It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in business now for 10 years!
So where did it all start and why?
Well, there was never an intention or desire to start my own business. I’d always been an employer but circumstance sometimes takes you down a road you didn’t mean to take but can then open out into such wonderful opportunities.
I often tell my story of how Social Progress was started and why when I deliver social media workshops and training. I tell it for a couple of reasons – (1) because I can see people thinking “you’re no spring chicken, how did you get into social media?” and (2) because it helps people to understand the background and skills needed in the work I do, and where they came from.
Social Progress was started because I’d started using LinkedIn in my role as a business adviser at Business Link and someone asked me to show them how it works and what are the benefits. To me, LinkedIn wasn’t and isn’t rocket science. It’s business networking but just online.
OK, so there’s a little more to it than that. Hence, I wouldn’t be asked to deliver training on it. But, anyway the person who asked me to show them how LinkedIn works explained that I could show them once I’d finished working at Business Link and that they’d pay me.
Lightbulb moment – maybe I should do something with this. I’d delivered training at a previous employment and I’d also delivered presentations when I worked for a high street bank. I’d worked in customer service extensively in the bank and I’d also studied for my Psychology A Level at the age of 40. Not because I needed to, but because I quite fancied studying it. All of which fit nicely into social media and delivering training.
So, Social Progress was formed initially to help business people understand how to get the best from LinkedIn.
Slowly but surely, other social media platforms became more popular with the business world and I was being asked more and more for training on the other platforms. Plus I could see the benefits to businesses embracing these platforms.
One such platform was Facebook. Now, 10 years ago, Alex my son, was on Facebook and I kept hearing family members saying “Alex, you really shouldn’t be putting that on Facebook.”. I wasn’t on there but thought I best join to see what he was posting. I joined, sent Alex a friend request, which he accepted and then blocked me. Ironic really, as Alex now works for Social Progress and although he’s tried to unblock me from seeing his content there’s some bug in the system which won’t allow me to see what he posts. I’m sure he’s grown up a bit since then and so it’s no longer an issue.
However, it did help me to see an opportunity that we could help businesses navigate through training and then from helping businesses by managing social media for them.
Highlights and growing over the years
Gosh, there have been lots of highlights and some lows too just like any business. Far too many to mention and pick out to be honest.
When I set Social Progress up, I thought “If I can just get past 3 years.” Which we did. Then it was, “if we can make it past 5 years that would be awesome.” I remembered hearing while I was working at Business Link that about 50% of small businesses fail in their 5th Year.
I’d started out working from home and delivering training at other people’s business premises and hotel lobbies. Then in 2013 Social Progress moved into it’s first office. A small office, sub-let by the then tenants above where we’re located now. It was big enough for two desks and I had access to a shared boardroom.
In 2014, the antique shop below our office came up for rent. I’d been considering a larger space to share with a friend, Paula Atherill from Creative Analysis. We discussed how moving into an office together would benefit both businesses and decided to go for it. There was a lot of work to be done to bring the old antique shop up to date. It hadn’t really been updated in about 17 years. And we gave ourselves a deadline of moving in before the Tour De France, as we were on the route and wanted to capitalise on the footfall.
2017 and time for changes. Paula no longer felt the need to work from the shared office in Honley and so Social Progress took on the lease for the offices.
That same year, we were invited to Facebook’s offices in Dublin to start a programme called ‘She Means Business’. The programme helps female business professionals to gain confidence and understanding of the full suite of Facebook’s apps. I’ve been supporting that programme with social media training ever since as an Accredited Facebook Blueprint Lead Trainer.
Where are we now
We now have a team of five working in the office – Alex Bebb, Joanna Bradley, Abbie Keogh, Stacey Bristow and myself, Janet Bebb. We also have two freelancers – Mel Constantinou who’s been with us since 2015 and Claire Helm who started working with earlier this year.
We now have over 40 different businesses that we support with social media management on a monthly basis. We help some of those clients with video and photography content. We’ve trained countless different businesses up and down the country on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest. And we’ve helped businesses with web development, graphic design and branding through key partners.
We’re proud to be a partner of MY Network, Huddersfield alongside Ramsdens Solicitors, Better Telecoms, The Media Centre, Huddersfield, and the Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce. We’re also proud to support The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust as a ‘Fight Club Member’ and a Huddersfield Giants Community Trust ‘Friend of the Trust’. And we’re active members of the Holme Valley Fairtrade Support Group, Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and Honley Business Association.
Thank You & Cake
We’d like to say a MASSIVE THANK YOU to every person who has attended social media training with us, trusted us to manage their social media, worked with us, partnered with us, helped us, supported us and generally made Social Progress what it is today. We couldn’t have done it without YOU. You have been amazing.
From humble beginnings, and not from a desire to have a business, a business has been developed and grown.
So in the only way we know how at Social Progress, and on this our 10th Anniversary, we’ll eat a slice of cake in your honour! And we’ll sent you a #SoProHigh5 from all the SoProTeam.