Stay Motivated with Clear Goals_Lilia Stoyanov_Beyond 8 Figures

Stay Motivated with Clear Goals with Lilia Stoyanov, Transformify

January 4, 2023

When you set clear goals, it’s much easier to stay motivated (and therefore satisfied) on your entrepreneurial journey. In this episode, the CEO of Transformify, Lilia Stoyanov, shares her approach to goal setting, the importance of getting experience before going out on your own, and why you should always pay attention to the numbers!

About Lilia Stoyanov:

Lilia Stoyanov is an angel investor and the CEO of Transformify, a revolutionary HR software and freelance platform. As a visionary leader who built a ”hiring one-stop shop,” Lilia has received many awards, including the 2018 Female Entrepreneur Enterprise Award, the 2017 First Women Award, and the Top 10 Fintech Innovations Award. 

Effective Goal Setting for Entrepreneurs

Goal setting is an essential skill for entrepreneurs. It helps you stay focused and motivated, and it provides a roadmap for achieving your desired outcomes. However, goal setting is not always easy. It can be difficult to know where to start, and it can be even more difficult to stay on track.

Here are a few tips for setting effective goals as an entrepreneur:

  1. Start with a Vision: Before setting goals, it’s important to have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Your vision acts as the guide, outlining the long-term goals and purpose of your business. Take time to reflect on your mission, values, and ultimate objectives. Visualize where you see your business in the future and what impact you want to make.
  2. Make Goals SMART: SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. When setting goals, ensure they are specific and well-defined. Clearly communicate what you want to achieve, whether it’s increasing revenue, expanding your customer base, or launching a new product. Make your goals measurable by defining specific metrics or milestones to track progress. Set achievable goals that are realistic and within your capabilities, considering available resources and constraints. Ensure goals are relevant to your overall business objectives, aligning with your vision. Lastly, set a timeframe to create a sense of urgency and accountability.
  3. Break Down Goals into Actionable Steps: Once you have set your goals, break them down into smaller, actionable steps. This approach helps make your goals more manageable and less overwhelming. Identify the key tasks, milestones, or benchmarks that need to be accomplished along the way. By breaking goals into smaller actions, you can create a clear roadmap and track your progress effectively.
  4. Prioritize and Focus: As an entrepreneur, it’s common to have multiple goals vying for your attention. To ensure effective goal setting, prioritize your goals based on their importance and impact. Determine which goals will have the most significant positive effect on your business and prioritize them accordingly.

Overall, effective goal setting is a critical component of entrepreneurial success. It will not only drive your business forward but also provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment as you see your efforts come to fruition.

Episode highlights:

  • Ask yourself what you want and get clear on the answer. It’s much easier to plan your roadmap to success when you have clarity around where you are heading. (06:57)
  • Pay attention to the numbers! If you don’t focus on profitability and sustainability, the value of your business can come crashing down overnight. (07:47)
  • Get as much experience as you can before you start your own business. There are certain things that you need to know to be able to succeed, and you can’t learn those things in school. (24:22)
  • Fill your life with learning opportunities. Read books, listen to podcasts, and nurture relationships with knowledgeable people; this is how you will grow as an entrepreneur. (26:44)
  • Goals keep people motivated and motivated people are more satisfied at work. To enhance the level of satisfaction within your business, set measurable, well-defined goals for yourself and your team members that can be achieved within the space of a few months. (37:30)

Lilia’s best advice for entrepreneurs:

“It’s impossible to be good at what you do if you isolate yourself. You need to speak with other entrepreneurs, with people who are successfully managing businesses. You need to learn from them.” (27:02) 

Connect with Lilia:

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[00:01:20] A.J. Lawrence: Today, we’re gonna talk about setting goals and how it’s easier to stay motivated when you have these. Now we’re not just saying like X goal but really diving in, and Lilia will really go into her process and she’s an amazing force and you’ll love listening to her. Lilia will go into how she fit and how she forces her goals to be really true and aligned with what she wants from her life. We’re gonna talk about how her approach to goal setting, the importance of getting experience for going out on your own, and really why should always be paying attention to the numbers.

