Welcome to the Eventual Millionaire podcast. I’m Jaime Tardy and today we have Dustin Wells on the show. Dustin owns a company called Headspring and they do software consultancy and delivery, which is really interesting. It makes it so companies can create their own internal software to run much better. So thank you so much for coming on the show today, Dustin.
DUSTIN WELLS: My pleasure.
JAIME TARDY: Awesome. So why don’t we first go back, I know you created Headspring in 2005 but that wasn’t your first business so why don’t you tell me a little bit about what your first business is.
DW: Sure. I started my first company in 1999 and it was a company that would put internet video cameras in daycare centers. Parents could see their kids over the internet.
JT: Nice. So how did that go? Was it a banging wonderful thing right out of the gate?
DW: It was absolutely a miserable failure financially. We went live and actually had an award winning business plan that we submitted to the newspaper locally here. It was judged by UT business school and the Austin Business Journal and this local radio station. So we submitted our business plan. We won first prize out of over 250 entrants and at that point we really thought we had it figured out so we decided to quit our jobs and go full time in this business.
JT: Nice. So you had never started a business before but you created an awesome business plan and you were raring to go?
DW: Yes. We felt like we really had it figured out with this great business plan so we got started. That was November ’99 when that company started until April 2001 is when that wrapped up and ended and to make a long story short, we ended up getting one customer with three locations to install cameras and there were many, many things that were flawed about our business model and our business plan. We wrapped all of those up and I tweaked it after my partner decided to go a different direction in April 2001.
JT: So tell me about what didn’t work because we always hear “Oh create a really good business plan.” This is what experts say. Create a good business plan. You’ll be fine as long as you do enough research beforehand, it’ll be great. So tell me what actually happened for you. I mean you had the business plan. It was award winning and then of course it didn’t work out so well. So what really happened? What made it not work?
DW: Well we had a lot of assumptions that we made based on what competitors were doing in the industry and so some of those assumptions were the price that we could charge parents, because we were going to charge parents directly for the access to the cameras and the video feed. We also made assumptions based on what the competitors were doing as far as how many parents would actually sign up for school. We figured 40 percent of parents would sign up at about $20 to $25 a month to see their kids.
What we ended up finding out is that that was completely wrong. About 1 percent of parents wanted to sign up and they didn’t want to pay anywhere near $20 to $25 a month.
JT: I know my kids always had a free one.
DW: Yes, right now. Back then in ’99 internet video was so difficult and it wasn’t that easy to do. Now you could jump on your iPad and have internet video or go buy a camera out of the store and hook it up to your computer and you’re done.
JT: So it seems like a great idea. It did, right, because I wanted to see my kids and paying $20 now isn’t that necessarily that big of a deal but I might be that 1 percent that actually might of done it for you. So how did you know once you started, you quit your jobs, how many months before you realized oh no we’re not really doing as well as we hoped we would?
DW: We were working out of my kitchen actually. There was two of us. We had a desk that were facing the walls and we were getting lots of traction on sales meetings and on introductions with some of the largest childcare centers in Texas and that’s where we were based, in Austin. No one would pull the trigger though on actually coming on board. The systems were free to the centers so it shouldn’t have been that tough of a decision for these centers to want to come on board, if it was free to them, but they were really worried about security and liability from the video standpoint. The centers would have to get the parents to sign up.
JT: So how did that sort of fall apart? That didn’t actually ever work, right? You never got that specific thing to really be profitable.
DW: That’s exactly right. So we bootstrapped it and that’s a term that basically means we didn’t take any outside funding nor were we qualified to take outside funding at the time. I don’t think anyone would have given us funding. We bootstrapped it so I wouldn’t say we lost a ton of money but we never made any revenue either except for the one system that we ended up installing. They paid for the system outright and they offered it to their parents for free and that was how we ended that up. We decided that’s not really that scalable of a model anymore. It’s not very exciting. It’s not “internetty” or “dotcommy” so we decided to bail on that and shift to a B2B model where we could sell cameras to businesses.
JT: So using the same technology having to do with that and just sort of pivoting, like they say now. You know what I mean? Pivoting what you’re doing. Okay, that’s really interesting. How many months was it before starting to okay we really have to change and do something different.
