fbpx
search menu
play_arrow

keyboard_arrow_right

skip_previous play_arrow skip_next
00:00 00:00
playlist_play chevron_left
volume_up
chevron_left
  • Home
  • keyboard_arrow_right planning
  • keyboard_arrow_rightPodcasts
  • keyboard_arrow_right How to Plan Ahead When You Know Nothing with Borislav Borislavov
play_arrow

planning

How to Plan Ahead When You Know Nothing with Borislav Borislavov

Luke Szyrmer August 20, 2020 16


Background
share close

About Borislav Borislavov:

Entrepreneur and Executive Manager with extensive experience in Software Development, Digital Marketing, Fintech (Payments & Remittances, Blockchain, Lending), Digital Services, Certification Services, Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital, Management Consulting.

Lecturer on various topics, frequent speaker in industry specific events and universities. Mentor and judge at local and international entrepreneurship formats. Selected among the top managers in Bulgaria by the press.

Socially active in different areas such as entrepreneurship, infrastructure, justice. 

Get in touch with Borislav via LinkedIn to request the report mentioned on the podcast.

Transcript

Boris
That’s the million dollar question, Luke. 

Luke
Yeah, well, probably trillion at this point. 

Luke
You are listening to the online remotely podcast, the show dedicated to helping you lead distributed teams. I’m the host, Luke Szyrmer, and I’ve participated in or run distributed teams for almost a decade as a practitioner, I’m speaking with experts on leadership, strategic alignment and remote work to help you navigate the issues start facing after you get your working from home gear sorted out.

Luke
Today, we are speaking with my friend Boris Borislavov, who is a successful serial entrepreneur and CEO, particularly in the fintech space.

Luke
The reason why I wanted to bring him on today is because he has a lot of experience in difficult times that are quite relevant, I think potentially for founders who are now being surprised by the whole Korona situation of the virus, but more importantly, the economic outcomes for us.

Luke
So at the moment, you’re with shift happens over the exact companies that you found before that.

Boris
All right. First of all, Luke, thanks very much for the invitation and for your presentation. Yeah, I started my career as a software entrepreneur. I started several different companies for software development. Maybe the biggest one was ERP developer, which is called Ladger. And after that, I started several different companies in digital marketing, fintech and venture capital. Currently, I’m acting as a management consultant and preparing for my next startup.

Luke
You’ve been involved with a number of companies. Can you describe some of the other things you did before shift happens?

Boris
For example, the software company which was responsible for software development. We successfully attracted more than 50 different customers in different industries. We had more than 10000 different users. It was a company started back in 2003. After that, we spun off digital marketing agency and we succeeded to to win one of the most famous awards here in Bulgaria and in Europe for digital marketing.

Boris
I also started back then Bulgarian Business Angel Network, which was the best angel network in Eastern Europe, according EBAN, which is European business Angel Network.

Luke
When you were doing the startups related to payments. What was the story behind that?

Boris
I always had a passion for mobile payments and a few years ago in Bulgaria, we started a very interesting company which was certified by Central National Bank as an operator of payment systems. And the purpose of this company was to implement mobile payments over the phone. But back then, unfortunately, the penetration of smartphones was not so high as in the moment. And we had a lot of technical challenges. And after that, I continued this in a different company and we started our private currency, which was backed by the euro. We succeeded to implement the whole payment system with operator payment system, merchant banks, payment processor, etc, etc.

Luke
And what about people in terms of hiring and firing and laying off and that kind of thing?

Boris
in my experience, maybe I conducted more than 2000 different job interviews. At some point I was responsible for over a hundred and fifty people in the different companies when I was in doubt for someone. Based on my common sense, it turns out that after that, nevertheless, the scenario and whether I heard this person or know I was right, I had to listen to my common sense. This is one of the most important takeaways from. Hiring and firing people when you work with people, it’s it’s always complicated. There is an interesting story about this and it’s connected with the role of the manager.

