'It's now possible to start a business with just a laptop and a kitchen table'

I probably heard the word ‘pivot’ used more over the past year than I have in the past 10 years. It has been a word bandied around as businesses and individuals have had to rethink their offering and careers during the pandemic.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 1:18 pm
Maxine Lewis.

It became very much the buzzword of the pandemic with everyone from kitchen table businesses to large corporates reinventing what they do. There have been many who have put their creative skills to use and generated an income from it. And that’s one of the things I have loved about the past year is seeing so many people tap into their creativity. Whether it has been cake baking, candle making, gardening, or something else, I have enjoyed seeing the nation get more creative.

With much more time on their hands, spending so much time at home or alone, many people used this time to tap into their creativity, and have discovered creative talents they never even knew they had. Or they have become reacquainted with a creative passion from their past.

Not having previously been much of a gardener, I came to love the sunny Sunday afternoons last year spent doing my garden. The climax was eating the broccoli I had grown and being able to share it with my neighbours. I also reacquainted myself with playing the guitar. Something I hadn’t done since I was at junior school. I found one for sale locally on Facebook and after an absence from playing the guitar of 40+ years, I was amazed I could still remember many notes.

Because of a need to pivot, the past year has seen many people extend this creativity and start kitchen table businesses. Last September, Direct Line reported that 1 in five Britons had become kitchen table entrepreneurs during lockdown. This figure will have increased significantly since then. The past year has shown us how resourceful we can be as a people when our back is against the wall.

One such person is Maxine Lewis from Firth Park. A supply primary school teacher for children with learning difficulties, with no job to go to during lockdown last year, pivoted her passion for working with children into her own business, Inspiring Kids Books.

She started out doing a children’s story time on weekday afternoons, live on Facebook. Children (and their adults) looked forward to her animated story telling. She also wrote and self-published her first book, a re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood from a diversity perspective.

This evolved to her building a website and producing resourceful activities for children that can be downloaded. From a zero following, @inspiringkidsbooks now has over 2600 Instagram followers where she continues to do weekly storytelling, as well as showcasing other diverse children’s authors.

In October we saw reports of 17 year old Tyler Gore from Thorp Arch near Leeds who started a candle business from his kitchen table called AIAS candles. We also saw the Cricket Inn at Totley pivot to a delicatessen during last year’s lockdown. We have seen similar examples like these replicated across the country.

Barriers to starting a business are constantly being broken down and it is now possible to start a business with little more than a laptop, an internet connection, and of course the kitchen table. This is a viable option for many whose jobs have been displaced because of the pandemic.

These kitchen table business owners are able to continue to provide for and support their families. There has been a reported 93.9 per cent increase in self-employment since 2000, and in 2020, the number of solo business owners increased faster than any other business sizes.

Many of these kitchen table business owners enjoy the freedom and the flexibility it brings, and they can run their businesses to fit in with family life. For some people it starts as a side hustle and grows into something bigger.

News Group Newspapers Ltd, with Camelot, is running The Kitchen Table Entrepreneurs Competition to help entrepreneurs who launched small start-up businesses from home during lockdown, and to boost the growth of existing micro businesses. Closing on 21 May, the scheme has 50 grants of £5,000 to award to small start-up businesses. They have allocated 25 grants of £5,000 to help existing micro businesses grow and are offering 25 grants of £5,000 for people who want to start a brand-new business. Further details can be found at www.thesun.co.uk/money.

If your job has been displaced and have toyed with the idea of starting your own business, now could be as good a time as any.