My Journey Through Entrepreneurship. Why I Want To Be My Own Boss.

January 14, 2016

Above: Matt from “Just for Pets” pet shop excited to be getting another order or worms for the store he manages.

The entrepreneurial life is the only life for me.

I was a rebel growing up. I was not interested in following the lead of anyone else. I am a trail blazer.

My “pioneer spirit” really began to take shape early in high school. I saw what most kids were doing, and I always thought to myself, “They are doing that (wearing that, saying that, acting like that) because someone started it. They are simply following what their friends are doing. Before they were doing “that” however, it wasn’t being done at all. Someone had created the trend out of thin air.” This realization told me “Someone is creating reality, who is it and could it be me?”

I began doing creative things with my wardrobe and my lifestyle. I was one of the first guys in school to grow my hair long. I wore slippers (moccasins they were later called) before anyone else. In fact, I was made fun of almost daily by everyone I knew! I didn’t care. I knew if I wanted to do it, I could, and one day others would do it too. Sure enough, a few kids here and there started wearing slippers to school, and then the surrounding school districts started to adopt the trend. If you went to school, at least in Pennsylvania, in the late 90’s early 2000’s you remember this trend.

I can’t say with complete certainty that I started the moccasin trend, but I’ll tell you this: I wore those old slippers everyday for over a year and I was picked on every day of the year. They were clearly not very cool at the time I started wearing them… They became a “must have” the following year. Everyone was wearing them.

 “The entrepreneur defines reality; he is not defined by it.” –Taylor Pearson.

I approached life with the idea that if I didn’t like it, I had the power to create what I liked. Soon, creating an income became a necessity and I took that maverick mindset into my work life.

 

Starting YOUNG

When I was in grade school, no older than twelve, my buddy and I would draw pictures per request and sell them to kids for their lunch money. We took requests in the morning and drew whenever we could, sold them on the playground or in the halls, then split the profit. He was my first business partner. We made darn good money for being young kids. Our business was profitable, the overhead was low, and we were making money every day. We were shut down one day on the playground, and at the time I was a little more of a pushover, so we were out of business.

In high school, I sold granola bars and other goodies to kids in class, always capitalizing on the ones who I knew did not eat breakfast, or those who ate lunch last in the day. They were usually the easiest sales. I sold school supplies, chewing gum, and I would sell anything I could to make some extra change. I hated selling for fund-raisers, however; there were far too many rules.

The day I turned eighteen, still in high school, I got into direct sales and had dreams of working for myself. After a few months of getting turned down, I quit. I still hadn’t come to terms with the idea that I’d have to go through struggle to get a victory.

When it came time to graduate, I was at it again. My next venture was lawn service. I really thought this was it! It felt good to do this manly work and call it my own, and I took a lot of pride in having my own company before I was old enough to buy a beer. I drove to graduation with my truck and trailer and my “Campisi Lawn Service” shirt under my robe, and, afterwards, left to cut grass.

Although I was not sure what type of business I ultimately wanted, one thing I knew for certain was that the life of a business owner was the only way I could truly control my time and create the lifestyle I wanted. I held quite a few jobs throughout high school, and after, but I hated someone telling me when I had to work and feeling obligated to be there on their time rather than my time. I hate calling someone my boss.

As years in the “real world” went by, I fell in and out of the entrepreneurial spirit. I lost confidence as I began to listen to all of my friends and family (extended family) ( — my brothers and parents were and always are behind me 110%). They weren’t very supportive of my dreams of being free from a job and pursuing my heart’s desires. I gave up the lawn service business to my father (good move) and reluctantly settled into a few years of working a job without any other focus.

Though I struggled with confidence, the entrepreneurial spirit was in me. I could not escape the burning desire to create my own reality. I worked miserable jobs, at terrible hours. I found myself getting up when I did not want to, to go somewhere that I despised, to build my bosses dreams, not mine. I began looking into other ideas again. I thought about doing a little bit of everything, from opening up a gym to guiding fly fishing adventures. I wanted to start something from scratch and build it from the ground up. I landed in direct sales for a second time, this time working hard at it for nearly a year. Once again however, my heart was not in it, and it was something someone else had created. I wanted to create reality.

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In early 2015, after another business upset, my confidence was at an all time low. If ever I threw myself a pity party it was winter, 2015.

It was then, as I sat on my couch reading an online article that a new concept fell on my radar. A slimy, wriggly, concept.

Vermicomposting – composting with worms.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. I had found a way to combine some of my favorite things (agriculture, fishing, business ownership, raising critters, sustainability, selling) into a business all of my own. I was beyond excited.

