My Best Mistake

Mini Movers, Starting Up The Second Time Round: My Best Mistake

How I got my ideal start-up lifestyle – second time around

By Michelle Hammond
Friday, 25 November 2011

Mike O'HaganMike O’Hagan is the founder of Mini Movers, providing short-distance furniture moving. The company has operated in Australia since 1985, with a presence in all the major cities.


O’Hagan started the business with nothing more than $200 and a ute. Twenty-six years on, Mini Movers employs more than 400 staff and is on track to record around $25 million in revenue in 2011-12.


However, it’s been a long haul for O’Hagan, who ran a secondhand furniture store prior to Mini Movers. While the business was successful, O’Hagan found himself hopelessly enmeshed within a routine, unable to move.


“When I first went into business, I went in with the mindset of wanting to be my own boss. Six years after starting my first business, I was working seven days a week,” O’Hagan says.


“I was trapped into working for my business… I was also earning the same amount as my staff, who were working 40 hours a week.”


O’Hagan realised that while he enjoyed working for himself, he also wanted a flexible lifestyle. But having immersed himself in the day-to-day operations of his business, this wasn’t possible.


“My strategy to achieve that lifestyle was to own a business. The flaw in my plan is that I started in the wrong sort of business, selling secondhand furniture,” he says.


“I wanted something I could grow into a large business but I also wanted to achieve an amazing lifestyle.”


“I came up with all sorts of crazy ideas until one day, this lady rang up saying her removalist had let her down, so I organised some removalists at an hourly rate.”


“I started to realise a unique opportunity there.”


From the outset, O’Hagan says he designed Mini Movers to grow into a large operation, while removing himself from the frontline.


“In my opinion, many business owners aim way too low. I learnt that you end up where you aim, so aim high. Get structured planning and work to a goal with a strategy,” he says.


“I’ve never, ever moved furniture – I’ve only worked on the business. Mini Movers is the machine to feed my lifestyle.”


O’Hagan’s advice to other business owners? Delegate, delegate, delegate.


“My only job is to manage three managers – I get other people to do everything. If you do that, you will grow,” he says.


“I have an immense passion to create the perfect workplace and I paint that as a picture… People understand that and take it on. I talk in conceptual terms so people understand.”


O’Hagan is also adamant about the importance of honouring your niche market, however tempting it might be to branch into other areas.


“We do short-distance furniture moving. We’ll never change our core market… We do one thing and we do it very, very well,” he says.


“The world’s all about niche markets. Understand what your niche is and keep your head in there.”

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