Mike Vannelli, Head Video Producer, Envy Creative
Mike Vannelli is the Head Video Producer of Envy Creative. In this interview with The Industry Leaders, they share their top advice for business professionals, namely the 3 things they wish they'd known when starting out.
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
I started my video career producing music videos for artists like Three 6 Mafia and Machine Gun Kelly. A friend from high school was working for Three 6 Mafia as an Engineer and reached out when they needed some new and fresh music video produced. I wanted to get more into commercial and film work so I phased out of the Music Videos sector. I started from the ground up, with some of the equipment I had, to start making commercials. At the beginning, I did a lot of different styles of videos and commercials, to see what style I liked and what I knew I could do well. Then, Envy Creative started getting attention. Companies, brands, and startups started asking us to make their videos and commercials. From then on, I have been making commercials, ads and startup videos, mostly for business, products, brands, and tech. Some videos we make are large-scale productions and some are smaller, to fit the budget of bootstrap startups, for example. To date, we have produced over a thousand videos.
Was any one person who was instrumental in helping you get from where you started out, to where you are now?
The one person who has been instrumental in helping me get from where I started out to where I am now is my wife. From the very beginning, she has been an unwavering pillar of support and encouragement. Her belief in me, even during times when I doubted myself, has been a driving force behind my accomplishments. My wife has always been there to provide invaluable advice and guidance while simultaneously pushing me to step out of my comfort zone and take on new challenges. Her faith in my abilities has given me the confidence to pursue my dreams and turn them into reality. The success I have achieved today can largely be attributed to her constant presence in my life.
Is there a particular piece of advice you were given in the early days of your business journey that you still benefit from today?
One piece of advice is the importance of not quitting your day job until your side hustle generates equal or greater income. This approach ensures financial stability while allowing you to pursue your entrepreneurial aspirations. By maintaining your primary job, you can focus on building your side venture without the stress of making ends meet, which ultimately leads to better decision-making and growth opportunities. Once the side hustle reaches a point where it can sustain or surpass your current income, that's when you can consider making the transition to fully focus on the business. This strategy not only provided me with the confidence to chase my dreams when I was first starting my business, but also the financial safety net that was crucial for success.
What is the most important lesson you've learned about leadership in your business journey so far?
The most important lesson I've learned about leadership in my business journey so far is the significance of thoroughly understanding the job roles and responsibilities before hiring someone to fill those positions. By immersing myself in the various roles within the company and gaining hands-on experience, I develop a comprehensive knowledge of the skills and expertise required for each position. This not only allows me to make informed hiring decisions but also equips me with the necessary insight to guide and support my team effectively.
What are the top three things you wish you'd known when you were just starting out?
When starting out, there are three essential things to keep in mind.
First, it's crucial to deeply understand your target market and validate your idea. Conduct thorough research to identify your customers' pain points and find a solution that addresses their needs. Engaging with potential customers early on will help refine your idea and increase the likelihood of success.
Second, focus on building a strong and diverse team. Having a group of skilled individuals with complementary skill sets will enable you to execute your vision effectively. A successful team must communicate well and be aligned on the company's mission and goals.
Lastly, embrace the inevitability of failure and be prepared to pivot. Entrepreneurship is inherently risky, and setbacks are part of the journey. By learning from your failures and adapting your approach, you'll build resilience and improve your chances of long-term success.
In your experience, what is the most effective way to build a strong network of mentors and advisors to guide you in your business endeavors?
The most effective way to build a strong network of mentors and advisors for your business endeavors is to proactively seek out individuals who possess the skills, knowledge, and experiences that align with your goals and challenges. To begin with, attend industry events, conferences, and workshops, and engage in online communities and social media platforms where you can interact with potential mentors. When approaching potential mentors, focus on building genuine relationships, demonstrating your passion and commitment, and showcasing your willingness to learn. It's important to be respectful of their time and express gratitude for their guidance. Remember that mentorship is a two-way street: by providing value to your mentors, you'll foster a strong connection and encourage their continued support. Additionally, diversify your network by seeking mentors from different backgrounds, industries, and areas of expertise to gain various perspectives and insights. Establishing a robust support system will not only help you navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship but also accelerate your personal and professional growth.
How do you determine when it's time to pivot, and what factors should you consider in making that decision?
Determining when it's time to pivot, whether in the context of a job, career, or business strategy, involves careful evaluation of multiple factors to ensure a well-informed decision. Firstly, assess the current situation and identify if there is a lack of growth, satisfaction, or alignment with personal or organizational goals. Secondly, conduct thorough market research and analyze trends to identify new opportunities that could potentially lead to success. Thirdly, consult with trusted mentors or colleagues to gain insights and gather diverse perspectives. Additionally, consider the financial implications, such as potential income changes, and the required resources, such as time and effort, for a successful transition. Ultimately, it's crucial to balance these factors, reflect on personal or business aspirations, and trust one's instincts when deciding whether or not to pivot.
How do you stay motivated and inspired during the business cycle of ups and downs?
Staying motivated and inspired during the business cycle's inevitable ups and downs is a combination of maintaining a long-term perspective, focusing on personal development, and surrounding oneself with a supportive network. First and foremost, I remind myself of the bigger picture and my long-term goals, understanding that short-term fluctuations are a natural part of any business journey. Embracing a growth mindset, I use challenging moments as opportunities to learn and improve, rather than as setbacks. This approach helps me develop resilience and adaptability, which are critical for success. Additionally, I actively seek out and engage with a community of like-minded professionals who share their experiences, offer guidance, and provide encouragement during tough times. This support network not only fosters a sense of camaraderie but also serves as a source of inspiration and motivation to keep pushing forward, no matter the challenges faced.
Looking back, what one thing would you do differently if you could start your journey over again?
My first business actually failed because I partnered with my best friend (at the time) for our business. Reflecting on my first entrepreneurial endeavor, it's evident that the decision to partner with my best friend at the time played a crucial role in the failure of the business. Although we shared a strong bond and mutual trust, we quickly discovered that our personal relationship did not necessarily translate into a successful professional partnership. As equals in the business, we faced difficulties in decision-making and navigating the inevitable disagreements that arose. Our inability to separate our friendship from the business eventually led to its downfall, and regrettably, our friendship suffered as well. The experience taught me a valuable lesson: if I were to venture into business again, I would be cautious about partnering with a close friend, especially on equal terms. It's essential to maintain a clear line between personal and professional relationships to ensure the success of both the business and the friendship.