Finding the Magic Formula For Small Business


When I started my business, I had a very clear vision: to create beautiful handmade candles that could become functional art pieces for the home, with their strong sculptural and textural style.






Here is a photo of one of my first market stalls at St Andrews Market in 2001.



Here is a photo of my first trade fair at the Royal Exhibition Building in 2007.



 In my mind, the vision for my business was exactly the same: the same skills, same materials, same philosophy, same texture, and same sculptural intent. But in 2001 I hadn’t yet hit upon my three key products, which now make up over 85% of my total sales.

A friend of mine has experienced a similar trend in her photography business. Her vision, to use her photography to create beautiful useable art from recycled and sustainably produced materials, has never changed.

For 2 years she laboriously hand cut, stitched, assembled, stuck, stretched, printed and folded the products in her trademark style, minimising waste and creating objects that could have a second life, rather than merely being disposable. And while her range was lovely, and she had many loyal customers, it was slowly consuming her, taking all of her energy and spare time. It wasn’t until she tried something different that she hit upon a new product that was not only far more popular, but also far less labour-intensive for her to make.  

At last, she had found that magical formula, that elusive secret that all small business owners strive for, in the eternal hope that it really does exist:

less work + more sales = more money, more opportunity and more freedom

While more money for less work is an obvious quest, achieving it is far more important than just a bit more money in your bank account. Having more time for yourself, your relationships, your creativity, and simply more time to think and plan rather than always just reacting, can bring about two of the things we’re all constantly striving for: a greater sense of wellbeing, and a greater sense of happiness.

From my own squiggly line, dotted with doubts, failures, mistakes, sleepless nights, and some good luck too, I want to say: keep on trying. Keep your vision, and keep pushing your work forward. Keep experimenting. Keep exploring that passion that first gripped your imagination. You never know which idea is going to be your magic formula.