George Bousis is the Founder and CEO of Raise.com. Raise.com is a P2P Gift Card Marketplace where people can sell their unwanted/unused gift cards for cash and buyers can purchase discount gift cards to their favorite brands. George is responsible for company growth, new business opportunities and bridging the gap between technology and operations. Follow him @GBousis.
Who is your hero?
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
Understand the success of others and learn from their mistakes. In some way or another, every new idea or company is modeled after previous ones. To be successful in reinventing, recreating or disrupting an industry, you must first focus on what others did to help them succeed and in what ways you can learn from how they failed. This is a much more in-depth process than many believe. It takes ownership. Understand their numbers, business model, key hires, trends, marketing campaigns, etc. The chances that you'll cross similar paths or feel the same pains is almost dead on every time.
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 wouldn't say it was a mistake, but as an entrepreneur, sometimes you're focused on pleasing investors in the short term, rather than making the best decisions for the long-term success of a company. Always put your company first and prioritize your goals based on a clear business value. Think of building a real company, with actual revenue that can be a cash cow. Building a company with the mindset of an acquisition first is a huge mistake.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
During the first hour of my business day I'm caught between following up on a long list of emails and doubling back with the Raise team. Each morning we break up into groups and talk about what's been accomplished, what our day looks like and the status of long-term goals.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
The best financial tip is to grow only as fast as you know you can handle. Your company and its reputation are really underestimated. Don't over promise, but rather over deliver. Keeping a close eye on company finances, budgeting on actual projections, and understanding the heartbeat of your company is key.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
I recommend transparency within an organization. You'll never be motivated within your business until everyone agrees on how things are going. If you feel as though something isn't going as well as planned, don't be afraid to pivot and try something else. The greatest entrepreneurs admit their mistakes and learn from their lessons. One of the best pieces of advice I've used over and over again is test early and test often.
What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?
Success is execution. Entrepreneurs execute; that's what sets them apart from others. You'll know you've succeeded when you look back and know you gave it your best -- when you're willing to put it all on the line just to make it.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.