Getting to know you: Brian Sharples

What do you currently do?
As CEO of HomeAway, I’m responsible for setting the overall strategic direction and growth objectives for HomeAway, and also guiding the culture and brand behind our business.  I also manage our very capable executive team, and try to stay out of their way as much as possible.  At the present time I also moonlight as the company’s Chief Marketing Officer as we experiment with broad reach marketing to raise the overall consumer awareness of our business. 
Who is your inspiration in business?
I’m inspired by entrepreneurs, big and small, who have taken risks to change the status quo.  We are fortunate to have acquired great businesses from several true pioneers in the vacation rental market. It is inspiring to see people with big ideas and the passion to take the risks required to make them successful.  And that doesn’t have to be a CEO – our company is full of entrepreneurs at every level who are always pushing to make things better.
Whom do you admire? 
I admire Steve Jobs for consistently delivering above everyone’s already lofty expectations. He has managed to build a brand which is known for its ease of use and reliability but also confers the unmistakable aura of cool on its buyers. The company also boasts impressive marketing – but it does mean that every new Apple product has to live up to the hype of the brand. So far, Steve Jobs hasn’t disappointed. 
Looking back what things would you do differently? 
From a business perspective there is very little I would change – building HomeAway has been like a dream from the start and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I’ve had a great team behind me, the business has grown phenomenally and most of all it’s been a whole lot of fun. I’m not one to look back and dwell on what I might have done – I’d rather concentrate on the future. 
What defines your way of doing business? 
Think big, be aggressive, innovate and take risks. Always be paranoid about the competition, and drive to be the best and lead the market. 
It is also important to ensure you hire great people with the same values! After all, it’s the people that will make your business a success and help drive it forward. 
Acquisitions are also a great way to grow your business; I go for proven success and similar values. Companies who have already risen to the top of their markets will bring fresh talent and loyal customers – and companies who are similar to your own will be assimilated easily.