We would like to know more about who you are and what you do?

I am Sara Tomaszewska and I run a social media agency called Little Media Agency.

As a media agency do you incorporate all the various forms of social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram etc?

Yes, we work across all the platforms, so we manage Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and many more for our clients.  We also do social media advertising on the same platforms and we provide training.  With training, we can come onsite to our clients and help their staff or the owner with that strategy or with content or ideas for social media marketing.

In terms of your client base are you dealing with established commercial companies or smaller start-ups?

It’s a bit of both, we tend to work with start-ups, but we also work with more established businesses who are still looking to promote their products and services.  We also work with clients in the UK and internationally as well, so it very much depends.   Despite the differences in size and location, a lot of them have similar problems like getting their product out there and raising awareness for their brand.

Is there a growing perception that social media can be used as a commercial platform rather than just a platform to socialise?  

Well, I think it’s both.  Social media platforms still have a growing number of users who use it as a socialising platform across all demographics.  As a result of this growing volume more and more businesses are seeing this opportunity because it allows them to reach out to all those users in an affordable way.  Compared with traditional advertising channels like television, radio and the press, social media is less expensive whilst still achieving the same reach.

Do people use social media more to establish relationships or rather as an opportunity to sell?

A lot of people are looking to get sales from social media, and it is possible however the first thing that people need to think about is raising the awareness of your brand because if people aren’t aware of your product it’s not likely that they will buy from you straight away.  As with any other marketing strategy you need to go through the steps of awareness, consideration and then conversion.  Advertising on social media helps a lot in terms of sales because if you are just present on social media organically with no advertising you tend to reach out to those people who already know about you.  If you are however looking to attract other circles, then I would always recommend investing in social media advertising.

Tell us more about your journey into this sector to where you are now with your own company

I had a job as a social media executive in a small company and while I was there more and more people started to ask me for advice on social media marketing and I had already managed quite a few accounts.   The idea sort of came along that maybe I should start my own business to be able to do things the way I think they should be done to help all those businesses attract more customers.  I also really like the idea of having my independence and freedom so while I was there, I started my business.  In the beginning,  I was doing both but then eventually I left the company and I started working on my own company full time.

When you started your own company there must have been other aspects other than social media that you came across like finance and administrative tasks.  How did you develop yourself in those areas?

To be honest, the first year was extremely difficult because whilst I knew my field in social media marketing, I had no idea about any of those other things.  When it came to things like financial matters, admin and planning I had no idea what to do. However, because I recognised that this, I put a lot of effort, especially that first year, into learning about sales, marketing, how to speak to people and finding out how to do one’s finances.  I have attended a lot of seminars and once, I think 2 or 3 years ago, I went to another company in Spain for a month so I could learn from them how to run a company.   I did a lot of things to be able to learn including joining accelerator programs.

I realised, especially at the start-up stage, that you have so many other hats to wear besides just being a social media manager including being an accountant, a finance director, a marketing manager, a business development manager and a sales manager. I think learning about all those things eventually really helped me out and it all adds up and thinks eventually improved.

Have you faced any other challenges just from running an organisation and how did you overcome them?

I would say that the first year was full of challenges because of my lack of knowledge and because it was hard to sell as people didn’t take me seriously.  I found approaching clients and even going to networking events challenging and I think it came from a lack of confidence but eventually when I worked on my confidence things improved.  I think at the beginning getting clients was the hardest thing but now a lot of customers approach us because we are a bit more well-known. Doing one’s finances and you know becoming my accountant was also challenging. I was able to receive some advice which helped but it was certainly a difficult period for me.  I didn’t have a full-time job, so I didn’t have as much money at the beginning which also added to the challenges.

What made you persevere because some people would have just quit?

In the beginning, I was motivated to find clients because I was not making any money.  I think every little success made it all worth so despite the challenges every little “yes” I heard made me absolutely ecstatic.  I also really enjoyed the freedom and the growth that comes from being challenged.  Although it’s probably a lot harder than having a job it’s certainly a lot more rewarding.

Rewarding in the sense that you develop new skills?

Yes, definitely I think the journey was pretty amazing considering how many things I’ve learnt along the way.   I think sometimes when some people have a job it’s very easy to just take a step back and stop learning but when you have a business you have to keep going forward.  The idea of failing can also be terrifying and that keeps you going.

To start a business do you need to follow your passion?

I think it depends, I know a lot of businesses who don’t feel particularly passionate about their business but have recognised a problem that needs solving.  So I don’t think a passion is required and in my case, the things I was really passionate about at the beginning have evolved since I started my business.  Before I was only passionate about social media but now I am also really passionate about managing my staff, gaining clients and meeting people.

When running a business you also need to do day to day administrative tasks that are not that exciting to do.  How do you discipline yourself to do these things?

I am the sort of person that always has a list of things to do every day.  I always start with those things that I find less enjoyable.  I also tend to do the more difficult tasks in the morning to get them out the way as soon as possible. As an example, I do not particularly enjoy the task of creating manuals and defining processes.  However, I keep reminding myself why I’m doing this and I realise that those manuals help when I hire a new person who will need those tools to do a good job.

That leads to the interesting topic of employing staff.  Are there any challenges in that transition from being by yourself as a founder to incorporating other people?

It was definitely challenging.  My first hiring process was at a time when I had too much work and it was becoming difficult to manage everything at the same time.  With that, I still had to find time to go through hundreds of candidates for one position in a short period.  I had some experience managing people in the past but it’s completely different when it’s your staff.  I was not sure whether I was being a good manager or whether they enjoyed what they were doing.  I, however, continue to read the books and right now I’m focused on managing my employees in the best way possible.  Thankfully my staff are amazing and I’m so happy I found the right people.

In terms of technology, what impact has technology had on your business and your industry?

With social media, we sort of purely rely on technology because of all the social media channels we use and 3rd party apps to handle everything from managing holidays to scheduling appointments with clients.  Technology is something we wouldn’t be able to live without.

Do you find that you have to be aware of emerging technology developments and trends?

The social media industry is changing so much and so often and we need to stay on top of new developments in that space.  The existing social media platforms keep evolving and new networks continue to arise.

Whats does the future look like for Little Media Agency?

I’d like to carry on growing my business, increase the number of employees, find more clients and ultimately grow our turnover.  I would like to create a team that helps me to transform my vision into reality and provide a great service for our clients.