‘I made £15 million+ in five years with my side hustle’ Man, 30, recalls ‘biggest lesson’

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Thirty-year-old Nicky Story is the CEO of Supplies For Candles, The Soap Kitchen and Glassprints Ltd estimated to make £20million by the end of 2021. Despite having his first business garnering only losses for four years, Mr Story is now at the helm of a multimillion-pound business empire.

 

With over 100 employees and 100,000 customers, it’s hard to imagine that Mr Story’s very first business venture resulted in a £3,000 deficit.

Although his success is now indisputable, like most entrepreneurs, Mr Story’s first business venture came with quite a few learning curves and it cost him dearly.

Mr Story began Soap Supplies Limited out of his father’s garage after graduating from Leeds University.

“When I graduated in 2012, I set up Soap Suppliers Limited, however, four years into this business, I was getting nowhere,” he said.

“In those years I had made a loss of £3,000, I had no idea about e-commerce or marketing and made a ton of mistakes! 

“It had taken me four years to build a business that was making no money at all.”

Being an entrepreneur takes as much mental resilience as it does business knowledge, and these losses were beginning to take a toll on Mr Story.  

“I was on my own, working in the freezing cold every day, with no support, I was failing and I was so miserable because I thought, I’m meant to be successful and I felt like I had no purpose.

“My Doctor gave me anti-depressants as I couldn’t even get out of bed, I couldn’t eat, my parents were so worried about me and I just felt like a failure.

“I really wanted to give up, I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed anymore to even pack a few orders in the garage.

“I didn’t want to do it anymore because whatever I did, didn’t work.”

With his financial situation now becoming dire, Mr Story had to give up on his entrepreneurial dreams for the time being, but this would serve him greatly in creating his own commercial empire.

“I ended up working as a Buyer for a manufacturing company in Leeds.  With hindsight, I see now that this one year experience in employment taught me how not to be: my boss wasn’t a great leader and lots of staff were unhappy and I remember one day sat in the office looking at my previous boss thinking when I run my own multi-figure company, I will never act like you do or treat my staff like you do.’  

Despite the setbacks and losses, Mr Story was not yet ready to stop his entrepreneurial ventures just yet.

“This taster of employment also made me realise that even after four years of failure trying to run my own business, I knew I didn’t want to work for somebody else. I wanted to make a success of myself.

“Everything I learnt in the four years of a failing business and also within employment for that one year, I applied to my business, and see that experience not as wasted time, but as lessons learnt that are now enabling me to reach my full potential. 

“One of the biggest lesson second time around was having the resilience and confidence to just go for it.

“I’d lost everything once already and decided it was time to take some risks. I learnt to be fearless.

“So, I looked at what was popular in the market and invested all my savings – which was the £10,000 I had been saving for a deposit on a house – into launching Supplies For Candles, initially from my dad’s garage as a side-hustle.” 

And it only took three simple ingredients to bring Mr Story’s dreams of success to life.

“I bought some wax, glass and fragrance and I set my new company up in 2016 – but this time I understood and knew my market – this was key.

“I would start straight after my full-time day job and work long hours late into the evening and all weekend.

“It wasn’t long after I launched that I was able to quit my job and only six months later things started rapidly changing, sales continued to come through and the next thing I know, I needed a helping hand, so I employed a close school friend to help me out and meet the demand.”

Mr Story added that marketing and positioning strategies were the key to reaching his current seven figure status.

“In just five years, we have rapidly continued to grow and grow.

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“In 2020, our acquisition of the Devon-based Soap Kitchen in April, a £3.5million supplier of cosmetic soap ingredients, has established the company as one of the market leaders in the distribution of both candle and soap making supplies in the UK and Europe.

“Our latest 2021, £2.5million investment includes the acquisition of Glassprint Ltd, stock of new products and the purchase of an additional 20,000 sq ft warehouse in Mexborough close to our headquarters.”

Despite his overwhelming success in this short space of time, Mr Story has not forgotten where he started from.

“I also continue to give back and help more business start-ups offering support and guidance.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, I gave away £100,000-worth of candle making kits and business start-up packs to support those who had been financially affected by the pandemic – and as a result, over 2,000 people went on to set up new businesses or side hustle and me and my team continue to support them on a regular basis. 

“My message to others setting up a side hustle or new business is – ‘keep going!’ Business can be tough but it can also be incredible — I lost £3000 in four years with my first business and I made £15million+ in five years with my second side hustle business.”
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