Meet the Local Leader: Mandy Lucas

Meet the Local Leader: Mandy Lucas

Posted: Tue 28th Nov 2023

Enterprise Nation is on a mission to take the loneliness out of entrepreneurship. Through our online local meet-ups, we're offering a ready-made support network to small business owners across the UK and Ireland.

These monthly meet-ups wouldn’t exist without our army of Local Leaders – amazing individuals who are passionate about supporting small businesses and are committed to their local communities.

Here, we meet Mandy Lucas, your Devon and Cornwall Local Leader.

Tell us about your business.

I am an animal welfare expert, with over 20 years of experience in positively impacting the lives of farm animals across the globe. Although I had the privilege to go to every single country and continent in the world to look at animal welfare on farms, I wasted a lot of time. I went to these places to look at the animals but came straight back home, not really exploring any of these countries. I got very tired and didn't have any passion for what I was doing.

Then an opportunity came up in 2019, where I could be given redundancy. I said I wanted to do this for myself now. So, after over 35 years of continuous employment in the world of corporate business, I took a leap of faith and set up my own consultancy in May 2019. With it, my passion for work and life had returned!

I now support brands that use animals in their supply chain. So whether they eat them, wear them or use them as textiles, I help them use these resources responsibly, understand where they come from and the practices that are involved in creating them and help set appropriate policies.

When did you first come across Enterprise Nation? How long have you been a Local Leader?

It was through the Lunch and Learn webinars soon after I'd started. During the COVID lockdowns, I was trying to learn about how to run my own business and then realised that there was a lot of support within the organisation itself.

I started attending the online Devon meet-ups, and sometime after, Jen, the Local Leader, wanted to step down. I thought to myself that I quite liked this group and wanted it to continue. So in 2021, another member and I ran it jointly for about a year. She then wanted to focus on other priorities, so I took it on myself.

What do you bring to these meetings as the Local Leader?

What I try and bring is a safety net that we're all there to celebrate our wins and discuss our challenges in a safe environment. I encourage people to speak out and share their own experiences. It very much isn't a place for saying: "This is what I do, come and buy from me."

But sometimes it's quite challenging.

When I first took over and went around with introductions and quick wins, there was a gentleman who thought these meetings were places where you could talk shop to sell your products. However, he has come back for two more sessions. So, he obviously got something out of it, even though he didn't get out what he thought he'd come for in the first place. 

A lot of people at these meetings tend to be life coaches. This initially made me wonder if I was the right sort of business owner to be hosting these meetings. But our challenges as business owners are the same, no matter what we do.

Also, I've worked in corporate life for 35 years and have a lot of experience about how it works and can help facilitate conversations.

What can entrepreneurs attending a meet-up for the first time expect? 

It's fairly free-flowing. I start with a presentation slide that explains the ground rules and links to Enterprise Nation and how the platform can support them. I then open it up to the group to discuss any challenges they are facing.

Our whole aim is to provide that contact for people who are working on their own and give them an opportunity to voice their challenges and know that their issues are the same as what others are facing.

What's the small business scene like in Devon and Cornwall?

It seems to be buoyant at the moment. We still get quite a lot of new people who haven't actually started their businesses yet.

Most of the people I interact with are sole traders or limited companies that are doing either consultancy or life coaching. So, they haven't got premises or all those cost-of-living challenges that other businesses normally face.

We discuss some of the things that Enterprise Nation wants feedback on, such as late payment, which everybody always thinks is a challenge. But nobody in my group has ever had a problem with late payments! At the same time, we analyse why we don't have these problems and what we're doing differently.

We have great co-working spaces in Devon and Cornwall, which helps as a lot of us meet up from time to time. This helps from the loneliness and productivity point of view.

What major challenges are businesses in Devon and Cornwall facing right now?

A lot of it is about prioritising work and customers. How do you get full enough but not too full? When do you say no? A lot of small business owners, particularly if they're new, are just saying yes to everything because they feel that they need that income.

The other one is productivity. How do you keep busy? How do you not get distracted but also make time for yourself?

There was one thing that one of the ladies taught me because I got to the point where I was full and didn't know what to do. Do I recruit someone to take on all the work? However, she advised against it, suggesting a waiting list instead. Her reason was: "If people really want you, they'll wait for you."

I would have never had the courage to do it if I hadn't had that conversation. It was nice to speak to somebody else and not stress about it by myself.

Tell us about small business successes that you've heard about in your area (or at your meet-ups).

Originally, we had a core group of regulars that used the meet-ups as a supportive network to chat, celebrate what was going on and discuss challenges. 

Recently, we have had a more dynamic membership. One young lady who's joined us is involved with diverse learning. She has her own diverse learning needs and wanted to know how to get a contract with the NHS.

I was amazed to see just how many people had different perspectives on getting contracts with big organisations and becoming a preferred supplier. The next month, she came back to share that she made it onto the list.

It is really good to have her perspective in the group as she brings diverse learning into our conversations and makes sure our websites are more accessible to people like her.

Enterprise Nation: Small business local meet-ups

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Hi, I am Amanda, Enterprise Nation's content manager.

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