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Salvatore Steffano, How A Dirt Poor, High School Dropout Defeated all Odds and Became A Multiple 7 Figure Business Owner and Entrepreneur

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Salvatore Steffano is a digital marketing expert with over 15 years of experience. He’s been in the trenches from an early age, and he knows how to get clients results that they never thought possible. Salvatore loves solving complex problems and developing sales and marketing systems that produce measurable ROI for all his clients.

Sal is a man of many hats. With his vast accumulation of skills and wisdom in strategy, creative problem solving, sales, and marketing. Sal has used these skills to build, acquire and sell several high 6-figure and over the last 5 years, 7 figure businesses- nearly everyone starting with practically nothing.

Salvatore Steffano, Visionary & Partner at Social Marketing 180 was kind enough to sit down with us and chat about his entrepreneurship journey.

So Sal, how did you get started with your entrepreneurship journey?

Salvatore: My name’s Salvatore Steffano, my team, friends, and family call me Sal. I’m currently the Visionary & Co-founder at Social Marketing 180 and also do 1 on 1 consultation with up to 3-5 clients max per year.

My journey began when my dad broke his neck when I was a teenager. I dropped out of school to work two to three jobs to help my family out. At night when I came home from a long day, I would put extra hours in every night to study how to make money online so that I could help my family and get out of the pit we were stuck in.

Eventually, that led me to post on the (now) old internet marketing forums like Wicked Fire, Warrior Forum, and Digital Point.

One day I found the BST a.k.a.  buy, sell, trade section of these websites, and decided to get started right there and then.

That’s when I started my first business, MAD Growth, I decided to offer graphic and web design services for free to start with to gain some reviews.

I started really cheap so that I could learn the skills and put a few bucks in my pocket. Little did I know how quickly I would soon be making over $500/day due to my strong work ethic, attention to detail, and ability to always do what’s right for my clients. 

After about 4 years of running this business, the long nights, headaches, and stress of keeping up with clients, workers, paperwork, taxes, and the 100 other hats nearly took my life and made me realize one thing, I HAD NO IDEA WHAT I WAS DOING. After wanting to put a bullet to my head, I threw in the towel, closed the business, and went to work for several years doing the easiest jobs I could find, that didn’t stress me out.

After several years of completely not living up to my potential, I decided instead of being a generalist and doing everything, I wanted to become a consultant. I figured I knew digital marketing and the web development space pretty well, plus I had gotten pretty good at sales over the years, so why not become a consultant.

I helped them go from $10,000 a month to over $30,000 a month in sales my first month. And within the first year of working there, I helped them cross their first-ever $100,000 a month mark and they went from a team of just the owner and a part-time developer and myself to over six people and moving into a swanky office downtown. 

I decided to finally pull the trigger on starting up a new business and putting my entrepreneurial hat back on, in spite of the fact that nearly everyone thought I was crazy to give up a 6 figure career to start back over again in the trenches.

What are some of the challenges you’ve had to face to get to where you are today?

Salvatore: Even though my dad owned his own businesses growing up, he always struggled to make ends meet. He had a wife and 5 kids to raise and never really figured out how to run a business that didn’t take up all his time and stress him out. So we were always pretty poor growing up and had to make due, and had to “just figure it out”.

The biggest challenge I would say that I had to face and eventually learned to overcome was providing for my family after me and my dad were T-boned by another driver and my dad broke his neck.

And after my dad lost his business, I lost any chance of becoming a college athlete and ended up dropping out of high school to work 2-3 jobs to provide for my family which eventually lead to me starting my first business at 20 years old.

Do you have some practical advice for those people who might want to get started in a similar career as you?

Salvatore: I would definitely tell them to read Entrepreneurial Leap by Gino Wickman. This book helped me out a lot as an entrepreneur and I’m very sure that this will help them decide if being an entrepreneur is right for them and if so, what they need to expect. Make sure to read Traction by, you guessed it, Gino Wickman after you decide being an entrepreneur is right for you.

What are your best 3 pieces of advice when it comes to running ads for a business?

Salvatore:  The best 3 pieces of advice that I can give to those people who are running ads is that, number one, always be running ads. Don’t stop when things start slowing down, that means you should be advertising more. 

The second thing will be, make sure that you have someone dedicated to responding to leads. All new leads should be called within 5 minutes and 60 seconds is optimal. And in our case, we have a dedicated team of Inside Sales Agents that responds to leads that come in within the 5-minute window. If you missed that, you missed the opportunity.

And lastly, your team needs to be doing sales training at minimum, weekly, daily is preferred. At Social Marketing 180, we dedicate an hour every single day to do sales training within our team. Listen, The better your team is trained at sales, the better they can help your clients, which means, the more money the business makes.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? What lesson did you learn from them?

