Tanya Cook has been involved with social enterprise A1 Community Works since its inception in 2003. Here, she gives an insight into what her community-focused business offers, and what a typical day – in and out of the office – involves.
What’s the story behind your business? How did you get started?
A1 Community Works Ltd is a social business, the legal form of which is a company limited by guarantee. The company was formed in 2003 out of a government and local council initiative for the Richmondshire parishes that border the A1 motorway. That’s how we got our name. I have been a director from the outset, but I started working in the business full time about 10 years ago.
What’s a typical day like for you?
My day starts with a swim at Scotch Corner Hotel. Then it’s either into the office or gathering computers and heading for an outreach venue. We outreach on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, as well as on Wednesday afternoon. Our offices are in Crabtree Hall Business Centre, so the people who can come to us are limited by a lack of public transport – therefore a car is essential. When we are not at outreach we are usually online doing admin, posting on social media or searching for new things. At outreach we facilitate digital skills, help new businesses get started and coach or mentor our clients. As a social business we are mainly grant funded, so that controls a lot of what we do. I hate the phrase ‘not for profit’ as we do need to make more money than we spend so that we can pay things like the rent. The business only has two employees: myself and my sister, Karon. We also have some fabulous volunteers who lend a hand.
What’s the toughest part of running your own business?
Grant funding can be fickle and I am always thinking about what will happen if we have no more funding.
And the best part?
The best part is when a client achieves a goal. Recently we helped a lady use WhatsApp so that she could talk to her daughter in Kenya.
What are your top three business goals for the future?
- We have just received funding from the European Union to work with partners in the UK, Germany, Italy and Cyprus, so making that project work is our top priority.
- We are putting together some joint ventures to help us become more sustainable.
- I’d like to write another e-book.
What’s your top marketing or social media tip?
My top tip is to take lots of photos of what you do, and make videos. Get testimonials from your clients and put them on your website and use them in your marketing campaigns.