Brain food: Sir Tom Farmer - If I had to start again

Brain food: Sir Tom Farmer - If I had to start again - I've started and run a few businesses in my career, and my advice to anyone who wants to do the same is to surround yourself with a good team. What makes a company isn't so much its investment in offi

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I've started and run a few businesses in my career, and my advice to anyone who wants to do the same is to surround yourself with a good team. What makes a company isn't so much its investment in offices or computers as its investment in people - that means time as well as money. As a business grows, you should be prepared to spend most of your time managing people. My biggest regret is that occasionally I have lost members of a team simply because I haven't had time to look after them properly.

I left school at 16, but I've never felt my lack of higher education to be a handicap. I get on well with people and I've got common sense and loads of energy and that's always been enough. I know my weaknesses and hire people who are better than me at some things. Education is more important today - good qualifications can only strengthen your position - but a can-do attitude is still more valuable.

I've been in the tyre and exhaust business all my life and been pretty successful - when a company like Ford is willing to spend pounds 1.2 billion to get what you've got, you must be doing something right. But now I realise that I could have had that success in many other areas. Maybe I couldn't have been a brain surgeon, but put me into any service business from a bank to a burger bar and I could turn it round in a week.

Sir Tom Farmer is chairman and chief executive of Kwik-Fit.

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