Alison Cork MBE

Alison Cork
Position
Founder of Make It Your Business and Alison at Home

BIPC Ambassador, Alison Cork, founder of Alison Cork Home and Make it Your Business.

What is your business background?

I started my first venture whilst a student. After my second company was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1994 I decided to focus on my key interest of home and lifestyle, and have done ever since. I’ve never actually been employed by anyone but myself! 

What made you want to be a BIPC Ambassador?

After almost 30 years of running my own businesses I was curious as to why more women didn’t so the same, and discovered that a lack of start-up support was one of the reasons. This led me to found the not-for-profit organisation, Make it Your Business, to support female start-ups, which in turn led me to discover what the BIPC was offering entrepreneurs. I was so impressed with its resources, success rate and potential to expand that I became involved in the bid to win funding to develop the BIPC National Network, which resulted in a grant in the 2020 Budget. That led to becoming an Ambassador, a position I’m extremely proud to hold. There’s so much still to achieve to stimulate new business start-ups UK-wide, particularly post-COVID.

Advice you would give a business owner just starting out on their journey?

The best piece of business advice I’ve been given is: Be a student of markets. Don’t assume you know what your customers want. Ask them and then give it to them.

Your most surreal moment in business?

My surreal moment in business was my audition for television shopping channel QVC. The director asked me to talk live in the studio for 10 minutes about a clear plastic box. When she stopped me after half a minute or so I assumed I’d failed to impress. Then she told me I’d been talking for 13 minutes. I’m still talking seven years later and love the whole concept of shopping television and showcasing my Alison at Home brand on screen. QVC’s a fascinating global business with a unique customer relationship.

Most likely to be found at/in…

Outside of work, you can normally find me in Hyde Park, still talking, but to the wildlife.

Subjects

Business and patents

Extensive collections on business, management, patents and trade marks