“WHOA WHOA WHOA, Let me get this straight. WORMS!?” –Everybody

 I bought all the supplies and an initial stock of 1,000 worms. Weeks went by, and I continued to study. I regained my posture and confidence. I again started reading business books and listening to audio recordings that fortified my entrepreneurial mindset. I expanded from 1,000 worms within the next few weeks. By April of 2015 I had nearly 10,000 worms in bins in my house!

BUSINESS LAUNCH

Walk in, introduce yourself, be nice, make a friend, this is selling in its simplest form. Its really all about providing value to your customer.
Walk in, introduce yourself, be nice, make a friend. This is selling in its simplest form. Its really all about providing value to your customer.

Originally I only intended to recycle “wet-waste” and sell compost, but as fishing season neared, I started thinking of ways to market the worms as well. In late April of 2015 I unofficially launched “Tony’s Bait and Compost” out of my home. Tony’s Bait and Compost was on Facebook and Instagram and is how I got my start online, and how you’re even reading this.

The label that is put on everything I sell.
The label that is put on everything I sell.

“Don’t ever let people tell you that business is “busy-ness”. A true entrepreneur will build systems in his/her business to allow more free time than is even thought to be possible.”

With my new business I was accomplishing a lot.

I was:

  • Working from home.
  • In control of how much money I made, and how much I worked.
  • Doing something I enjoyed.
  • Doing something important and “giving back.” I was composting “garbage” and keeping it out of landfills, repurposing waste, and working toward a cleaner environment. One of my biggest passions.
  • Building my conservation project.
  • Totally independent. No business partners, no limitations on how things were done.

They say it takes about five years to turn a profit in business. I turned a profit in my first year. Now certainly, my business has SIGNIFICANTLY less overhead so it can’t even be compared to a restaurant or a contracting business, but the idea that anything is possible should always guide you in business. Have an abundance mentality in all areas of life.

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This guy sits and watches me for hours as I put bait orders together. Every now and then he’ll get a snack.

 A typical day in the life is an interesting day dealing with so many slimy critters, and I may write “A Day in the Life of a “Worm-pretreneur”.” article or do a video log. We’ll see.

 My Vision: Saving The Planet

My vision for Tony’s Bait and Compost far surpasses anything I can accomplish alone. I want to increase focus on local (at first) recycling efforts. Collecting and composting local businesses’ “wet-waste” and turning it into organic compost. With free pick-up and haul-away, the business will embrace the idea of giving back and repurposing waste. Any business that recycles their waste with Tony’s Bait and Compost will soon be able to call themselves a “Sustainable Business” or something to that effect. This will show their customers that they value sustainability.

I will continue marketing compost to gardeners and worms to fisherman and women. As I expand, I will enter the world of larger scale agriculture to encourage farmers to replace chemicals and harmful substances with all-natural, and harmless, vermicompost (worm manure, or, for lack of better words, poop!)

A boy scout fishing derby I sponsored. Getting kids outside is so important.
A boy scout fishing derby I sponsored. Getting kids outside is so important.

Another idea I’ve been working on is to design and construct “worm-dumpsters” where trash can become a self-sustaining entity. This would reduce energy required to process literal tons of waste and, at the same time, create the largest source of organic compost on the planet.

We will then funnel this waste back to agriculture, as well as independent growers throughout the world. This will be the most responsible use of our waste of which I’m aware. As the business grows, the further I can expand, and the amount of material that can be composted increases. We can turn our land back to the rich and fruitful land it once was, the way it was only a few decades ago.

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Bait orders being delivered for the 4th of July weekend.

In my mind, I can clearly imagine a day where landfills are converted into wild lands again, less fortunate people have great jobs maintaining composting efforts, abandoned buildings are turned into composting hubs, and gardeners and farmers have all the natural fertilizer they will need, eliminating the destructive chemicals used on our crops today. This will also address the current honey bee mortality issue we’re experiencing in the United States. With the power of the internet, I know this idea can achieve success on a global scale.

This is simply only one of my many dreams for my lifetime, but it is a big and important one! It is the current stage of my entrepreneurial journey. I am also working on some online projects as well as writing a book. I aim to continue making valuable and entertaining media for the “internet generation” with the hope that it will help them blaze their own trail and create the reality they would like to see while doing what is right.

A LIVE BAIT sign outside of one of the stores selling "Tony's Bait".
A LIVE BAIT sign outside of one of the stores selling “Tony’s Bait”.

 

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2 Comments
    1. Outstanding post, Tony! I’m glad to read how it all started for you. What solid ideas and plans you’ve cultivated. I’m proud of you; keep up the good work! And keep that camera in mind!

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