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How Social began…

It started with a dream. Not a plan, or considered strategy. I literally woke up one day with a rush of thoughts and a sense of euphoria. I knew what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I was going to start my own business.  

Beyond dreams, though, lay a very sober reality. Launching a business requires an enormous amount of hard work and in the winter of 2012 I was staring at my own personal Everest. I would have to work harder than ever before and make deep sacrifices to have any chance of realising my dream. 

We started in a tiny office in Sale near Manchester and I named our business Social Communications. I wanted a business that was rooted in people, in communities and being able to speak fluent human. I wanted to transform communications in housing, placemaking, regeneration and infrastructure in a way we weren’t doing as an industry.  

The early days were hard. I scraped ice and snow off my windscreen at a time when only milkmen and people coming off a night shift were about. I survived for a long time off PPI pay outs. I had two young children that I hardly ever saw and holidays were unthinkable. 

I left my house before six in the morning at weekends and listened to a lot of Mumford and Sons. Below My Feet was a particular favourite that I spent hours playing over and again. It kept me grounded and focused.  

Slowly but surely we laid the foundations. We built a solid reputation and began to grow. Every target I set, we beat. I wanted to achieve a million-pound turnover in five years. In year four, our turnover was £1.8 million. We expanded our offer to include public affairs, stakeholder engagement and marketing, and moved into new sectors like education, technology and professional services. 

I invested heavily, both financially and through my own time, to foster a collaborative culture and create a business that was structured the right way. And the hard work paid off. We doubled our turnover in a year and soon became a scale up. We doubled our staff numbers and opened offices around the country. Our client base grew, we won awards and delivered powerful campaigns for major clients. We came of age. 

But it’s not been without its challenges. With me making some wrong choices and bad decisions. And I own every decision I have ever made – the good and the not so good. I took risks – some paid off and some didn’t. But that’s what entrepreneurship is all about.  

But, the vivid dream I clung to as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes in the winter of 2012 had finally been made real.  

None of this would have happened without great clients and I want to thank everyone for the trust and faith they invested in us.

I can honestly say we’ve created something unique. I don’t know any other company that has a team as comfortable in the corridors of Whitehall as they are talking to shoppers over pie and mash in a northern town. From pub to Parliament, we connect, we engage and we bring about change.  

As I move into a role that sees me hand over the reins to the next generation, I’m extremely proud of what we’ve built. We’re an agency that’s now able to compete with the best and deliver communications in a way that has a positive social impact.  

We’re facing the future with confidence and excited about the opportunities ahead.  

John Quinton-Barber, Founder