[00:02:01] Lilia Stoyanov is an angel investor and CEO of Transformify, which is a revolutionary HR software and freelance platform. As someone who has a global team of talent, I am fascinated by what they’re doing, and I’ll probably be looking at it as we continue to grow. What they’re doing simplifies what is a very time consuming and very difficult process of managing talent around the globe. So I love this tool. She’s received many awards, including the 2018 Female Entrepreneur Enterprise Award, the 2017 First Women Award, and a top 10 FinTech Innovation Award.

[00:02:38] In today’s episode, she’s really gonna go into some depth about asking yourself what you want to get and be very, very clear about the answer. It’s so much easier to plan your roadmap when you have clarity around where you’re heading. And I’ve talked about this a lot of how difficult I find, with any type of clarity at times, my goals. So listening to Lilia on how she shares, on what she talks about, where she goes through, really help me rethink some of the ways I’m going about it. So please listen to this.

[00:03:10] Also, get as much experience as tossed before you set off on your own entrepreneurial journey. There’s so much she’ll talk about that you can’t learn in school and it is so much harder to learn on the job while you’re in there. So it’s getting experience through other jobs, through working with other people, so important.

[00:03:33] Also, fill yourself with learning opportunities. Reading books, listening to podcasts, hopefully like this one, and nurturing relationships with knowledgeable people. They’ll help you grow as an entrepreneur. But most importantly, pay attention to the numbers. This is something I’ve learned my own detriment, and yet to also to my own benefit in the past. You gotta focus on the profitability, which I think most of us do have a really good handle on, but also the sustainability of the value of our business. That’s the tricky one, I think at times.

[00:04:10] It’s like we’re in the middle of a good period and I’m making money like no tomorrow and I think the world is gonna keep rolling, and then of course the world changes and I have to adapt in turn. But with better planning around how sustainable my earnings are, I believe my businesses would be that much stronger in the future.

[00:04:30] Lilia will share how she goes in through this and the importance for her of how to make sure that her businesses are sustainable. Just really great stuff. And you know, I think Lilia’s advice of, it’s impossible to be good at what you do if you isolate yourself.

[00:04:49] You need to speak with other entrepreneurs. People who are successfully managing their businesses. You need to learn from them. I think it’s a great advice no matter what. Look, let’s go talk with Lilia and I hope you enjoy today’s episode.

[00:05:02] Hello Lily. Thank you so much for coming on the show. How are you today?

[00:05:07] Lilia Stoyanov: Hello, thank you so much for having me. It’s wonderful. You can see how nice and sunny it is, even though it’s mid-September. We are very lucky.

[00:05:18] A.J. Lawrence: Are you still in Crete right now or have you moved off to Turkey on your travels?

[00:05:25] Lilia Stoyanov: We just came back from Crete. Now, I’m in my studio apartment and I’m traveling to Turkey in a couple of days.

[00:05:34] A.J. Lawrence: Yes, I’m very, very jealous. After having moved back to the US, it’ll be a little bit before I get back to Europe. So now I’m jealous of some of your travels you have in front of you.

[00:05:44] I was just talking with the audience about your background and how interesting and the things that you’re doing and then TFY. I love all the different names and it’ll be great, maybe a little bit later, to kind of get into them and sort of this evolution of the brand. But given this movement to look at more remote and virtual work, but then also as hiring global talent, I see service offerings like yours as bein such a more important thing.

[00:06:19] Because as someone who has hired global teams, we’ve kind of winged it a lot and it’s not very scalable. So I love what you can do to help companies that start scaling their global talent. But before we get into TFY too much, I really wanna learn where do you see yourself as an entrepreneur these days? You’re a professor, you’re leading this great company, you’re doing some really cool stuff, so where do you see yourself?

[00:06:50] Lilia Stoyanov: I see myself as someone doing what show ups. It’s simply, all the time, figuring out how do I want this business to progress because what I want is freedom. It’s financial freedom, it’s the freedom to work and travel, it’s the freedom to grow business the way I want it. Not the way someone else being, get an external investor, brought whoever else, is trying to steer me to. Even though that I don’t believe it’s correct path.

