Hi Ivan, can you tell us about how you got started with your entrepreneurial journey?
I used to work under a rude boss who one day crossed the line. I told him: “you didn’t pick me up on the street, I worked my ass off for this company so don’t you ever treat me like this, you can take this job and shove it”. Then I resigned and he was shocked because no one had ever stood up to him in 10 years. That night I went home so angry and this was the moment when my inner entrepreneurial fire sparked. I know I am good at sales and so I created ‘Vantagiato’ sales agency to help small businesses get sales. Within 24 hours, I set up an ABN, CAN, business email, logo and website. I had to make things happen quickly to replace the $125,000 income. I told my girlfriend that and needless to say it was a very tough conversation.
I take it that your transition wasn’t a smooth one, right?
I quickly realised that as a small business owner you have to do 10,000 jobs at once. As many skills as I possessed, I knew I only had 2% of what was required to create a successful business. I believe that a winner should adjust and find a way to make it happen. Even if I can’t use my arms or legs, as long as I have my teeth, I will climb that mountain.
You said you only had 2% of the required skills. How did you make up the 98% you didn't have?
My dad will be proud of this answer. I read tonnes of books, listened to educational podcasts and hung out with knowledgeable individuals. At every single seminar Jack Delarosa stated that the education system was not adequate so don’t go study things blindly. Study what you need to achieve your goals. A lot of people fear failure and winning at the same time. Self-sabotage is a big thing in entrepreneurship and people do this to themselves so you need to read books to rewire your mentality.
No vision can be accomplished without help. I went to networking events and hung out with great people. Generally, people love to help others because it makes them feel great. Getting the right people to teach you new skills and transfer knowledge can get you from A to B much quicker than you learning on your own. If you want to learn about entrepreneurship, go to people that actually travel the journey who actually apply the knowledge but be careful about finding the right mentor. Don’t get financial mentors who are broke. If they cannot even sort out their lives, how can they help you? Also attend as many live events as you can.
Those that want to get rich and retire early are better off staying at their job. Work harder or do extra projects for more money but never start something just so you can retire early. People who think like this are not real entrepreneurs.
Do you see enough people investing in self-development?
Ray Higdon is an online product guru, his website gets 2 million views and makes over $40k monthly. Robert Hollis made 48 million dollars in 10 years and paid Ray 50k for 3 days course to teach him how to sell online products. Self-development is where many fail in entrepreneurship. They look at the price tag and say they cannot afford it. But you cannot afford to not afford that. If millionaires and billionaires hire experts to advise them on the issues they are not familiar with then why you don’t do that as well?
This amount probably is equivalent to us spending 1-2k but you would rather spend it now than make $20k mistakes. If I knew about the Entourage earlier, I would have paid Jack $10,000 dollars to learn from him because it would have greatly advanced my entrepreneurial level. I am saying this because I am a living truth that proper education by mentorship can exponentially grow you. People who spoke to me in 2014 wouldn’t recognise me now.
What motivates you in life?
Ever since I was young I always had big passion and loved being innovative. To me it is either 100% or 0%. Since the age of 15 I have been motor racing so while my peers were going clubbing I spent Saturday practicing racing for Sunday's competition. These experiences taught me to respect others, and showed me that hard work pays off. The only thing constant in life is change. People can lie to themselves but I know I need to adapt to be ahead of the game.
Sales in 2016 focuses on one thing – delivering exceptional customer service to whoever you are selling regardless of what you are selling. Look after them as if they are like your own family. Would you sell your family the wrong product at the wrong price?
What other projects are you involved in at the moment?
In 2014, I was among the only few individuals in Adelaide that could see the vision of World Venture. I believed in this product and the amazing value it would provide to people. In 2014, 250 people rejected me but in 2015, almost all of them joined. 10 years ago this company started from nothing, and now it is the second fastest growing company in the world in the network marketing industry, which is about to reach 1 million members in the subscription model business. We are going to launch a free app to enable people to turn from buying a vacation to earning dream trips. If you thought Uber was disruptive then wait until this app launches, it will be insane.
People can create their own profiles, travel bucket list, write reviews and post photos of places they have been. Now you can invite your friend along to earn points to go to your next holiday. This data is being analysed to build your own customisable dream trips. You will get notified on your app that one of your bucket list items is available along with the much cheaper member rates you get. We can create supply and demand while no other travel agency can achieve this.
