Ever thought of giving up your day job and pursuing a dream? Eleven years ago, Ryan Hayfield was working as a carpenter on the Beaches when he told his boss he was going to retire and start a surf school.
Most bosses might be a bit upset when they lose a good employee. When that employee says he’s throwing in his trade and opening a surf school, some bosses might even have a bit of a laugh. But Ryan Hayfield’s boss bought him a cake, wished him “all the best” and he’s never looked back.
Manly Surf Guide is the product of Ryan’s dream and has now been voted on Trip Advisor as Sydney’s number one surf school. Offering quality and personalised surf adventures, it’s described as “the perfect way to learn to surf whilst exploring the best surf beaches in Sydney”.
Lessons are held daily and cater for all levels of ability whether you are a first timer, beginner or advanced surfer. With small groups, lots of local knowledge on offer and plenty of personal attention surf students will be “ripping in no time”.
We chatted to Ryan about his evolution from chippie to surf instructor and successful business owner.
So, are you living the dream?
I am loving life and living the dream, but running a small business is still really hard work and can be stressful at times. I don’t do many lessons myself now, I spend a lot of time in the shop selling boards and doing admin.
What’s the best part of what you do?
The best bits are making people happy and seeing their face when you get them standing up for the first time. I love teaching kids how to surf or selling a kid their first surfboard. That is a really rewarding part of my job. The list of challenges is long, I won’t bore you with them.
Do you miss being a tradie?
I miss working with my mates and the banter at lunch time. I don’t miss the work that much. I would be earning more money if I was still on the tools but sometimes it’s not about the money.
What advice would you give for anyone else thinking of packing in their job to start a small business?
I don’t really know. I have made so many mistakes over the last 11 years since I started my business, I’m not sure I should be giving people advice. Just start and work it out as you go and learn from your mistakes.
Has your old boss come for a surf lesson?
He already surfed. I still go to their work Christmas parties every year to catch up with them.