What Niki Mahon Learned From Doubling Her Revenue Every Year

Aug 25, 2020
Created by the author — original image from Instagram.


Niki Mahon, like many of us, had no idea what she wanted to do with her life after university. Despite finding a job she enjoyed in marketing, she felt a void when she got home and craved a project to keep her busy.

She loved dreaming up business ideas but her entry into e-commerce was triggered by the pleasure Niki took in keeping things organized. Niki would sell her used fashion items and makeup and was shocked by her own success. Yet it didn’t take her long to realize buying full price then selling at a lower price wasn’t a good business model.

This led to the creation of Nikita By Niki when she was only 23 years old. At the start, Niki used her great eye for style to source statement necklaces to sell to her large audience. It evolved into designing her own unique jewelry that her customers loved. Her skill in product design led to further expansion into top department stores with her homeware collection.

What started as a side-hustle has now generated well over one million dollars in revenue. Niki feels the strongest she’s ever been after overcoming hurdle after hurdle to get to where she is. Her Rose Goals podcast aims to inspire and educate others about the reality of startups and she kindly agreed to let me pick her brain. Here’s some of her best advice:


Start your business in secret

It’s hard to believe from the confidence Niki radiates today but some of her loved ones didn’t believe in her ideas. Even when well-intentioned, their negativity seeded doubt in her mind.

Luckily she went ahead anyway in secret. The way she frames her advice brings a smile to my face:

“Treat your startup like a baby’s name”

As soon as you tell people what you are thinking, you’ll get bombarded with opinions you didn’t ask for. Just like a baby, the startup is yours and you decide how to raise it. She recommends entrepreneurs trust their gut and test out their ideas. Niki made a rough business plan then began selling and gained momentum from her early wins.

Now instead of telling people what she was going to do, she told them what she had already achieved. It reframed the conversation and gave her credibility. I can relate with her mindset as I’ve been keeping my own side hustle secret until the right moment.

This advice holds even for experienced entrepreneurs. When Niki started her podcast show last year, a family member asked her why she was bothering. Niki focused on her art and after the first four episodes, the same person came back and admitted they were wrong!


Take it one step at a time

Throughout our conversation, Niki emphasized she doesn’t want to make entrepreneurship look easy. She took a conservative approach and wouldn’t encourage anyone to leap blindly into the unknown. Niki stuck to a philosophy of “make big decisions only when the bank balance allows you to do so”.

There were 3 distinct phases to how she has treated her business:

  • A side hustle outside of normal work hours
  • A full-time business two days a week and three days at her old job
  • Her full-time passion

Maybe this approach slowed her growth but it made it far more manageable for her. The hardest period was the middle phase where she felt like she was squeezing in a week’s worth of work into 3 days. It was only when Nikita By Niki was stable and revenue matching her income that she left her job.

Niki has no regrets about the way she did things and left her former employer with bridges firmly intact. She would tell others to be open about their side hustle at work as her colleagues and managers were some of her strongest supporters.

Even after taking the leap, she’s maintained the same mentality. Slowly expanding her product range when the time is right not being driven by a desire to take over the world.


Bring your unique skills to the business

Niki has an unorthodox background for a successful business owner but it’s what makes her who she is. Her seemingly irrelevant experiences gave her an advantage over the competition who were trying the same thing as each other.

Niki was an accomplished street dancer who regularly competed with her team when she was younger. Over a decade as a semi-professional dancer provided her with the confidence she has needed as an entrepreneur. She got used to being around the same people all the time and treating a team like family. This is especially relevant in welcoming those early employees.

At university, she studied computer animation which doesn’t scream jewelry empire. Yet her prowess with design software meant she could make her own logo and photoshop her product images to present them in the best light. She strongly recommends other entrepreneurs to learn photoshop if they want to sell anything online.

She wants to tell any students reading “they don’t need to make decisions so young”. Skill up in whatever interests you and it will bring something unique in whichever field you choose to go into.


Social media isn’t the most important thing in the world

Niki’s views on social media were refreshing for someone with nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram. She finds it can be exhausting to keep up a posting schedule and to battle to stay relevant. Admirably, she’s focused on her message rather than growth hacking for vanity numbers.

She actually had 10k followers before even thinking about starting a business but deleted it because she didn’t want coworkers to judge her. It makes her laugh now to think about how far she’s come. It meant she needed to start from scratch but it was a blessing in disguise as she attracted people interested in her products.

Niki doesn’t want her business’s success to be tied to how many selfies she posts on social media. She consciously focuses her page on a realistic view of startup life and the behind-the-scenes of product launches. She knows this slows the page growth but product design and wider marketing bring her more joy.

She would recommend young entrepreneurs focus on learning Amazon ads rather than social media. They’ve been far more lucrative for her and a better long term investment. On Amazon, you can build up reviews and a reputation with an incentive to keep investing time and effort. Maybe you can stop worrying about scheduling a post everyday.


Never assume others understand your vision

Being a perfectionist in business is difficult. Like many entrepreneurs, Niki is obsessed with her company and is always thinking about it. One lesson she learned the hard way over time is no one has access to what is in your brain. You might have a meticulous plan but you need to expect others to know nothing.

Niki deals with over 100 suppliers because of her growing product range. It’s easy to get conversations mixed up and think you’ve told someone key details but you haven’t. She pays attention to all the little details because it’s better to spend 5 minutes extra on the phone than hours than rushing to fix a mistake a week later.


Always make your brand kind

Despite the rapid growth of her company, Niki still answers emails personally. She wants to have an unfiltered insight into her customers and their feedback. While it can be stressful, it can also be highly rewarding.

Though she maintains an incredible 4.9/5 rating on TrustPilot, it’s impossible for everything to be perfect. Sometimes a package will be delayed due to external factors and a customer may send an angry message. She finds some customers expect her not to care because they are used to dealing with big organizations.

This isn’t true at all as Niki goes the extra mile to ensure her customers are happy. She will get on the phone with them personally and loves changing people’s perceptions, “By the end, the customers are apologizing to me! A bit of kindness goes a long way.”

No fancy marketing technique beats repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations. As Niki says “customer service is everything”.


Wrap up

Niki is now looking to expand her homeware segment further and is fascinated by all things interior design. She wants to build her team further to have the capacity to spread her products even wider. She’s been through tough times but wants to remind any others who are thinking about giving up:

“If it were easy everyone would be doing it”
  • Start your business in secret
  • Take it one step at a time
  • Bring your unique skills to the business
  • Social media isn’t the most important thing in the world
  • Never assume others understand your vision
  • Be kind always

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