[00:07:24] So that’s the very first question on top of my head, what do I want? And once I know what I want, then it’s much easier to have the roadmap and to say, Okay, to get there, I need this and that steps. It’s not so, I’d say, usual for an entrepreneur. Usually if you meet someone who has started a software business, they would be following the beaten path, which is raise funding every six months or at least once per year. Don’t focus too much on profitability, bearing a sustainable business focus on growth. You see that OGs has been put down by the latest situation on the market.

[00:08:15] All of a sudden companies that previously were valued as unicorns lost their value overnight. They lost 20, 30, sometimes 50% of their valuation. And it’s only because they did not focus on sustainability and profitability. So what I see all the time is the numbers. Are these numbers comfortable? Are these numbers allowing us to continue as an independent business? If not, I’ll be worried.

[00:08:49] A.J. Lawrence: I think that is a very, you know, especially now with the market correction. I know and have invested in many startups through angel funds and it’s very interesting. I was just talking with someone about how he was told by his investors to not take on a significant amount of work for the company because it wasn’t in the sexy line of the investment thesis. This was about a year and a half ago before things got choppy.

[00:09:21] So in hindsight, the difference was he was forced to sell his company at a much lower amount than they wanted versus taking on a significant amount work that would’ve allowed them to grow even in this environment and postpone the need for any financing or for sales. So yeah, I think this is very, very relevant now.

[00:09:45] But I think what is very interesting is you haven’t just come to this decision. You started down this pathway quite a while ago. What led you to decide that you wanted to develop your business sort of in this way because you’re not living the typical, not to disparage this, but the Tim Ferris 4-hour workweek. You’re developing a pretty sophisticated business, but you’re building it around your specific lifestyle needs and goals. So what led you down that path?

[00:10:20] Lilia Stoyanov: Well, I have a finance background. I graduated from Oxford University with a Major in Financial Strategy. And when you ask the financier what pecking order is and why do they prefer personal sources of funding over others, this may not absolutely ring a bell for anyone else, but the financier will smile and will tell you it’s all about control and cost of capital. And we know that.

[00:10:53] We know that if we want to be independent, we need to keep an eye on book. It was the very first point on my list, then I have freedom. You know, my Instagram account, the hashtag is most of the time freedom. It’s freedom of borrowing, freedom of thought, freedom of travel, freedom of working from anywhere I want. Freedom to express myself as a writer the way I want. I have my own entrepreneur account.

[00:11:23] And when you have freedom on the top of your mind, then you build your business around freedom because you want to do it the way you live it. It’s like, Hey, it’s so nice to have that glass cubicle office, it’s the corner office people are really dying for. I used to have it when I was still a director at Coca-Cola. I didn’t love it.

[00:11:50] To me, it was an aquarium. I could see the world, it was out there. I wasn’t there. There was a glass wall between me and the world, that glass wall so many people would love to have. And really, having no glass wall between me and the world allowed me to be free and to build a business that’s sustainable.

[00:12:15] We are seven years old company, sustainable, profitable. We can raise more funding tomorrow if we need to, because we are profitable and have all the metrics. But we may opt not to do that. We may opt to sell the business tomorrow if we have tried price up. We may simply say no, we continue.

[00:12:37] We can do that. We have all that freedom. That’s precisely the freedom the entrepreneur in our previous example did not have. He was forced to sell his business at the price stock someone else has put there. He did not agree to that price stock, but he had no choice. We have the choice and it’s important.

[00:13:00] A.J. Lawrence: To kind of go talk a little bit more about what led you here, because almost in talking about sort of background in finance and, not being a financier, but having seen the power of cap tables and two has what in negative situations, I could see very much that power. I just never really, I was like, oh yeah, I’ve seen and I’ve been impacted by it. But in looking at that, given what your product is, did this continue into the product decision?

[00:13:34] Because what you’re building is something that does also aligns very much with the type of businesses I’m starting to see, the bootstrapped SaaS. So it’s that kind of step up from the pure lifestyle entrepreneurs to the serious but global-focused entrepreneurs who are building teams globally, building service offerings on a global scale versus, you know, a typical market, a regional market, and yet your product leans right into that.

[00:14:10] How did TFY sort of come into that, This is where we’re going to go?

[00:14:17] Lilia Stoyanov: It was very natural decision. It was a need I have seen, and I have seen this need in a completely different context. Financial transformation and business transformation is a topic that comes on the top of the list of many senior executives. However, it has a dark side.

