AN entrepreneur who lost her job while battling breast cancer has launched an affordable franchise to build a small business.

Sue Harbottle-Sear from East Hoathly says she is passionate about improving the prospects of rural people.

The Konzepts digital marketing franchise offers the opportunity for flexible work which helps to avoid daily commutes and other barriers often faced by the rural population.

The services being offered recognise the 13 per cent global increase in social media usage since January 2017 and the growing trend for even the smallest business to harness the marketing benefits of social media.

Many farmers and other rural businesses are starting to use it to market their products and services directly to consumers with the help of Facebook and other social media platforms.

Sue describes her business as “social media with a social conscience”.

In January 2016, she was diagnosed with breast cancer following a mammogram, resulting in a mastectomy in March.

In mid-May, she began a course of chemotherapy.

Despite a high risk of infection and debilitating side effects, Sue continued to work full-time for as long as she was physically capable.

She struggled to keep going until she lost her job in October 2016 with just one month’s salary to compensate.

She said: “It was a tough time with little help available, but I was determined to find a way to support myself and initially it was about sheer survival. This was going to be tough as I was over 55, had cancer, lived rurally and was not even able to work part time due to the effects of chemotherapy.

“My attitude was if everything conspires against you, one has to find a way out – not everyone has that drive.”

Sue came up with the idea while helping a friend whose rural drinks business Facebook page and website needed updating.

She said: “Konzepts is based in a truly rural location and hence we are aware of the economic and personal challenges this environment can bring.

“For those living in these communities, life is not as idyllic as many believe it to be.”

The franchise idea was borne out of a business she created from scratch with Sue soon realising that the idea and method could be franchised.

Sue said: “The Konzepts franchise offers a ready made business providing affordable social media management and web design services to the rural business community.

“Franchisees have the opportunity to earn round £3,000 per month by the end of year one.

“They can work from home and can fit their lifestyle around their work.

“Two people can even share a franchise to fit work around childcare – or someone who is struggling to make ends meet on a small holding may find the franchise is just what they are looking for.”

After quickly gaining a range of customers under her Konzepts brand, from wedding venues to beverage producers and garden centres and rural pubs, Sue researched the idea of franchising.

With the backing of investors and a large accountancy firm, Sue is now looking for her first franchisees.

Sue’s business model was endorsed last year when she reached the regional finals of the Rural Business Awards in two categories.

She said: “Since launching Konzepts two years ago, I have been learning what works best and how to manage every client personally while getting our pricing right and branding perfect.

“We are currently looking for franchisees in Kent, Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire to grow a new Konzepts business within their rural communities.

“Franchisees will have to meet certain criteria.”