Marc Sparks is the entrepreneurs’ entrepreneur! If you look in the dictionary under “serial entrepreneur” you will see Marc’s picture. Since graduating high school in Austin, Texas, in 1975, Marc has been a principal in dozens of startups…some outrageously successful and some downright disasters; however, Marc says that he learned volumes from the disastrous ventures. After 34 years of entrepreneurialism, Marc finally put his journey and kernels of wisdom on paper for others to learn from his experiences.
Marc’s book ~ They Can’t Eat You, was painful for him to write as he shares everything…warts and all! Sparks says, “I feel like anyone reading my book will learn much more from my unsuccessful ventures than they will learn from my successful ones. It’s easy for me to say…look at me, I started a software company and sold $200 million dollars a year worth of our product; but it’s much more educational for me to say…look at me, I started an insurance holding company out of my back bedroom and built it to nearly a billion dollar market cap and then lost it all in a ninety-day period of time. My colleagues convinced me to write the book and I figured if I am going to do it, I want my experience to be a blessing for someone. My book is for those hopeless entrepreneurs that are losing “hope” and just can’t seem to get across the goal line with their dreams.”
Sparks’ business passion is clearly to build companies—often from ideas that others think cannot be done. Sparks maintains a handful of portfolio companies in his “private” private equity firm….Timber Creek Capital, LP (www.timbercreekcapital.com . Taking that initial idea, he proceeds to establish not only the business model but the company culture and to develop both the short-term goals and the long-range growth plans. Sparks manages by example, setting the patterns for his entire team to follow. “My door is always open, we meet in real time…right NOW! Everyone calls it ‘Sparks Speed’’; I figure by the time you set up a meeting and reserve conference rooms, you could just resolve the challenge instead.”
Marc is often asked two questions: “Aren’t you afraid of losing?” and “How do you do it?”
“To sum it up, call it ignorance or a gift…I have no fear of losing it all. It sounds a little weird; however, as long as I can pay my bills, have a roof over my head and my family …I’m happy. Don’t get me wrong, I love to win but you just can’t win them all! Its life! I have never said I want to be a millionaire. Being rich to me is having great health, a healthy family, good friends, building a successful business from scratch and having hundreds of happy staff members and thousands of happy customers…that’s a great day! I believe that GOD gave me a special “shut off” valve that somehow eliminates the fear factor. I have so little fear that sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me. My lack of fear of losing is probably due to my upbringing, and that the poorest I can remember being is when I had to buy groceries at a Texaco convenience store/gas station with my Texaco credit card. I remember to this day that while I was poor…I was still excited about life and passionate about my journey to come.”
How he does it: “Faith, Passion, Tenacity, Focus, Savvy of Monetization, and—most importantly—an Outrageous Sense of Urgency… aka “Sparks Speed.’ As an entrepreneur, you will rely on all these qualities often. Mix these honed-in qualities with treating people the way you want to be treated—fairly, with respect and honesty—you will succeed!”