DW: I don’t think it was long. So if it was November 1999 through April 2001, it took us about a year before we started making that shift and part of the reason we made that shift is in the contest that we won, we won $5,000 of free radio advertising and so we decided do we want to use our ad space on this market that we know isn’t successful or do we want to try to shift this. So whenever those ads were running was when we decided to shift. That was literally our new entrance into the new market, built a new website. It was called Spy Village.
DW: We actually did our first system to a business off of those ads.
JT: Good. So what did it take for you to go okay we were doing daycares now we’re completely changing our model from B to C to business to business? Did you know already about businesses at that point? Did you know that they wanted to buy this stuff?
DW: We didn’t know if they wanted to buy it but we figured we’d use the ads, the radio advertising, to go test that market. Since it was free, we had to use it, it expired after a certain amount of time and we found that businesses wanted to monitor security and secure their premises basically in off hours and employee theft was a problem in some areas and so they were interested in cameras for that.
So we did sell our first camera but when we sold it to this company in Austin, they also needed help with their network and with their website and other technology things. So realizing that we had only sold one camera after $5,000 of advertising, and that’s about a $200 or $300 sale, we figured that we should do some other services too.
JT: Well at least you had it for free. I mean that’s an awesome test because imagine what you would have had to go through if you didn’t.
DW: Yes, exactly. I mean that was a ton of radio back then. So $5,000 in free advertising was like a pot of gold for us.
JT: And it made you $200 or $300, awesome!
DW: Yes, gross revenue.
JT: That was gross. Oh man! So tell me where you went from there. So your first business idea didn’t go so well. You tried pivoting your second business idea, it didn’t go so well. Like how are you feeling at that point going we are entrepreneurs and we’re not making any money?
DW: I never called myself and entrepreneur back then. I was just trying to make it. I never went out to go be an entrepreneur or go start businesses. I just knew I didn’t want to have a job. So that’s a different mindset than saying, “I want to go be an entrepreneur. I want to go start something.” I didn’t want to work for someone else because I wanted to have the control, the freedom and the flexibility. So taking a lot of those lessons learned, April 2001, my partner decided to go a different direction. So I started a company called Austin Dataworks and that evolved into what we have today. We rebranded in 2005 as Headspring. The company started in 2001.
JT: So you went from business to business selling cameras and how do you make the decision to go into this? Just because people were asking you for that specifically?
DW: Yes, it sounds crazy but if the market is asking us for something that I could do, we felt like we should be able to serve that. I say we because the whole first two years it was just me but I always said we on the phones so we sounded bigger to the customers. So that’s still stuck in my head. So when I say we it’s just me in 2001 to 2003 or so.
JT: So you were sort of like your own consultant kind of person at that point?
DW: Exactly. The first year, in 2001, wasn’t great. We did $18,000 in gross revenue. We being me, of course.
JT: How do you live on that though? You didn’t have a job. It was 18 gross. Now most of it was probably service based so it was probably pretty big going into your pocket but $18,000 in your first year and you didn’t have a regular job?
DW: I did not have a job. So there were two really big advantages that we had. One is I bought a house in college and I was able to rent out some of those spaces in college but also after that my wife now, we were married at that point in 2001, and so we lived in that house together so our mortgage is extremely low because we bought it years before. And then luckily she had wild success at a job here in Austin in sales where she was making six figures a year. So she could support the family for the first two to three years while I was getting started.
JT: That’s awesome. That works out really, really well. Thanks goodness for her. I’m sure at that time you’re like thank you.
DW: It wasn’t a big risk for me. Like a lot of people have to take this big risk or save up two years of expenses and we never looked at it like that but we did sit down in April 2001 and had a conversation and decided let’s give this a year and then we’ll decide if I need to go find a job or if this is working out.
JT: What did you do? I was going to say what did you do beforehand? What was your job? I am assuming you were in technology, right?
DW: I actually wasn’t. I have a Fine Arts degree in music and I studied jazz and percussion at UT Austin.
JT: All right, so wait. Let’s stop on that for a second because how did you go from being a consultant in technology when you have a Fine Arts degree?
DW: So no one asks for your degree when you have your own business by the way.
JT: Thank goodness!
