Ron J. Williams: Entrepreneurship can be magical, but it ain’t magic
Ron J. Williams borrowed from the wisdom of rapper and entrepreneur Jay-Z in explaining to the Thinc Iowa crowd why being an entrepreneur can be magical but isn't magic.
Ron J. Williams, the founder of Snapgoods and Knodes, spoke to Thinc Iowa 2012 attendees at The Temple for Performing Arts in Des Moines Wednesday afternoon about the importance of passion, a strong team, simplicity, clarity and focus.
"Your success will be determined not by lightning striking or an apple hitting your head," Williams said. Rather, it will be determined by perseverance: If entrepreneurs aren't passionate, they won't have the drive to keep going when times get tough.
"If you’re not excited about the problem you're solving," he said, "I personally believe you will burn yourself out."
Williams said "being an entrepreneur can be magical, but it ain't magic," and he borrowed lyrics from one of his favorite rappers and entrepreneurs, Jay-Z, to drive home his main points.
1. "We don't believe you. You need more people."
"Your team doesn’t start with the first person who’s willing to quit their job and eat Ramen noodles to support you," Williams said, borrowing a line from Jay-Z's song "Takeover." Williams advised entrepreneurs to find a team and find it early — co-founders, investors and people to give feedback.
Once entrepreneurs find a team, they should aim to get out of the building once in a while. "If you want to start a business," Williams said, "you need the validation of strangers."
2. "I dumbed down my lyrics to double my dollars"
"Simplicity rules," Williams said of the line from Jay-Z's "Moment of Clarity." Dumbing your idea down doesn't mean your customers are stupid.
"Explain it so simply that my 4-year-old niece could explain it," he said.
3. "I'm focused man"
"Part of your job is to get really good at understanding what a distraction might look like in your day," Williams said, interpreting the line from Jay-Z's "Best of Me."
Williams said there are going to be times when successful entrepreneurs have to say "no" to very prominent customers in order to focus on an idea so it remains clear. Otherwise, entrepreneurs can get confused about who they are and try to be everything to everyone.
"Don’t spread yourself thin to do a little bit of everything poorly," Williams said.
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