Operating a small business can be hard, but the motivation and passion that Eleni Mitakos brings to Galmatic, turns work into fun. Galmatic runs interactive car care workshops and defensive driving courses for women. The company teaches classes throughout Australia and also has a ‘shop-front’ of accessible online components. The business idea started early in Eleni’s life, but did not take off immediately. Her passion for driving and tinkering with cars started with the purchase of her first vintage car (while she was still a teenager) – a 1956 Holden FE. The car had neither side view mirrors, nor seatbelts, and she was “eager to get [her] hands greasy!” It wasn’t long before Eleni began to realise that there wasn’t anywhere to go as a girl to get to know your car.
“I didn’t want car mats with frangipanis, or Betty Boop air-fresheners. I was looking for a car culture I could have fun with.”
Not only was there no Internet at the time, there were not many places for women to go to learn about cars.
“There’s the dipstick, I know what that does! But what does this thing do? And this one? And where do I go to find out?” “There just wasn’t anywhere to go as a girl to get to know your car.”
One evening whilst out enjoying a rockabilly band wearing full skirts, with her Holden parked outside, Eleni and her friend Kristy dreamed of a “metaphysical garage just for the gals”. She imagined girls in awe, “Why this car is automatic, hydromatic – it’s Galmatic!” Thirteen years later, Eleni decided to leave the corporate world and started Galmatic. She gives credit for the brave life-change to the hormones that kicked in after childbirth, reminding her that she was talented, motivated and passionate enough; that there was more to life than working.
Eleni credits her success to three particular skills she learned when she started:
- Familiarise yourself with background knowledge of marketing.
- Public speaking. Be confident in meetings with clients and put yourself in situations where you promote your business.
- Be a good writer and communicator.
“I enjoy being able to focus on and explore the things that make my business fun. Interacting with people, writing material and training. It has allowed me to really hone in on what I’m good at and what I need to pass on to others to do.”
Eleni has been successful in her business with the help of the Australian Businesswomen’s Network. Eleni says, ‘The ABN has been a great source of networking with other like-minded women. Through their webinars, I have been able to stay on top of new business trends and ideas, whilst still being able to work from my home office.’
“As my business has grown, so too have my opportunities with the ABN to not only grow and learn for myself, but also to inspire and help other women too.”
Starting up a small business can be difficult and Eleni wishes she had these three main pieces of advice when she first started:
- Plan everything. Try not to jump into the deep end straight away.
- Have clear action steps for achieving goals. Know exactly what you want to achieve and pave yourself the way to reaching it.
- Take each day as it comes. Complete the business-building tasks first each day, and then look at your to-do list every day.
Eleni Mitakos’ advice for starting up a business:
- Be very clear on who your audience is and what need they have that you can fill.
- Be specific and targeted with your products.
- Know your brand really well and hire people who fit your company culture.