DW: So I had a Fine Arts degree. I did get a job a year and a half out of college at a wholesale lending company as a loan processer. A loan processer is pretty much the bottom of the totem pole as far as your career ladder. One thing I found there though and I found later that a lot of Fine Arts and music people are also into software because it’s a similar mindset. Music for me is not very creative, it’s very analytical and so is software and technology. Part of what I did at this first job is put in place a lot of different systems just to make my job easier because there was a lot of redundant tasks in loan processing.
So I created Excel spreadsheets and Access databases and just reading the Dummies books and ended up being able to double my output, by the time I left there, from where I started, just from all these systems. Actually everyone started using those as well. So that was my first take into software and automations.
JT: I was going to say that’s really funny. So you sort of already did that within a company that you were just an employee of.
DW: Yes, just really to make my job easier.
JT: Yes, which is smart, right? Everybody should be doing that. So what made you want to do that? Most people have the employee mindset where they’re like I’ll just go to work, I get paid, that’s it. Why were you trying to make it go better and faster just as the lowest person on the totem pole?
DW: I think that it was two-fold. One is I am driven just by continuous improvement and always trying to find a better way to do something. So that’s just inherent in who I am but also I was trying to start this first business, the camera business, at the same time I was at this job, and I was doing sales calls during lunch, in the morning and after work. So the faster I got done with my job, the more I could spend on my business.
JT: See, that’s awesome. You’re scratching your own itch going okay let me just make this one faster so I could do other stuff too and that’s what’s really cool. I’m sure it works out really well in your own business instead of for someone else’s business now considering that’s what you do for companies. So how did you end up going from, I think you said 2003 when it was just you, how did you go from that and starting to grow?
DW: So growing was very organic and it seems really slow during the process but we look back, we double almost every year and then it slowed down to 50 percent or so growth. But I started with mainly subcontractors that were offshore. So I had a guy I worked with in New Zealand for about two years and outsourced everything to him. I found out about two years into the relationship that he was 18. That means he was 16 when he started working for me.
JT: Well if he does do good work it doesn’t matter.
DW: Yes, he did great work and he was making great money for a high schooler in New Zealand. Then I started outsourcing to India and had a team of about five full-time people there at one point. This is before I had any full-time employees here in Austin.
JT: What year was that when you started to build up subcontractors?
DW: I want to say that was around 2003 with New Zealand and then before that was over with him I started the outsourcing to India as well. And 2005 would be when I hired my first employee.
JT: What were revenues like, if you don’t mind sharing some numbers, what revenues were like back then so that way we know like when you actually hired your first employee, what was gross?
DW: That’s tough. So if I started in 2001, we were $18,000. Then 2002 was about $45,000. 2003 was about $90,000. It was right under $100,000 because I remember I didn’t quite make the six figures that I was always hoping for. So what does that put me in 2004 was $180,000. So we were about $250,000 to $300,000 before our first employee.
JT: It’s really interesting to sort of hear the back story of how you grow. How did you even find so many clients? Especially, like you said, at the very beginning, you had people telling you that they wanted this but after the first one or two clients, how did you actually go out and find all those clients to go and double for years?
DW: I never really thought of it like that back then. It was really about making the clients I had really happy and then they would refer me to other people. So it’s really a snowball effect. So getting the first client was the hardest part and I see that a lot in other businesses but if we do everything we can to keep that client then they are going to send us to their friends and colleagues and it just started to snowball where I started to get recurring clients that wanted me to come out every week.
I did computer training on a weekly basis. I did network management on a weekly basis and then we started doing the websites and hosting as well.
JT: Nice. I love sort of hearing that story because I hear this a lot. I’ve interviewed 60 plus millionaires and one of the funny things that they say really often is making your customers happy and a lot of people have been growing by referrals. So why do you think that matters so much considering there’s probably other people that do similar things to you and didn’t have such amazing organic growth like that.
DW: I don’t know. I’ve always been really focused on making sure that I do a really good job and make sure people are happy. I definitely spent plenty of unbilled hours trying to make something right, if I screwed something up or if it was just harder than I thought it would be. I think people can see that there’s a certain level of integrity maybe. They recognize that and they want to refer you on at that point.
JT: So do you have any tips or advice, especially for someone maybe who was in your position before, they are at that point now, knowing that they don’t necessarily want a job or want to quit their job and trying to do, figuring out what the market wants. So what would you give them for advice?