Boris
In fact, the role of the manager is to take care of emotional conditions of his employees. And this is the only thing he should do in his career. And I remember how at some point I was amazed how important it is to communicate one on one with different employees to take care of their personal things, to pay attention to their personal stories. And how important is that for their performance? You know, they say that motivation is is not something you can do for any of your employees.

Boris
The only thing you can do is to make the perfect conditions for them, to make the perfect environment. Motivation is something which is come from the person itself.

Luke
Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s that’s really important.

Boris
Communication is the key. You have to to spend a lot of time with them, whether in group conversations or different team building formats, etc., or one on one conversation. This  is quite important.

Luke
How do you think, given the current situation with coronavirus, how do you think managers can can do that?Based on my experience, because, as you know, I’m also a mentor and I also have a number of customers in management consulting, at some point I realized that because I had a lot of conversations each day since the emergency situation started, I realized that we are discussing the same questions, questions regarding policy, about expenditures, about investments, about business development, how to adapt to these situations, what to do with my employees, how to interact with them, what to what to tell them.

Boris
And that’s why at some point I wrote an article and published this article. Most of my customers and in fact, this week I am planning to make our second, second version of the article based on their feedback and maybe different measures which are taken. But it’s important to say that they’re from a different business models and different sizes. Some of them are service companies, some of them are manufacturing companies. And I also dealing with some with one retailer is going to be a very complex document.

Boris
But I believe it will be useful for a lot of business leaders and entrepreneurs and managers in that situation. Sure, sure.

Luke
What’s the main takeaway that you have from the whole thing?

Boris
You know, that expression that the intelligence is the ability to adapt? I think it’s the same in business. For example, there are manufacturers of very specific lights and bulbs. They deployed their products among different retailers, pharmacies, gas stations, etc. They’re going quite specifically in the first week. They are they were also panicked, most of us. But right after that, they started a project to to make a lamp, which is particularly to to kill all bacteria in this particular room. And just for two weeks, they succeed to to sell this lamp to the biggest hospital here in Sofia.

Boris
And now they have purchase orders from all the hospitals in Bulgaria to provide them with this lamp. And you can imagine what is happening with the revenue in that situation. The other example is very interesting company from Mexico. They are doing behavioral analysis on video footages which are dedicated for airports and different public spaces on the suspicious sections from the different citizens. And what they did is to change their video cameras with thermal cameras and give the different authorities and their customers real time information about body temperature of the people which are in the room in that particular space.

Boris
So these examples shows that to adapt to current situation in business is quite important. And I think this is the most important takeaway I got from conversations with my customers. 

Luke
So is it largely about just creating something that’s related to COVID, if it’s something that’s completely different or about people who do need to operate in places with lots of people and they can’t just just easily?I mean, do you have any thoughts on that?

Boris
Yeah, sure. Unfortunately, there are a lot of companies which are struggling because their businesses are connected to physical, not about the physical distance, but the opposite.

Boris
Event managers like different brick and mortar companies, which relies on that thing. And it’s something to mention here, which is very important, that the biggest question here is how long is going to be the situation? And the answer to this question is not clear yet. Regardless of a lot of smart people all over the world trying to find a vaccine magazine or different scenarios, how to cope with that situation.

Boris
My suggestion for them is to to make a three month plan, because in business you need to to have some perspective in order to prioritize your measures and of course, try to to reduce the costs to business critical expenditures. Investment expenditures be in close communication with all your suppliers and customers regarding your sales. Try to convert your agreements with the customers to convert to payment conditions to require a 100 percent down payment if it’s possible when it comes from manufacturing, for example, or some long term service.

Boris
Try to negotiate your terms about rent with your landlord. Also try to use this period to put an order in your operations, maybe to invest, to regenerate your manufacturing process, to optimize your business processes, to put an order in your house or to start some internal projects which are delayed over time for different reasons and try to to use that period to put an order all the things and try to innovate in business.

Luke
Speaking of business development, what have you seen out there that people are doing or about in terms of reaching out to new customers? Do you have any thoughts on that?

