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Laying the Groundwork for 'Instant' Success

Is there such a thing as instant startup success? Maybe.
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We all know of entrepreneurs with seemingly instantaneous success stories, as if they had waved a magic wand and created a fantastically profitable company on the spot. But those successful entrepreneurs are not born with some magical ability to weave viable businesses out of thin air. The key ingredient for instant startup success is simple: pre-existing proof of concept. You don’t give birth to your company or your idea-- the people around you do.

Capitalizing on opportunities, not conjuring them

Instant success is about knowing tremendous buy-in potential when you see it. This happens at all different levels.

Some, such Mark Zuckerberg, get a great idea and run with it. For me, the final push to leave traditional Wall Street and found my independent asset management company, Lexion Capital, came in the form of three very insistent clients. They came to me, independently of one another, with the same idea: open your doors as an independent wealth manager, and we’ll follow.

Getting the right people to see what you see

Other aspiring entrepreneurs already have a vision they know to be strong, and just need the capital to prove it. Rent The Runway famously beta-tested their model at Harvard among female business students. By the time they presented to venture capitalists, they already had firm proof of their concept’s viability.

In all of these examples, the tools for insta-success came from external sources. In the case of Facebook, instant startup success came from recognizing a great idea and knowing how to run with it. We all know that ideas are a dime a dozen, but true talent lies in execution and marketability. At Lexion, our rapid success was the product of responding to active and insistent demand. For the founders of Rent The Runway, it was leveraging their personal understanding of the need and the niche in the market. Proving their point at a small scale allowed them to raise money and run the business at a very large scale.

Remembering where you came from

Instant startup success should not be taken for granted. When you're the small fish, large competitors don’t worry about you eating their lunch. As you grow, they will take note-;and you'll have an ongoing series of David-and-Goliath battles. At Lexion, despite numerous legal threats, we won't temper our mission, our vision, or our willingness to talk about what Wall Street is versus what we think it should be. As your business continues to expand on its initial success, don’t forsake your ability to be nimble, and don’t lose sight of the formula that enabled your success in the first place.

IMAGE: Getty Images
Last updated: Oct 22, 2013

ELLE KAPLAN | Columnist | CEO, Lexion Capital Management

A finance expert and self-made entrepreneur, Elle Kaplan is the CEO and founding partner of Lexion Capital Management, the only 100 percent woman-owned asset management firm in the U.S.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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