DW: So if we had to do it all over again, I think going to the market as fast as possible, there’s a lot of posts about this. Software do not then lean startups, those kind of concepts but get to market as fast as possible because whatever you think the market wants, you’re going to be wrong. Just accept that, that’s part of the process and iterate through it. That’s what we do today with our clients too. We iterate through ideas and software that they want because they can’t think of everything they want right away. That’s a normal thing,
JT: So what do you have them do in that instance? So they just come up with whatever they can and you build that? What is your process now?
DW: Our process follows and iterative methodology and there’s a lot of different names for it but they come with a concept. We do a certain amount of planning and it’s not just on the software side but it could be in their business model as well. Then we’ll try to get something into production with what we call it as fast as possible so they could start using it. Once you start using the system, you’re going to learn things that you didn’t know before and the longer we work with you, the more we’re going to learn more about your business and the areas to add value that we didn’t know before. So spending both your money in the first month or two, just because we can, doesn’t get you the right value.
JT: So how do you deal with people, especially employees of that company, being frustrated that it doesn’t do what they want it to do. It’s the same thing in business. If you start up and you ask them what they want and you don’t really know, you’ve been reading Dummies books in order to know what you’re doing, how can you deal with that part of it?
DW: I think it’s about setting expectations and making sure and it’s really difficult. Some people aren’t a good fit for that and they want to, they think they’ve got it all figured out and they want this thing built and they have it all documented and it’s very well sketched out but a lot of our clients tell us similar things and roughly paraphrased, it’s Headspring gave us what we needed, not what we asked for.
In business, it’s the same way, right? You can do what you want to do but it’s not necessarily what you need to do to be successful. So how do you get through that and apply lessons learned as quickly as possible and close the lid?
JT: So you guys have gotten good at that. So what do you have for us? How can we do that and know that it’s the right way to turn? As far as getting customer feedback, how do you do that?
DW: So let’s take the first business that failed, the internet camera one. We spent weeks and weeks coming up with this award winning business plan just to find out it was wrong after we went to market. We never talked to a parent to get their feedback because I was a parent and I just thought everyone thought like I did. We never talked to childcare centers to get their feedback. So it’s just a matter of getting out there and telling them here is what we are going to do, what do you think? What did you pay for this? How much would you pay for it? Then taking it a step further and actually asking them to pay for it is a different step.
JT: Yes it is.
DW: We never did that. We never went out and talked to the market and that would have been huge. Instead we came up with this great financial model that had a hockey stick of growth and it won awards but it wasn’t the right plan.
JT: That really makes you think, the fact that it won awards and yet it wasn’t anything. You could pretty much write anything on paper and people might go that sounds great until you actually start doing it. So that’s a great piece of advice, definitely. So then in2005, what made you decide to change the name and sort of rebrand?
DW: Austin Dataworks was the name before and the effort in renaming and rebranding was to narrow our focus strictly on software at that point versus all the network management and hosting and everything else. Then we wanted to drop the geographic branding in Austin Dataworks because it made us look smaller and we wanted to look bigger for some of these big companies.
JT: Just like you did before, it’s we. Now we’re everywhere. That’s awesome.
DW: Exactly. That took a two-year process of meeting with our design team and having coffee and throwing names around and the two names ended up being Wellspring and Headspring. But I did drop the last name of the company name because I thought that would be corny so we went with Headspring.
JT: I thought that’d be corny, that’s great. Okay, so going 2005, what did you learn? I know it’s funny too because I always ask, this was years ago, it’s 2012 now, so this is years, you have to think way back. But what are some of the things that you had to deal with like personally trying to grow this business from nothing to $300,000 in revenue at the time when you started adding new people, how did you deal with that personally? Was there anything that you had to get over? Fear? Failure? Any of that stuff?
DW: Yeah, I mean there’s a ton. There were a lot of things, in my head, I call it head trash, that keeps people from doing what they need to do to be successful and it comes from a very young age where maybe your mom told you its rude to talk about money. So then I spend hours doing a proposal for a client and I never ask them their budget and then I give them the number and it’s way outside of the range.
DW: That happened all the time, but getting from 300 up it’s a matter of starting to try to separate what you can do on your own and how do you get more done through others. That’s really hard to separate from, especially as someone that didn’t really have a job, never really managed people before. How do I start getting more back through others because it’s hard to scale past that in the services business?
JT: So tell us more about that? How did you do that? What were some of the skills that you learned to do?
