Picture this: Helping businesses become visible

As the Small Business Saturday campaign moves into its second decade in the UK, SME Magazine is profiling some of this year’s SmallBiz100 – a line-up of Britain’s 100 most impressive small businesses. As Michelle Ovens CBE, Director of Small Business Saturday UK, says: “The fantastic small businesses featured in this year’s SmallBiz100 sum up the incredible contribution that small firms make to our economy and local areas.”

Here, SME Magazine catches up with Sarah White, above, founder of a photography business based in Chester, and hears about her business.

Sarah, can you start by telling us what it is exactly that you do

I’m a branding and visibility mentor for business owners who absolutely love what they do, but don’t love shouting about it! I help them to better understand the unique value that they offer, and build their confidence in communicating this with their potential customers in ways that feel right for them. I believe in branding from within, enabling my customers to connect with the right people, just by being true to themselves. I offer 1-1 and group mentoring, as well as brand photography, and I have recently created a membership community called Visibly You, to support and bring together like-minded business people who are working towards being more comfortable being visible.

When did you set the business up and what was the thinking behind it?

I started out as a family photographer but, whilst it was a lovely thing to do, I didn’t feel like I was making enough of a difference, something that has always mattered to me (before I had my children, I worked in the charity space). My business has evolved over the past few years, as I realised I wanted to do more and have more impact!

I began to explore working with business owners on their brand imagery and quickly realised the huge difference that knowing what you want your brand to say can make to your own mindset, as well as your business growth. I delved into learning more about brand strategy and discovered that letting people know who we really are, why we do what we do and why we are so good at it, is one of the most powerful actions that we can take, and that I needed to do that too! I knew this wasn’t easy though. We often lose sight of who we are and so many of us find it really difficult to blow our own trumpet. So I set about helping business owners to overcome their fears of being visible and to grow in confidence by better understanding their unique value.

What do you enjoy the most about being your own boss?

I love the sense of achievement and the almost limitless potential of working for myself, building a business on my own terms and helping others to do the same. I believe I can achieve so much more than I ever could have while working for someone else. I also love the flexibility. I can volunteer for a charity one afternoon a week and I never miss anything that my daughters need me to be around for.

What advice would you give someone thinking about setting up their own business?

Build a business around something you are really passionate about. It’s not an easy option but it can be so rewarding and the potential to both build a better life for yourself, and to make a real difference in the world, is huge. But you have to be willing to work on yourself as well as the business!

There is a lot of conflicting advice out there but remember that you will make better and more genuine connections by being yourself and being open and honest about what you want to achieve and why.

What do you think about Small Business Saturday and how does it help you?

Small Business Saturday is a fantastic campaign drawing much needed attention and support for small businesses! I love the online courses and workshops that Small Business Saturday provides, and particularly the focus on educating small business owners about sustainability and green business practices.

The amount of effort and care that goes into making sure as many businesses as possible, all over the UK, with a huge range of different focusses, are included and highlighted is really incredible.

Being selected as one of the SmallBiz100 this year has been such a boost for my business. It’s helped to enhance my credibility and motivated me to up my game so that I can inspire others.

Sum up your business in three words

Empowering, transformative, supportive.

Small Business Saturday is a grassroots, not-for-profit campaign that was originally founded by American Express in the US in 2010, to encourage wider support and celebration of small businesses. In 2013, Small Business Saturday was brought to the UK, and American Express remains the campaign’s principal supporter. This year, Small Business Saturday falls on December 2. To learn more about the campaign head to: https://smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com/