Parents in business: Marie of Beyond the Kitchen Table

Name of Business: Beyond the Kitchen Table 

Your name and age:  Marie Brown age 48 (she says writing this shortly before turning 49!) 

Tell us about your family

Married with 2 children – one a teenager, the other almost.  Living in Sevenoaks, Kent 

What did you do before coming up with your business idea and how was it making the transition? 

I spent 19 years working in the City as an investment banker.  I loved it but struggled to make it work with the way I wanted it to work once I had children. 

I then set up my own business selling locally made gift items.  This was probably the biggest transition – from working for someone else to working for myself in a completely different area.  I made the mistake of thinking that if I had a good idea/product my business would be a success… 

Why and when did you launch? 

I had a poor experience of using a local design agency to build my website and then received an astronomical quote for a new one a couple of years later.  So I learnt how to build my own.  I spent a long time researching the best tools and trainings.  I built for friends and family, invested in training and got better.   

I realised there was a need for a service for other small businesses – between the DIY and the design agencies. Beyond the Kitchen Table was born in 2017 to do just this.  

How have you funded the business? 

The business has been largely self funding.  The initial training and software were paid from my own funds. 

How do you promote your business? What has worked best? 

I have realised that no-one is just going to “stumble” upon your business.  You do need to promote it.  I think this is the most difficult revelation for most self employed people who have come from a corporate background.

I use a combination of “word of mouth”, social media, SEO and in person networking.  Word of mouth is always the most successful, because a personal recommendation means that people talk to me wanting to work with me but it tends to come in waves! 

What has worked well about your business? 

I love the impact my business has had on other small businesses.  The fact that what I do has helped other women launch and build their own successful businesses really drives me forward. 

What has been your biggest challenge so far? How have you dealt with it? 

The biggest challenge is managing the peaks and troughs.  Most of my clients write their own copy and it always takes longer than they anticipate.  I only take on a limited number of clients at any point as there is always the concern that they’ll all give me their copy at the same time! 

At busy times it is just a case of head down and getting on with client work (plus some marketing).  At quieter times I work on new products, PR and my own SEO. 

How do you fit in work with the family? 

The work is very flexible.  No-one cares whether I build their websites at 10am or 10pm as long as it is done within a reasonable timescale. 

My children are school age so I can easily fit client meetings and calls in during school hours.  Website work and marketing can be done at times that suit me – so I generally do this during school hours too, although sometimes I work in an evening or at a weekend. 

I book time off over the holidays and let clients know in advance that I won’t be building their websites during those weeks (although I will always deal with emergencies) 

Find out more about Marie’s business: Website Design Kent

Marie is offering £50 off any of her “quick and easy” websites with the code FFW20 until 31 March 2020. 

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