[00:14:44] And the dark side is when you automate the processes, lots of people lose their jobs. And that’s how at first, it came to my mind that we can change the way people get jobs. It was super hard in the beginning. Nobody believed in remote working. Nobody believed it’s fucking 2015th. Nobody believed that you can manage your workforce.

[00:15:09] You are in South Korea or Japan and you manage a team that is, let’s say in Portugal and Spain, it was unthinkable. And slowly people started believing in it. Initially, they trusted experts because if you know that it’s someone who’s expert in their field and they have already proved that they’re successful, they know how to manage their time, how to deliver quality work. Somehow it is more rebuilding comfort in the eyes of the employer, whoever the employer is.

[00:15:47] And at first we started with very highly skilled experts, it was much easier to sell. Until later, Covid changed the perception of everyone. Changed the way people are looking for jobs, changed the way people get managed, but it also has, to me, a very positive impact on the society at large.

[00:16:09] You may get a job somewhere, let’s say in Africa. In a country that is currently really not in a good economic situation, the local economy is nonexisting, still you can get a really good high paying job and build a career still in your country. Most of these people cannot travel. First, they cannot get visas, and secondly, they cannot afford to travel and to rake it. It is an issue, but they earned decent money and they spent locally, which helps the local economy.

[00:16:49] And that’s the positive impact on the society at large and that’s what I love about it. It’s not only the fancy freedom. Okay, I’m privileged to travel, work through any location, make friends everywhere, but I have double citizenship. I have no issues with visas, no issues with taking wherever I want. Probably it’s 1% of the global population. And this product is built precisely for those who don’t have that privilege, who need to make a living, be decently paid where they are, and this helps the work open.

[00:17:27] A.J. Lawrence: I like that because while this is a very strong need for the companies, it seems to be more focused on the value proposition for the employees. But it’s the companies that are utilizing their service. Is that sort of the focus in building TFY?

[00:17:44] Lilia Stoyanov: Well, the companies I would say have two different angles. The first angle and I see is quite a lot in the US, in Silicon Valley, also in some caps in Europe. They really need talents. They’re fighting for talents, specifically engineering talent, marketing talent, and the like. In this case, they’re really happy to pay the same salary to whoever they find that fits their criteria.

[00:18:16] And that person could be sitting in Brazil, could be sitting in Canada, could be sitting in Nigeria, in India, could be sitting in Norway. It doesn’t matter for them. They just need the talent, the top talent, the brightest people. And this is one angle. They’re ready to address any legislation requirements, anything that’s needed to get hold of talent.

[00:18:42] The other point of view is rather to optimize cost, and in this case, this companies are usually struggling already. They are either was making or they’re not as profitable as they need to be. Lots of vicious down the road. In this case, they’re rather looking to optimize cost and to pay less in utilities, less on offices, et cetera. That’s why they switched to hybrid business model.

[00:19:11] You know what the prices of offices in New York and London are these days. Especially in London because we are based there. It went crazy. In the last, I would say, nine months, prices went up. Everything is so expensive. It’s driven by the electricity and gas prices, but not only. And now also small companies, they can’t afford to pay offices. They need to switch to hybrid model or to switch to remote model. That’s the other driver there.

[00:19:45] A.J. Lawrence: If you’re moving to a hybrid already because in your country, your local talent is starting to push back on being in the office. You already are lending yourself to focusing on your acquisition of the best talent, not the best local talent. And that becomes an interesting dance that is happening broader and broader.

[00:20:07] I was laughing as you were talking about New York. I was in a high New York rent and when I sold my company, we were looking at at least renewal, and this was seven years ago, that was going to double if we hadn’t sold. If I hadn’t sold, my lease would’ve doubled. And I already was like, oh my God, this was insane. That was seven years ago. And I had made a promise to myself I was never going to have a main office. I was gonna be just remote work seven plus years ago.

[00:20:37] You know, I am watching Covid. Interesting to see that. With the rise of this hybrid, remote global talent thing, what are you finding is sort of the biggest difficulty that your company is facing in, sort of being able to service now this growing need, and serve this evolving need?

[00:21:00] Lilia Stoyanov: It’s a never changing legislation across the globe. If all these companies need to be aware of the local legislation in each and every country and have a direct relationship with every person. We have global customers having teams of let’s say 350 people, and these 350 people are in 80+ countries.

