, the NHS transition and upheaval, working ridiculously long hours and testing personal relationships as a result. However despite the trails and tribulations I believe overall I definitely made the right choice and I am proud of our achievements.
I am passionate about business and I strongly believe that more young people and people of all ages in general should consider starting their own company. It is import to instil entrepreneurial skills and ensure that more people do realise it is an option to them.
I have enjoyed sharing a little bit about the creation of Events Northern Ltd. Thank you for listening!