DW: I think, so it’s always a journey, right? There’s not one thing but understanding that you are the leader of the organization, people are looking to you for that, that’s a big step. Then trusting, you’re figuring out what’s good enough. Just because I think I can do it better, which may or may not be true, if I can do X better than you, what’s good enough so I can hand that off and go focus on something else. At the point now, I just hire people that are much smarter than me and I cannot do what they do and so that makes it even easier to hand things off because I don’t know how to do it anyway.
JT: So tell me more about this because this is huge. I talk to entrepreneurs all the time and it’s this well I can do it better. I’m awesome, right. We all think we’re great and we can do it better. So how do we deal with giving it to someone else who might not do it like us or as good as us?
DW: It’s really tough. There’s a lot of us that’s learned school of hard knocks, things will drop and clients will be upset. This is all personal experience. So it’s a matter of trying to get enough process in place to help manage the quality level but also add some scale. Again, it’s an iterative process. So how do I slowly start handing things off? There’s a big difference between abdication and delegation. I used to abdicate responsibility for things and assume that they would get it done and then they wouldn’t and I would be upset about it but it was really my fault.
JT: I know! I talk to my clients about that all time. I mean and abdication, in case anyone doesn’t know anything, I’m sure they can Google it, but it’s just sort of giving it to them and then not doing your checks. It’s not going and making sure that it’s actually going until the end. So delegation is very different and we assume that delegation is oh we just give it to them and they’ll do it. No, that’s not delegation.
DW: Yeah, there’s a huge difference. Not having the checks in place, I’m not enabling, I’m not putting that person in a situation where they can be successful. So that’s my fault, right?
JT: So you learned that the hard way, right? What did you end up doing? What did you change so that way it made it better next time?
DW: It was a lot of firefighting, lots of customer mitigation meetings when the mistakes were made. So I got really good at having tough conversations for awhile and a lot of this was related to offshoring in India because the quality wasn’t great there. That was just my experience. I know other people have had positive ones outsourcing. So I finally decided to bring it back home in 2005 and start hiring local developers here. We hired kind of mid range engineers and we had some quality issues but it was just right in front of me know.
But until I was able to start hiring people much smarter than me and I remember it was close to our first six-figure hire, it was in the 90’s, and this was our first architect and that was a huge, huge step for us because I never paid anyone that much to work. I was used to paying $40,000 to $50,000. So that was a huge step to pay someone double but that was a really big step into the direction that we’re at now.
JT: Okay, so there was a really big difference between a $40,000/$50,000 developer and a $100,000 developer.
DW: Absolutely. What’s funny is, if you do it right, you can definitely hire a $100,000 developer and not get anything so it’s important to be careful, but a $50,000 software engineer versus $100,000 the $100,000 person is not just twice as good, they’re four times better. So I am not getting double my value, I’m getting four times the value. But it took me going out on a limb and throwing some money out there to figure that out. We’re lucky we made the right hire too.
JT: So tell me some hiring tips, especially for software people because I know there’s a lot of people listening to this who are sort of into technology and that sort of thing. What’s the best way to find a good hire?
DW: So the best way to find a good hire, this is tough because software engineers versus sales people are completely different types of people to hire.
JT: Yeah, go into both. Give us tips on both.
DW: I’m not great at the engineer side because I have really smart people that can do that but part of what we do, we actually just had a white paper published about how to hire software developers, so that will probably do a better job at explaining it than I will but we have a seven step process where we interview, we do coding test, we do written test, we do an LSAT version of an LSAT test for general logical reasoning and this is all before they even get in the office for the interview.
On the sales side we use assessments and then the interview, without giving too much away for anyone that might interview in sales for us one day, we try to simulate a sales situation, a really uncomfortable one and that’s part of the interview.
JT: And see how they do under pressure.
DW: Yes, exactly. It’s a completely different art, it’s a totally different interview, but those are completely different breeds that you have to hire for. The one common thing that we do look for in all of these is a mind with core values and who we are as a company. If we have that, then we believe that we can help someone that might not be the perfect fit, if there is a lot on the core values side, to get there.
JT: Do you ever feel like there’s a perfect employee? I talk to people and they are like I just need to find that perfect person. Is there a perfect employee?
