Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
I have many heroes. I wouldn’t say only one fully embodies my drive and values. But each person I admire gives me a source of inspiration for particular characteristics they excel at. For example, Steve Jobs is a perfect example of uniqueness and perfection in work. My ability to leverage the things I have and my current connections is something I learned from Bill Gates.
I also look up to Gandhi for the values and passion he represents, and some others as well. There’s a huge variety, so saying I only have one hero would be a little bit restrictive. I like having multiple sources of inspiration.
What’s the single best piece of business advice (unorthodox tips welcome!) that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Don’t burn your bridges. I know it sounds counterintuitive because most people’s advice is to go all in when building a business, but I actually think it’s the other way around. If you really want to build a business successfully, you need to build even more bridges. Once your business starts running, you are going to need all the support you can get. If you quit your job and burn your bridges, you won’t have anyone to support you, no money in the bank, you’ll become stressed, unhappy and demotivated, and you won’t have anything to leverage.
Instead, my advice is to build your business outside of your working hours while you still have some consistency in terms of income and connections. That way, you’ll have all the support you need throughout the journey. It might take more time and get overwhelming at times, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. Don’t burn your bridges, build them.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
I don’t think I’ve made my “biggest mistake ever” yet. We are still growing and learning as a business. However, I think a big mistake I made in the early stages of my career as an entrepreneur was reacting too fast. As entrepreneurs (and human beings, really), we make a lot of assumptions. We tend to react to situations based on what we think happened without listening to other sides of the story. This has happened to me when firing (or not firing) employees, dealing with partners, working with teams and so on. It’s easy to fall for this mental trap, making assumptions and reacting too fast, but it’s best to take three steps back and keep it rational. In the moment you may feel the need to make an urgent decision, but sometimes it’s best for your business to have an honest and real conversation, look at the situation from different angles and make a conscious decision from there.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
The first hour of my business day is actually business-free. I have my own morning ritual, which includes meditation, walking, yoga, hydration techniques and other activities. I mix it up during the week. After this, I am pumped and ready to start my business day, and my first real business hour is always centered around the “big thing of the day.” I focus on the most important item I have for that day and I try to get it done in the first hour, or two if necessary. It might seem cliché, but it really works for me and I think that’s why I’ve been able to keep myself sane while running my businesses.
It doesn’t have to be an item that I planned the day before. Sometimes I’ll be in reaction mode for whatever is happening at that moment – but I identify it, focus and get it done first as a top priority.
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
This is something I tell new entrepreneurs all the time: Know that you’re going to lose for at least six months. It could be a year or two, but the first six months for sure. I don’t mean to kill their ambition or be pessimistic but, as entrepreneurs, we tend to be extremely hopeful and optimistic. That’s great, but not realistic.
All new businesses need time to start positioning themselves in the market, get audiences and start selling. For the first months, you will have expenses and investments. Whatever you do, don’t put yourself in a situation where you don’t have enough wealth to support yourself during this period.
Whatever you choose, whether you keep your old job, get funding, delay starting your business, etc., just make sure you don’t run out of money. It’s good to be optimistic when planning your budget, but make sure you also have a very pessimistic plan. Imagine you don’t have money for a year and see what decisions you’d have to make to overcome that potential situation.
And you know what? If you make money, it’s going to be fine. But if you don’t, you are going to fall hard and you will probably think of quitting unless you are prepared for it and have a “plan B” based on your pessimistic scenario. So it’s actually best to plan for the worst.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Focus. Most entrepreneurs get easily distracted because we are always looking for the newest growth opportunity, a new idea to pursue, an innovative strategy to try out, a shiny new object that catches our attention…. and we try to do everything. But doing everything is doing nothing.
Instead, focus on what you know is going to work, what you’re working on right now and that one thing that will lead to a big win. Focus, zoom in, do that one item and that will give you the biggest growth you can get.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
I used to be one of those “goal achievers,” going from one goal to the next, and considering every achieved goal as a milestone and success. However, about a year ago I started thinking and living differently. I decided I didn’t want to be a “goal achiever.” I realized that, in life and business, we go chasing goal after goal after goal, and it never stops. These goals are like wanting “more.” The more you want “more,” the further away “more” moves. It never ends. This is what goals do to us; there is no end, no “ultimate success,” and it takes away the power of now. Today. This moment.
I changed my perspective toward the gratitude I have for what I have created and the life I get to live. Success for me is today. I always ask myself, am I passionately living in the moment today? Am I doing what I really want to do? My life is now driven by values instead of goals. If I live my values every day, I feel successful. I don’t need to get anywhere in particular to feel successful and happy.
I strive to live in a constant state of joy and bliss, and I feel fulfilled. This is how I know I’ve “succeeded” in my life and business. Staying true to who I am, living it, reflecting it in my brand and in my businesses. I don’t need to chase success anymore, I choose fulfillment over it.