Let’s get the professional stuff out of the way. I am the owner of a successful marketing and design firm Vinci Designs LLC, established in 2005. Our core focus is to help small to mid-size businesses refine and revisit their branding as well as increase quality leads (potential customers) and help to find new profitable channels of marketing. We provide consulting, design, and on-going support services across 15-20 different products which seems to be growing every year. One product in particular has really taken hold in the last year, WP Support which is a website support package specific for WordPress website owners. In addition to my marketing firm I also dedicate a good portion of my time to Steps to Self-Employment creating important and useful content for all of you through the website and podcast.
I got my start in self-employment over a decade ago when I had the opportunity to relocate to Destin Florida. But I need to backtrack a bit for any of this to make sense.
My entrepreneurial journey began in the strangest of places… music. For just about all of my life I’ve been a musician. Around the age of 6 I started taking piano lessons and continued throughout high school. During those years I also started to dabble in other instruments like Guitar and Bass Guitar. I was always encouraged with music as I came from a very musical family. My Dad was a musician when he was younger, playing Tenor Saxophone and Bass Guitar and even some piano. My sister was also very big into music and is now a choir director for a Middle School (formerly the high school choir director) in Northern NJ. Overtime my hobby became a passion and I saw some opportunities to do more than just sit in my garage and “rock out” with my friends. Oddly enough most people get this bug to be daring in high school or shortly thereafter. However I was very different.
In addition to music I was also very big into sports… and art. During high school I was more interested in doing well in school, getting into a good college and being recruited to play football in college than really focus on music. I found my calling at a small private college in Bethlehem, PA… Moravian College home to only 1200 active students (at the time I attended). This was perfect for me. Even though I grew up in NJ it surprises most people that I only had 87 kids in my graduating class. I grew up in a small suburban town and didn’t want the big college experience. So Moravian College was perfect. Small School, reasonably close to home, good sports and academic programs. I was set. I ended up majoring in Graphic Design which was somewhat of a surprise as I went there thinking “business degree.” But early on, in my freshman year I joined the fraternity Delta Tau Delta and several my fraternity brothers were art majors. I grew up around graphic design my whole life but never really thought of it as a career until I saw these guys in action. They convinced me to check out the Intro to Graphic Design course and I was hooked! This change in course was well received by my family as well since they own and operate a commercial printing business, whatever I learned in college could certainly be put to good use for their business if need be.
I did well in school and had solidified full-time employment as the head designer for a small advertising agency about six months before Graduation. So it felt great to have a sense of accomplishment and start working in the field I was training in. However, I had ZERO real world experience which I soon learned was going to be a major challenge. My employer also had very little experience running a business or having employees so we were both in a “learn as you go” position. I stayed with the company about a year and learned a great deal about working with customers, vendors, and employers. I also learned a lot about what I did and did not want out of a job and I knew this wasn’t the place for me so I moved on.
In just a few short years from college graduation I managed to land a great job as Art Director/Supervisor for a publicly traded telecommunications company. When I tell people that at 24 years of age I was heading up the art department I usually see an air of doubt on their face. But I grew up in the industry, and throughout all the jobs leading up to this one, was always in some kind of a management or authoritative position. So it was a good fit for me, regardless of my age. And, ironically this is really where my entrepreneurial spirit came to life. I took the job with a great sense of pride and accomplishment as working the “corporate sector” was something I always aspired to achieve and to do so starting in a management position right away was going to be great right? Ummm not so much! From the company policies, to the so-called incentives and perks, to the cubicle farm I was now roosting in, nothing about this job made me happy. I did like the idea of a large team working towards common goals but corporate structure does not let creativity breathe and it’s the most challenging position to know that the ideas you have will never see the light of day. I saw no future here that would lead me to be happy or successful long-term.
While working this job two things happened. First, some blossoming opportunities to start doing freelance work for clients of my own began to take shape. I started to think about starting my own business as I had the skills, knowledge and now the potential to make some real money doing it. Second, my music career was about to take off and I had the opportunity to travel the country with a touring rock band who had traveled to every corner of the US and back again. Plus I had the opportunity to fill some pretty big shoes as my musical predecessor was the bass player for Lenny Kravitz at the time. Before taking this gig I was still dabbling in music as what some call a “weekend warrior” playing locally or regionally once or twice a week. But I wanted more!
The band was offered a semi-permanent house gig playing a large night club in Destin FL and I decided to take the plunge… once again for two reasons. First, I hated my job and what better time to go do something crazy then when you are still young enough to make up for it, if it blows up in your face right? Second, I wanted to start Vinci Designs and turn it into something more than just a side business. So the following year after establishing my business I moved down to FL to pursue music with this group.
Nothing good or worthwhile is ever easy. I learned that after relocating to FL to be with this band. It was only then, that I found out more about our lead singer who had a serious drug problem that caused major problems for the group. I stayed on with them for a few months while I built up my design business and then parted ways to focus on the business and perhaps find some other opportunities with music. For whatever reason business seemed to continue to just flow in and I had a reasonably successful business up and running from day 1.
About two years after relocating to FL, while still running my business full time, I found a touring band that was a great fit for me and ended up spending the next 3-4 years touring everywhere in the US, touring with some national rock bands, and even rocking out to 20,000 crazy fans at the New Orleans Superdome. We played over 200 shows a year and had a blast at every one of them. It was a pretty amazing run while it lasted but I ultimately got tired of life on the road and wanted to focus on my family and my business.
Once I put down the guitar and put all my efforts into my marketing firm I saw things truly blossom. The last 3 plus years have been nothing short of fantastic for the success of my business. We have well over 100 active customers spread out over numerous product lines all of which produce some kind of on-going income year after year.
Having so many customers and having helped many of them build up their own businesses I have seen nearly every possible problem imaginable when it comes to running or starting a business. Over a year ago I started writing a book about the process of how to get started on the path to self-employment and once you have begun how to maintain it and create a viable business you can sustain yourself through. As I started compiling ideas and began writing the idea for Steps to Self-Employment hit me like a ton of bricks as I was listening to one of my business podcasts. Why write one book that will have a limited audience and require a ton of work to drive people to one book, when I could create a community that would reach a huge audience across multiple media types, audio, video, and written content?
Steps to Self-Employment is here for all of us. I have a team of contributing writers who have helped get us off on the right foot with a ton of great insight from actual business owners. I hope to continue having contributing writers, but I also hope I turn many of you into contributors on the site as well! I want your stories, I want to know your pains, your problems, and your challenges. No man and no business should ever be an island. Especially if you are just starting out! You are not alone and there are millions of people who were right where you are perhaps not too long ago. So please reach out to me either on the site, or through the podcast. I would love to learn more about you, your business, challenges you faced, and even how you overcame them!
Everything you currently read and have access to on this site is 100% free. I plan to keep the majority of the website free forever. I will offer ad space in select areas (non intrusively) throughout the site, as well as during the podcasts but I want everyone to feel that the content is truly here for your benefit not mine! I will eventually offer some paid products such as webinars, coaching sessions and more. So stick around, drop me a message or leave a voice recording by clicking the tab you see to the far right. I would love to hear from you!
Best of luck in your self-employment journey. It might be difficult but you don’t have to do it alone.
Here are some family shots for you. My two boys Ayden and Gavin.
My WAY better half, Amber and I
My fur babies. Yes I am a man and yes I still love my cats! Deal with it! 🙂