For Ami Hackett, turning her ‘holiday job’ into a business launched her into the unknown, but keeping her business skills current helped her steer it through rough waters.
Ami opened her self-named boat detailing and management business, Ami Marine, in Success in 2004 after an early career on the land in the wool industry.
The marine business now employs a team of five, with Ami’s brother Angus on the tools with her. Together, they bring new life to old boats and keep family favourites top notch with seasonal maintenance.
After being in business for nearly 20 years, Ami has some salient advice for others.
Look to boost your skills
Even after decades of running her business, Ami still finds time to learn new skills and refresh existing ones. She attended the SBDC's five-part online, SBDC Business Essentials Package workshop series early in 2023 to ensure she was staying up to date.
Ami said that each webinar was packed with information and skills to help boost her business.
“I was actually blown away at the level of content,” she said.
“I honestly didn’t expect to learn as much as I did after being in the game for so long.”
“These are just some of the platforms that I now use as a knowledge base,” she said.
“There is really something for everyone.”
New information can shift your focus
Ami said that the specific learnings that she took away from the workshops, that have now been put into practice, was getting to know the numbers again and learning how to track them through Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that she understood.
“This has been a major shift in the direction of my day to day now,” she said.
“Another great take away was learning about all the free resources SBDC has within their system for example collecting data on industry competition.
“This has been super helpful to make sure our price points are, and remain, competitive.”
Navigate seasonal demand with loyal clients
Every business has its peaks and troughs within the economy, but Ami thinks that having a business even more susceptible to seasonal demand made her learn earlier and faster that in a service industry, clients are the backbone of your business.
“You have to really appreciate them, and make them feel like part of the family,” Ami said.
“A large part of our current clientele, that see me through the slow colder months, are clients that have been with me since I stated in the marine industry 20 years ago.
“Another tip is to ‘make hay, while the sun shines’, so that is what we do.“
Foster a culture of being open to new ideas
Ami said that not only is her team open to new ideas, but they fully encourage them.
“I think that culture within Ami Marine makes us pretty good at adapting,” she said.
“Don’t get stuck in the same old same old.”
Side hustle referrals can grow a whole new business
When Ami started the business, she had no direct connection to the marine world herself, but had family members who did. Her introduction came through helping a friend clean boats to earn pocket money, while studying for her wool-classing certificate.
Ami later returned to the boats, during her ‘off season’ from the shearing industry and has remained ever since.
“I really enjoyed the challenge of learning something new away from what I was trained to do and working hard at it,” she said.
“I must have been pretty good at it because I had all my clients referring me to their friends and before I knew it, I had organically grown my very own business.”
More information to help your business journey
If you have been in business for a while, why not consider updating your skills and knowledge with our free and low cost business resources.
- Low cost, practical small business skills workshops
- Free business templates, tools and guides
- Starting and growing your business
- 5 ways to use AI in your business
- Sign up for the SBDC's fortnightly small business news email
- Read more small business stories
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