Xenios Thrasyvoulou is a passionate PPHer, avid blogger, lover of art, design, and all things quirky and minimal (but words in particular); a fan of the uncommon and unconventional, and a vintage fanatic. He is the accidental Founder of and now fully and truly wed to PeoplePerHour. Follow him @xenios
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?
If you never give up you can never fail! Understand that success (aside from some lucky outlier cases) comes with perseverance, hard work, grit and simply never giving up. My entrepreneurial path has been very unorthodox and had a lot of down moments, much like a roller coaster. What kept me going is knowing that if I don't give up I will win, and that the journey is as important as the destination. It's all about enjoying the fight, being in the trenches, and proving people wrong when they think you can't make it.
What's the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Trying to build a company too quickly has been my biggest business mistake. Companies must go through these three phases: figuring out the product and market fit; figuring out or optimizing the business model and getting to profit; and building a company that can scale. Too many companies try to do all of the things required for the third element way too quickly. They end up getting distracted from the core and burning a deep hole in their pockets.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
I rethink my priorities and what matters that day. I try to forget what I left over the day before and think about the top three things that can move the needle.
What’s your best financial or cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Business must constantly be looking at both the top line and the bottom line. The best businesses have very tight financial discipline and a strong hold on costs in their DNA. The newer generation of businesses have started running companies based on these new set of rules, where it's only about volume, eyeballs and scale.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Get in front of the customers. I made the terrible mistake of forgetting the importance of that as we started to grow. I started to focus more on scaling and operational issues. Being in front of your customers is as important when you are a startup as it is when you are a multinational conglomerate. Nothing matters more. Businesses exist to serve customers. Get out and see them.
What's your definition of success? How will you know when you've finally "succeeded" in your business?
Well, strictly as a CEO whose job is to maximize shareholder value, the answer is when you've reached the peak and can go no further. When you've maxed out because the market is saturated, you scooped it all up or you just reached your own cap. I think that the job of every CEO -- and anyone for that matter, is to max out on the opportunities given to us. Even if you've made billions, if you are compromising and not maxing out, I consider it a fail.
On a grander scale, you know you succeeded if you've changed something for good -- no matter how big or small. You know you succeeded if you changed the rules of the game in some market, some industry or some element of humanity -- and if that change will outlive you.
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.