SAYES Mentor Interview - James Tsimopoulos from Chuck Wagon

The South Australian Young Entrepreneur Scheme (SAYES) has been in operation for 18 years!

We recently touched base with scheme mentor James Tsimopoulos from hospitality venture Chuck Wagon.

Why did you choose to become a mentor in the SAYES program?
There’s a lot of conflicting information in the entrepreneurial space right now around what it takes to be a successful business owner. Even though there’s no better experience than running your own business, it can be a tricky and sometimes costly experience without the right guidance. I was lucky – I had support and direction in my younger years – and so now I want to pay it forward. 

If you could go back in time, what advice would you have for your 18-year-old self?
Be patient. It matters. When I was 18 I was too into the “here and now” trying to figure out what I could do today to make money rather than focusing part of my energy onto the future and long term growth.
Things take time.

Work you put in today won’t always produce results tomorrow. For example, something I’m doing in one of my companies right now is searching the hashtag of the company name on Instagram and thanking each person one by one for choosing to dine with us. 

This is creating a personal touch to their experience. For the first 6-8 weeks I saw no results other than a few “thank you” replies. On the 9th week - it was a public holiday and I was in the restaurant – I got stopped by a customer and he told me that apart from loving the food, the real reason he came back a 2nd time was because I took the time to speak with him over Instagram. Patience.

What is your top tip for succeeding in business?
Be self-aware: play to your strengths and outsource your weaknesses.

What was your first business idea and what did you do with it?
When I was 13 years old, there was an online game called Ultima. In it, there were ‘spell books’ you had to decipher which helped accelerate you through the different levels of the game. You didn’t need the spell books but they were something that would make the process of proceeding to the following levels much, much easier which made them very valuable.

I played it purely to figure out the first spell book, before on-selling this knowledge to others. I then hired my friends to solve spell books and gave them each a cut of the sales. It was very successful!

What do you consider to be success as an entrepreneur?
Success is subjective – what is your north star and what is your goal? Some people want to leave the 9-5 world, start a business and support their family with a healthy work-life balance.
Other wants to create a legacy – continue to grow, inspire and create until their last day.
Take a good look at what your goal is and reverse engineer it to get to your “success”.

Do you have an 18th birthday message for SAYES?
Happy Birthday! Thank you for the support you’re providing to the young entrepreneurs of the South Australian business community. Here’s to many more years of helping grow the success stories of the future. 

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