Some time ago, you had a blog on YouTube called "Your Heart's Business". Your book has the same name. Are they in any way related?

It all began last year when I returned to India and started writing a book. I just thought: how will people learn about its existence? So I decided to stir up the audience's interest with videos. Still, to tell you the truth, the channel didn't work out well. Maybe it had something to do with the quality of filming, or the content, but the response was few.

What is your new book about?

While my previous book "Sell=Help" focused on sales, my recent one is dedicated to the application aspects of business development. Let's say you're a student who wants to launch your own business, but you still haven't decided what you want it to be like. In this situation, you'll find practical advice most useful.

The book is absolutely practice-oriented. Each of its 12 chapters is dedicated to a particular step of launching a new business. It all begins with choosing a field to work in. According to my approach, you shouldn't choose it based on some market development prospects, growth rates or anything like that. The most important factors should be your personal interests, talents, the work of your parents and your own purpose.

Green Business website. Credit:
Green Business website. Credit:

The book offers answers to many important questions: how to get a unique trade offer, which is the right way to find your niche in the market, how to consciously choose a startup name.

The book also covers an interesting concept of searching for resources. It is widely accepted that you need initial capital to launch your business. Well, when I founded my Green Business agency in 2013, I had some 10,000 rubles. Now, our monthly turnover is a six digit number. There exist very simple ways to get resources without spending money, and I wrote a whole chapter about them.

In your opinion, what are the main skills that are essential for launching your own business and making it a success.

First of all, you have to be a visionary. You have to be capable of seeing the full picture and forecasting its development in order to tell where you have to be at a particular time. It is an essential skill that exists at the intersection of analysis and intuition: you have to both work with huge amounts of data and know how to go with your gut. If you can't grasp this concept, you'll be constantly making mistakes in marketing.

The next one is sales. It is the skill that first helped me find my clients, then start making a hundred thousand a month. You have to constantly repeat the same things: find new people, identify their needs, offer various options, work with their contempt and close deals properly.

The third is consistency. This is what I lacked in the beginning. In most cases, a novice entrepreneur has two or three strong competencies. And you think that this is going to be enough. In fact, it isn't: soon, everything will begin to fall apart if you don't have the necessary knowledge. An entrepreneur is different from a salesperson in that they have to understand all aspects of business, even the ones they don’t like: finance, legal affairs, personnel issues, marketing, sales and so on. You have to learn all of that, otherwise, you'll be suffering from losses and stall in your development.

So the most important things are being a visionary, being good at sales, and consistency?

Yes. Not long ago, a renown billionaire, co-owner of Technonicol corporation Igor Rybakov called Russia a great testing range for business. We have lots of niches and opportunities to grow if you are ready for it. Those who complain will end up working for entrepreneurs, if they won't be replaced by robots.

If you are ready to work a lot and in a consistent manner, you are just destined to succeed. This is the only criteria of success. You've surely heard about CrossFit. If you make it to the session's end, great, you did it. Business is also like that: you just have to make it. Survive the first three years, and everything will be fine.

Igor Rybakov. Credit: Ramil Sitdikov, RIA Novosti
Igor Rybakov. Credit: Ramil Sitdikov, RIA Novosti

Tell us the most incredible success story you’ve encountered.

Well, I signed a non-disclosure agreement, so I can't call any names. Still, the most impressive success story that we've been witness to happened to a particular IT company from St. Petersburg that had a platform for automation of event-marketing. At the beginning of their operation, their profits amounted to a nine-digit number. In just two years, they've succeeded in increasing it by four times. This became possible thanks to the introduction of a sales system developed by my Green Business company. Now, they are developing in EU and the USA.

Many companies stall in their development due to the lack of basic discipline. Whatever field of business or life you choose, there's no such thing as some "magic pill" that will solve all of your problems. Still, if you have a well-organized system, everything will develop smoothly. In fact, you need a system for everything: sales, recruiting, motivation, etc.

Is the lack of discipline the most widespread issue that you, as a business coach, help to solve?

I wouldn't call myself a business coach only. Business coaches help with the employees' motivation. Still, in order to solve a problem within an organization, you need to get through to people’s brains. You need to understand what the problem is, and how to communicate the solution. This is why I prefer the term used by Ichak Adizes, one of the leading management researchers: I call myself an organizational therapist.