DW: I think there is. I think there’s a lot but it’s hard to screen for it. That hire we made in 2005, in the 90’s, he’s still with us today. He just had his five-year anniversary, I guess that was in 2006 when he got hired, 2007 possibly, but he just had his five-year anniversary and he’s great. He’s the perfect employee.
JT: He’ll love to hear this. Make sure he listens to this!
DW: He knows that. I got him through networking. I actually knew his grandfather and his grandfather was my mentor for several years before he and I even met. And then his grandfather forced us to meet and go to lunch together and it turns out he was looking for a .NET architect engagement and I happened to be hiring for that so it worked out.
JT: That sounds amazingly perfect, a little too perfect actually. That’s kind of crazy how that really works out. I was reading on your blog too, I was really impressed with this because first I loved how you wrote this on your blog which was one of your employees actually wrote a blog post about what their first week was at your company. I thought that was really cool. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about what it says? I read it but for everybody else listening and then how you sort of got to that priceless.
DW: I was really impressed to see that post go up. I didn’t even realize that was going to go up either so that was really exciting because I read through all of our social media and blogs over the weekend typically. So I saw that and I was really impressed that someone was moved to write that without being asked to. It was on their personal blog too I believe.
JT: Oh really?
DW: If we’re thinking of the right one. Anyway, I what he had talked about was, if we’re talking about the same one.
JT: I think so, right?
DW: But the one I am talking about said, “I came into Headspring and I had heard all these great things but I didn’t really believe it because a lot of companies talk the talk but it doesn’t end up being that way once someone gets there” and that we actually did all these things that we said. We live by our core values and we stand by those. There’s a lot of transparency. We represent financial numbers and profit and cash in our monthly meetings and he was really impressed by the transparency in that everything that was advertised was the same when he got there.
JT: It sounded like the perfect, if you’re an employee, it sounds like sort of the perfect place. In reading it, it helped me sort of get a really good idea of your company which is really cool and really cool for your potential clients and customers too because you could see how well you’re treating, I mean he’s like I got there, my desk was already all set up, I had a shirt, I had everything all laid out perfectly for me. All my software was on it and I know because I’ve been an employee in technology stuff and oh my gosh the first week is crazy. So being able to see how much systems and how you were able to do that so well is really impressive. So do you just have great people that set that system up or were you a part of that?
DW: I was about to say I had nothing to do with that. We have really smart people that took care of all of that.
JT: So you’re one main thing – just hire really smart people and you’ll be fine.
DW: Yes. I used to want to grow for growth sake and we were Inc 500 one year and that’s the 500 fastest growing companies in the country and we were 127 one year and that was a couple years ago.
DW: So I used to want to grow for growth sake and wanted to hire smart people so we could make more money. That’s what I wanted to do and I found personally, as I started hitting financial goals that I had, and paid off debt and all of those things that my shift, I had a shift in what was important. So my job now is really just to create an environment where people have opportunities to learn and grow and I really mean that here at Headspring so that’s what we do. So everyone is here and I’m watching out for them and I am trying to create an environment where they can be successful.
JT: So what do you do? What’s a daily day in the life of Dustin now?
DW: So I work about 20 to 30 hours a week.
JT: That’s what we want to hear! Awesome!
DW: We’re going to grow 100 percent this year. So we’ll go from about 4.2 to 8.4 this year in revenue and how we do that part time is crazy, but again, I have a lot of smart people. So my day is, I feel like I don’t do much because I don’t have a lot of things I can check off on my list. So I show up and I have meetings and I talk to people and I try to make this place better and I try to respond to feedback where there’s areas for important and how do we continue to make this a place where people can learn and grow.
What’s funny about that is one year we had a dip in revenue where we actually went down, this was two years ago I believe. It was our first time ever to actually take a dip and when our trajectory is like this going at a 45 degree angle and that trajectory goes lower and employees are still at that angle, then they are going to leave. They’re going to go find new opportunities. So now we’re growing to keep up with the trajectory of our employees.
JT: That’s really interesting. So number one, you are where a lot of people that are listening to this want to me. We want to become entrepreneurs so we can live the lifestyle pretty that you’re living right now, working 20-30 hours a week, having sort of the fun stuff. Usually at the very beginning you’re chugging along. Like how many hours did you work at the beginning of this comparatively? I mean you’re working 20 or 30 now.
