With rural unemployment, redundancies and rural house prices rising, a Sussex-based entrepreneur who is passionate about improving the prospects of rural people has launched an affordable franchise to build a small business.
The Konzepts digital marketing franchise offers the opportunity for rewarding and flexible work that helps to avoid daily commutes and the other barriers often faced by the rural population. The services being offered recognise the 13 per cent global increase in social media usage since January 2017 and the growing trend for even the smallest business to harness the marketing benefits of social media – with many farmers and other rural businesses starting to use it to market their products and services directly to consumers with the help of Facebook and other social media platforms.
Tried and tested by Konzepts’ founder Sue Harbottle-Sear, the franchise idea was borne out of a business she created from scratch with Sue soon realising that the idea and method could be franchised.
Sue explains: “The Konzepts franchise offers a ready-made business providing affordable social media management and web design services to the rural business community. Franchisees have the opportunity to earn around £3,000 per month by the end of year one. They can work from home and can fit their lifestyle around their work. Two people can even share a franchise to fit work around childcare – or someone who is struggling to make ends meet on a small holding may find the franchise is just what they are looking for.”
Initially helping with the social media for a friend’s business, Sue discovered a gap in the market and the huge difference a small budget for social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter could make to the profitability of rural businesses – whatever they are selling.
After quickly gaining a range of customers under her Konzepts brand, from wedding venues to beverage producers and garden centres and rural pubs, Sue researched the idea of franchising. With the backing of investors and a large accountancy firm, Sue is now looking for her first franchisees.
Sue’s business model was endorsed last year when she reached the regional finals of the Rural Business Awards in two categories.
Sue explains: “Since launching Konzepts two years ago I have been learning what works best and how to manage every client personally while getting our pricing right and branding perfect. We are currently looking for franchisees in Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and Hampshire to grow a new Konzepts business within their rural communities.”
Franchisees will have to meet certain criteria and have an ethos that fits with Konzepts’ own ethos of uncompromising quality, personal service and social responsibility.
“To become part of the Konzepts team people will have to be a fan of social media and all things digital, be able to follow our business model, be organised, people orientated, committed, great at networking and good at communication. We want franchisees to help their own rural business community to grow while building a lucrative business for themselves. As with all franchises thorough training and a helpline is provided, so even if you are not an expert – you’ll become one,” Sue added.
Originally from North West Germany, where she spent much of her childhood on her grandmother’s family farm, Sue’s career has included selling classified advertising, marketing and working in high-end international business development. Her life has been full of challenges but the past few years have been particularly tough. In January 2016, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent debilitating treatment.
Two years ago Sue lost her job while recovering from breast cancer and realised she needed work that would be flexible around her treatment, use her extensive experience and, importantly, allow her to support herself.
“I lost my job while I was being treated and it was a tough time with little financial help available, but I was determined to find a way to support myself and initially it was about sheer survival. My attitude was that if everything conspires against you, one has to find a way out – not everyone has that drive but I was able to draw on all my past experiences to help me,” Sue explained.
“During my treatment and recovery, I became acutely aware of the lack of local support for our rural communities – whether it is the unemployed, people with mental health problems or simply insufficient income. Hence, it is part of Konzepts’ ethos to give back to the rural communities it works in by funding and/or donating to relevant local projects. Developing the business model and starting to work with it became a major factor in my eventual recovery. I am so fortunate to be building a business, working with my kind of people and helping their businesses and communities grow.”