The advice workshop owners would give their younger selves

People in workshops

Knowing what you know now about business and the auto industry, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Knowing what you know now about your life, business, and the auto industry, what advice would you give to your younger self?

It’s a fun question, and one we asked Members in State of the Nation 2021. The results were revealing—and they provide an excellent to-do list for anyone just starting out in their auto business career.

Here’s what we discovered.

Work hard

We asked an open-ended question, rather than providing a list of potential answers, so Members could say whatever came to mind. We collated those answers into broad themes to come up with the most common pieces of advice.

The top answer? Work hard and do your best. That was the tip from 11% of Members across Australia and New Zealand.

Hard work, of course, is very general advice, but it says as much about attitude as it does about application. The other answers help us dig down a little into what “hard work” might actually look like.

Improve your general skills

When most of us start our careers, we’re focused on learning how to diagnose problems, pull apart bits of an engine, and put them back together.

But 10% of Members wished they’d been able to tell their younger selves to work on their general skills, like organisation, research, and preparation. These are the skills that help you work efficiently and effectively.

Learn more business skills

Similarly, 10% of Members wished they’d taken the time to acquire the kinds of specific skills needed to run a business.

Those could be skills like managing teams, understanding a spreadsheet, marketing effectively, or putting together a business plan.

READ MORE: Are you working on your business or just in it?

Taking the time to learn these skills early could certainly save you making many mistakes, and save you a fortune over the course of your business career.

Stand up for yourself

Another popular theme was Members wanting to encourage their younger selves to value themselves and to stand up for themselves more.

It’s a sentiment shared by 10% of Members and it speaks to the insecurity that’s common in the early stages of our career. Perhaps it also reflects a wish among Members that they’d had more self-belief, been a little more courageous and seized more opportunities, sooner.

Learn to manage finances

Understanding how to manage your finances, and how finance works generally, was something 9% of Members said they’d learn if they had their time over.

If you don’t have good financial literacy when you start out in business, the learning curve is steep. Balance sheets, profit and loss statements, cash flow, credit terms, mortgage amortisation—the list of complicated accounting and financial terms you have to get your head around is mind-bending.

READ MORE: 7 tips for running a financially efficient workshop

Be optimistic, confident and patient

These three attitudes—optimism, confidence and patience—were mentioned by 9% of Members.

The inclusion of patience is instructive: enthusiasm is great, but you have to learn to walk before you can run.

Invest in equipment, premises and staff

Eight per cent of Members talked about investing properly in the basics needed to do the job, including premises, equipment and good staff.

READ MORE: 6 ways technology is costing you profits

Treat customers well

Customers are the lifeblood of any business and the secret to longevity is treating those customers well, so they keep coming back, and so they recommend you to their friends. Seven per cent of Members said they’d like to give this advice to their younger selves.

Have a good work-life balance

Nearly half of Members told State of the Nation 2021 that having a good work-life balance was the biggest challenge they faced in running their business.

READ MORE: 7 tips for a better work-life balance in the auto industry

Six per cent of Members said they wished they could tell their younger selves that work-life balance was important.

Get a head start

Finally, 6% of Members said it was a good idea to get your start in the industry as soon as possible.

Download your free copy of State of the Nation 2021.

This article was published 02/05/2022 and the content is current as at the date of publication.