Most problems in companies have to do with one of the two: systems or people. Sometimes, the employees are great, but there's no viable system. In such cases, all you have to do is to introduce particular rules and practices, and everything works out just fine. Oftentimes, this is followed by a production slump.

Still, sometimes the problem has to do with people. The senior management can think that they can sell and develop the business, but in reality, they fail at it. Sometimes, it has to do with a lack of proper motivation. Like when their seniors expect them to the impossible and can only offer some 10,000 rubles a year for that.

How can you motivate people with something else than money?

I believe that in every person's life, there has to be some purpose. If a person understands what they are truly working for, every action they make will be done consciously and properly. They will be glad to go through the trouble of calling their clients several times over, writing proposals and developing new materials. Every action will become meaningful.

And that's the reason behind the modern trend towards having an organization's mission, something that answers the question of "why are we doing it". Particular kinds of people are attracted to particular "missions". If your sole purpose is bumper profits, you'll only get a particular kind of employees: all kinds of profiteers. If your mission focuses on just surviving on the market, you'll get employees whose only goal is to save themselves.

So, you first need to come up with a mission?

You don't have to come up with it, you just need to realize what it is. It was around even before you were born, all you can do is realize it or not.

How do you do that?

It is a long road to take. First of all, you have to really want to realize your mission and start working on that. Besides, your common sense will hamper you in this undertaking. It will be your heart, your intuition and particular events that will help you find what you've been looking for. Some call them signs from the universe, others see them as just accidental coincidences. You only just thought that you would've liked to become a photographer, and suddenly someone you know calls you and asks to go photograph a speaker somewhere. Things like that; you have to pay more attention to them and trust your intuition.

You can say that many people of the older generation are dormant. They have fewer expectations for their lives. Still, the world has changed, information is everywhere, and there's no stopping it. Many people are beginning to become aware of it, and their number will only grow.

And how did you become aware of it?

India helped me a lot with that; I've been there like five times already. After my first visit in 2011, my life took a different turn. In just several days that I rested there, I learned more about sales than I did from all the courses I attended in Europe and Russia. The Hindu are a lot better at sales than the Russians. They are very good at establishing a comfortable communication. You talk to them, they treat you to some tea, and you don't even notice how you spend three thousand rupees.

I got to meet important and interesting people who pointed me towards what I needed. Since then, I always find new inspirations in India.

A Kanban board. Credit:
A Kanban board. Credit:

Did working with students also help you become aware of your purpose?

Yes. It helped me acknowledge that sharing knowledge with other people is part of my personal mission, even though I doubted it. I started my career with teaching: I taught literature at a school with an English focus. Then I became a freelancer, which helped me make a fair living. But I still wanted to teach. After getting my PhD, I got a side job at a university. As the pay was too low, I quit and for some time, I thought that I wouldn't ever teach again. So, I opened my own business.

As for my employment at ITMO, it is a fun story. One of the students asked for a workshop on sales for female entrepreneurs. I did the workshop and later commented that the girls who participated weren't really active. So their coordinator Yulia, who's now a colleague of mine, told me something like: "Well, we have to motivate them! How about giving a full-fledged course?". In just a month, after signing a ton of papers and to much of my surprise, I became a lecturer at ITMO University.

Thus, I understood that it is no coincidence that I constantly return to being a teacher. Sharing knowledge with others is part of my purpose, my destiny. It is also something I like a lot.

Will you return to India any time soon?

Yes, I will spend the whole January there, working on a new book. It will be dedicated to laying a foundation for one's own business so that it would survive for a thousand years on, so that new generations will continue to do something that brings good to people.

Most businesses don't bring much good.

Still, there are those that do. One of the major problems that we are yet to bring up is improper planning, planning that is not farsighted enough. By planning for just three years ahead, you can't build a sustainable company. Today's media often promote a thesis that our world changes too fast and you shouldn't plan anything ahead. I wonder whether it's some plot or just plain stupidity. In any conditions, you can plan for a hundred years ahead. And those who plan for a millennium will best those who plan for a century.