“Many assume my £20m business success has been stress-free – far from it!”

As success continues to surge across all brands of the Nicky Story Holdings group, 31 year old, Nicky Story, who is on track to turn over £20million, shares his journey to success, and it’s not been as lucky and stress free as some may assume!

This is a really exciting time for the group and all the brands that sit within it; Supplies for Candles; The Soap Kitchen, Glassprint Ltd and Ava May Aromas. We have seen rapid growth over the past three of years, with the group more than tripling in size and we are predicted to turn over £20m in the near future and now serve over half a million+ customers and employ over 50 members of staff… but, this journey hasn’t been easy, nor has it been stress-free.

Many people often see my age and success and think – wow, he’s one of the lucky ones, but there’s no such thing as overnight success!

It’s not unusual for people to ask me what it’s like to be so ‘successful’ at such a young age (how you measure that is entirely up to you) or they assume that my business journey has somehow been stress-free, but if they knew the full story they wouldn’t be making either of those assumptions and that is one of the reasons I’m so keen to talk about it; I was on the verge of breakdown and diagnosed with depression at the age of 23 after my first business failed.

Over the past six years, I’ve learned how important my own mental health is and truly know that if any of us are going to build anything of real value, we must make sure we’re taking care of ourselves in the process.

My story is not unusual and I’m hoping to share some things that might help you to achieve more, stress-free, whilst also enjoying the process!

I graduated from Leeds University with a degree in Business and Management, I started my business in my dad’s garage and spent four long years working hard to build the business, a one-man mission juggling all of the roles: packing, buying, e-commerce, marketing, design, and production… I had no idea what I was doing, but I desperately wanted to succeed. However, the stress, long nights and early mornings of working solo began to take their toll on me. I struggled to get out of bed. Most days I felt miserable, I was on my own, working in the freezing cold and failing. It was only after my parents intervened that I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants.

I felt so disappointed in myself. I felt like I’d achieved nothing – I had no money or motivation.

I stopped being honest with those closest to me. I stopped talking, I was ashamed to admit when things had become too much. I can’t say strongly enough the power of talking. We’ve got to keep doing it, particularly us men. Thankfully my parents intervened when I needed them to. Ensure you have the right support around you, whether that be family, friends, loved ones, mentors, colleagues… share your dreams with them. You can also gain support and talk honestly and openly in groups and communities online – there’s some fabulous ones particularly for startups and businesses.

Once I started to feel better, I took a nine to five job in Leeds as a Buyer for a manufacturing company and saved some money to buy a house. However, with the money that I had saved, I instead invested into Supplies For Candles – I initially started to do this on an evening and weekend, but soon was able to quit my job.

This time around I had more experience, and much more perspective. That year in employment really helped me to visualise the kind of entrepreneur that I wanted to be and why it was so important to me. We often forget about the ‘why’ in pursuit of the ‘what’.

Within six months things started changing, sales started coming through and the next thing I knew, I needed a helping hand and my business grew and grew.

I trust my team with my business and my life. It’s taken a while to bring the right people together but it’s an absolute must. I trust my team – they are extremely competent; they share my vision, and they don’t always say yes! It’s sometimes good to be challenged or have processes questioned. It’s what makes us more efficient, productive, and successful. I know that my businesses are in safe hands.

Looking back, it was so painful at the time, but I know that those lessons were crucial in helping me reach my highest potential.

My message to everyone is find your cheerleaders, seek support when needed, keep going and focus on your why whilst you’re in pursuit of the what!

Finally, you are more than your business, so ensure you make time to do what you love (outside of your business) – what is success, if you can’t enjoy it? What do you love? Keep making time for your family, sports, travel, hobbies. Whatever they are, they keep you recognising that your drive to succeed is only one aspect of who you are, in balance with everything else. You won’t find me chained to my desk every night. Being an entrepreneur and business leader is just one aspect of who I am, not the whole picture.