When I was a kid, I had this dream of being a fighter pilot. Probably thanks to Tom Cruise playing Maverick in Top gun I probably watched 100 times on VHS... Which I was always afraid the rewinder was going to eat the tape as that was my only copy and I needed it desperately. As I grew up a bit, I realized how the Navy just didn't work that way and I would have to get a real job that wasn't going to be quite as fun. Cars were my next in line as I always had this love for complex things. Fast forward a bunch of years and I'm a mechanic that specializes in the closest things to fighter jets I can get my hands on, supercars. Working for "bosses" never worked for me as I can't work comfortably with deficiencies, inferior or blatantly incorrect procedures or this idea a supercar and their owner is just a car or a number on a sheet with a dollar sign next to it for me to complete. My heart had to be in my work so the only way to make that happen on a daily basis was to open my own shop doing supercars how I like to do them.
Connecting with my clients on their level was always something I enjoyed so being able to do it at my own business was something very special to me. I have a love for high end cars and I'm able to share that with my clients every day as they are able to share their love for their cars with me. What's best is that every car has a story and I get to hear all these from the horses mouth. It's a unique position and something I never take for granted.
Truth be told, I wanted to run my own business working on supercars for the love of the cars and the vast amount of stories that would surely be behind them. Money was never a driving factor. I've always been a good tech and as a mechanic, money is always there. When you're good, your income is only limited by your want to work. As a mechanic...
Not as a business owner.. It helps if you're good at business too and I've always been an entrepreneur so I was sure running a shop would be no problem. My first business was probably at the age of 13 or so running an ice cream stand. Using a $100 bill I found under a dumpster in Southgate Mi, I came up with an idea and I with the help of a friend, converted it into $500 in about 4 hours selling ice cream floats in a parking lot near our neighborhood on a hot summer day in June. If you were that friend and you're reading this, please reach out as I completely forgot who this was or if you were one of my customers and you remember waiting in line for two children to serve you icy cold goodness, please get in touch, I'd love to hear your side of that day... Anyway, I spent it all that same weekend on one of those yellow antishock cd players and some other junk I didn't need which taught me the other side of making money. Conversion is only part of it, saving, re-investing and repeating is everything. I honestly forgot about this while building my supercar company, betting everything on my skill as a mechanic alone. My saving grace was that I was truly all about the cars and the people. I always maintained the perspective that if you love what you do, you'll be great at it and the money will come... In that order. Luckily my clients happened to appreciate that personal approach to how I run F8 Sportscars and it has been a great success depending how you look at it.
Over all these years, I could never escape that old way of doing things. Conversion was never the problem, turning work into money. Re-investing in the company and repeating wasn't the issue either, I thought putting every dollar back into the company was the only way to do it. Saving was the impossible thing, I just couldn't save anything.
So, apparently, you actually can run a high end car repair business for 7 years paycheck to paycheck but it's.... well, it's hell.
The key to running a successful business is not that you have to know everything, it's that you respect yourself enough to accept you don't know enough. We need people, we can't do this alone. I know I'm very good at supercars. I'm not cocky at all, maybe insecure at times but cars is one thing I know well... but I can't run my company alone. That's been very hard to accept and I had to if I intended to keep the dream alive.
With the help of some amazing clients and even some friends that own local shops, I've been lucky enough to get some perspective. It's a humbling thing to have people want to help because they want you to succeed. They believe in you, you just have to be willing to be humble and accept it. Growing up, I never had that kind of support. It took some time to even understand these people were wanting to help without expecting something in return as I've always been so cynical.
Fast forward a bit and F8 Sportscars is doing well, we have a great plan ahead of us. I've come to realize that although I'm the main product in this business, I'm just a very small part of a much bigger picture. They say it takes a village to raise a child and no truer words could be said for a business built on a love and respect for specialty machines and their owners. It has taken quite the village.
Owning a business doing what you love is something I wish everybody could do at least once.. Even if you fail. It teaches you something amazing about yourself you'd otherwise have to go all your life without knowing and that's such a waste of life experience.