Victor Kostroub – Co-founder and CEO of Fine Designs

The best way to see results is to start taking action. Along the way, you may fail, and in that you will know what to avoid and how to make your idea better. Simply put, if you have an idea that you want to bring to life, just start applying it.

In 1991, Victor Kostroub immigrated from Ukraine to the United States; the opportunity at a prosperous life was at his fingertips. His goal: to inspire, empower and achieve the extraordinary. In 1994, 3 years after he arrived in the US, he along with his business partner Yuli Opalchuk, founded the company Fine Designs, based on 4 biblical principles of management and his life values: 1. Act with uncompromising honesty and integrity in everything we do. 2. Satisfy our customers with superior quality, value, and service. 3. Value and develop our employees’ diverse talents, initiative and leadership. 4. Earn trust and respect of all those associated with Fine Designs worldwide.

Fine Designs services events all over the world, specializing in custom on-site event apparel merchandise at no cost to the event host. From sporting events to festivals, music concerts and more. They provide one-of-a-kind printed apparel for on-site customization. Since established, the company has led its field and been acknowledged in the Inc. 5000 top fast-growing companies in the United States.

Aside from running a successful business, in 2010 Kostroub was recognized by the international organization, “Who is Who,” as a successful leader. He is a dynamic and interesting speaker with remarkable ability to inspire an audience. He shares his expertise to young entrepreneurs, leaders by conducting seminars in marketing, understanding the psychology of clients, and the art of sales.

Kostroub resides in Seattle Washington with his wife Lilia, and their 3 sons. With a balance between work, family and faith, his plan to inspire, empower and extraordinarily achieve has become his reality and will continue to be.

Where did the idea for Fine Designs come from?

The idea of Fine Designs came from childhood. I always had a love for business and a passion for sports. When I came to America, I was introduced to the industry of silk screening and apparel customization. Immediately, the two passions clicked for me, and that is how Fine Designs came to be.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

As a CEO, my main responsibility is to provide the vision of the company. If I cannot provide a clear vision daily to my team, then we will inevitably fail as a company. The way I accomplish in fulfilling this goal in providing a clear vision is to have meetings with our corporate team on a regular basis. Following, we oversee our managers and leads to make sure they are keeping high standard quality control in all aspects of the business. With over 20 offices here in the US and 9 internationally, it is crucial to be on top of these things, which does take a lot of my time daily. I am also involved in other organizations. I do a lot of leadership training, mentoring, and business consulting. Time is the most valuable asset an individual could possess. Every minute of my day, I make sure to use the best of it.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Belief ignites passion. Passion energy that you motivate others to follow you. And then have a strong follow-up system… You must believe in your idea, willing to go to the full extent. When you believe, then that will ignite passion. With your passion, you will motivate people around you to follow you and support your idea. Of course, you want to have a strong follow-up system, and stay persistent in achieving your goals. No matter how many ideas you may have, until you simply apply it, it will never come to life.

The best way to see results is to start taking action. Along the way, you may fail, and in that you will know what to avoid and how to make your idea better. Simply put, if you have an idea that you want to bring to life, just start applying it.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

That no matter what is going on in life I have a choice. I never look for excuses like ” if I only had this and that then I would have been able to this and that”. To realize that you always have a choice – the sky becomes your limit. Nevertheless, the most rewarding experience that an individual may have is to help others to unlock their potential. The only way to become a great leader is to invest in others and make those leaders great as well. That’s how a leader is evaluated. The more leaders you’ve brought up, the more influential and respectable you are.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

This definitely would have to be consistency. Consistency is the secret to success.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

As a young person, I was eager to make some cash and was willing to do just about anything. During my summer break, I was hired by a construction company. The money I was able to make in a short time was good, but I quickly realized, that money without meaning in life is temporary satisfaction. So it became clear to me that the meaning in life would have to be in my calling, where I would have passion.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

The road to success is done paved with perfection and I wouldn’t wouldn’t want change anything, including my negative experiences.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Effectiveness. Abraham Lincoln once said, “If I have eight hours to chop down a tree I’ll spend six sharpening my ax.” In order to be effective in life, I’ve learned to sharpen my blade on a daily basis. Effectiveness it’s not when you go through sleepless nights, you’re emotionally unstable because everybody and everything drives you crazy. Effectiveness is not in higher degree maybe even some experience but yet you are not able to work through the channels of the Team you have and all you have to do is by your self. Poor you… A lot of people confuse efforts with accomplishment. And therefore they are in such hurry to “chop down a tree” when it would be much more effective to “stop and make time to sharpen your blade”.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

We have a great team at Fine Designs. Many influential leaders that know how to stay ahead of the game. No matter what business you are in, it is important to know your industry and make sure that you are providing the absolute best service. We are very sensitive to culture changes, trends, and business revolutions. Because of this, we have been the leading custom merchandise provider for over 20 years.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Several years ago myself and my team traveled to London to work on-site at a prestigious international event. The plan was to use this event as an example of our services and establish our European operations with our office in London. We hoped to impress potential clients with our services and presentation.

As we were getting set up our equipment failed and we realized that we were in big trouble because despite our best efforts could not find the equipment or the items needed to repair it locally. I began to panic because we had traveled all this way, and our reputation was on the line. But then, I stopped and thought for a moment and realized that there was a solution. I instructed my team to take orders as if nothing had happened and we would ship the merchandise later. Because we were able to handle that calmly and intelligently, we didn’t lose a single sale and gained many new clients. This was the birthplace of Fine Designs’ European expansion.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently purchased a signed basketball ball by Magic Johnson at auction. I am a big sports fan and it makes great decor, and I know that I could ever turn around and sell it for double if I ever needed to.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

We’ve recently implemented SalesForce, which makes it so much easier to oversee our nationwide and worldwide operations. I’ve found it extremely helpful in ensuring that everything is working in accordance with the vision of the company.

That is one of the main services I tend to use.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Developing the Leaders Around You, by John Maxwell. This book covers many practical principles to help make your team great. It will set your mind in right perspective.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

My mom is the person I admire most in this world. She is a living example of unconditional love and faith. She has always motivated me to live life with a higher purpose.


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