[quote style=”boxed”]Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, because you’ll find yourself spending more time educating the world about what you do, rather than selling it to them.[/quote]
Anthony Saladino is the co-founder and CEO of Kitchen Cabinet Kings, one of the nation’s largest distributors of kitchen and bathroom cabinetry on the Internet. Kitchen Cabinet Kings not only provides high quality products, but also serves as an excellent resource for information related to the kitchen and bath industry.
Anthony was recognized by CNN Money as one of the 10 Generation Next entrepreneurs to watch. He was named on the 2011 Empact100 list, an honor given at the White House to the top 100 companies run by entrepreneurs 30 years old and younger, and was the recipient of the 2011 StartupNation Home Based 100 Award. Anthony’s business advice has been featured in many major media outlets, including AOL Jobs, AMEX Open Forum, MSN Business on Main, About.com, Fox Small Business, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Mashable, Business Insider, The Visa Business Network, The Next Web, Crain’s New York Business, Forbes, and more.
Anthony is a contributing writer and member of the Young Entrepreneur Council, a nonprofit organization geared toward promoting youth entrepreneurship. Anthony is also a contributing writer to YFS Magazine, the definitive digital magazine for start-ups, small business news and entrepreneurial culture. Anthony is particular passionate about educating young entrepreneurs and helping them achieve their goals.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working to expand our product offerings to include additional products related to the kitchen and bathroom industry. We recently launched our new, stainless steel sink line, and in the coming months, we will offer faucets, hoods, additional cabinet lines, bathroom vanities, wood flooring and cabinet hardware. Our goal is to be the number one source for discount kitchen and bathroom materials online.
Where did the idea for Kitchen Cabinet Kings come from?
After college, I took a sales position at a brick and mortar kitchen and bathroom dealer in New York. During my five-year tenure, I learned the “ins and outs” of the industry, and successfully completed more than one thousand kitchen and bathroom remodeling projects. Luckily, I was abruptly fired from my position, and I decided to leverage my experience and contacts in the industry to start my own business in the same field. However, I was not fond of opening a brick and mortar location due to geographic customer limitations, so my plan was to open a virtual showroom and serve customers nationwide. I then partnered with my brother, Andrew Saladino, a recent computer programming graduate from New York University, to create our company, Kitchen Cabinet Kings. We worked to develop an easy-to-use e-commerce platform to sell kitchen cabinets online.
What does your typical day look like?
A typical day consists of me ruling over the “Cabinet Kingdom” and working closely with my “Royal Court.” No two days are the same, and I’ve adopted a “just-get-it-done” principle, which was also picked up by our staff. I am involved with all facets of our operation and monitor the progress of our employees and sub-contractors on job-assigned duties/projects. I focus most of my energy on sales and marketing, while ensuring that we exceed all of our customers’ expectations surrounding our products/services. I always make sure to spend at least one hour of my day researching the competition and brainstorming ideas to improve our website/products/services. My motto is, “The day I stop learning is the day that I start dying.”
How do you bring ideas to life?
Big project ideas are put down on paper, where I let them marinate for a few days. If I still feel they are worthy of implementation after waiting that amount of time, then I will discuss them in more detail with my brother during our weekly meeting. If the idea makes it past our analysis, then it gets put into action. Small ideas get executed quickly. One major pitfall I see many entrepreneurs running into is spending too much time thinking of ideas and less time actually implementing them. Don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis, and make sure to spring into action.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
The e-commerce sector is steadily growing, and is trending upward with no ceiling in sight. The percentage of the population that makes online purchases is increasing yearly. Additionally, big-ticket items are seeing additional growth due to consumers’ confidence in online business.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I worked at a car wash when I was 14 years old, cleaning cars by hand. I learned that I am not cut out for manual labor, and that scrubbing cars in the summer heat was not something I was built to do!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would have started sooner. I gained all the necessary knowledge to become an entrepreneur within three years of being in the industry, so it would have been advantageous for me to start my business two or three years earlier. My advice is to take the entrepreneurship plunge if you feel you are ready. Don’t wait another minute!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I educate myself. In this world, knowledge is power. I spend every day learning something new, whether it has to do with my industry, the world around me, e-commerce or the Internet in general. It is critical that entrepreneurs never stop learning and constantly look to innovate and evolve themselves and their businesses. Entrepreneurs are like sharks; sharks must constantly swim in order to survive, and entrepreneurs must constantly learn to prosper.