DW: Yes. It was the 80 to 90-hour work weeks. I had a team in India, during this really difficult time and so I was waking up at 4 in the morning to check their work before the client meeting at 830 and it would always be wrong so I was fixing things. I’d be up to midnight. I’d take a break for dinner with the kids when they got home from school and it was tough. I don’t know if I could do it again.
JT: Then tell us how great it is on the other side because that’s what we’re shooting for, right, the big goals and everything like that. So what is it like now? Is it everything you thought it was? Is it really cool doing what you want to do?
DW: Yes. I mentioned my perspectives changed as far as my goals. Before it was growing for growth sake and to make a lot money and now it’s different. I mean it’s wonderful. I got into this to have the freedom and flexibility to do what I wanted. Family is really important to me, the kids are off today, for example, so after this interview I will be going home and hanging out with them. That’s what this is all about, right. All we have is time and once we submit it, it’s gone. So what can we do to get the most out of it right now versus working 80 hours a week for our whole life and by the time we actually get to enjoy our time and money, the kids are gone and we don’t have our health to travel. It seems backwards.
JT: That’s a really good question because you did it. You worked the 80/90 hours a week before. Knowing that now that that’s what it took, would you do that or would you stay a one-man show and only work 30 hours a week and just make the processes better?
DW: I think I’d do it again. The only advantage I had back then that I don’t have now is I know how hard it is. One of my favorite quotes has been Mark Twain, “All you need is ignorance and confidence and success is short.” That described me to a tee in my 20s when I was starting. I didn’t realize it was supposed to be hard. I didn’t realize that most businesses fail. Only 4 percent of businesses get over a million dollars. I didn’t know any of that. I just thought it was supposed to be easy so I went out and did it. So that says a lot.
JT: Well that’s really cool, especially since you did have failures or what people would call failures. I think you wouldn’t have gotten to where you are without them but it’s kind of crazy that you kept pushing forward no matter what and didn’t just sort of go in a hole and go well the daycare thing didn’t work, I can’t do it now.
DW: I think it’s important to have goals and to talk about them and I always did that. I wanted to be a millionaire by the time I was 30. I’m 36 now so I missed it by a year actually.
JT: That’s my goal too by the way! I just turned 30. I’m not there yet so maybe I’ll be close to you. That’s really cool. So you did always want to be a millionaire. That’s really huge. We talk about this sometimes because since I was like 8 I wanted to be a millionaire. I don’t know why, I always did. So it’s really interesting to see what people do and what people don’t because some are like I didn’t really care that much about the money but you always did. Is that what drove you to get the company that you have today?
DW: What drove me is growing up, we were probably middle class. My mom was a teacher but she also worked a job at night as a waitress. I watched my dad get laid off from a company after he worked there for 20 years. Watching that and growing up there, I just knew I didn’t want to work for someone else. So I didn’t go out to start a company. I just didn’t want to work for someone else.
JT: Sounds just like my stuff. My mom got laid off after 20 something years working for her company and my dad was like just don’t work for someone else, work for yourself. It’s crazy. It’s really neat to know though that what they instilled in you is where you are now. It really took a toll. Awesome. Well I know your time is short too so I really want to make sure we end up wrapping up. So the last question that I always ask everybody is what’s one action that listeners can take this week to move them forward towards their goal of a million?
DW: I’ve gotten a ton of value from peer groups and from being around people that are taking the same journey I am taking. So go get involved in local groups, entrepreneur groups, just local communities. There’s a lot of different ways to get connected and how do you get around a peer group that are having the same challenges that you’re having and share your experiences in order to learn from each other.
JT: It’s one thing to hear a wonderful success story like yours to sort of see the end result but it’s another thing to really talk to people who are going through the emotions that happens while you’re going through it. That’s a great, great point of advice. So tell us where we can find more about you online and if you’re on any social media or anything like that.
DW: So I think the Headspring.com blog you can find some information about me and some things that I write about but I don’t have a huge social media presence. I don’t tweet. I don’t blog at 10.
JT: You’re only working 20/30 hours a week, you don’t have enough time for Twitter.
DW: Yeah, I don’t have time to do that.
JT: That’s awesome. I’ll make sure we definitely link everything up. You have got tons of information on your website though so I’ll make sure to link everything up. I really appreciate you coming on the show today, Dustin. I hope you have a wonderful day with your kids.
DW: It was great. Thanks for having me.
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