YEC Member Spotlight: Vinny Lingham, CEO of Gyft

avatarThree-time startup founder and CEO, Vinny Lingham is currently focusing his effort on his mobile gift card platform, Gyft. Previously, he co-founded and ran the award winning paid search agency, Clicks2Customers, and Yola -- the easy to use website creation tool -- used by over 8M individuals and small businesses worldwide. Follow him @vinnylingham.

Who is your hero? 

Gandhi.

What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?

The best piece of business advice I have ever received is actually one that I could never publicly talk about -- if I did, I would lose the edge it gives me! The second best piece of business advice I ever received was from Steven Covey's book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People: "Think win-win" -- it applies to almost everything you do!

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 think my biggest mistake in business so far is that I doubted myself too often. Entrepreneurs need to listen to their inner compass. Often they take counsel from people who have never walked their path in life and as a result, give advice that does not have context. In a fast-moving world, you don't have perfect information -- you need to follow your gut and believe in your ability to make the right decisions. A slow decision is often worse than no decision.

What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?

I check my email, shower and get ready to go to work. When I have spare time, I try to get 30 minutes of play time in with my kid before heading off to work.

What's your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started? 

Don't buy fancy cars; instead, pay off debts and keep your personal burn rate low. Have one check account and one credit card only. The more things you have to worry about, the less you can put into your ventures. Keep it simple, and keep costs low.

Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?

Become an expert in the Lean Startup methodology. The best management approach I have found to date is using data and science experiments to make decisions.

What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?

Look at where 80 percent of your revenue is coming from and focus on those clients and segments. Get rid of the rest of the revenue -- it's probably unprofitable anyway. Often entrepreneurs get trapped in the zero-growth market segments which sustain but don't grow their businesses. Kill those segments and find new ones!

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.

About YEC

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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