Most young entrepreneurs set out on their business journey with a particular goal in mind. Some want to create a thriving social media empire, similarly to Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook. Others want to do good and help the environment. Many wish to become and live like millionaires in their early 20s. In the case of Damian Prosalendis, making a million at such a young age was not initially the end goal, but that’s precisely what he ended up achieving.
Damian Prosalendis had a strict upbringing. He did not grow up with much support or in the most entrepreneurial place on the planet. In fact, the Greek-born businessman was sleeping on a torn-up mattress in a roach-infested dorm room merely a year and a half before he hit the $1,000,000 milestone. When he was 19-years-old, Prosalendis was enrolled in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece, studying Chemical Engineering. He used his free time to work part-time jobs but was only making $2-3 an hour, so his main income was a $200 stipend from his parents to help support him. With so little money, however, Damian could barely afford the rent and utilities for his apartment and had to live on university food stamps. Every day at noon, he would go to his university’s dining hall with food containers hidden in his backpack, hoping to get a second ration for dinner.
After a year and a half into the program, Prosalendis realized that university education would not change his life. He decided to drop out and go down the path of entrepreneurship instead. Damian slept on the floor of his unfurnished apartment for a while, before picking up that mattress from the trash. He lived in scarcity while trying to figure out how to get his first business off the ground. He had a laptop and a decent, albeit slow Internet connection. His biggest asset, however, was his spirit and motivation.
Prosalendis believes in the “figure it out as you go” philosophy. Business ideas mean nothing without execution. Plenty of people have plans, but very few have put those plans in motion and manage to make ideas a concrete reality. After countless hours of labouring over his new freelance business on a platform called Fiverr, Damian started seeing results. The sales began coming in. Soon after, he had made his first substantial sum of money. He kept going.
His chosen niche was copywriting and marketing — a far cry from the chemical engineering degree he had pursued earlier. “I wish I had quit university sooner,” Damian admits.
While forgoing a secure path such as school to chase a dream may seem scary to many, Prosalendis chose to do just that. What kept him going? A solid mindset that did not accept failure as an option, and he believes that everyone should think this way.
Prosalendis believes that anyone can have absolutely nothing, yet gain everything by merely conquering their mind. He says that the way to do so is by choosing to do what’s hard over what is easy. Doing difficult things develops mental strength and self-reliance. “When I was 17, I fought in the National Kickboxing Championship of Greece with only three months of prior kickboxing training. I won the gold medal despite never ever having fought in my life. The easy choice for me would have been to not take on such a difficult task, but I did it anyway,” he recalls.
Prosalendis visualizes success as climbing a steep cliff while pushing a boulder. “The first few months are the hardest, because it takes a while to develop momentum and get the ball rolling. The journey to success is like pushing a giant boulder up a cliff. It takes a ton of effort in the beginning, and it gets more and more tiresome before you get to the top. You put all that effort and get nothing in return for a while; despite exerting every inch of willpower, you have to get the ball rolling against the force of gravity,” he explains, adding, “ Once you reach the top of the cliff, the ball starts rolling almost magically. You don’t even have to break a sweat, as you slightly push it with the edge of your fingertip, and it starts rolling down the other side, in a seemingly effortless manner.”
Damian Prosalendis credits his mindset for his success. At 24-years-old now, he turned his whole life around and encourages others to do their best also. He says that if you believe you will succeed and that more people need to turn their dreams into reality. It will be hard work, but it will also be well worth it in the end when you see the extraordinary results that could come of it.
You can follow his journey on Instagram.
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