Higher Costs Drove Her Out of Business

I was over visiting the Small Business CEO site and happened to notice a blog post I couldn’t help but read: Candle Wax + Rising Fuel Costs = Zero Profit

Not only did the title catch my eye, but the name of the author did also.

It turns out to be an article written by Amanda Stillwagon, who also frequently comments here in our community. Amanda tells the true story of how she was forced to close her candle-making business (hopefully just temporarily) due to the higher cost of wax and other supplies.

For now she’s picked up some work as the part-time editor at Small Business CEO while she waits to see if prices come back down. It’s a fascinating post, and one that is all the more meaningful because it happened to a member of our community.

The higher costs and the inflation that we write about — they’re not just theoretical. They are close to home.

Thanks, Amanda, for being so open and honest in sharing your experience.

Go read Candle Wax + Rising Fuel Costs = Zero Profit. And leave a word of encouragement or advice for Amanda.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

9 Reactions
  1. I can imagine the rising costs of fuel will really be a detriment to many small business owners. Customers are spending more because of fuel costs so they do not want to pay more for products, making a business unable to increase prices to cover rising fuel and raw material costs.

    I am starting a tech support business and fuel costs will factor into my budget quite directly, since the majority of my business will be conducted by driving to customer’s homes.

    Good luck to Amanda and all the other SBO’s out there struggling against rising costs!

  2. As I commented on Small Business CEO, I think Amanda could have tried going global, simply in the form of exporting her product to the European Union, Japan, China, Brazil, Australia… even Canada, just next door.

    Many small business owners haven’t yet realized going global is not just for huge companies. Anyone’s got a chance!

  3. Wow! Yes, we’ve had our own bouts with this because we offer field service to our customers. We have been able to curb this partially with half of our staff by simply compensating based on the federal mileage rate of 58.5 cents per mile, but for our company vehicles which we fuel internally, the cost has really come against our bottom line!

  4. Amanda, this is just one step in your journey to success. Thank you for sharing your story. It might also be the time to review your business, customers etc so that if you continue the journey in the future you will be well ahead of any competitors.

    If you want any information or need assistance, eg for the Australian market, I am very happy to help you.

    Best of luck

  5. It ain’t over till it’s over! Right now the crunch is on, but things will change again in the future and I think you’ll be able to get your business back on track again. Great story, thanks for sharing it.

  6. Thank you everyone for your kind words of encouragement. I’m certainly not calling it quits, just a little break until the economy gets back on track. Not only have the material prices been a setback, but customers don’t have extra money for luxuries like scented candles. I will keep trucking along until better days come back around.

  7. Martin Lindeskog


    I will contact you regarding your business. I see international opportunities! 🙂

    All the Best,

    Martin Lindeskog – American in Spirit.
    Gothenburg, Sweden.

  8. Amanda, my heart goes out to you. This is the time you should be brave – as you are. I have a couple of suggestions. Take them if they’re useful.

    First – on the costs front. Everyone who makes candles is on the same boat as you. They face the same increase in costs. So, if the costs increased, pass them on to clients! Tell them that prices have increased and so have to pay more. Some of them may not even ask why they are costlier. However, I saw on your website that you have stopped taking orders. That’s not good. You should still be taking orders at higher prices that can sustain you. Volumes will dip but your customers think you are reliable.

    Design has value. Your candles are already good (I saw a picture on SMBCEO). But my suggestion is that you could increase ‘design value’ of your product 2-3 times more than what they currently have. Check out what your competition that offers similar candles at much higher prices. That way, you could enhance the value of the product without incurring higher costs.

    If there’s any other way I can help you, let me know. I am available at chaitanya dot sagar at p2w2.com


  9. Chaitanya, Thank you for your suggestions, I really appreciate everyone’s points of view. Everyone has been very kind and helpful too. I am going to mull over all of these comments and come up with a plan of action.