Bill Schley wrote “The Unstoppables: Tapping Your Entrepreneurial Power” with a foreword by Rackspace Chairman Graham Weston. In the book, they dispel myths and share the keys to entrepreneurship with the goal of doubling the number of people who found companies during the next 10 years. Schley recently spent some time with Silicon Hills News and answered a few questions about startups. The interview has been edited for space.
Q. Why has there been an explosion in the interest of entrepreneurship locally, nationally and globally?
A. I think people recognize that entrepreneurs are going to make the jobs, the companies and the markets. They are going to make the innovations. They are going to make the changes that matter. Change is only accelerating. The whole world is going faster and it takes an entrepreneurial mindset and approach to function and succeed in such a dynamic new market. You need people who think like entrepreneurs who can adapt and change on the fly. You can sit on your laurels less and less and less. Entrepreneurial thinking is designed for this new world. People recognize that the old fashion jobs are going away and something has to replace them. The entrepreneurs make the new jobs with 80 percent of the new jobs created by companies that are less than five years old.
Q. What are the traits of successful entrepreneurs?
A. There’s a lot of myths about that. It’s more about what they are not, than what they are. They are not necessarily geniuses or visionaries or people who like risk, or people who are highly educated and specialized, or rich. They are entirely unremarkable people from the outside. Everybody has a dream but for most people they just remain dreams. The entrepreneur wants to turn that dream into a reality. He takes steps to do that. He gets in motion and once he gets in motion he just keeps swinging. The successful ones realize it’s an obstacle course. They keep persisting. A high number of them get to succeed. But first, they must overcome that emotional ability to get started. It’s an emotional ability to stand up to risk. They are risk mitigators more than they are risk takers. They want to get someplace so they are trying to remove as many obstacles as they can.
Q. What is the best way for an entrepreneur to get started?
A. One of the most important ways you can get started is to not be doing it alone but to have a founding team–whether it’s one, two or three more people. Find other people and share your passion and your mission. We found that the quality of the team is such a huge success multiplier. It’s the whole approach and philosophy behind the Navy Seals who only do things in three or four man teams. One thing is to see if you can find those teammates. Another thing is to find an idea that inspires you. Find an idea that inspires you to get started and find other people to go on that mission with you.
Q. Where do entrepreneurs go for help once they’ve decided to start?
A. Collaborative workspaces like Geekdom can help provide resources. There has to be some capital to start most businesses. Friends and family financing is often the first infusion of capital. Most of the companies on the Inc. 500 list started with under $10,000 of FFF–friends and family financing. And you create a very simple business plan.
Q. Why did you write The Unstoppables?
A. We wrote The Unstoppables to encourage more entrepreneurs. When people decide they want to do something badly enough they figure it out. They’ve been doing that for centuries. There weren’t books, business schools, incubators and collaborative workspaces. We think we can tap another whole tranche of entrepreneurs if we can take away the mythology people have and help them with their emotional ability to deal with fear. The book is also about what we call accelerated proficiency. It’s a process of learning a very small number of principles that help align the whole process called The Unstoppable Six. We developed the whole doctrine because we believed that the real essence of entrepreneurship isn’t being taught in business schools. But entrepreneurship can be tapped in people if you show them that essence. It’s a little bit of a manifesto of what you can do.
Q. What are some of the myths of entrepreneurship?
A. That an entrepreneur has to be this unique special person with all of these advantages. The idea is to get more people in motion.
Q. Most startups fail, so what is the biggest indicator that a company will succeed?
A. 1) If customers like your product enough to pay you more for the product than it cost you to make, and– 2) If your team has tried and failed a few times but kept at it– that proves your people have the resilience you need to keep swinging–that they are UnStoppable.
Q. Is there enough money to fuel the startups? There’s been talk about a Series A funding crunch and that companies can’t find money to take their venture to the next level.
A. There’s an awful lot of money sitting out there. If you really have a good idea you can find some resources.
Q. Are the startup ideas big enough to be transformative?
A. A lot of times I look at them and I say no. I look at what’s going on in Web development and mobile apps space and they aren’t necessarily business ideas. They are product apps. Many are what we call solutions looking for a problem. But the more ideas you have, the more chances you create. Sure, some of the ideas are silly and frivolous but out of all that comes the revolutionary stuff. You can’t always tell the difference at the beginning. The more people we have doing it, the higher the chances are that we are going find the gold. That’s why we have to get millions more people in motion. That’s what happens when more people realize they’re UnStoppable.
Full disclosure: Graham Weston is a co-founder of Geekdom, which is a sponsor of Silicon Hills News.