Salvatore: Absolutely. The number 1 person I am grateful for is my dad. Growing up, my dad ran his own businesses and gave me so many lessons, but the most important lesson of all that he taught me was to forgive and love people no matter what they do to you, and the second most important thing he taught me was to “just figure it out”. 

This  “just figure it out mentality” has taught me how to win and accomplish anything in life, no matter what challenges you have, and no matter what resources you have, YOU must find a way to just figure it out and win!

Who are the 3 people that inspire you?

Salvatore:  

#1 Jesus Christ. This one kinda goes without saying, but without God, I wouldn’t be alive. He has saved me from the darkest pits of despair and has shown me mountains of blessings. Thank you, Jesus!

#2 King David (from the Bible). Many people think about the whole David Vs. Goliath’s story when thinking about King David, which, don’t get me wrong, is a great story. But for me, the most important and inspiring moment to me is reading about his sinful, human moments. I mean sheesh, talk about a good story, David was off “whacking” more people than Don Corlioni and yet God said that King David had a heart after his own. 

#3 It’s really hard to just pick 3, and considering I mentioned my dad already, I would have to go with Gino Wickman, the author of Traction and Founder of the EOS system that has changed the way i do business. Without having a clear roadmap that EOS helps entrepreneurs (and especially visionaries), I would still be stuck where I was 15 years ago when I started my own business.

Why do you think it’s valuable to be candid about both failure and success?

Salvatore: I tell people all the time, I’m not some kind of genius. I’m just stubborn and never completely gave up. You gotta be like Rocky Balboa. Sometimes it looks like you have no chance to survive and the world crumbles out from underneath you. But if you don’t give up, you will be successful. I tell my clients all the time, Don’t work with me because I know everything, because I don’t. I’ve just learned what not to do by making every mistake in the book. I then take those mistakes and build systems that prevent those mistakes from happening again.

What are some of the quotes that make you feel most inspired?

Salvatore: 

The first quote is from a client of ours, Derek Parsons from Ohana Wellness Centre. He said, “We wouldn’t be here without you guys”. It motivates me in a way that I know myself and the team are doing a great job in helping businesses to get to where they want to be.

The second quote that I felt really inspired is from an Unknown Navy Seal from The Lone Survivor movie, “Whatever you have to do – just find an excuse to win – keep going.” It really inspired me and I actually decided to include this as one of our core values in our company.

The third quote and I’m not sure if this really is a quote, but one of my best friends, Ruben Overman would always tell me “that if he had my skills, he would be a multimillionaire”.  This meant a lot to me, not because of the money, but because he believed in me when almost no one else did. Not only did he believe in me, but he also was one of the first people to invest in me when I had nothing, and I will always love and appreciate him for that.

Starting your own business is hard, what would you recommend someone should do when getting started?

Salvatore: One thing I always tell people about sales is that Sales doesn’t have to be so difficult. Over the course of my career, I have helped frustrated small businesses close millions of dollars of revenue, and the way I did that is I always focus on delivering results. I always focus on my goal to help small businesses succeed. Jay Abraham says, love your clients and everything else is easy. And it’s 100% true. Love your clients, love your employees, love your family, love friends, and even love those who don’t love you because love will always reward you and be rewarding to others, no matter how bad things may seem.

Currently, what is the big message you’d like to highlight?

Salvatore: A lot of marketing companies have a bad reputation for giving out crappy leads to their clients and not delivering their promises. Well, we’re not like any other marketing companies that will just put up ads and wish everything falls perfectly well and turn leads into paying customers. Because we know that’s not how it should work. Right? 

At Social Marketing 180, we actually work on every step of the marketing process to ensure that our clients get booked appointments on a monthly basis. 

And for my one on one clients, I can help them launch and scale just about any business to at minimum double if not 10x in 12 months or less by following my proven systems and frameworks.

Thanks for the interview! What is the best way for someone to reach you if they are interested in working with you?

Salvatore: You’re welcome! For anyone who wants to bring their business to the next level, you may visit our website at https://socialmarketing180.com or email me at sal@socialmarketing180.com

Editorial team Account! Bringing you entrepreneurial stories. Flourishive views the world through the eyes of entrepreneurship—ambition, ​empathy, the ​grind. Be inspired by articles curated by Flourishive Contributors.

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The Flourishive Magazine tells the stories of the world top entrepreneurs, developers, creators, and digital marketers and help empower them to teach others the skills they used to grow their careers, chase their passions and create financial freedom for themselves, their families, and their lives, all while living out their true purpose. We recognize the fact that most young people are opting to skip college in exchange for entrepreneurship and real-life experience.