Life gives us all a smack in the face from time to time. We can choose to cry about our black eyes and bad breaks, or we can learn to roll with the punches. When Anthony Saladino was fired from his job, he used some friendly advice to pick himself up and pursue his startup dream. Now he’s in charge of Kitchen Cabinet Kings and a lot more. Here he tells the story of how his worst day turned his life around.
What first drew you to entrepreneurship?
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, however, I didn’t take the entrepreneur plunge until I was abruptly fired from my job. With my back to the wall, I sprung into action to get Kitchen Cabinet Kings off the ground.
Describe the moment when you realized you had to do this, (quit your day job / pursue your entrepreneurial dreams / start your company / etc.)?
When I was fired from my job, I vowed to never work for someone else again and to always control my own destiny. With high monthly bills, and limited savings, I put it all on the line to pursue my dreams, and start my own business. It’s funny how at the time getting fired was the worst day of my life, and now that I look back at it 3 years later, it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
What inspired your current startup / business and what makes it so killer? What sets your company apart from your competition?
My experience as a kitchen designer & sales consultant at a local kitchen dealer was the inspiration for my online business. I realized that we were only able to service customers within a 30 mile radius of our showroom, so I worked with my brother to create an online platform that brought the showroom experience to our customer’s homes. Our specialized kitchen and bathroom remodeling content, and custom online E-Commerce shopping platform are the two areas that separate us from our competition.
How has work on your current startup / project been different from other projects you’ve been involved with?
As an entrepreneur, you are responsible for all facets of the business, which differed greatly from my previous focus as a designer / sales consultant. I leveraged the power of the Internet to increase my knowledge base, and studied business advice articles shared on networks such as Under30CEO, YoungEntrepreneur.com, TheYec.org Later down the line, I’ve learned to outsource my weak points so I can spend my time on growing the business and handling the job tasks I do best.
What’s your greatest satisfaction in business life?
When my brother and I were named recipients of the the Empact100 award in 2011 at the White House, just 20 months after we started our business. That achievement demonstrated to me that hard work and dedication can pay off, no matter how dire your current circumstances may be. If you want it, go out and take it!
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you in your entrepreneurial / startup life?
So many things are just running through my head right now… Waking up to see a customer named “Frank N Berry” had ordered a set of kitchen cabinets online in the middle of the night, was quite comical.
What’s the best startup / entrepreneurial advice you’ve ever received?
The best entrepreneurial advice I ever received was from my best friend George Hanna. At the time, the advice was not geared towards entrepreneurship. I was considering transferring from my home town college, College of Staten Island, to SUNY Albany, but was wavering upon visiting the campus. I called George just as I was about to leave the campus, and after listening to my laundry list of issues, he simply advised to just “roll with the punches.” Sure enough, I took his advice, and had a life changing positive experience there. This same advice has proven to be valuable when facing setbacks or adversity with my business. In order to overcome adversity, you must absorb the punch, carefully analyze your options / strategy to overcome the obstacle, and spring into action.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who are just starting out? What’s your “golden rule” of entrepreneurship?
Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Start a business where you are solving an existing need, whether it’s with a product or a service. Otherwise, you’ll spend more time educating people about what you do, rather than selling it to them.
Who or what inspires YOU?
One of my favorite quotes from DH Lawrence: “A bird will fall frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.” I also draw a lot of inspiration from Hip-Hop, one of my favorite quotes from Eminem: “Success is my only motherf****g option, failure’s not.”
What’s the greatest / most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?
The greatest thing about being an entrepreneur is running your business on your own terms. At the same time, it can be the most challenging, because you need to set all the parameters for you and your staff to abide by. The key is to seek out knowledge from other successful entrepreneurs, and the easiest way to do that is to read the myriad of business advice forums / articles on the Internet. The day you stop learning, is the day you start dying.
How do you cope with the unique pressures and challenges of being an entrepreneur? How do you relieve stress?
Roll with the punches. Persistence is the key, followed by writing down all your challenges and prioritizing them so you can handle each one timely and effectively. I relieve stress partying, traveling around the world, sex, and at the gym. Go big or go home.
If you could have lunch with one person, who would it be, what would you eat, and what would you talk about?
President Obama. We’d dine at a steak house and discuss how my generation can be leveraged to preserve humanity for future generations. Global climate change is real, the threat of nuclear attacks from North Korea and Iran are real, our divisive political system, which is grid locking policy, is real. If we are to survive as a species, we must evolve and learn to work together with people of all nations for the common good of our species and our home, mother earth.
What websites, apps, and other tools can you not live without as an entrepreneur?
- BasecampHQ – efficient way to manage your team remotely
- oDesk – great place to locate contractors for outsourcing job tasks
- MailChimp – the best in the business when it comes to email marketing
What is your music-streaming site of choice, and what are you currently listening to?
XM Radio – BPM
Has being an entrepreneur affected your personal life? How so?
My personal life is much improved due to my work schedule flexibility and the additional income my business provides. Specifically, I can attend social events at any time, never worry about vacation time, and I’m buying my first home this year.
What lessons have you learned from entrepreneurship that have enriched other aspects of your life?
Organization, structure, and systems are key to long term success as an entrepreneur. I’ve learned to leverage my new found organizational skills to different aspects of my personal life – to improve my financial planning, eating habits, and gym routines.
Where are you based and what’s the local startup scene like there?
We are based in NYC, and the local start-up scene is amazing here. Over the past few years, I’ve attended multiple networking [events] for young entrepreneurs, made solid connections, and had a good time doing it.
A lot of the entrepreneurs we talk with have dreams of traveling. Is travel something that interests you? Why do you think that travel is such a popular desire amongst entrepreneurs? Where would you like to travel to?
I’m already traveling multiple times per year and look forward to continuing that trend. Traveling is popular desire for entrepreneurs for the same reasons it’s popular for other people – it’s fun, new, and exciting. I’m looking to head to Europe soon for a Amsterdam / Greek Isles adventure.
Where can our readers get a hold of you?