What is one problem you encountered as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Hiring friends. I strongly suggest that you don’t make this mistake for your business. Friends do not make great employees, and work conflicts can quickly escalate into personal problems. I overcame this issue by selecting my friendship over a work relationship, and gently let my buddy go.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
The easiest way to make money with a new business is to provide a product/service that people are already interested in. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, because you’ll find yourself spending more time educating the world about what you do, rather than selling it to them. Determine which type of product or service you have an expertise in–or passion for–and sell it.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
Wow, where do I start? There are countless problems our society faces currently, such as political corruption, famine, pollution, reality TV and greed, but my personal pet peeve is religion. The fairy tales that are preached by major religions are responsible for nearly one billion deaths since religion’s inception. Religious beliefs create fanatics who murder others, simply due to disagreements over specific gods’ teachings. The removal of religion would help eliminate prejudice based on faith, and would allow people the opportunity to work together for the common good of mankind. Fortunately, religion is phasing itself out of modern society, as the percentage of people worldwide who consider themselves Atheists increases every year. Based on the trending numbers, I expect Atheists to outnumber those who associate themselves with a specific religion within the next 50-100 years.
Tell us a secret.
I don’t have a police record, but I do have a record with the FBI. When I was 13, I ran an underground organization of hackers, carders, programmers and software pirates, called ACiD. I then leveraged these contacts to create the world’s first mainstream “Trojan Virus.” Luckily, when the Feds showed up and found out I was only 15, they were not interested in formally charging me due to my age. However, this incident was a good wake-up call me for, and I vowed to use my powers only for good moving forward.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
- The YEC, The Young Entrepreneur Council, is an invite-only organization of the world’s top young entrepreneurs with a common goal to help educate entrepreneurs and promote entrepreneurship globally. The website is excellent resource for business owners to gain valuable knowledge on all facets of entrepreneurship.
- Boomerang for Gmail. This tool for Gmail makes follow-ups a breeze and schedules emails to be sent later. It is a must-have plug-in for your Gmail account.
- Raventools. This powerful, online marketing tool combines SEO tools, social media tools and advertising tools into one, easy-to-use platform.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Never Get a “Real Job” by Scott Gerber. Scott is the fearless leader of the Young Entrepreneur Council, and his business book utilizes a no-bull approach to teach aspiring entrepreneurs how to turn their business idea into viable enterprises capable of generating revenue immediately. This book is short on fluff and concentrates on actionable, step-by-step instructions on how to create an effective business. The advice in this book is valuable for an entrepreneur at any stage, and is especially useful for any early-stage entrepreneurs looking to hit the ground running.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @theYEC. The Young Entrepreneur Council is a societal game changer and the resources provided by them daily are invaluable.
- @BrentBeshore. Brent is the CEO of AdVentures #28 2011 INC. 500, and angel investor. He has a brilliant business mind and utilizes these skills to help his community and individuals in need–the mark of a truly a selfless leader.
- @ilyaNeverSleeps is the founder and CMO of Ciplex and columnist for Inc and Forbes. His articles are some of the most informative, well-written pieces on the Internet. Following him is a must for anyone who is interested in succeeding in business.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I laugh out loud every day. I’m lucky to have an incredibly beautiful and funny girlfriend, in addition to a large stable of comical friends. It’s important to handle your business, but it is just as critical to not take yourself too seriously. Find as much time as you can to kick back with friends and family and “act a fool!” Live a life worth living.
Who is your hero?
My mom. I’ve always had a tumultuous family life, and when I was 11 years old, my dad took off. My mom was forced to take care of me and my 5-year-old brother, with no help from family or friends. She then sprung into action and became a certified mixologist (a fancy name for bartender) and worked tirelessly long, late night shifts in known criminal hang-outs just to make ends meet.
Amazingly, she managed to get up everyday and take me and my brother to school, all on no sleep. We lost our house shortly after my dad left, due to foreclosure, and moved into a modest two-bedroom apartment, but mom always made sure we had everything we needed, plus extras (I had the most extensive Ninja turtle/Nintendo game collection of my friends). My mom taught me that self pity will not help a situation, and that with hard work and dedication, you can accomplish any goal, no matter how insurmountable it may seem. These early life lessons set the core values which push me forward today in any time of struggle. Thank you, mom. I love you!
What is the least glamorous part of running your own business?
Most people assume that if you run your own business, you’re living the easy life with no boss, a huge salary, work when you want, and endless vacation time. Yes, it’s true that when you own a business, you can run it on your own terms, however in order to be successful, the level of dedication far exceeds the output of a typical employee.
If you want your business to grow quickly, you better buckle up and prepare for a long, bumpy ride. Every day a new obstacle presents itself, and it is your job to overcome it by utilizing each resource at your disposal and exhausting all possible options. You must be fearless and relentless in the way you attack problems, and you must learn to treat each obstacle in your path as a speed bump on the way to success. Expect to lay in your bed at night, unable to sleep because your mind is swirling with ideas on how to improve your business. A successful entrepreneur eats, sleeps and breathes their business, and it is only that kind of dedication that will push you to the pinnacle of your industry.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.