Wil Schroter: Your Questions AnsweredFrequently Asked Questions — By Melanie McIntyre on May 23, 2011 at 8:00 am
After reading a rundown of Wil Schroter’s professional accomplishments, it’s crystal clear he has a mind for business.
Schroter founded Blue Diesel, one of the first Web design companies, in 1994 at the ripe old age of 19. He landed prominent clients (BMW, Bank One, and Eli Lilly, to name a few), sold it to inChord in 2002, joined the agency’s board and helped to grow more than $600 million in capitalized billings in four years. Schroter has since focused exclusively on building Web startup companies through his incubator, Virtucon Ventures. Swapalease.com, goBIGnetwork.com, GotCast.com, BizPlan.com, Affordit.com, and Unsubscribe.com are among them.
Herewith the serial entrepreneur, who once dreamed of becoming a Hollywood actor and even auditioned for the movie “Primal Fear,” shares the questions he is asked most frequently about business− and his answers, of course.
1. When is the best time to start a company?
Now. Seriously, there’s no point in waiting. You’re not going to have enough money saved up, or have taken a particular class in college, or found the one time when you have “enough time” to make it right. None of those situations really make a difference when starting a business, although everyone loves to pretend like they are valid excuses. There are no valid excuses. You’re either starting or you’re not.
2. How do I know if I’m an entrepreneur?
If you’re asking yourself that question, you’re probably not. For some reason I’ve yet to meet any entrepreneurs that spent a lot of time asking themselves if they were entrepreneurs. They just did what they wanted to do and by virtue of that became entrepreneurs by definition. It wasn’t really a career choice the way you’d become a doctor or a lawyer. It’s a result, not a path.
3. What’s the hardest part about starting a company?
Looking into the abyss. For most of our lives we are given specific challenges that have relatively specific goals. Get good grades. Find a date to prom. Get into college. The answers are clear, even if the path to reach them may not be. For the first time in most people’s lives, the answers are no longer clear, so the path itself is a total mystery. There’s no set answer of how your business will be successful or why a customer will like your product over your competitor’s. So you have to get used to looking into the abyss and just marching ahead anyway.
4. What’s the best part about being an entrepreneur?
That’s simple– being on your own schedule. I’m not suggesting you get to play all the time and not work. That “schedule” will include working every waking moment of your life well past the point where you’re thinking it should be enough. But it’s your schedule and not someone else’s. And nothing is more important to me. Nothing.
5. Do I need an investor to get my business started?
Not really. Contrary to popular fiction, most entrepreneurs don’t actually get any kind of investors to start their companies. Consider the fact that there are over 500,000 companies incorporated in the United States every month. Within that number, venture capitalists invest in about 500 on average. It’s not like the other 499,500 sit around waiting for their ticket. They just go out and figure out how to bootstrap their companies until they start generating cash.
6. Where is the best place to start a company right now?
It’s still the Internet. The costs of building a company keep going down exponentially while the audience to sell to keeps growing exponentially. In fact, at this point it doesn’t even matter what type of Internet business you build, whether you’re selling crafts on eBay or trying to build the next Facebook. It’s just incredibly efficient compared to any other business type.
7. What’s the best advice you have for entrepreneurs?
Same as always: just do it. It’s going to be incredibly hard and you’re always going to be loaded with doubts. That is the process. Like they say: the only thing you have to lose is your cubicle.
Melanie McIntyre has served as editorial director of The Metropreneur since its launch in 2010. She previously worked as a staff writer for a business and legal newspaper, where she wrote more than 500 stories about finance and real estate and development in Central Ohio. Since 2008, Melanie has worked on a freelance basis for several local entities, including Columbus Underground, where she is a featured writer. She also blogs about fashion, style, and pop culture at Thoroughly Modern Melly. Melanie is a graduate of The Ohio State University, lives in the Short North, and enjoys reading and running.
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