Sophie Slavin – Inspirational Woman

Posted on October 24th, 2017 by

Sophie Slavin runs SAS Consultancy Services. We met at a recent business expo and I was impressed with her enthusiasm, energy, and how she had got her business idea up and running so quickly. I think you’re going to like her story.

Jane: Sophie, first can you tell us what you business actually is?
Sophie: I provide Social Media training, advice and management for businesses. Currently aimed at SME’s (small and medium enterprises), but we’re also able to cater for individuals who essentially are their own brand, and larger businesses.

Where did the idea come from to start this business?
In my previous role I was involved with the set up and management of our company Social Media. I also developed a plan from start to finish which saw the business integrating an internal Social Media tool which enabled everyone from around the business in different locations to connect. I guess it was my passion for both communicating with people and seeing the benefits of them communicating with each other combined with a keen interest in Social Media that led to the set up of my business after I was made redundant.

What has been your biggest hurdle to date and how did you overcome it? What’s been your biggest learning point in setting up a business from scratch?
Oh Crikey, I would say an experience of non-payment from a client (not due to my services I hasten to add!) However, since then I have had the experience of taking on a client that I realised afterwards wouldn’t be suitable for my business. I needed to make a professional decision based on who I wanted to represent and also the client’s changing demands. That was a tough call but a necessary one. I overcame it by sending a report of the work done to date as well as outlining the reasons for my withdrawal. It was accepted (bar a fair bit of conflict and less than polite emails received) and it has proven to be the correct decision.

Can we find out a little bit about the woman behind the business? What was your childhood/education like? Have you always had an entrepreneurial streak?
My childhood was a very lucky one. I was adopted when I was three and raised with two brothers and two sisters, I guess my life could have turned out a lot different had I not been brought up with the parents that adopted me. I’d also love to report that I was extremely studious, knuckled down at school and received amazing grades for my efforts. In reality I preferred to spend time at the stables with my pony and go out with my friends. I ended up not revising but somehow achieved good GCSE’s. I started to take A Levels in Psychology, Sociology and Business Studies and actually had a thought that I wanted to become a lawyer.

I decided at 17 that I wanted to earn my own money so left my A Levels and got my first full time job. At 18 I set up my own promotions company alongside my day job – with no experience other than knowing I had a host of people I could get in touch with to offer to give out flyers or provide shot selling girls in pubs/clubs. The idea was there but I did it as more of a hobby rather than a business. I always knew that I was a good people person but I never really settled into a job that I loved until I became a P.A in 2008. I spent all my years before this gaining valuable life experience and developing various work skills.

In addition to work I ventured into the world of film/tv for a few years. I worked mostly as a background artiste however was also featured in things such as Sherlock and other high profile programmes. It is something I enjoy doing, however, I am putting my focus into my business, (although I have allowed myself to be in panto again this year, so I am really looking forward to that.)

Alongside my last job I ran a sideline called Angels Adventures where I took a Shetland pony into care homes/hospices and provided animal therapy sessions to people with mental and/or physical impairments.

I love the idea of a pony. What a great thing to do. Back to the interview, what was your very first job? Have any of the skills from that first job stayed with you?
My first job was as an office junior and when I look back I was still a little naïve and immature to be within the working world. I did however, learn an awful lot and am still in touch with the lady who was my manager to this day.

The big issue for women still, unfortunately,is managing the balancing act between him home life and work life. We know women still take on the lion’s share of tasks and childcare responsibility. You told me you were a single mother and how passionately you feel about giving single Mums the confidence to go for what they believe in. How do you manage the delicate balance?
I am lucky that my daughter’s Dad shares the responsibility – he has her for tea twice a week and she stays with him every other weekend. We split up when she was 6 months old and I had gone back to work when she was 5 months old so it was very high priority that I was able to spend time with her, still be there when she wakes up on a morning to do the school runs as much as I can and spend time with her where possible during school holidays.

My previous boss really took care of her staff when it came to work/life balance (she herself has two children) and she was also an inspiration to me when it came to having a successful career whilst being a Mum. I also have a supportive partner who helps out when I’m required to attend meetings or travel to London to see clients.

I think it is also important not to put too much pressure on ourselves because we are balancing family and work. I feel terribly guilty if I need to rely on someone else, although I am getting better at not opening sentences with “I’m really sorry to ask but….” when it comes to seeing if someone else could do a school run, or could look after my daughter if I’m back late from a meeting. I try to think of it as demonstrating to my daughter that I am doing my best to build a successful business and showing her independence, strength, ambition and determination. I do think there are still a lot of people that think women should be the ones raising the children and keeping the house together. I am the one saying, we can still do that but we can also provide the money to have the house in the first place!

What advice would you give to anyone in a similar situation, looking to create a business?
Give it a go. If, after doing your research you truly believe in your idea then go for it. The worst that could happen is you learn something from it. Build your support network, give yourself a realistic timeframe and try it out.

If you could introduce one piece of legislation, or improve upon something already out there, to improve the lives of women at work, what would it be?
I think it would potentially be to allow flexible working or work/life requests to be applied for sooner. A lot of businesses appear to consider them once you have passed probation or after a fairly lengthy period of time. However, I believe that allowing for these requests to be put in sooner enables you to have a happier workforce and those willing to work harder and also longer for you as a result of this.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?
I admire anyone who is positive, a do-er and makes the most of things, no matter what hand they’ve been dealt.

How do you relax and unwind?
Being a business owner it is very easy to be on the go with it 24/7. However, it is important to remember that you have a life outside of work too. If you let it, your life can become all about your business and it is important to not forget about those around you who want to spend time with you as a Mum/Partner/Friend/Daughter and not just a business woman.

My main hobby is my horse – I’m fortunate that I have something that forces me to go and take a break and check on him or go for a ride when I am able. Each Christmas I take part in a pantomime (I used to do a fair bit of TV/Film work but stopped to focus on setting up my business) and last year I went on my first proper holiday for 8 years to Kefalonia, since then I have been back and took my daughter for our first proper abroad holiday together.

Many thanks, Sophie, and I wish you huge success with your business.

If you’d like to know more about Sophie’s business in Social Media this is the link to SasConsultancy. You can also chat with her on Twitter @sas_ellie

P.S. Quick reminder – I am running a November RenewYou course on 28th at the headquarters of Bristol Law Society. There are still some places available. RenewYou is a great confidence booster, it’s a safe space to look at your strengths, your dreams, your aspirations and begin to make them a reality. If you’re not sure what the future holds, RenewYou will help you, too. You’ll leave the day with your own plan for the next 12 months, a great start to 2018. All details are here. Need to make a business case for time off, or funding? Check out this, Why RenewYou Means Business. If you’d like to talk to me first the office is 01761 438749. If neither of us are available please leave a message and I will personally call you back. Or email me directly  jane at changingpeople.co.uk. Speak soon!

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