Dustin Sparks

After Selling his Company then starting 2 Businesses in a “Passion” industry, serial entrepreneur returns to his origin

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Biggest Idea Danger

“Don’t get emotionally attached to an idea. Do some market research. If it’s not a good idea, stop. Fail fast and realign.”


Is yours a good idea?

“It has never been easier to get that proof of concept. With the social sites and media you can know if you’re headed in the right direction.”


Selling Your Business

“I was able to sell my company. Did I do it right? Maybe not. Did I do it Oprah Winfrey style and then I’m taking a bath in money? No. It was a great experience and put me in a better spot to say, ‘What’s next’?”


Biggest mistake

“I’ve never had a mentor. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I’ve looked for one. You’ll never be in a spot someone hasn’t been before. They’ll save you loads of time and money. In my little world with some of these projects, I just wanted to move at my speed. I found it hard to work with mentors. This means I make my own mistakes so I have to get better at failing faster.”

Why Listen to Dustin Sparks:

In the audio, Dustin shares:

— Selling his company and how it compares to Oprah

— What to do before getting emotionally attached to an idea so you don’t waste your time

— The 2 easiest ways to use modern technology to prove or disprove your business idea

— The 2 things he learned from the adult industry that were catalysts for his success today

—- 3 big Conventional myths that could undermine your chances for success

Dustin Sparks, Landing Page, A/B Conversion Optimization Expert

Dustin provides his clients with optimized landing page strategies for improving conversion rates.

Dustin has developed an expertise in user-centered design, understanding of visitor conversion behavior and landing page testing. In the mid-1990s, he became one of the early pioneers in the discipline of website conversion rate optimization at The Gallup Organization (The CNN Gallup Poll – http://www.gallup.com).

Over the past 15 years, Dustin has helped a number of major US and international brands develop successful web-based initiatives. Companies like Carbonite, Cabelas, Golfsmith, Freescale, AppliedMicro,SkyGeek, GreekGear.com, The Gallup Organization, Toyota, Mastercard, Blockbuster Video, and many others have benefitted from Dustin’s deep understanding and innovative perspective. As well he understands the unique challenges of small & mid-sized businesses.

Dustin created a patent on a device that makes shooting easier. Cabela’s retail store offered to buy it from him. It’s been well received in the sniper community.

He had a great career at CNN Gallup poll. He then worked at consulting firm Meritage Technologies but was laid off in 2001. It was rough on him and he never wanted that feeling again. He started freelancing which was an unusual and difficult journey.

He used his data analyzing skills to help companies and a lot of big brands make decisions based on data and less on emotion. He parlayed that into an SEO company in Austin that did the same thing. It was hot enough and they grew it properly so they were eventually able to sell the company.

Some Shareables from Dustin in this episode…

If he started over

“The one thing is action. More and more action. So many people, myself included, get excited about an idea and then get emotional about it. They’ll do some things then talk with some people. But then you go back to your job or to making dinner. When you come back to this great idea you’re starting all over. You’ve burnt so much valuable time by not doing anything.”

“There is that balance piece. Don’t push action to the point that you have a miserable life. This manifests itself as you being a miserable friend, a miserable partner. As clichÈ as it sounds, sometimes the hard part is just letting it be easy.”

Favorite part of the entrepreneur’s journey

“I don’t much like the word ‘entrepreneur’. I know many people who use the term entrepreneur for themselves and too many of those people just have a lot of ideas but no ambition and no money. This self boss journey you take, the best part would be calling all the shots. That is pretty cool. My favorite part is the more you do, the more you learn. The more mistakes you make, the better you are to stand in a spot look back and say, ‘That seemed so intimidating but how trivial it looks now’. The more obstacles you overcome you get to a point where you reach critical mass and the ball starts rolling downhill.”

Weirdest thing

“Early on, some of my largest clients were in the adult industry. Because of the amount of searches and dollars in the market, making decisions based on that vast data meant big dollars. My monitors had data and adult videos on them. Clients would send me their adult toys as a joke or for market research. It was weird when people would come over unannounced or even announced because I didn’t know which to hide nor have time to do it. It got weird for me sometimes coming home to all this.”

Contrarian success

“We elaborated on it earlier in the interview about me not having a mentor. Eventually, once you have validation and proof of concept for your idea, you find a mentor. They put you on the right path and in touch with the right groups. Not having that may be the biggest counterintuitive thing I’ve ever done while still being able to succeed.”

Conventional wisdom that hurts

“There are the top two or three to be aware of. People hear, ‘Get a business plan’. They go searching for business software attempting to create a 100 page business plan and all the while they’re 100% off-track. Instead they should have been doing market research. The plan is important but don’t get distracted by it. A 100 page business plan is probably never going to be read. Your plan could be as simple as a mission or vision statement.

The second one happens when you start doing your research. You’re bombarded with e-books. If you ring the cash register two or three times per week for somebody else you’re going to learn what you essentially already knew. The trap of e-books is a slippery slope. It’s an easy one to fall into. Better to do your own recon through LinkedIn and then in person meet ups.

Number three is to get a partner. Find somebody who’s behind you and wants to support you. Outside of a large financial investment, there’s almost nothing in your business you can’t pay somebody else to do. If your idea pans out, the equity payout is going to be a lot larger if you do it on your own.”

“If I could help one group of people, it would be those looking to carve their own path and do their own thing. Many times they think about going back to that comfortable steady check. Then they think about going and doing something in a different space. That creates so much confusion. It causes such a huge loss of time.”

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