Interviews & Profiles

SHC Social Media Director Sarah Cook

How to Take Your Food Startup to the Big Leagues

SHC was launched in June 2014 by Sarah Cook after successfully using social media platforms particularly Facebook & Twitter to promote Sarah’s lifestyle events with her other business The Beauty Event (TBE).

It was the positive persuasion of TBE guests & exhibitors that encouraged Sarah to make the first steps into social media as a business and not just a voice to tell people about her events.

In less than 10 months since Sarah started her business she had given more than 25 121 tutorials, hosted group workshops & training and provided social media management services for 13 different clients!

Full name: Sarah Cook
Location: Bristol, UK
Title & company: Director, SHC Social Media
Education: Ba Hons 2:1 Degree Business Management
Previous experience: Prior to setting up SHC I ran a successful lifestyle events business and extensively used social media to attract exhibitors, therapists & beauticians to the events as well as lots of happy guests too.

Give us a glimpse on what a typical day looks like for you and what your daily responsibilities are.

During the week I start my day at 6.45am and until my children are both in school at 9am my time is all theirs. Then from 9.30 until 3pm I aim to structure my day into 90 minute slots with the most ‘meaty’ tasks to do first (this is all scheduled the day/week before). I check my clients social media accounts (as well as my own!) at least once during the day and again every evening.

Replying to emails and doing research for content takes up the majority of my time. I source images and content for my clients accounts and schedule their posts according to their content strategy that we’ve agreed on. I offer training and workshops and do a Skype or face to face tutorial a few times a week. From 3pm until the children’s bedtime I switch off from social media and be mummy! Then I resume again at 8pm usually until midnight connecting with small businesses locally and worldwide, as well as writing blogs.

Whats your favorite part of work?

Knowing I’ve helped small business owners, (the vast majority of whom are female entrepreneurs and startups) to grow their business using social media.

“My passion does not lie in hashtags, tweets and likes. I’m not a geek. I’m a people person and I am passionate about helping others use social media to assist in growing their business. I love interacting with people and showing them how to share their experiences, knowledge and expertise in a way that is ‘social media friendly’”.

SHC is about opening people’s eyes to an amazing and ever-changing online world which has incredible potential for small businesses when used in the right way! I help small businesses and startups get more social media savvy!”

How do you get your work done at home? Do you have certain routines that you follow?

I set my schedule every evening for the next day and for the week ahead on a Sunday evening using iCal. I aim to have no distractions while I work and set a timer to achieve the set task. I’m also realistic about what I can achieve in the time that I have so ensure I set realistic goals and plan accordingly.

Whats the best advice youve been given that has stuck with you?

Don’t multitask! Nothing can get done to the quality that you want and everything is compromised.

What was your ah-ha moment, when you launched your company?

About a week or so after my launch I already had a handful of clients and a friend of mine wasn’t surprised at all. She said ‘This is exactly what I was expecting… you’re really great at what you do and everyone needs social media’. I was rather taken aback! It seemed that lots of people I knew had predicted that I’d do well and the only person who wasn’t quite as sure was me!

What I love the most is seeing the ‘light bulb moment’ happen! When people just ‘get it’ I’m over the moon!”
In the process of creating your company, what things did you have to do that you hadn’t accounted for?

The frequency at which I reassess my methods and procedures. At the beginning I assumed the way I was doing something was the best way whereas I quickly learned there is often a better, quicker and smarter way! As you grow, learn, change and develop the needs of your business and how you manage them day-to-day change too. I’m now less rigid and much more flexible in my approach.

Running a business is a constant learning experience. How has your previous work experience helped you with running your company?

I’ve learnt to be bold and ask for what I want. To set myself goals that are inline with my dreams. I’ve learnt to value my self-worth and have confidence in my ability.

The appearance of my business in terms of my branding, my website and the collaborations I have directly link to the way people perceive me and my business and so I’ve taken care to ensure all aspects are inline with how I want to market SHC.

Tell us more about how you came up with your idea and about the process on how you turned the idea into an actual business.

While promoting my other business The Beauty Event (a well-being lifestyle events business) I used social media extensively to attract both exhibitors & guests. This was recognized by lots of people who commented on my social media skills and some of whom asked me for training and tips on how to use social media for their business. This all happened at a time when my events business was coming to a crossroads and so the opportunity to begin a new business was very appealing.

I did some research and talked to people who were currently providing social media related services and started to build a picture as to how I’d like my business to be. Very quickly I’d made my mind up and so threw myself out there in the hope that people would want what I was offering and luckily they did!

What has been the most effective source for gaining new customers and whats your marketing strategy for it?

Social media! As well as email marketing & networking. My strategy is to always focus on my core consumer making this as niche as possible and build strong genuine relationships with other businesses based on common values, respect and trust.

“My passion does not lie in hashtags, tweets and likes. I’m not a geek. I’m a people person and I am passionate about helping others use social media to assist in growing their business .

I love interacting with people and showing them how to share their experiences, knowledge and expertise in a way that is ‘social media friendly’”.

Are you working on any new projects or launching something new that youd like to share with us?

I’m launching a very exciting project later this year it’s a members hub that will give people lots of amazing tips and advice to grow their business using social media.

How much funding did you need to create your business and what necessary steps did you take to achieve this?

Due to my business being solely service based I did not have to invest in stock, materials, machinery, equipment etc. I work from home and don’t employ any staff. My only expenses have been in setup e.g. website, new laptop etc. and then ongoing expenses e.g. memberships, travel and utilities.

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