It was the first online marketplace in the UK after eBay and Amazon which showcased artisan products made by small businesses and gave them a shop window.

Holly Tucker grew notonthehighstreet.com – ‘the home of thoughtful gifts’ – into a £158 million business in less than a decade.

Tucker therefore has a unique take on what it means to be both an SME and major player in eCommerce.

“I don’t believe that small business should copy big business – but they should have big business vision,” she told BusinessCloud at the eCommerce Live event hosted by UKFast in Manchester.

“When we were building the business, it wasn't about what we were doing that day – it was about looking at where we wanted to be in ten years' time, in 20 years' time.

“We put a pin in that vision and just worked backwards. I believe that is what big corporations do and it's one of my pieces of advice for small business – dream big, but be small.”

The way people sell online is constantly changing, while competition from giants such as Amazon makes it difficult for growing eCommerce businesses to compete in the modern marketplace.

However there are opportunities for businesses which are able to adapt quickly and find their unique selling point amid the changing winds, says Tucker.

“In 2018, if you're online, you have to adapt – which is why I believe in small business,” said Tucker.

“You are a chameleon, you can turn with the winds – and that's what online brings you. You can go with trends as much as you can be deep-seated in your roots.

“You have to make sure that your ‘online’ means something, though – you have to have purpose within your business. With online facilitating so many businesses, make sure you look out for your USP.” 

Tucker, a UK Ambassador to Creative Small Businesses, is now building Holly & Co. She describes it as a “cheerleader of creative small businesses” and sees technology as fundamental to their success.

“First building notonthehighstreet online and now building Holly & Co through social media [shows how] tech is the facilitator – the oil that makes your business grow.

“It's of massive importance – far more than when we first started in 2006. It allows you to raise funds, to get out on social media, to have a platform… there's nothing that you cannot do with tech.” 

Ahead of her speech at eCommerce Live, which was attended by more than 100 people in both Manchester and London, she said: “This event is very important because I believe that we're better together.

“So many small businesses work from home or in a small office or in a co-working space and actually there's nothing like everybody getting together, sharing your journey, your ups and downs – funnily enough, everybody has the same downs as you!

“It's a privilege to talk to so many budding businesses.” 

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