Book review: Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table

By Susan March 13, 2019 20:09

Book review: Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table

Sophie and Holly founded in 2006. A decade later, it is a thriving online marketplace, offering thousands and thousands unique handcrafted gifts made by designers and small creative businesses.

In Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table, Sophie and Holly tell the detailed story of how they created Not On The High Street. They share a candid account of the ups and downs, and, as working mums, they give their readers a very clear picture of what sacrifices they had to make in their first few years in business.

Watch the video of the book review

A book review of "Build a Business from Your Kitchen Table" by Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker, notonthehighstreet

Posted by Susan Hayes "The Positive Economist" on Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table, Sophie Cornish, Holly Tucker, Simon and Schuster, 2012

It so happens that I read the book just before I had the opportunity to interview Sophie Cornish on stage: I was the MC for IoD NI’s Women’s Leadership Conference, which took place on 8th March 2019 in Belfast.

Read my Twinterview with IoDNI: Finding inspiration and always focusing on what you can do

Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table is a no-holds barred account of how Not On The High Street was born. The book is a hybrid of the founders’ captivating story, and their business advice, based on their hard-earned wisdom. It also features really thought-provoking insights into the experience of the sellers who use NOTHS: their quotes are regularly interspersed through the book.


They baked scalability and growth right into the DNA of their



What I found fascinating is that Sophie and Holly built their business with the intention to grow it big, right from the beginning. It is not a story of humble beginnings and incremental progress: the founders make it clear that they wanted their business to be scalable right from the start, and they show you how they engineered it that way.

It’s a very personal but also a very practical book. In my experience, the best thing you can give an entrepeneur is a list of questions – a checklist of sorts, to help them take an objective look at their business idea and their progress. Sophie and Holly do that with a series of “down and dirty tests”. These tests will encourage you to check your business’s originality, competitivity, financial situation and expansion potential.

That really holds up a mirror to your business idea. It reminded me of the “business moment of truth” that Deirdre McGlone, the owner of Harvey’s Point, mentioned on our Savvy Women Podcast. The moment when their accountant told them bluntly that they were running Harvey’s Point with their hearts, not their heads – and that it had to change.

Listen to my Savvy Women Podcast with Deirdre McGlone, owner of Harvey’s Point


Why I will still “waste my time” applying for grants and funding


Interestingly, Sophie and Holly recommend not “wasting time” applying for grants from agencies. To them, it’s like “looking for a 10p coin down the back of a really big sofa”: time-consuming and ultimately not worth it. In the video, I share my own (very different) experience with agencies, and why I will continue to apply for grants.

Even if I don’t get them, the application process is highly beneficial to my business.

Having written a book about how to build your own business myself, I highly recommend Build A Business From Your Kitchen Table as a very engaging, very practical book of hard-nosed business advice.

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By Susan March 13, 2019 20:09