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Hey all, today we have something different. I recently performed an AMA session at a private Facebook Group I am a member of. This is like an interview, where members of the group ask their questions in the form of thread comments, and an individual replies to those questions. Most members of that group are aspiring entrepreneurs, and as a bit more experienced, I tried my best to give some guidance. Check it out!
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Q: I’ve heard many success stories of people starting businesses as side projects and quitting their jobs to commit full-time to their own business. Knowing what you know, under what circumstances would you be willing to take a leap of faith and start something with no job security as a safety net?
There is no definitive answer here. This highly depends on the personality and obligations/liabilities of the person.
Personality: What is your risk profile? More conservative or aggressive.
Obligations: Are you 20y old with no obligations or a family man with 2 kids?
Liabilities: Are you in debt (Credit cards etc.)? Have you accumulated savings?
Personally I took the more conservative approach of running the business in parallel until I had accumulated funds and until I was certain that the business was in good state (steady cashflow).
Roberto Zanon for example took the other approach and took the plunge by going all in.
In any case, make sure that the bare minimum (shelter, food etc.) are covered (even perhaps from your parents).
In your case, since you are a programmer, risk is mitigated because your skills are in demand.
Good luck !
Q: Hey Ilias, thanks for the initiative. I’ve heard many theories about it, but what would you say is the average time someone would need to start seeing some positive financial results from a business he starts?
I can understand this has many unknown variables, but have you observed some rough guidelines on this or maybe a rule of thumb?
From my knowledge the timeline goes roughly like this:
Year 1: Crickets. You see almost zero results. This is the most dangerous part, what MJ DeMarco calls “Desert of Desertion”. You need to keep pushing through.
Year 2: Things are more interesting now, you get some first results that confirm that you are on the right track.
Year 3: Things are in place, you start getting some good money.
Year 4: Things are picking up and you are hitting the exponential part of the curve.
Year 5: Printing money phase.
Obviously, the above will mainly depend on your efforts.
All these with the prerequisite that you are in a business that is indeed scalable. Hope this helps!
Q: Hey Ilias, thanks for the initiative as well.
If you had:
1) a time machine to go back in time
2) persuasion skills that would make anyone follow your suggestions
what 4-6 (I hate numbers 3-5) pieces of advice would you give to your younger self at the age of 25? Can be anything.
Another thing I would like to know and sorry if it’s too personal, is this:
What was your as Roberto calls it, singularity moment?
For people not familiar with it shame on you first and then here is the definition:
“the moment I decided I wanted to be great, not average, not normal, but excellent.”
Cheers and thanks for the inspiration
Interesting questions 🙂
Alright, here is what I would mention:
1) Eliminate all distractions (TV, lame friends, ball busting girlfriends, negative people, stupidity on the internet etc.)
2) Start reading every single day. Go all in for the first 15-20 books in order to understand how things work.
3) Research the life (early years of successful people) and take notes.
4) Start building marketing/sales skills especially for the internet.
5) Start associating with people that also want to succeed.
6) Start a project early even if it seems to be going nowhere.
As far as the second question goes, I did not have a single moment of clarity. It started to build up as I was reading wealth books. I do not have many “emotional spikes” in general, so it was more of a smooth phase. The Millionaire Fastlane helped a lot with this.
Q: Hey Ilias! Congrats for the initiative. Can you tell us more about the early days? I mean before deciding to stick to the concept that proved fruitful (media company). What was the most essential ingredient back then in order to move forward?
I believe the most important ingredient was that it finally clicked to me what “impacting millions” means, i.e. how scale works. After that I realized that the specific niche had indeed good depth in order to pursue further. We had already built the foundation, so we just pushed things forward with better marketing and more efficient operations. Hope this helps.
Q: Hey Ilias!
1) What is your morning ritual? Have you experimented with or thought about different versions and if so, what do you prefer about the one you are using?
2) How do you balance deep work (no distractions) vs shallow work (working while available for social media, emails etc). Do you use a regular system for prioritizing and allocating time?
1) My morning ritual is a bit all over the place at the moment. However, I am in the process of finetuning it and ideally it would look like this:
– Wake up
– 10min workout
– Important tasks
I don’t read in the morning because I pretty much read all day 😉
I will publish an article on my blog soon about this, stay tuned!
2) One word. Pomodoro. It is the best thing i have found, assuming that you are disciplined enough to follow through. I schedule the most important (usually deep work stuff) for the 2 first Pomos of the day in the morning, and the other dispersed during the day. I also heavily utilize Google Calendar.
Q: Hello from me as well!! Great initiative from your side! 🙂
I would like to ask, the method you follow not to get into the trap of sunk cost effect, when you start a business? Meaning, that starting a new business someone has the feeling that it will succeed (otherwise he will not start it) putting more effort if he doesn’t see it going as well as he wanted.
As for example, do you pre-set some thresholds, monetary or time wise, before you take it behind the barn and shoot it? Could you share some info, probably on percentage according to a bank account level? Thank you!
This is a tough one. In general you need to be as rational as you can, and not get emotionally attached with your “baby” (i.e. venture).
