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Advice, mentoring and case studies

Social Yorkshire

With a first degree in Media Studies from University of Bradford and a master’s in Communications from the University of Leeds, Sarah Allison’s expertise is firmly rooted in the field of communications.

With social media her speciality, Sarah first approached Spark with a view to offering social media training services on a freelance basis.

Small businesses can find it difficult to establish a presence on social media and my knowledge and skills could help them reach a wider audience. Although I began by offering my services as a trainer to start-up businesses, Spark also gave me support and encouragement to start my own business.

Sarah’s attendance at the Graduate Entrepreneurship Project bootcamp in 2011 gave her practical advice about running her own business and, after the birth of her son in 2012, she was able to take a step back and re-evaluate the long-term viability of her social media business idea.

I realised that I had to broaden its remit and I developed further services including strategy, consultancy and managed services, still within the sphere of social media. 

A Proof of Concept award of £1,000 helped Sarah market her business, Social Yorkshire, which launched in 2013.

Being able to give Spark as my business address and use the meeting rooms there as I currently work from home has been a big help in getting established. I am now running training courses for Spark and leading a session at the winter bootcamp. Kairen Skelley also put me in touch with QU2 - the Leeds Met business incubator - and I am busy running NTI government-funded training courses on the benefits of using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for business.

After meeting Professor Nigel Lockett, Director of the Leeds Enterprise Centre, Sarah is now a guest lecturer on a Social Networking and Enterprise module.

It has been a very busy year and I have got bookings for speaking and training through to June 2014. I am now in a position where I could take on a 'year in business' student so I am also looking into managed office space - Social Yorkshire is really taking off.