I am the founder of Supplies for Candles, a multi-million turnover business that’s helped thousands of others create livelihoods from hobbies or ‘side hustles’. I often get asked about the secrets of my success and as such feel a responsibility to share the good, the bad and the ugly elements of my journey, as whilst success should be celebrated, it’s also important to understand the path that’s led there I believe.

So here goes….

Where it all started

My one year in employment after graduating from University taught me many things; the main thing being that I wanted to work for myself. Watching the bosses at the manufacturing company I was employed at lack the leadership and communicative skills which I looked for in a mentor made me even more hungry to want to be able to offer that to my staff when I would one day manage my own multi-figure company.

People often look at the trajectories of archetypal successful people and assume the road was easy or that their success was attributed to little setbacks. In my own experience, overcoming adversity that I faced earlier on in my career has been what has allowed me to excel now; it has never been easy but that has only made the journey more fulfilling.

When I first graduated from the University of Leeds in 2012 with my degree in Business & Management, bright eyed and ready to take on the world, I saw no barriers to me setting up my business from the space in my Dad’s garage. I spent a long four years working hard to build the business, a one-man mission where just myself juggled the e-commerce, marketing, design, and production; I had no idea what I was doing really, all I knew is that I desperately wanted to succeed.

Taking its toll

The long nights and early mornings of working solo began to take its toll on me; I struggled to get out of bed and most days I felt miserable, and it was in this period I was prescribed anti-depressants. I felt disappointed in myself that in those four years of so working hard, I had achieved what felt like nothing. The only obvious next step from here was for me to seek employment and to take the pressure off myself to a business owner without much knowledge or experience.

A new chapter

After a year of working under someone else, I had managed to save enough money to rethink my steps and start again. I managed to save £10,000 and using that money I bought some wax, glass and fragrance invested it into Supplies for Candles, setting it up as an official company in early 2016.

To give some background of my business, Supplies for Candles is a distributor of candle and soap making ingredients, they primarily sell candle supplies for retail and wholesale across the UK and to micro businesses who manufacture their own candles, soaps, and air fresheners to sell online. The Soap Kitchen are suppliers of personal care and soap making ingredients. Together, my companies allow people to set up home businesses in candle making; we also offer advice as well as products and supplies which helps to make their business journey easier.

A team effort

A large part of why I believe my business has succeeded is down to the element we have of giving something back. I always knew I wanted my leadership to be collaborative and immersed in the business community so that’s why it has been so important to share the knowledge I’ve acquired and give some of my own successes back to help others.

As much as I regrettably look back to those four years of what now objectively seems like failure, I know that it needed to happen for me to be where I am now. It turns out that in learning how to win, you must also learn how to fail as well. When trying to make my first business work, I mistakenly felt as though I could do it all alone, without any help or much training. When it comes to the technical things such as strategy, SEO and my own credibility as a business owner, it’s so important to find the best people who can help you bring it all together: a great website, engaging content, relevant images and videos; without all these things, getting visibility and maintaining it in the online sphere can be very, very hard.

Since putting my all into both enterprises, I have amassed £15 million in just over five years. It feels incredibly overwhelming to reflect on how far I have come and the company and all my employees, whom without, I would not be here today.

As much as the technical things have played a huge role in the development of both businesses, our staff and customer care has also been a top priority from the get-go. We pride ourselves on the longevity of our returning customers through always offering bespoke knowledge and expertise and of course, high quality products with easy ordering and delivery processes.

Advice from my journey

Sometimes the world of entrepreneurs is mystified behind technical jargon, class barriers and skills that you aren’t always taught at school. If I were to give some advice to my younger self or anyone who is looking to start their own business, I would say:

  1. Understand your market and who you want to target – this was where I struggled in my first four years of enterprise. I didn’t really understand the market or the people I was trying to appeal to. This is key and all it takes is research and knowing there is something worthwhile in what you’re pursuing.
  2. Ensure your content is consistent, relevant, engaging and up to date – today, all people want is quick and digestible content. If the things you’re putting out there are interesting and useful to people, you will get views and readership, it’s as simple as that.
  3. Network and learn from people around you – attend networking events and use sites like LinkedIn to meet other people and understand how different entrepreneurs work. This takes time and confidence but growing your network can enhance your journey by having people to turn to when you need advice or encouragement.
  4. Care about your team – this goes without saying but building a team full of people who feel appreciated and happy is integral to a good working business. Spend time fostering team spirit with a culture where everyone feels supported.
  5. Keep at it!

For more information please visit https://www.nickystory.com/