Recently I co-founded 'Upsocial' which makes people famous on Instagram. Our customer's’ identity is confidential but I can tell you that one of our customers went from 0 to 10,000 organic followers in three weeks' time. For a brand new startup this product is fantastic because it allows customers to reach more people while impressing investors. If we say we will get you 10,000 followers we will get you that, and no other marketing company out there can claim the same.
How do you manage your busy schedule?
Self-employment is not much different than being employed. If you start late, leave early or have an extra lunch break then you will get fired soon. Same rule applies when you work for yourself, be strict and stick to your routine.
I quickly realised that as a small business owner you have to do 10,000 jobs at once. As many skills as I possessed, I knew I only had 2% of what was required to create a successful business.
What is your view when people want to become entrepreneurs to retire early?
One of the worst quotes that was ever written – entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. I have never meet an entrepreneur that stopped working after 2 years. Have you?
Those that want to get rich and retire early are better off staying at their job. Work harder or do extra projects for more money but never start something just so you can retire early. People who think like this are not real entrepreneurs. It doesn’t matter how much I achieved, I will never stop. You will never see me sitting on a rocking chair next to a lake saying I have been grinding hard for 7 years so now I am done.
How does one become better at selling?
Many genuinely believe that sales people are just there to make commission and do not care about anyone. 10 years ago I would agree with this statement. But sales in 2016 focuses on one thing – delivering exceptional customer service to whoever you are selling regardless of what you are selling. Look after them as if they are like your own family. Would you sell your family the wrong product at the wrong price? If not, then do not do this to your customers. I know we don’t live in a fairy tale world where all salespersons are doing this but if you want a long and successful career in sale, this is how you have to approach it.
You need to understand your market, understand people's motivation and emotions involved in making a purchase decision. All it takes is one post on social media in which you mess up and no one would want to work with you. Be so good to the point that puzzles people and they ask themselves why is this guy so nice?
Work 40 hours a week for 40 years of your life and then live on 40% of what you used to make. If many cannot survive with 100% of their wages, how will they survive in 40 years’ time with only 40%? Praying that their kids are nice enough to help them out does not always work. Yet they laugh at entrepreneurs’ hard work.
Take those extra steps to make your customers feel good, and imagine a real estate agent giving your kids a box of chocolate when they arrive to the new house. Or it can be as simple as saying thank you so much for coming today, it was a pleasure getting to know you. Just show appreciation. People will come back and refer you to others.
What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Do not compromise on your value
When you let your value and self-worth to be compromised by allowing others to disrespect you just so you can keep your job then you turn yourself into another disposable number in their line.
Please do not be stubborn
Many are too stubborn to ask for help, while some wouldn’t even let their wife know that their business is struggling because they are ashamed of it. Asking for help is not a weakness, it show that you are smart and humble enough to admit you don’t know everything.
Don’t get too attached
When people say no to opportunity, they are denying themselves and prefer not to leave their comfort zone. Don’t get upset when people reject you, because as an entrepreneur you won’t be able to satisfy everyone.
Self-development is where many fail in entrepreneurship. They look at the price tag and say they cannot afford it. But you cannot afford to not afford that. If millionaires and billionaires hire experts to advise them on the issues they are not familiar with then why you don’t do that as well?
Hang out with entrepreneurs
Best way to learn from an entrepreneur is to just be around them. Nothing can teach you more about life than actually experiencing it. Imagine having the opportunity to hang out with Richard Branson for 30 days, how much better entrepreneur would you become?
Social media makes it easy for lots of ignorant people to discourage you. Work 40 hours a week for 40 years of your life and then live on 40% of what you used to make. If many cannot survive with 100% of their wages, how will they survive in 40 years’ time with only 40%? Praying that their kids are nice enough to help them out does not always work. Yet they laugh at entrepreneurs’ hard work.
Being an entrepreneur is all about perseverance. People are negative and sceptical because they see things come and go too often. They want to believe in you but at the same time they know most won’t make it and you possibility can’t be the rare great one. If 9/10 of your close friends told you not to start your business, listen to the 1 that told you to. Even if your goal is only 10% complete, you are not a failure, you are on the right track, just keep on grinding.
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