Taking risks helps you grow, whereas playing it safe holds you back.
Born and raised in Greece, Rafael went to school for business management in England. He worked for a pharmaceutical company in London straight out of school. Unfortunately, that company actually accused him of being a corporate spy for another company (pharmaceuticals is a cutthroat industry, apparently).
Not being comfortable with spying allegations, Rafael returned to Greece and opened a retail store selling home decor. Finding the home decor retailing business not to his liking (particularly in such a volatile economic climate as Greece), Rafael decided to close it and head to Hollywood to enrol in film school.
Rafael graduated film school and was working with a lady who was planning to start a web TV show. He was to be the producer, so he had to learn all the ins and outs of running a TV show on the internet. That woman went to France on vacation and promptly disappeared. She emailed Rafael two months later saying she had met the man of her dreams and was getting married and not returning to the States.
With no other alternative, Rafael started buying and selling website domains. Then, he got stuck with some domains that he couldn’t sell, so he tried to turn them into simple, money generating sites by performing some elementary SEO on them and placing Google Adsense ads on them.
However, Google made one of its famous algorithm changes at that time and his simple SEO formula no longer worked, meaning the sites were largely useless as they were.
He was forced to make the sites much better so he could sell them and in the process of doing that, he discovered a love for web design. Rafael started Weberous web design in 2011 and has been running it ever since.
When he’s not working at Weberous, he does business and marketing consulting for small businesses. And when not working, he enjoys the California sunshine with his wife Jennifer and his puppy Goldie.
Where did the idea for Weberous come from?
I had worked with several agencies in the past, in one form or another, and felt that I could do things better. With Weberous we did. A lot of things were very different from the inside than they looked from the outside — most of them actually — but we have managed to bring a balance between quality and cost, and clients really appreciate that!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I try to be productive by creating a schedule for my day made up of small time blocks for each task, with a half hour break every two hours to cover time for things that I cannot predict (ie. a surprise call, or a meeting taking longer than expected). It almost never works out the way I schedule it, though. The day is typically full of meetings, emails, and calls – it’s all about finding a way to focus on what you’re doing at that particular moment instead of multitasking.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Whatever idea I’m trying to bring to life, I always start by visualizing the concept. What do I need this to do and how do I need it to perform? Once I have a concept in mind, I start the research to see what’s out there already and what I can learn from that and improve on it.
Planning is next and for that, I always take into account what goal I am trying to achieve. Whether it’s designing a website for a company or trying to get a business off the ground, you need a plan to follow, even if you end up deviating from it (which often happens).
What’s one trend that really excites you?
VR is very exciting for many reasons… marketing included. It’s a technology that still needs quite a bit of work to perfect in my opinion, but when it starts to become more common and not just a gimmick at trade shows to make funny reaction videos with, I think it has the potential to change the world in drastic ways.
From fully immersive movies and video games to less frivolous applications like more effective training environments for people, virtual reality is in that really exciting embryonic stage where the possibilities seem endless.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One habit that was tough for me to get into, but has really paid off is the habit of not looking at my phone immediately after waking up. I used to have my phone in hand even before my eyes were fully open in the morning and I would go through emails while still in bed or while eating breakfast. A few years ago I put a stop to that and it’s helped a lot.
Now, I avoid touching my phone until after I’ve had a chance to wake up and have breakfast and just greet the day like you should. I don’t want to be formulating replies and thinking about that kind of thing while I’m sipping my morning coffee, I just want to enjoy that coffee.
When I’m ready to get down to business, I’m fresh and I can do twice as much work than if I had immediately jumped into work mode when I woke up. Just taking that hour or so to wake up right makes a lot of difference.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Take more risks and do it earlier in your career. Taking risks helps you grow, whereas playing it safe holds you back. The more established you get as a professional, the harder it becomes to take risks because you have a lot more at stake.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
It might be just a language thing, but when I don’t feel like going to an event — like a party, for example — because I can’t be bothered to get off my couch, I use the phrase “I’m bored to go to the party.” It’s not that I think the party is going to be boring, it’s just that I can’t be bothered to go. I think the phrase works for what I’m trying to convey, but most people say it sounds wrong.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
At least once per year, I make a list of everything that I’m doing for my company and I try to see how much of that list I can delegate to others. There are some items that show up year after year that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take off it, but it is getting smaller.
I recommend everyone try this, especially if you are having trouble with focusing or feel like you’re burning out. Doing the list annually also gives you a good snapshot of your company’s growth. The more people you can hire to take things off your list, the bigger your company is becoming. Plus, it just allows you to take a step back from your company and view it from a different perspective.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Over-delivering. We often go beyond what’s expected for our clients, and that hurts our bottom line, but it has allowed us to create a large network of brand ambassadors. The more we work, the more business we get through recommendations and referrals.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
At one point, I got into the domain name game, which is to say I was buying and selling domains that I thought people would want to buy. I went on a bit of a purchasing spree with domain names and realized afterward that many of the ones I bought just weren’t going to sell.
I tried to just sell the domain names for super cheap and take the loss, but some of them were so useless that I couldn’t unload them at any price.
The best I could hope to do was to make some simple websites and try to make a bit of cash via Google Adsense. So, I made some extremely simple blogs and did some extreme SEO work on them so they would rank well.
I did make my money back, with a little profit, and that is also part of how Weberous was born.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Business backpacks. Briefcases are on the way out, as modern business people switch to more comfortable and practical backpacks. The problem with backpacks is they often look too sporty for an office environment and they’re not really designed to go over the shoulders of a suit jacket. My idea is to design backpacks that would not only fit over a suit jacket, but would also fit right in an office. I’ve done just a tiny bit of research and there are a few options out there, but I would go super high-end with it. Use the same material and patterns that you see in a high quality suit and sell them in suit stores. Eventually, you could even sell backpack and suit combos.
And if you don’t call it BizPax, you’re just not doing it right.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I am a coffee lover, especially if it’s a well-made espresso. So, even though it was a bit more than $100, my new coffee machine is easily the best $100 I’ve spent recently. It makes coffee so good, I don’t even mind getting out of bed in the morning. It grinds the beans and does everything that you need to do to get a glorious cup of morning caffeine and that starts my day off right.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Boomerang for Gmail is the tool that helps me most with productivity. It allows you to have important emails to be re-sent to you at a later time when you can deal with them. Mondays are always crazy and my inbox is always full. I quickly go through my email list and schedule emails that I need to address, but can wait for a day or two, to be re-sent to me on Wednesday or Thursday when things are a bit quieter.
This way, I know I won’t forget about emails or rush through them when they deserve more time than I can give them.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World” by Gary Vaynerchuck. It has great, actionable advice on social media marketing. If you’re unsure about social media, or even if you’re a pro at social media, there is a lot to learn here.
What is your favorite quote?
“Don’t wait for the stars to align, reach up and arrange them the way you want. Create your own constellation.” Pharrell Williams (Not sure if he said it first.)
- At least once per year, I make a list of everything that I’m doing for my company and I try to see how much of that list I can delegate to others.
- We often go beyond what’s expected for our clients, and that hurts our bottom line, but it has allowed us to create a large network of brand ambassadors. The more we work, the more business we get through recommendations and referrals.
- Taking risks helps you grow, whereas playing it safe holds you back.
Rafael Romis on Twitter: @RafaelRomis
Weberous on Twitter: @Weberous
Rafael Romis on LinkedIn:
Weberous on Facebook:
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.