How it all began
To be honest, I never set out or expected to end up helping small business owners build websites. I mean, websites hadn’t even been invented when I was at school (yes, I’m THAT old!).
Whilst there were small businesses, school was focused on getting the more academic into University and the less academic into apprenticeships (or even Youth Training Schemes).
It was ultimately all about finding a profession or a stable job – working for someone else.
After school I did a business and finance degree. I LOVED it! All the marketing, management, finance, accounting and law opened my eyes to a whole new world. I especially loved the small business project in my final year (for a children’s nursery). It is no doubt where the seed for running my own business, at some point in the future, was planted
Then I moved into the corporate world. Banking in my case. 19 years and 2 children later my passion for this work had fizzled out – the reality being that it had disappeared WELL before I quit. I had just kept going because it was what I knew. I was good at it. It paid well. But I no longer felt the buzz from doing it. And I felt neither my work NOR my family were getting the best of me – trying to do it all was stressful. NOT the kind of life I wanted to lead.
So I quit.
Pretty scary when you have recently moved house and taken on a big mortgage…
I decided to work for myself. I set up an online business selling locally made gift items. I had seen so many amazing local businesses that made things, but were constrained in what they could sell by their business skills and time – I thought helping them sell online would make a big difference. And it DID. We had one Christmas where I had managed to get a “world map board” into the Sunday Times travel gift guide. 10 days before Christmas!
But it was hard work. I realised it was NOT a case of “build it and they will come”. I had created a job for myself in sales and marketing.
It had taken 6 months to get my website built – with a catalogue of excuses from the local design agency that was building it – and costing a small fortune. The main problem was the BESPOKE nature of the website. Which meant I needed them to do any changes beyond adding new products – at the cost of several body parts. Eventually the website needed replacing and the £6,000 + VAT quote from the agency to redo it meant a rethink – that’s a lot of candles you need to sell. Other quotes weren’t much cheaper…
So in 2015 I set out to build my own. It took 6 months. I was (and still am) very proud of my effort and realised that small businesses DON’T need expensive bespoke websites – they need something affordable that is effective and appropriate for their business. I took training courses, built websites for family and friends (getting quicker and better – that first website is now cringeworthy!) and started helping other small businesses.
I realised I could help small businesses grow in a different way – making better use of my skills and experience.
Beyond the Kitchen Table was formed…
I found others who could help small businesses so it’s not just me (Marie) – we have Jane, Lisa, Louise, Lucy and Russ. We all work from home or coffee shops and use various coffee shops in Sevenoaks for meetings. We work around our children (13 between us ranging from under a year to a 17 year old!), so often odd hours. But we are united in our passion to help small businesses thrive.
We’re not into jargon or wearing suits. We are into coffee and biscuit assisted brainstorming sessions. We think building a business should be fun and exciting. We’re excited about our business and helping you with yours!
Founder, website designer and customer contact
Marie is the head honcho which means that she has to get the coffees in…
When not out meeting and greeting customers (her speciality – she loves finding out about other people’s business), she can be found stuck behind her screen working out ways of making you an awesome website!
Russ is the cool dude of the team. We’re not fans of having our photos taken but Russ is always so friendly and fun and makes us feel at ease whilst he snaps away.
When not taking photos for us, he enjoys music gigs and is the “official photographer” of the Sevenoaks Panto each year…
Lucy is the talented, creative one. Capable of turning the scrappiest of scribbles into something pretty.
She graduated with a degree in Graphic Design and Illustration and has been a graphic designer for many years, working in both music and retail (including designing for Disney) before Beyond the Kitchen Table.
“We found it very easy to convey our ideas to Marie and if we had any changes they were quickly acted upon. Marie made the whole process stress free and her input was invaluable. It was a pleasure to work with her.”
Gillian & Victoria
Gillian Victoria Interiors
“Having recently worked with Beyond the Kitchen Table on my rebranded website I can honestly say the experience was amazing for the price. Not only did they spend considerable time understanding the look and feel I wanted to create, but they went over and above on creating it.”
Elisabeth Hancock Coaching
“As a start up micro business I had no idea where to begin – Marie has held my hand through the whole process, answered all my daft questions with patience and has been hugely supportive. I now have a clear idea of my goals and a wonderful website.”