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How to Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table! by Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish
2012/08/02  |  By:   |  Features  |  

Six short years ago, Holly Tucker and Sophie Cornish were maxing out their credit cards, trying to secure investment and crossing their fingers that their idea would take off. It did, and now www.notonthehighstreet.com  is a multi-million business, a platform for thousands of independent designer-makers and retailers. Drawing on their own story as well as those of all those that sell through their site, Sophie and Holly have sought to set out the nuts and bolts of how to start and run a business from home. Here are some of their top do’s and dont’s.

DO’S

1. RIGOROUSLY TEST IF YOUR IDEA MEANS BUSINESS. 

Our ‘Down & Dirty’ test is comprehensive and questions which will drill down, and help you define what will – or won’t – work about your business idea. Crucially, it could save you a lot of wasted money and heartache further down the road. 
 
2.     WORK WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY
They are the ones who will go the extra mile for you. But it’s vital that all parties understand what they’re getting into. We both completed detailed questionnaires in which we had to be completely honest about our motivations, and set the time we were prepared to invest.3. LEARN HOW MONEY WORKS.

Your idea HAS to make money – if it doesn’t, it’s just a hobby. Testing the financial aspects of your business, as well as being properly prepared for investment, gives you a much stronger chance of succeeding.4. REMEMBER THAT THE CUSTOMER IS AT THE HEART OF EVERYTHING.
Every single decision you make needs to have your customer at the heart of it – from the price point to customer services. Furthermore, from research right through to sales, you need to be engaged with your customer, and they need to be engaged with you.5. NOT ALL THE BEST IDEAS ARE ORIGINAL ONES.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to have a successful business idea. Sometimes, you just need to tweak something that already exists – whether that’s in design, execution, price, service or delivery. Think about what in your world could do with changing or improving and that might be your business idea.DON’T’S1. DON’T COMPROMISE YOUR BRAND.

However small your business is, you need to identify your brand – the unique thing that spells out what you do and how you do it (try to articulate six key brand principles). This brand identity will help you make fast decisions on everything from price point to company stationery, from product design to delivery.2. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE MONEY YOU WILL NEED.

Take what you think you’ll need and then double it. Then double it again. It takes a huge amount of money to set up and run a business for the first year. You need to keep your eye on your bottom line daily. We learned this the hard way when a year after we started we hit a wall – we hadn’t properly accounted for the fact that growth and expansion costs money.3. DON’T FORGET TO STOP AND BREATHE.

When you’re getting started on your business you need to work hard – probably harder than you’ve ever worked in your life. Running your own business is all-consuming and striking a balance with your family life can feel nigh-on impossible. We’ve been there – and we talk about it in the book. There’s no hard and fast solution but you must schedule in downtime, too. If nothing else, relaxing will revitalise you and take you back to work with more energy and better ideas.4. DON’T WORRY IF IT GOES WRONG.

Things do go wrong – it happens. Own your mistakes and move on from them. We don’t beat ourselves up about the errors we made, we hope we learned from them.5. DON’T FORGET TO ENJOY IT.

You’re running your own business because you’re passionate about your idea and because you want a great working life on your own terms – don’t forget that. We’ve had some dark days since starting the business, but we’ve had some incredible highs, too (Downing Street, the first million in the bank, the customers who let us know what we’re doing right) and we still drink in the joy of owning our own business with offices that we love to go to work in.Build a Business From Your Kitchen Table (£14.99) is available from all good retailers.

 

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