Finding out how his “why” pointed the way forward for Stephen Tracy’s career


After too many 10-hour shifts selling candles at the Canal Street Market in Manhattan, Stephen Tracy wants to quit his job in Manhattan Buy candles.

But he has a problem: he is not allowed to quit.

Keap Candles is not only his job, but also his career. He also signed a contract, promising that he would appear on the market every day. Just a year ago, Stephen quit his job at Google and co-founded the company with a friend. And now things are not going as expected. In all.

It wasn’t until Stephen and his co-founders thought deeply about the “why” behind their business that things started to get better. Although Stephen admitted that he was in an unhappy situation and wanted to resign, he still had enough optimism to make some drastic changes that ultimately saved the company and Stephen as a person.

From Buffered Small business, big lesson Podcast episode 2 As well as the accompanying unpublished interview, Stephen shared the feeling of suspending business operations to find out why (even if your business is failing) and using this knowledge to reverse everything.

Stephen Tracy, founder of Keap

Start with passion and hit the wall

Stephen and his friend Harry Doull are dissatisfied with the life of working in the technology industry, and they regularly discuss what they enjoy outside of work. One day, a surprise appeared because they all realized how much they like candles.

“We will have coffee together and discuss what we plan to do next. One day candles become a topic. Surprisingly, we all like candles very much,” Stephen said.

Realizing their enthusiasm, the two decided to start a candle company, even though neither of them had ever made candles. Within a few months, their ecstasy for new entrepreneurs stopped surprisingly.

“Three months after leaving the company, we spent a lot more money than expected and have done some pretty big things, such as cashing out our retirement savings,” Stephen said. “And we still don’t have candles!”

Financial pressures increased, and after making a few candles, Stephen and Harry began to say “yes” to anything they thought would help them sell candles. In the end, they signed a contract to open a stall at the Canal Street Market in Manhattan. Stephen didn’t really think about it, saying that they promised to staff the booth 364 days a year from 10 am to 7 pm. They signed a one-year lease.

“We are in a situation where we are now not spending time doing what we want to do,” Stephen said. “It feels like we are trapped in some way, we now have to emerge and make a retail transformation.”

Keap founders Harry (left) and Stephen (right)

Find out what drives you

Although Stephen said that the company did not have an official “bottom” moment, both he and Harry began to feel that they were a failure. The candles are not selling very well. They feel trapped in the Canal Street Market contract. Both of them are considering calling the company a loss and moving on.

But he was not ready to quit, and some changes have taken place in Stephen.

“What really happened is that we finally admitted that we are not a happy place personally or as a business. Some things need to be changed. Both of us have left enough hope and optimism to realize that there is a way to get out of trouble. This,” Stephen said.

“We managed to spare precious time to spend time together… what is our purpose?” Stephen continued. “…I remember I still felt a little lost in the process, but that was something we instinctively felt we had to do.”

Finally, Stephen said that he and Harry realized that they needed to figure out their bigger goals. Otherwise, he said, “We will just continue to fall into the same habit of saying yes to things.”

The two also decided to start working with a business coach-Holly from Ask Holly how -Summer of 2019. Stephen said it was a bit like treatment, because Holly told them to consider their needs as humans first, and then their needs as business owners. The first assignment Holly gave them was of great significance to Stephen: “Write down where we hope we will live in five years.”

This event brought some shocking discoveries to this start-up company in downtown Brooklyn. The first and biggest one was geography: Harry wanted to move to upstate New York, and Stephen wanted to move to Long Island, even Back to his hometown of Guernsey, close to England, by the sea. The second is to hope that the company will help establish a space for dialogue and connection, and create new moments in a world that is always distracted. Stephen quickly understood that the way they currently run the business cannot help them realize these reasons.

“The dream of many people to become entrepreneurs is to have personal freedom, so why do you want to finally feel like you are in a place or spend time doing things you don’t want to do, or, or in a place you never want to be?” Stephen said.

Buy candles

Change your business to match your reasons

Immediately after working with Holly, Stephen and Harry attended their 2020 and 2021 annual planning meetings more carefully. They did not consider business goals, but considered the consistency between business growth and personal goals. The goal was “the truly integrated company is the company we hope to build.”

This plan brought about a shocking change: Keap deleted all their social media accounts.

“So for us, to be clear, this means no more Facebook, no more Instagram, no more marketing through these channels,” Stephen said.

As a direct-to-consumer company that advertises on Facebook and Instagram, Stephen said this decision should already A terrible. However, this is not because their behavior is in line with their personal desires deep in their hearts.

“We want to take a stand. For a company trying to cultivate dialogue and space to build connections, it doesn’t make sense to force you to check Instagram for our latest posts.”

Removing what Stephen considered the “disruptive and distracting” of social media from the way they run their business has allowed the duo to have more time to focus on sales and marketing methods that feel more true to their “why” .

“We wrote more stories on the blog,” Stephen said. “We send more emails every month, and hope that in the near future, we can start to do more things that really bring us happiness.”

The seminar is in progress, Keap

It’s not (only) about money

Looking back after two years, he said that really developing the business will come back to two questions: 1) What is the business? 2) Why do you want to do this?

For many people, the answer to these two questions is “money.” But Stephen and Harry realized that as entrepreneurs, they have a deeper “reason” for themselves. However, Stephen does not judge those who set up businesses just for money. It’s just that he thinks that most people have something deep in their hearts, whether they realize it or not.

“I think that running a business with the’why’ as the core is a way of business that can bring satisfaction, happiness and happiness,” Stephen said.





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