Boris
If we structure business development of two major categories, product development and market development, I think that currently there are a lot of opportunities in both, of course. Now, people are more conservative in terms of their usage coming from economic measures that the usage of people is is lower than 20 years ago in terms of groceries, gas, etc.. If we divide the period of covid and both covid, there will be a lot of opportunities. And what I am expecting is that verticals in economy will not be the same.

Boris
There is an argument currently between the macro economists how we are going to exit this situation as U-curve, V-curve, L-curve you know. my common sense is that it will be an L-curve, which means that we are going to to exit this situation very slowly. But what I am expecting is we are going to have different structure of the economy after this crisis. So my point here is that in terms of business development, if you cannot adapt your products and services, you can do that for both covid period. And I think that then there will be a lot of interesting opportunities.

Luke
Yeah. So which goes back to the question of when is it going to be over?

Boris
Yes, but that’s the million dollar question. Look. Yeah.

Luke
Probably trillion at this point, judging by what’s going on in the news. What about in between businesses, the market development and more of a B2B context? Did you have any thoughts on what’s working there at the moment?

Boris
I believe that in market situation, everything is a function of supply and demand correlation, right? So currently there is a lot of demand for funding. And I think that all companies which are in B2B have a lot of opportunities to to lend some money and to to help businesses to survive over these upcoming months. So this is something quite important. I think also it’s a very interesting situation between the businesses and their landlords. I mean, different companies which are providing office rentals, even even bigger facilities.

Boris
There are a lot of opportunities in this particular segment. In current times, you can see that based on supply and demand, it’s a very good time on stock market to invest there also for real estate and because for a situation there regarding the pricing of different real estate is going down currently. So there are a lot of opportunities there. It depends on the business model. Look, I don’t think that there is an ultimate answer of this question, but it depends on your current expertise as a company. Economic trends, you have to listen your common sense, your entrepreneurial sense, and try to find your niche in terms of product or new market segment. Yeah, adaptation. That’s the key.

Luke
I mean, is there anything else in particular from your report you think would be helpful for people?

Boris
Yeah, we have to be honest with ourselves. We are in the domain of the biggest economic crisis after the Big Depression. So we have to be very smart in that situation. We have to adapt, but we have to be very clear and transparent with all our stakeholders. I mean, employees in the first place, customers, suppliers. And I think that will survive. It’s a very important in tough times to save yourself to to take care about your employees, your customers.

Boris
All of them will understand you if you are honest and try to help, because when it comes for entrepreneurship, everything starts with with help. Right. So try to help to different people in that situation. And if you have an entrepreneurial spirit inside you, I’m sure that you’ll find a niche and you’ll adapt and you convert that situation in your benefit.

Luke
There’s a lot of people and companies that are struggling, so there’s certainly a lot of opportunity to help. I think that’s quite a good point to wrap up on. Is there anything else that you’d want to share?

Boris
Maybe one last thing. It will pass. It will pass. I am sure it will. We survived more  is a generation. We survived a lot of complicated situations and in terms of humanity, but we survived a lot more fear situations. So we’ll tackle this and we have to keep the faith and act responsibly and be proactive and help each other and be together. OK, great. Thank you very much. Thank you. That was the conversation I had read at the very beginning of the pandemic, and interestingly enough, I think most of what he said very much stands the test of time.

Luke
Probably my biggest takeaway from this discussion is just the importance of focusing on what actually motivates your employees and the people that you work with. It kind of goes back to that whole idea of the role of the manager or the leader to be removing things which would motivate them more so than trying to get them psyched up and and and wrap it up to go, because that’s actually a lot more actionable, I think, particularly in a remote context. And I do think that does carry over into a situation where a lot of your employees are remote.

Luke
 Thanks for listening to this episode of the online podcast, if you enjoy the show, please leave a review on iTunes, Google podcasts or wherever you get your podcast.

Rate it
Previous episode
Post comments (0)

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *