I had the pleasure of interviewing Vikki Jones, who is the CEO and publisher of VMHMagazine.com. Here is what she had to say about her entrepreneurial journey.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
My educational background is in law and legal studies, but a career in law did not go as expected. So I took a different career path that aligned with my love for books, magazines, entertainment, and production. I’ve always loved reading magazines, books, watching movies, and dancing; music, incredible stories, pictures, and the ‘feel good’ feeling they bring have been with me since I was a little girl.
What inspired you to start your business?
A compelling story I’d written inspired me to start my business. I believed this story would do for people, what it did for me - heal, encourage, inspire, cause laughter, and enlighten. Unfortunately, major publishers didn’t feel as I did about my writing and either rejected my manuscript or strung me along for far too long.
Adamant about getting my message out there, I began to research the book publishing industry and the possibility of publishing my own book. During this process, I met a woman who’d written a cookbook; she spoke of her recipes with such adoration and excitement. She had no idea of the uphill battle she would have to publish and get her book on the market and into the hands of readers. Meeting with her and my own experience was the impetus I needed to start a book publishing company. After publishing a few books, I realized I needed to ‘get the word out’ about these authors. However, mainstream media provided few opportunities for this. So I started expanding into magazine publishing, media, and videography.
Where is your business based?
My business is based in Atlanta, GA, with a second office in Los Angeles, Calif. 95% of the work, including client communication, is done online.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
The first step in starting my business was determining a name for it. At first, I didn’t have a great name, but as time passed I worked out a name better suited to publishing. Once that was done, I registered my business and began to tell people about my company.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
The most effective way of raising awareness for my company has been the quality production. Platforms on the internet are great, as is ‘in person’ engagement, but these methods of communication are pointless if one does not have quality content to present.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge was figuring out how to serve my clients more effectively. In my line of work, generally, celebrities sell more than an unknown writer, entrepreneur, or storyteller. I needed to figure out how to overcome this obstacle.
How do you stay focused?
As an entrepreneur, staying focused means blocking out the ‘noise’ and keeping my mind geared towards my goals. Often I take walks, seeking out pockets of time to sort out my thoughts and listen to direction. I also read books by other successful business owners, attend conferences, and associate with positive, purpose-oriented people.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
My company differentiates itself from the competition by placing my clients more in control of their projects. In publishing, oftentimes the creative component of the work is altered to fit the ‘taste’ of the publisher. That’s not true in my company. I’m selective about those I work with and focus more on quality content, rather than solely on profit. On the media side of my business, I prefer to produce videos, documentaries, and films that inspire and promote enhanced lifestyles.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
My most effective market strategy has been to research statistics to see how the market is transitioning. Once I analyze the data and consumer needs, and then determine the best fit from a business standpoint, I make a determination on the direction and move accordingly.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
My best piece of advice for new entrepreneurs is believe in your work. Passion for your work will take your company and product where they need to go when practical measures fail.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
My favorite app is ‘calm.’ It allows me to unplug for short spurts in my high-paced work environment. As a bookworm, I have a number of books that are favorites, but I’ll name one: You Don’t Have To Be A Shark by Robert Herjavec. I appreciate the business tips and personal experiences shared by Herjavec.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
My favorite business tool is the internet. My cameras are a close second. In my line of work, high-end cameras are needed to photograph and film with quality.
Who is your business role model? Why?
I have a number of favorite business role models, but I’ll name one for the sake of this questionnaire. Harris Rosen of Rosen Hotels and Resorts impacted me early on. After learning of the extreme measures he took to make his company work, I’ve reflected on his determination often. He hitchhiked from Florida to New York - he could not afford a flight - to drum up tourist business for his hotel. At the time he owned one hotel - valued at $15,000 - in which he wore multiple hats (gardener, security, etc.). Today he employs over 3,000 people, provides full scholarships to all student that graduate from high school in an impoverished area, and has donated 20 acres and $25 million to found UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
In the next six months, I will be finalizing a product line specifically designed for professional women in technology and media. I also plan to hire graduates and interns that are enthusiastic about working in the fields of publishing, media, and journalism. Further, I plan to begin production on several films adapted from books I’ve published. Finally, my company plans to expand our reach for VMH magazine, offering more marketing for goods and services.
How can our readers connect with you?
Readers can connect with me or follow at: