Finding my tribe at Childcare Expo by Tamara Bugembe
6th April 2017
There’s definitely something different about people who spend most of their time with children. Last month I attended my first Childcare Expo at the Kensington Olympia. I was full of anxiety and not sure what to expect. A week before I had been to a “techy” start-up event and I hadn’t quite recovered from the air of paranoia and competition.
I am brand new to childcare industry. I’ve recently branched out from the world of hospital medicine to set up a niche new-born childcare agency, Helper Bees, that provides specialist babysitters to families with babies aged 0-12 months in London. I was a bit sceptical because a lot of the businesses and workshops mentioned on Childcare Expo website seemed more suited to nurseries and child-minder settings than my niche new-born in-home service, but curiosity got the better of me and I thought I’d give it a go.
Even before I arrived at the event, I was stunned by the niceness of the people around. I shared a lift from the station with two lovely ladies who regularly attended Childcare Expo. They were more than happy to share what they wish they knew before starting their own childcare businesses. We flipped through the program together and they pointed out the stalls I must visit and talks I had to attend. When I tried to explain that some stalls didn’t seem quite right for my business, they shushed me with this golden piece of advice: “Explain what you do and then just stand there and let them figure out how they can help you”. So I did just that and was pleasantly surprised.
I left the event with answers to questions that I didn’t even know I had and the relief of having found my tribe. Instead of being subjected to heavy sales pitches and sign up offers, people were more than happy to give advice and encouragement. I received advice on insurance, managing client expectations and keeping my babysitters safe. I had a promise of a useful introduction in the new-born care sector, contact details for a nanny agency mentor who had been through a similar journey to mine and a recommendation for a potential shared workspace with other similar businesses.
We will have to see if all these promises come to fruition; but even if they don’t, the reassurance that I am onto a good thing with my unique business idea, and that I have a tribe of experienced people to reach out to when things get tough, is priceless.