Mark Daoust – Founder of Quiet Light Brokerage

By hiring highly skilled entrepreneurs, I became surrounded by like-minded people. They understand the idea of being results-driven and the consequences and rewards of their actions.

Mark Daoust is the founder of Quiet Light Brokerage Inc., an advisory firm that helps entrepreneurs buy and sell websites and online businesses. Quiet Light Brokerage was recently named the No. 1 brokerage for buying and selling websites valued at over $1 million and is headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Where did the idea for Quiet Light Brokerage come from?

I first thought about starting Quiet Light Brokerage after I went through the experience of selling my previous online business through an Internet-only broker. While this broker was helpful, it quickly became clear that I needed a brokerage with practical, real-world experience in building online businesses. With actual experience in building and developing online businesses, a broker could speak more precisely to the opportunities and threats of each business for sale.

After I sold my first business, I took about a year off from all business before a close friend asked if I would help him sell his web-hosting business. After two months, I was able to find a buyer for his business significantly above market expectations. From there, Quiet Light Brokerage was formed.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

My roles have changed quite a bit over the years. I used to do a lot of client work, but I’ve recently shifted to doing more of the content creation for my company. Frankly, I’m still learning how to be a productive content creator, but it helps that I’m immensely enjoying this new role.

Keeping work fun and challenging is absolutely essential for me to remain productive. I intentionally run my business in a way that allows me to float between roles to keep things fresh.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I test every idea as it goes through the process from idea to project. Quiet Light Brokerage keeps me busy enough that I have to be choosy when I work on a new project. Because of this, new projects usually go through several small iterations so I can abandon them if it’s obvious they won’t lead to anything worthwhile.

If I weren’t running the day-to-day operations of Quiet Light Brokerage, I’d probably be willing to invest more in individual projects, but I’m quite happy where I am.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

I’m excited about the increased personalization of offers and information. While I recognize that there are some significant privacy concerns surrounding personal information and how it’s used, I generally find that the personalization of information is more efficient.

Business development fascinates me, especially as we learn how people make decisions and how we can tailor offers, services, and information to people in a way that fits comfortably within their natural decision-making process. The risks are real, and we’ll need to be careful as a society about how information is used, but the potential for increased efficiency is enormous.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Taking time every day to look beyond myself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of business that I sometimes forget the bigger picture of life. I try to take at least 30 minutes every day to pray and think about overarching questions: What is truly important? What do I want to reflect on at the end of my life? Who is important to me? How will my kids remember their childhood? How will my friends remember me?

This practice has helped me maintain perspective in both the great times and the really difficult ones. When we think about the bigger picture, our daily adventures become sufficiently small.

What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?

The worst job I ever had was a door-to-door sales job selling long-distance telephone services. I lasted three whole days at this job before I realized I had no desire to continue.

I hated the fact that we got our foot in the door on questionable pretenses: “We’re here on behalf of (insert major company) to make sure you weren’t signed up by a long-distance service scam.”

Frankly, I was burnt out on short-term sales at the time. I learned later in life that my passion is closer to relationship-based sales, not the rapid type of sales that telemarketing or door-to-door sales requires.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

If I were to start my business again, I would commit to it more fully than I did in the beginning. I spent several years questioning which direction I would take: larger firm vs. boutique specialty. Hindsight is 20/20, and I see now that there was a great opportunity to expand in a significant way if I would’ve focused more on building the business.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I stop before I react and think about my bigger objectives. I remember speaking with one business owner who found himself in a major dispute with a large vendor. Rather than focusing on repairing the damage this vendor did to his business, he was intent on winning the dispute in court. He’s no longer in business.

Keeping your larger objectives in mind at all times is a crucial practice in decision-making — whether you’re asking, “Should I send an angry response email?” or “Should I file a lawsuit?”

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Hiring highly skilled entrepreneurs. I tend to be a results-oriented person and hate the office politics of the “regular” work world. I’ve never understood why employees need to be at their desks from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. if no real work is being done during that time.

By hiring highly skilled entrepreneurs, I became surrounded by like-minded people. They understand the idea of being results-driven and the consequences and rewards of their actions.

It also helps that they bring a natural advantage to the sales process because we work primarily with entrepreneurs. Our clients know we’ve been in their shoes and can help them from our firsthand experience of selling our own online businesses.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I’ve failed a lot, but I don’t feel like I’ve ever had to “overcome it.” I intentionally bring projects along slowly. This allows me to abandon a project before it becomes too painful. While I’m sure I’ve probably missed out on a few salvageable ideas, my primary work is Quiet Light Brokerage, so I’m fortunate to have the luxury of missing out on something that I’m not 100 percent sure of.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’d love to have a social service that makes book recommendations based on what people you respect are reading. For example, you could follow your favorite Internet marketing personalities, and the algorithm would spit out a curated list of books. There’s no shortage of recommendations for business books, but I’d bet that some of the greatest minds read books far outside their realm of expertise.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The best $100 I recently spent was on dinner with my wife. I hope the “why” is obvious!

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

Where would the Internet be without WordPress? It may not be the perfect solution for every project, but it can do just about anything you need. And because I’ve become a WordPress fan, I’m also a huge fan of WP Engine. I love when a company specializes in something and shows incredible attention to detail.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

If I were to recommend one book, it probably wouldn’t be a business-related book. I’m a fan of books that tell the personal stories of soldiers from World War II – “Citizen Soldiers” by Stephen E. Ambrose comes to mind, but there are many more). I think the loyal response these soldiers showed in the face of some daunting circumstances is pretty inspirational. While I would shy away from the glorification of any war (and I think many of the soldiers would, too), the characteristics many of these soldiers demonstrated deserve our attention.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Neil Patel: He may be the only “expert” I read regularly anymore.
Larry Kim


Mark Daoust on LinkedIn:
Mark Daoust on Twitter: @markdaoust