Founder of Extra Space Storage provides insight into the world of entrepreneurship

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Ken Woolley addressed students in a lecture entitled “What it Takes to be an Entrepreneur: Leadership Vs. Management”, on Thursday, Jan. 24, as part of the UVU Reed and Christine Halladay Executive Lecture Series. 

Woolley is the founder and current chairman of Extra Space Storage owner. Extra Space Storage is the second largest storage units operator in the United States, with over 1,700 properties across the country.

Before starting his entrepreneurial venture, Woolley started his career in business many years prior, working as a management consultant. Woolley said this gave him the experience and business insights to be successful in his later endeavors. Woolley opened Extra Space Storage in 1979, opening his first location in Orem. During this time, he was teaching full time as a professor at BYU.

Woolley said the hardest challenge for an entrepreneur is “switch[ing] from a paycheck to a risk.” 

Woolley encouraged student entrepreneurs to enter the business world, get experience and learn from other companies’ mistakes instead of having to learn from their own mistakes. 

“In many cases, the most successful entrepreneurs start in their thirties,” said Woolley.

David Wright, a junior studying accounting, said that what stuck with him from the lecture was the message of patience. 

“Everyone is thinking about getting rich quick,” Wright said. “But really it is all about patience.” 

“You should build on your strengths, whatever you are good at,” Woolley said. “I knew I understood the self storage business better than almost anybody.” 

Vision, capital, a partner and a team, according to Woolley, are the four keys to have a successful start-up. 

Cole Gordon, a senior studying accounting, said he was amazed that Woolley was able to grow his business greatly just by maintaining good rapport and building relationships. 

“By keeping relationships good, he was able to grow his business to something that I find amazing,” said Woolley.

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Photographer, @melodiousmayhemphoto on Instagram


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