We’ve all come up against failure in our lives. How can you turn that failure into success? Dustin Overbeck’s story of diligence and creating a valuable service is a great example of what to do when faced with a challenge.
Web technology was just getting off the ground in the late 90s and Dustin Overbeck liked to tinker with tech.
In his small town in Wisconsin, he got started designing and hosting websites for local businesses and nonprofit organizations. With the income he was generating, he was able to buy more gadgets and even more new tech, riding the dotcom wave of the time.
He had a full-time job at an engineering company and a hobby he loved that made him some supplemental income. Life was good!
What started out as an enjoyable hobby, quickly and unsuspectingly turned into something significant – a municipal web design business that would eventually serve 450 municipal customers in 25 states!
Dustin had stumbled across a gap in the market – creating websites for municipal councils. A new brand of customer that no one else was serving.
Fast-forward to the early 2000s and Dustin got his next big break. A family member referred him to a municipality that was looking to getting a website, and they wanted to hire somebody local. This turned into an opportunity that was the inception of his new future business.
A couple of years later, another similar project presented itself when Dustin received an opportunity to build a similar platform for a neighbouring municipality.
Despite already being in this industry for quite some time, Dustin would later realize that these two municipal projects would be the foundation for what he would later build.
This may seem like a slow start—two years apart between big projects—but Dustin wasn’t pursuing municipal clientele at the time. Sales weren’t on his priority list.
But it worked well for him and he continued his hobby while finishing his MBA. After graduation, he spent a year in China then moved back to the States – this time venturing out to L.A.Want to know how Dustin Overbeck turned a major setback into a 6-figure business? Keep reading! #DustinOverbeck #BeanNinjas Click To Tweet
This, however, turned out to be one of the most devastating moves of Dustin’s career.
“Unfortunately, my dreams of being a small-town kid who moved to LA for either fame or riches by working for a startup were short-lived.”
Within 30 days of being hired at a startup in early 2007, Dustin was told he wasn’t cut out for the job after all and was asked to hand in his resignation.
What made this situation even more bitter to swallow, were the changes in the lifestyle he had made as well as the family and friends he had rooting for him back home.
“I had just signed a 1-year lease on an expensive apartment in a high-rise building that had a view of the Hollywood sign, plus had just bought a bunch of furniture from IKEA. I felt like a failure, at the time, because all my friends and family knew I had moved to LA for a really cool job at a startup, and it came crashing down unexpectedly.”
While most people would’ve resigned themselves to getting a job as quickly as possible to pay the bills or to moving back home altogether, Dustin made a bold decision and got to dreaming again.
“I then sat down with a notebook and wrote a list of things in two columns. Column 1: What I wanted to have in my life. Column 2: What I wanted to do with my life.”
Dustin focused on listing things that had to do with his lifestyle, like a healthy work-life balance and travelling the world. He started focusing on what he liked doing and what he was good at.
Dustin went back to his roots and decided to pursue municipal site design full-time.
Building the Business and Tackling Challenges Head-On
The principle behind Dustin Overbeck’s business success is the real foundation of all successful businesses and services: Fulfill an unmet need.
“I felt like the municipal industry needed a solution that could empower a clerk to post his or her meeting minutes and agenda in a very simple way without any technical hassle.”
Dustin’s business takes care of the technical details a municipal clerk would otherwise have to go through by themselves. Everything including hosting, web design, email address, and domain names, Dustin’s company would provide for. And, the technical support also provided was free.
In Dustin’s first couple of years in business, Dustin recognized that he had a serious competitor in a neighboring state that ran a significant business and could easily outweigh his marketing efforts.
Dustin knew that to tackle a competitive landscape like this, he needed to stay under the radar while he developed a strong working relationship with his clients and earned their trust.
This strategy meant that his business did not attract the attention of a fierce competitor. He was able to offer a relationship-based service – not competing on price alone – and this allowed the business to become profitable.
Another major challenge that Dustin had less control over, came in the form of the Global Financial Crisis. Like many businesses across the US and the world, Dustin’s company and his clients were hit hard.
Many of Dustin’s prospective customers could no longer afford the initial fee of setting up a new website. Thinking on his feet, Dustin met this problem head-on with major discounts for those wanting to set 3-year contracts.
The result: Dustin had a couple of dozen new clients sign on during this time!
