Steve Williams is a transplanted entrepreneur who, after relocating here from California, has spent the past eight years as a real estate developer. Williams founded S.L. Williams Homes Inc., a fast-growing homebuilder in Northern Kentucky, as well as another real estate company, Boulder Group, and a mortgage brokerage firm, Sierra Home Loans.

Will you admit to making mistakes?

Oh yeah, of course. I look at it like you have to make mistakes. You take the downside along with the upside. They push your limits and ultimately can benefit you because they help you learn.

What's the biggest mistake you've made? I started this performance arts studio in Atlanta awhile back. I intended eventually to franchise it, but I didn't know enough about the entertainment business. We were undercapitalized and had expensive overhead. We ran into the red after just two years.

What's the biggest risk you've taken? Along the way, it seemed like there were many risks, and each risk always seemed like it was the biggest. Risks are part of the nature of this business. ... Calculated risks become a way of life, they become your friend and something you can't live without. ... Taking risks has created the lifestyle I enjoy today.

Your most valuable business lesson? The most important lessons I've learned are less technical, and more inspirational. Real estate has forced me to further expand my horizons, not to let the perceptions of some, the price tags of some, or the players involved manipulate or intimidate me. ... I've learned to not limit myself in any way.

What motivates you? I've always had big ideas. I'm an idealist, a dreamer. One day I want to have a beach cottage in Del Mar. I don't want society to dictate how I'm going to live my life. People call that a dream, but it's not one I'm going to live without.

Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? It's capable people who measure their perceived intellect or innate ability against that which they believe is required for starting a business. They almost invariably disqualify themselves. Frankly, I've always considered myself to have more audacity than talent, a willingness to jump in, swinging elbows.

Final thoughts? I've always had a healthy lure for success with an equal fear of failure. ... I think, over the years, my underlying motives have changed some, but the dream and the passion to live life above my idea of mediocrity remains strong.