First of all let me say that it is a prerequisite to put a serious amount of effort in the venture before you declare it dead. Otherwise it is destined to die anyway.
The optimal approach is to set from the beginning specific milestones (monetary or some other KPI if it makes more sense) and monitor those. This can be a bit difficult though, especially if you are not very experienced (and since things are so fluid).
Sometimes you can get a “feeling” (intuition) about whether or not things are working and it might be worth listening to it.
Finally, please let me mention that sometimes you will need to kill (or perhaps pause) a project EVEN IF it goes WELL. If you have something else that performs even better, you should allocate your scarce resources (money, labor, time etc.) to the second one since it will yield greater results.
Q: Hello Ilias, thank you for this opportunity.
1. Knowing that we have the same background, I would like to ask you when you decided to take this route in your career? Do you believe that the choices you make as a student will heavily influence your potential later to a point where you won’t be able to achieve what you want and what would you suggest if that is the case?
2. How much importance does building wealth from a young age have for you? What steps would you advise someone to take in order to have better opportunities in the future?
Thank you very much! Keep up the great work.
Hey Vasili, here are my answers:
1) I decided to take a route after the university and after I had worked for about 6 years as a software developer. This was VERY LATE.
The decisions you will take during college will definitely impact your career later on. Actually, please keep in mind that it is the BEST PERIOD to start messing around with entrepreneurship.
My approach would be to find fellow students that are “builders” and explore things (those are not necessarily the best students), and associate with those. Then see if you can jointly build something that provides value and makes business sense.
Developers/engineers have some serious drawbacks as personalities:
a) They abhor marketing and sales. They think they are “too good” for those.
b) Their business skills are nearing zero.
Please do not fall into those mistakes. Get the right self-education to fight those fallacies.
2) It is of critical importance mate. As they say, “The problem is that you think you have time”.
Start early. The best approach is to start educating yourself. Check out a reply of mine in a previous question about advice to a 25 years old version of myself. Good luck!
Q: Hey, Ilias, congrats for the initiative!:-) I’d like to ask the following:
a) Everyone wants to get rich – no doubt about that. But what was your strongest motivation during the toughest / most disappointing phases during your (ad)venture? (provided there were tough points). What held you on your feet?
b) What trait of your personality or your business do you regard as the most important in order to get ahead from your competition in your area/field?
c) Which millionaire/billionaire you know do you admire the most and for what reason(s)?
a) I do not agree that everyone wants to be rich. There is a difference between “I want to be rich” i.e. desire, and “It would be nice if somehow I got rich”. Note even close.
There were some touch points, but not something horrible. Look, we are not in a war zone… neither in a poor African country… We are living a quite comfortable, protected life, if you think about it.
Having said that, the motivation that I derived was internal. And it was based on the thinking that I have potential that has not materialized yet, and I should not stop until it does 🙂
b) Self-discipline. I am disciplined to always move forward, no matter what.
c) Oh man, there are so many! I will mention some, in no particular order:
– Marcus Lemonis: Brick and mortar business genius, check out “The Profit” series
– Dan Lok: Online entrepreneur, he is the guy that I most resonate with.
– MJ DeMarco: Author of the “Millionaire Fastlane” book. He is the best at articulating business and wealth concepts.
– Arnold Schwarzenegger: Kicked ass in 4 different domains (bodybuilding, cinema, business, politics)
– Mark Cuban: Extremely competitive guy, check out his book “How to Win at the Sport of Business”
– Dan Pena: Old school businessman, lives in a fucking castle (search him on Youtube)
Of course I do not know them personally, but it is fairly straightforward to meet a couple of them if you got the $$$.
Q: Hello Ilias! Thank you for this opportunity!
I would like to ask you about the first days of your company. Literally.
Like you were nervous about it?
Did you have any idea what was going to happen?
Have you done your research that you saw a gap within your market or you just started?
Love to hear these early days of every story
Hey Dimitri 🙂
Actually no, I was not particularly nervous. Not only because of my character, but also because of the conservative approach we had followed.
The downside was protected. We already had some traffic with our website, our overhead costs were almost zero, we could work on our business in parallel with our day job, and I had accumulated savings that could last me years.
So, we did not have much to lose, only to gain. There were some second thoughts about the “leap” from time to time, but nothing significant to pull me down.
Regarding starting up, we actually began as more of a hobby. I could not imagine the whole thing to run as a media business, it was out of my reality at the moment.
After educating myself on marketing and business, I realized that there was indeed a great opportunity lying there, and we pushed forward hard!
Q: Hello Ilias! Thank you for taking the time 🙂
What is the one the thing that you are enjoying the most now that you’re financially independent?
Is it the same thing you were after when you first started this journey?
I get to do whatever I want with my time. I rarely have to do anything that I do not like/enjoy to do (and when that happens it is an indication that something has failed and I need to push even harder and organize things better).
Yes, it is pretty much the main reason that I started. TIME and FREEDOM (and health) are the ultimate assets.
Hey again people, I hope you enjoyed it! If you have similar questions, don’t hesitate to contact me in private. I would be glad to help!. Also, if you haven’t already done so, please join my Inner Circle Facebook group, code-named Online Capitalists! See you there!