“Granted, it was for low margin in the beginning, but this gave us the cash flow to stay afloat and most of them are still paying customers nine years later!”
Dustin had recognized that the game had changed in ways that it had not before and to survive he had to innovate. Many businesses were not so lucky. Many business owners were not as savvy or as adaptable as Dustin.
Not only did he survive the GFC, he went on to flourish; his expert services and strategy paid off.
In the past 12 months, 75-80% of the company income comes from recurring fees charged to customers, mostly for hosting. And, the rest comes from any design fees from new customers.The foundation of every successful business? Simply put: fulfil an unmet need. #BeanNinjas #DustinOverbeck Click To Tweet
Knowing Your Numbers: The Key to Growing the Business to New Heights
Understanding his own strengths and joys in business, as well as how his business model functions at its best, were both crucial to gaining profitability. Developing an understanding of key financial numbers in his business was the final clincher toward success.
After his precarious financial situation in LA, Dustin developed an appreciation for the numbers early on.
To start his business initially, he had borrowed $25,000 from friends and family. Dustin was determined to never again feel like he had failed, so he created great discipline around understanding his business numbers.
“I was very calculated and precise in making sure that the business would work out.”
Knowing your numbers isn’t just a nice aside or an added bonus to procuring a healthy business. Dustin proved that he could formulate his own future success by reading his financial reports and predicting his future success on past results.
Taking his business to the next level also included some tough decisions and necessary (but not necessarily easy) changes.
“For many years, I resisted hiring outside people to handle customer support.”
As the face of the business for so long, Dustin was hesitant to delegate customer service to people outside of the company. He felt that it could appear inauthentic, given he had represented the company for so long.
Dustin was familiar with hiring people externally and had already successfully hired team members from the Philippines. Dustin and his wife (who is Filipino) had lived there in the early stages of the business. He had a love and understanding of the country and the culture.
Nevertheless, it was a big leap of faith to let someone else work on the essential customer-facing part of the business, especially the support.
“It was a huge help because it meant I was able to spend more time on value-added activities for the business and wasn’t getting bogged down with the small support things that would take away my focus.”
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With what turned out to be great business savvy and a great team, Dustin now has a full-fledged business where he can focus on continued growth, servicing his clients, and providing a warm and fun environment for his team all while remaining profitable.
“We blasted through the $250,000 in total sales for the year , which was really nice since 2016 we narrowly crossed the $200k mark, which at the time was also a nice milestone for us.”
The Resources that Help Create Personal and Business Growth
If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that nowadays you can’t get by successfully without personal growth and mentorship as well as the right tools.
“Different books helped me at different stages of my business growth.”
Dustin Overbeck knows the value of a good corporate culture and environment, and books like Good to Great and Delivering Happiness helped to set the tone for a desirable business to work for from the get-go.You can direct your business's future success by knowing and understanding your numbers. #BeanNinjas #XeroBookkeeping Click To Tweet
He also recommends getting business coaching if you can afford to invest in it. It was one of the biggest resources that helped him.
He also read Simple Numbers: “It helped me understand better how to look at the numbers for my business in a way that is more academic, more precise, and calculated.”
This is what eventually led him to us at Bean Ninjas—and, we’re proud to be a valuable resource!
“The biggest benefit [to working with Bean Ninjas] is the personal service we get. I have been working with Michele for over a year and couldn’t be happier. She really cares about our business and is intimately involved in the weekly numbers.”
And, Dustin still remains diligent around understanding the business’s numbers.
Another big benefit for their team in joining us at Bean Ninjas was to switch from monthly to weekly reconciliations.
The consistent and systematic study of how his business remains balanced keeps Dustin aware of what’s going on at all times. A weekly report gives Dustin and his team a better view of the overall finances.
Dustin Overbeck’s desire to live a life he loves while doing what he’s passionate about and good at is a principle that we share here at Bean Ninjas. And, this is something he strives toward for each of his team members, not just himself.
His diligence toward not only his work ethic but to also maintaining his values is something we greatly admire. This more than anything else definitely makes Dustin a success!
If you’re looking for help with online bookkeeping, take a look at what we offer and get in touch! We’d love to help you secure the financial growth of your business.
She has travelled to 31 countries and regularly visits her Tasmanian homeland. She is an avid surfer and yogi and spends her time between the Gold Coast, Australia and Argentina.