Dancho Dimkov – CEO Interview
When did you know you wanted to start your own company?
I was a digital nomad with my wife. We were able to travel and work around Europe. But then I got sick – nothing serious, but enough to make us realize that we can’t be nomads forever. We needed a team, if we wanted some free days, or to even consider starting a family.
What was your original idea for this company, and are you still doing that (or did you pivot, if so, what is the new focus and why)?
We’ve started as general management consulting – offering market research and business planning services. And we did a lot of reports. However, as we were growing and listening to the market feedback, we were evolving. Within 5 years and working with 300+ clients, the focus shifted toward sales consulting for SMEs. We are now highly specialized in B2B outreach and prospecting for high-ticket service providers.
How long did it take you to finally take the leap, and what was it that pushed you over the fence?
I think it was a two-stage leap. The first leap was the moment when I started earning more as a freelancer than on my full-time job. That’s when I decided to quit my job and become a digital nomad. That was a calculated risk. However, the second leap was purely emotional. I had no money in savings, a big apartment loan and a desire to have a kid. Succeeding was the only option – there was no plan B.
Who inspired you to pursue your dream, and why do you think they believed in you?
I think my wife was the person that kept me motivated. In all the ups and downs, she was full of understanding and highly supportive. When we started the business, the first 3-6 months, we were both working 18h per day, together.
Who is your favorite mentor and why?
There are several, but if I have to choose, I would say Russell Brunson (from Clickfunnels). I was too focused on the business insides, looking within the company – metrics, reports, statistics, data. Russell opened my eyes when it comes to market feedback, and adjusting your services accordingly. I am still listening to his podcasts.
What was the hardest thing about starting your company, and what did you do to make it through the first stage?
Keeping the focus. As a startup, I was supposed to recruit, train and mentor/manage the first set of 4 interns (we couldn’t afford experienced employees). In addition, I needed to take care of the work quality, finance, marketing, and still find the time to talk to prospects and bring in new clients. I hardly think that this is a one-man job.
What has been the hardest lesson to learn?
Believing that it is an easy job to run a company. To put it simply – you create services, you create some marketing, then clients will come, and you will get rich. I was so wrong.
What has been the most amazing thing you have experience while running this company?
Freedom. Just to be clear, I love my job and my company. But from time to time, I am able to unplug and travel with my family for 2-3 weeks. At least 2-3 times per year. At least before the pandemic.
What is the weirdest thing you have experienced while running this company, and how did you react to it?
As a business owner, sometimes you must be the bad guy. An employee tries to exploit your kindness and trust? You need to act. A client wants to double the scope of the project, or simply starts ignoring you when the invoice is due? You need to act.
What is the best decision you’ve ever made while running this company?
From day 1, I made a clear decision – I am building a company that can operate without me. Otherwise, the company owns me. And I have enforced this decision with training, encouraging my employees and setting up marketing/sales departments that can make their own decisions.
What is the biggest mistake you made while running this company, and why do you think it happened?
I started as a freelancer, and when I started my company, I moved it in that direction. Although quite a competitive market, I was looking for freelance gigs, just on a larger scale for my company. It took me 3 years to understand that if I want to get away from the freelance world, I need to invest in marketing.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your company?
Coronavirus had a double impact on my company. From a financial point of view, we’ve lost quite a lot of clients, and some of the upcoming projects were simply delayed until things get better. From a business point of view, it helped us reflect on who we are and what we do – which resulted in innovating in new services as well as specializing the company towards B2B outreach and prospecting. This gave us immense focus – in our execution, marketing and sales.
What keeps you passionate about your company?
I love what we do. I don’t see our business as sales support. I see our business as a vessel for helping startups and SMEs reach out to more companies and solve a particular problem of theirs. So it is a win-win-win: we get paid, our client gets new clients, and their prospects are having one less problem to deal with.
What daily routine have you developed to help you take care of your mind, body, and soul?
I wake up at 5 am. I’m not an early bird. So, I found out that if I want to get up, I need to have some strong motivation. Gaming is one of them. So when I wake up, I give myself a small treat – play a bit on the computer. Then I’ve realized that I can use that time, listening to my favourite podcast. At 6 am, I have an alarm set up telling me that I need to stop with the podcast. From 6-7 am, I dive into work. But this 1h is entirely my own – I am doing things that I can’t catch up with otherwise. I either spend the hour on writing my book, look at KPIs or metrics, finances, strategic goals – stuff I can’t do in the office. At 7 am, I have another alarm. I stop working and start exercising. I found the perfect 25 minutes workout programme – Focus T25 by Shaun T. This way, I have time to shower, grab some food, and be at work at 8 am.
What one thing would you like people to take away from this interview?
Specialization brings focus – in the process of attracting potential clients, in the process of convincing them to work with you, and in the process or increasing your price.
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About the Community
On the podcast, Sean talks with entrepreneurs about the reality of their struggle to succeed, as well as answering questions from the community, and sharing nuggets of wisdom from his own life.
Discover through these amazing episodes the courage to open your mind, heart, and soul to the world so you can be the best entrepreneur possible, respect the people you work with, and improve the world with your company while not hurting others or yourself in the process.
Sean is an entrepreneur, investor, and advisor based in SE Asia for over 12 years. He is passionate about Psychology and helping others improve themselves.