Whiz Biz Kids

Dallas' young entrepreneurs live by their creed: Just do it.

When they married and it was time to pick a halfway point to settle down, they handled the chore like the professionals they are. They looked at Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago. They settled on Dallas.

"There were lots of reasons, including the airport," Sean says, "but a big reason was that Dallas understands and appreciates business. That's not true in most places. You'd think it is, but trust me, it's not."


This is how you start a business in Dallas. You hang out with entrepreneurs.
Derek Wilson is CEO of NeoSpire--and still looking to start other ventures.
Mark Graham
Derek Wilson is CEO of NeoSpire--and still looking to start other ventures.
Female entrepreneurs like Gina Puente-Brancato, left, and Adrienne Beam say that being women business owners is just one more of many challenges small-biz owners face.
Mark Graham
Female entrepreneurs like Gina Puente-Brancato, left, and Adrienne Beam say that being women business owners is just one more of many challenges small-biz owners face.

At the Starbucks meeting between Carter and Wilson, they make several decisions on how to proceed with their new Internet venture. Then the conversation veers to blah blah blah territory. How's the family?, etc. But even here, they're always looking for the first step: a great idea.

A story is told about a guy who wants to write a book. It's mentioned that this guy has done a radio show before. The state of talk radio is discussed. Before you know it, Carter (who doesn't drink coffee--who needs caffeine?) is wired again.

"We should have a YEO radio show."

And he's off. How would you make it work? Would it be local? Would it be national? You could take calls from people who want to start businesses, give them advice, plug partners, mentor young crazy people before they get sucked into the corporate maw. Who would host it, could you sell sponsorships, would you make money, what about satellite radio, anyone know someone at KLIF?

This is natural for Carter. It's what he does. Gets an idea, just does it. At the very least, just tries it. Doesn't matter if he doesn't have the money. ("Ain't no one getting rich here. Not yet," he says, laughing.) Doesn't matter that everyone thinks they'll fail and they often do. Missions impossible are merely challenges. Or, as Getson says, successful entrepreneurs "are sociopaths who use their power for good rather than evil."

That doesn't mean they're calm about this process, or even rational. Some love the adrenaline of starting the business, so they're constantly searching for the Next Big Thing to launch, rarely completing any deal. These folks, "deal junkies," spend too much time analyzing the market and trying to raise capital to ever get around to the boring, day-to-day monotony of running a steadily growing enterprise.

Those who do it the right way in the beginning aren't immune from stress. As their company grows, they find that the skill set that helped them launch the company and take it to its first million or first $5 million isn't going to get them to their first $10 million.

Like Carter. He's a start-up junkie by trade. Personally, though, he's just someone who's trying to figure out what he does well. They call it discovering their "unique ability." Not the thing they're good at. Not the thing they're passionate about. But that one thing that they're both good at and passionate about. That's what keeps them successful, even if their many businesses don't seem to have an organizing principle. It's the thing they all center on and spin around.

"There's a company, Honda, that makes cars and motorcycles and lawn mowers and vacuum cleaners," a YEOer explains. "That seems random until you realize that what Honda does is make the best motors in the world. Then it makes sense. That's their unique ability. And everything flows from that."

"I'm still trying to find what inspires me," Carter says, smiling. "I think I'm inspired by inspiration. Does that make sense?"

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