Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, co-founder and CEO of GLAMSQUAD; co-founder of Gilt Group; and an advisor, mentor, and angel investor to startups in the New York Tech community, offers a few key tips to maximize any startup’s chances of success. First, listen to the naysayers, then go ahead and pursue your dream anyway — incorporating their advice where it’s useful. Second, get grounded. Entrepreneurs are often dreamers, and if you’re not detail-oriented, you need a partner who can anchor you.
Alexandra Wilkis Wilson: It’s so typical that when you start a business or have an idea for a business, they’re going to be so many people who tell you why it’s a bad idea, of why it’s never going to work and potentially why you’ll never raise any money for it. And instead of letting those people discourage you, what we suggest is listen to these people. Maybe they have nuggets of wisdom that you can incorporate into your idea and maybe it’s just a matter of how you’re presenting your concept to people. A lot of entrepreneurs aren’t necessarily so grounded. So whether it’s one person who is a visionary and then has a co-founder or a team member who can ground them and kind of bring them into the details or maybe have a person who is able to balance both types of traits; it doesn’t matter. But at the end of the day, what’s going to make a startup successful I think is really that early stage team. Some of the most important qualities that you can find would be someone who is motivated, a self-starter who’s willing to roll their sleeves up. Someone who is flexible and is okay with unpredictability. And someone you want to spend a lot of time with too because in startups, your work can often be a huge part of your life so you better enjoy the company that you keep at work.
Startups dream of hitting this moment when you can literally see a hockey stick of growth. Whether that be a growth in demand, in supply, in supply and demand, ultimately in revenue depending what that business is. And it’s really hard to hit that hockey stick, but once you see a company that really has started to find that momentum whether it be through word of mouth, through — in this day and age — through social media, through referrals, or through amazing press, then you know that a company is positioning itself for success and has the potential to really take off. I encourage entrepreneurs to do a lot of testing. It’s okay to test. You just learn from these tests. And the reality is that most startups fail so you have to go into a startup understanding that that could be a reality and just give it your all and set yourself up for success as best you can.