A journey through the economic crisis to Success! Ilias Diamantis, Entrepreneur, Greece by Life Treasure Collector
Ilias Diamantis - An entrepreneur that was fighting to get clients during the economic crisis in Greece, to pay the bills in 2011, but made an enormous transformation both internally and externally to get his life back, to rebuild his company and see life with optimism again.
“Until 2010, I had my office and my own job and I had financial freedom. I could engage with hobbies and anything I loved and the quality of my life was very satisfying. My job is to help people to get license for places that sell food or drinks ( cafes, restaurants etc). I opened my office in 2003 while I was in the 2nd year of my studies. I didn’t have to do any special advertising as my job was going very well and money was flowing.
But at the beginning of the economic crisis in Greece, in the first 6 months, everything turned upside down. I reached a stage where I couldn’t pay my bills, electricity, national insurance etc, and this had an enormous psychological impact on me. And in the summer of 2011, I found myself falling into depression. The phone wasn’t ringing, I stopped having any clients, all my collaborations stopped and I started feeling useless and hopeless, I felt like I was doing something wrong.
Every person experienced the crisis in a different way, but for many people I know that they went through the same state. Some of them didn’t even have the money to feed their family. For me, luckily or not, I didn’t have to deal with this issue, but yes, I had no money to pay the bills. I couldn’t go to the theater, to travel like I used to or enjoy a night out. All these sudden changes can only put you down, you feel useless when you don’t have a job.
I couldn’t do anything. I reached the bottom and I ran out of energy and enthusiasm. I was waking up very late in the morning, I wasn’t in the mood of going to the office, but after a point I felt like some thing started changing. It is like a wound that the time heals.. I saw it that way. I decided to stop grieving and crying and do something about it. I said ok, something will work out. So, the winter of 2012, I decided to move to England. I thought that there was no chance to find a job in Greece, and nowhere else in Europe as I knew no other language but English. I sent my CV out, emails, and phone calls but everything was a big failure. I had no job offers. But, now thinking about it, I believe that my mind and my focus were not clear enough to make things work out and I was trying to find something that I wasn’t sure of, I didn’t have the appropriate knowledge. However, this was the first step towards a big journey to rebuild myself, which brought me here today.
I started reading books again, looking for sites to learn how to make the perfect CV. Then I thought, ok everybody is sending CVs out, I need to do something different, like to prepare a presentation so I downloaded 3-4 relevant books. And in the meantime I came across to some business and marketing books, so I started reading them too.
While I was redesigning my CV, I saw all the things I had achieved in my life so far and I realized that I did succeed in some areas in my life. Once I came first in some University exams, I did very well at the university, I had an office that was well established, and at the same time I was a student too, so I said to myself you are not as worthless as you made yourself to believe, you have succeeded in so many things, so you can repeat this again! I previously did well in my job and this was without any advertising and promotion, but dedication, lots of work and by word of mouth. So my experience, together with all this fresh knowledge in business and marketing could help me to make things work out.
So in Spring of 2012, I took the decision to stay in Greece. That was when I discovered what podcast was. So I found my old ipod and I decided to start listening to business and marketing audios. I didn’t have any major hobbies at that time, I had plenty of time and it would be something good to do while I was in the gym. I started listening to different talks everyday for about 4-5 hours, I got enthusiastic about it and my brain was absorbing all this new information like a sponge.
A new world revealed before my eyes! All these people I was listening to everyday and I met some of them in real life later, were using internet to promote their work. Till then I had no idea about all this technology and so I decided to do the same as well. My optimism started growing and instead of watching television and meaningless programmes I was reading books, listening to podcasts and watching videos on business and marketing. I could see the future with different eyes and enthusiasm!
In the summer of 2012, I took the decision to do my own website diamantisdesign.com, which I finished in about 2-3 months by myself as I had no money to spend on someone to help me. I decided to start writing about issues relevant to my job, about entrepreneurship, internet and marketing and see what happens. And then things started moving forward.
I was ready to take the next step. I decided to use my savings and invest on myself, knowledge and connections. I wanted to have all the knowledge I could around the subjects I was studying and how to promote my website. The seeds I was ready to plant, would give me the harvest to reap tomorrow.
Sometime in December of 2012 I registered on Dynamite Circle . This is the forum of two podcasters, whose work I was listening to consistently. It is a forum from entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs. Most of the people participating in this forum had a huge knowledge on the subjects but I was a beginner. I didn’t care much about it, I thought I would apply and if they accept me, well, this could only be great! So I got accepted and I started reading their articles. Dan and Ian that own this forum organize some events as well. So I went to the one in Berlin and another one in Bangkok. I said I’ll go, I’ll observe and see what these people are doing. In the beginning I had no idea about the terminology they were using and I couldn’t follow everything they were talking about. But after a year and half of attendance and reading I can now understand everything they do. So I ended up doing my own presentations and I follow their example. To anyone that starts from scratch like I did, I would recommend to trust their instinct, connect with the right people and start taking the first steps towards what they want to do.
Another very important thing I did, was to take part in Masterminds. These are small groups of people, who have a common goal and help each other to achieve it. There are lots of different type of groups on the internet. Some of them consist of 7-8 people that are organized by one main expert who helps each one of the members of the team. So I joined a couple of times the Mastermind of Chris Ducker , who is a British entrepreneur and an author, and another mastermind with James Schramko from Australia. They spent sometime with each person in the group to give them directions to reach a goal regarding their company. They have helped me so much in what I do. I still have contact with them.
Their advice together with all the knowledge I gained from all the books, videos, podcasts and events, helped me and my business partner to complete a website dedicated to our business ( www.adeiesleitourgias.gr ) and promote it in the right places. So when new clients find us on the internet it is not down to luck, but hard work and creative thinking. We studied the title of the site, the articles we post, the key words, the photographs and the whole design. And the results started to pay off. In 4-5 months we have few thousands visits per month. And the best part is that we had many clients from Athens and so we took the decision to expand to Athens and open an office there , where the market is bigger and the opportunities are a lot more.
So from a guy that was struggling to pay his bills in 2011 and feeling hopeless, I reignited my business and I can see the future with optimism again.
People need to act, not just think about their ideas, but act and never compare themselves to others. Start from where you are, don’t just wait for you to feel perfect. Take the first steps, don’t wait, and improve your product in the meanwhile, but start taking action! You don’t have to start big to become big. You just need to take the first steps, even small steps, because these are the ones that will lead you to something bigger.
If you want to improve, the information is always available out there. There is lot of knowledge ready to be shared. There is no excuse. There are plenty of books, audiobooks, podcasts, videos and people that can help you in your journey and without the need to spend any money. Many people are afraid to take the first step. But you have to start and yes, maybe in the beginning you will only make 2 euros, then 10, 100 but you will reach even higher only if you try and start from where you are. Just believe in yourself and believe that you will succeed!
Have big goals, for example a new company you want to start, and feel like you are already there with your mind. Feel that you have achieved your goal already and you have success. See it and believe it! I was in Athens long before we decided to make the move. I always believed that this would happen eventually.
You know, I believe that the 80% of success is our attitude and the right mindset and connecting with others. I got so much from all these people I was following. I learned about their way of thinking, the way they act and work. And now I feel like I can do whatever they taught me once. Have patience, trust your guts, invest in yourself, participate and connect with others and everything will work out perfectly. And there are surely lots of people out there that are ready to help you and support you.”
You can find info about Ilias & his company: www.adeiesleitourgias.gr
You can see a presentation of Ilias Diamantis http://www.slideshare.net/ilias_diamantis/my-entrepreneurial-journey-keynote-v2