[00:21:25] Keeping this in order all the time is administrative burden like no other. That’s why we decided to act as a Company as a Service. It’s called CaaS, like SaaS but C instead of S. It’s Company As A Service, we act as authorized reseller. We buy the services from all these independent contractors across the globe and resale to the legal entity, to the business customer. Hence, the business customer could receive just one invoice. Not to have direct relationship with all these people, not to take care of collecting invoices, struggling to explain to them how to issue these invoices. It’s mess.

[00:22:15] It’s automated. All done on behalf of the people. Nobody expects them to be aware of legislation, to know how to issue tax invoices. They simply know that it’s all taken care of. The very same is the business customer. They know that it’s taken care of. They just transfer end of the month 2-3 million, which will be distributed automatically to their workforce across the globe.

[00:22:42] They don’t need to catch against movement of foreign currencies. They don’t need to keep long and short positions in a variety of currencies. It’s not their business. They shouldn’t do that. They should focus on their business and that’s why we grow. We grow super fast because the need is there.

[00:23:04] A.J. Lawrence: I agree completely with the evolving nature cuz I’ve also seen having employees or basically permanent contractors which is what a lot of people end up doing. All of a sudden, countries are starting to indicate or utilize that as a locus or you know, if you have someone who is doing the job as an employee, they want to then tax you. And while the appropriate taxes are all you know, wherever you may stand on taxes, some are good, but some are overreach. And it is a very difficult thing to try and handle. Definitely as a company that has about 10 people globally, that’s difficult enough.

[00:23:47] Compared to, as you were talking about companies that have hundreds and thousands of employees, it’s a very complex thing that then all of a sudden you open yourself to just such a wide variety of requirements. Having someone take care of that is definitely a well worthwhile, I think.

[00:24:05] In dealing with this rapidly transformed and changing, and we’re talking sort of this regulatory thing, what do you find is sort of the entrepreneurial skill that you have to develop the most in order to lead this change?

[00:24:20] Lilia Stoyanov: I would say having experience managing teams helps a lot. And I always recommend people not to start their first enterprise straight from school. They still lack practical experience.

[00:24:36] They lack experience figuring out what the hierarchy means. They lack experience structuring properly their business. And I know that most people really dislike math, numbers, and trends, but you need to be able to read a P&L. And first of all, you need to know what profit and loss account stands for.

[00:25:02] Otherwise, you’ll be running out of cash sooner than you could imagine. You have no runway left and nobody would invest because the company is struggling or they would invest, but the valuation will be ridiculous. These are skills people need to first master before they even consider starting a business of their own.

[00:25:24] A.J. Lawrence: It is that hard thing to sort of explain that the skills you’ve build from working for other people in the right opportunities. Too often I think people go for where the money is going to be, either from a startup or from a job, et cetera, and the long-term game of trying to build a base of capability as an entrepreneur.

[00:25:52] I agree with you. I think sometimes people start a little too early and then kind of hit that road when their early enthusiasm, willingness to work 4,000 hours a week. That artificial sweetener of early growth if they do find product market fit of whatever they’re doing, it’d become very difficult to transition out of that if you don’t have a broader base of understanding.

[00:26:16] So utilizing your background to sort of manage team, what do you do to then further enhance your ability? Cuz you were talking about your experience of having done that, but obviously as your team kind of grows and the complexity increases, you are being pushed to further and further. What do you do to improve your own capabilities then?

[00:26:42] Lilia Stoyanov: First and foremost, reading. I’m looking for the best information. When I say best, its quality information. I’m checking what the sources are before I trust a source. That’s one. And then speaking with people, it’s impossible to be good at what you do, if you manage people, if you manage your business, if you isolate yourself. You need to speak with other entrepreneurs. You need to speak with people who are successful managing businesses. You need to learn from them as much as they learn from you.

[00:27:18] A.J. Lawrence: Are you members of a mastermind or do you have regular entrepreneurs that you talk with? Any business groups? How do you go about that process of making sure you’re talking with entrepreneurs that are gonna help you grow?

[00:27:30] Lilia Stoyanov: Let’s say it’s a mix of both. I love lecturing, I am a professor at Zigurat Business School in Barcelona. But actually, I learn as much from my students as they learn from me. My students, because it’s MBA, they are in their 50s, 40s. They’re mid-level managers or senior managers or entrepreneurs, and they share real life examples.

[00:27:56] It’s very challenging. These are not kids. They come with particular problem. They will argue with you if they don’t agree with whatever you are telling them. And they would rationalize and they’ll be able to support the statement, and that’s what I want.

[00:28:13] First of all, you need to be able to manage intelligent people. They’ll challenge you. That’s how you grow, that’s how they grow. They come from different walks of life, different countries. And it’s super interesting because I’m a FinTech expert, there was one particular person coming from Saudi Arabia explaining firsthand what is happening there, what the regulations are. How can you move money in and out of the company’s FinTech, is it possible? What the risks are?

[00:28:48] It’s super valuable information that you cannot find. The country is more or less close to the world. You can’t easily get information what’s going on there. And the very same is applicable to other areas, to other continents even, all the time because you have people who live there, who experienced it.

[00:29:10] They come and they tell you. And to me as an expert, it’s super valuable. The next time I’m advising a FinTech or we are building our own payments ledgers, I really know that if you need to operate across such markets that are either very strictly regulated or that are considered to be more risky than others, et cetera, I already have the information. And I can assess the risk and make an informed decision.

[00:29:38] That’s why I love doing it. Lots of people are asking me, okay, you have so much on your plate, why do you keep doing it? That’s the answer. Actually, it adds more value to me. It’s not about the money. I could make much more per hour and I don’t. It’s not about that. It’s something that’s invaluable and that’s human interaction with intelligent people. So that’s one such source of interaction, information, personal growth.

[00:30:07] And then it’s making connections with like-minded people when I speak at conferences, when I visit in France. We get to know each other and then when we travel, we meet again and again. And it is because we understand that we add value to each other. It’s not just because, okay, I’m in another city I know nobody. But I met someone at the conference I just want to grab a coffee because I’m social, that’s one. Definitely, I would love to.

[00:30:40] But the second one is we exchange information. It’s information about what I was working on or what I know about the topic the other person is interested in. It’s something you build over time, it doesn’t happen overnight. But if you are looking for like-minded people, to meet the best is attend as many events as you can, meet as many people as possible and then keep in touch. Just meeting them is not enough. Keeping in touch with them, not during the relationship, takes more effort.

[00:31:13] A.J. Lawrence: Sorry cuz I’ve been thinking a lot about how to balance that and how to kind of create- I see too often efforts to optimize that but the reality given that this is human interaction, if you optimize you kind of take out some of the magic of the human interaction. That like serendipity of the right type of meeting at the right time without side calls. So I really like how you’re approaching that.

[00:31:43] Given that you are talking about your focus is on this personal freedom, your ability, and I’m very jealous of your two passports. Given all this, once again, I am very privileged but I had to jump through a huge amount of paperwork in bureaucracy to be able to work in Europe or to live, was working here. I don’t know how the definition of virtual work is anymore. I wasn’t working in Spain, but whatever.

[00:32:10] Given the importance of that for you and also your finance background, so I’m trying not to cage this too much, but how are you going about defining your success as an entrepreneur? Not specifically around the success metrics of the businesses, how do you go about defining that success? I’ll just leave it there.

[00:32:37] Lilia Stoyanov: That’s amazing question. You just formulated a question, how do you measure freedom? What? key metrics, KPIs, of freedom are? It is definitely the very fine balance between earning enough to support the business and my lifestyle and my family, and then to have the time to spend the cash I’m earning.

[00:33:03] Lots of entrepreneurs are really into vanity metrics. Like, I need my company to be a unicorn in let’s say seven and eight years. I’ll be working like 14, 15 hours per day, I’ll burn out, I’ll have tons of health issue, I’ll have no time to spend cash, and eventually they’ll be able to spend cash if the business makes an exit.

[00:33:32] Usually it’s paper billionaires. You have valuation, but that valuation doesn’t mean that the company has been sold for a billion. It’s not sold to anybody. It’s someone who invested at whatever the valuation is. But this doesn’t mean that you have made any money. Most of the time, you don’t see immediately cash into your personal bank account as an entrepreneur. It’s something lots of people don’t understand because it sounds like, okay, your company is valued at 1 billion, you have 1 billion in your personal bank account.

[00:34:08] Not the case. Totally not the case. But it’s funny when I’m speaking, especially it’s college students who believe that the next startup is their life and so on and so forth, and they fail dramatically. How many of them end up addicted to drugs, alcohol, have mental issues, whatever else, because they don’t know how to manage failure either.

[00:34:31] That’s something we should always look at when we say the KPIs of freedom are A) financial freedom and B) having the time to spend your money while being debt-free. That’s how I define those KPIs.

[00:34:50] A.J. Lawrence: I like that. Those are great KPIs and I think it’s a very interesting thing as I talk with entrepreneurs like yourself that are taking, I think, this new path. There has been, you know, the traditional investment, what most people think of as entrepreneurship. At one point when I started my first company back in ’93, ’94, somebody’s like, oh, you’re doing a little e business. You know, not a big E. Real entrepreneurs take on funding and do all this. And then there was the upswell of sort of the lifestyle businesses and sort of the backpack businesses.

[00:35:32] But now this middle ground of optimizing for lifestyle, but not small lifestyle. You’re building a very significant company with a very significant value proposition to address. And the degree of complexity, having just played around with a little bit, only a few countries’ bureaucracies around hiring, you’re not focusing on a small problem that’s for certain.

[00:36:02] So this is really interesting because you have so many different balancing points. Simple, it is optimizing for your lifestyle, but the complexity underneath that is very, very difficult. I think that’s part of the beauty of what you’re doing is. I’m definitely, I’m gonna think a little bit and dabble around in how to incorporate that into my own sort of planning. That’s cool.

[00:36:29] What is going to be the success? I mean, and I’m trying not to just hit again on, okay so it is this optimization of this perfect balance between financial resources, personal freedom, and the ability to support that, which is important to you. But to you, what is going to be true success in those things?

[00:36:53] Is it further on than where you are or is it just in enhancing of this? Is there a BHAG, a Super Bowl to this? Or are you living it and you’re just now thinking of enhancing and continuing it?

[00:37:10] Lilia Stoyanov: I would say you live it. You live it daily. And people change, it’s normal. It’s how life is. And if one day you believe that what you have now is absolutely sufficient, the next morning you wake up and you already see something you like to, it’s the way to keep people happy.

[00:37:33] I’d say that’s how I motivate my team as well. You need to have measurable, very well-defined goals that could be achieved in a relatively short period of time. I set on goals normally within three to six months. Especially for my team, I want it to be one to three month goals because you can see them happy and satisfied.

[00:37:59] You see, the goal was let’s say 1 million in revenue for salesperson this month. He achieved more than that. He’s happy and super energized to make more next month. If you tell them you need to make, let’s say instead of 1 million per month, 12 million per year, it’s the same. Mathematically it’s the same, but they need to wait ’til next January to see the result. And they’re already I would say, midyear, latest in September, they’re already tired of trying to hit the numbers. Not sure if they will or whatever is there, so they get frustrated.

[00:38:40] No. My goals are always short and they’re measurable to keep people energized and happy, which doesn’t mean that okay, this month you achieve 1 million, next month we already have more ambitious targets. They’ll be higher but you already have that confidence. You achieved it, you’ll achieve it again. And you have the energy and the desire.

[00:39:04] The same is applicable to me as a person. What I see is, and I live it, okay, I have achieved it and I see all of people around me because doing it on your own without external funding, not counting for grants et cetera, it’s lots of risk, lots of pressure.

[00:39:24] You don’t have that backing, you don’t have the cushion. But at the same time, it’s different motivation, different adrenaline back. And that’s why I wake up next morning and I’ll say, oh, I achieve it. Well, I want more. And that more is something I see and I can quantify. And then you have the next goal, and that’s how it goes on and on.

[00:39:51] I believe that’s the best way. That’s the best way to keep people happy, productive, satisfied by what they’re doing. Doesn’t matter what it is.

[00:40:00] A.J. Lawrence: Now, it very much seems to align with the path of mastery. That, how do you become a master? You chop the wood, you carry the water. What do you do once you become the master? Chop the wood, carry the water, but more so and more so and more so, and it is that incremental, directionally correct, you know, directionally-focused effort that I find so interesting.

[00:40:26] Let’s first talk about sort of entrepreneurs who find this conversation interesting or interested in learning more about you. Where would be the best way for them to engage you or to find out more information about you and your effort?

[00:40:41] Lilia Stoyanov: The best is definitely LinkedIn and I’m very active, I’ll respond. Then if they’re more interested in travel walks, rather beautiful photos from various travels across the globe, then it’s my Instagram account. Maybe it won’t be as quick as LinkedIn, but definitely if you are more interested in intros to some people or if you’re more interested to advise, what to do if you find yourself in Crete or whatever other place I have already visited, then definitely Instagram is better.

[00:41:16] And it’s the two dimensions of the same person. Every person has at least two different faces, and most of us have more. You have one which is in a business costume. It’s there, it’s on LinkedIn and it’s the person who is ultra professional and post fluctuation, legislation, whatever else is needed. But that’s not the person you going to have fun with.

[00:41:43] It’s the person on Instagram that you’re gonna have fun if that’s what you have on the top of your mind. If you want advice on traveling or why is my favorite or whatever it is, it’s there. So you see the second face of someone who enjoys the world and enjoys life and travel. So these are the two channels.

[00:42:06] Then if you’d like to read articles, then it’s my Entrepreneur column. What else? I believe these three are definitely sufficient to get in touch with me at any point in time, regardless which angle you’d like to tackle. If you need professional advice, travel advice, or just a chitchat.

[00:42:28] A.J. Lawrence: I love that, and we’ll make sure to put that all on the show notes. Now, what type of businesses should reach out to TFY and when, in their own thought process, is best for them to reach out? And we’ll obviously put the website and everything in the show notes.

[00:42:45] Lilia Stoyanov: Well, if these are businesses that are growing their global workforce or want to manage their vendors, we have a vendor management system as well. If they need to optimize payment transfers, billing to one of vendor’s many small vendors like affiliate, et cetera, then definitely they could reach out to us at any point in time, we’ll be able to help with streamlining this.

[00:43:12] If there is a business that wants to reach out to me as an angel investor, to provide advice, intros, or if at that point in time I’m co-investing in a syndicate with others. I never do it on my own, but for my own companies, of course. But otherwise as an angel investor, normally I’m part of a syndicate.

[00:43:34] If at that point in time, I’m actively a part of the syndicate that’s focused on that particular industry stage of the business, I could also help them with guidance, how to engage with the investors, what investors are looking at, et cetera. I’m focused on FinTech, HRTech, and blockchain only. These are my domains.

[00:43:57] It’s very important to have the expertise, otherwise I believe that I could rather mislead than add value to these people. So if the business is not FinTech, Blockchain, or HRTech, I don’t believe I’m the right person.

[00:44:14] A.J. Lawrence: Very cool. We’ll put that all into the show notes everyone, so you can find out and you can go get more and you can pitch Lilia on your startup if you are in the appropriate fields. And I really, if you do, I want to hear about it because I would love to talk about that again on the show.

[00:44:33] Lilia, thank you so much for coming on today. I know you have so much going on and you know, not just travel even though I keep being very jealous of that, so I appreciate you finding time. And I really look forward to trying to get you back on the show and talking more about how to define that personal freedom, because the way you’re approaching it is so deep and really enjoyable. So thank you so much for coming on today.

[00:45:00] Lilia Stoyanov: Many, many thanks for having me. I’d love to grab coffee in Spain the next time you’re there, probably that’s the easiest. Or maybe if you visit London.

[00:45:10] A.J. Lawrence: One of the companies I’m an advisor to, we’re talking about trying to find a window in late fall, so definitely I’ll let you know. Cuz one of my favorite cities is London, so that would be wonderful to do.

[00:45:24] All right. Well, I can’t wait to talk to you soon. Thank you.

[00:45:29] This episode of Beyond 8 Figures is over, but your journey as an entrepreneur continues. So if we can help you with anything, please just let us know. And if you liked this episode, please share it with someone who might learn from it. Until next time, keep growing and find the joy in your journey. This is A.J., and I’ll be talking to you soon. Bye-bye.

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