How to Start a Business, as Told by a Serial Entrepreneur

How to choose a mentor, build a brand and stay focused.

— -- Alexandra Wilkis Wilson knows how to build a business.

In 2007, she helped launch Gilt Groupe, a members-only retail site that offers huge discounts on luxury brands. Six months ago, the company was bought for $250 million by the parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson's Bay Company.

Now, she’s turned her attention to Glamsquad, investing her own money and time along with co-founders Jason Perri and Victoria Eisner.

“I knew that it was a matter of time for me to move on, because I really love the early stage building of a business more than the tweaking of a big company environment,” Wilson told ABC’s Rebecca Jarvis.

Glamsquad users can order at-home hair and makeup services directly from the app, starting at $50. Wilson remains as a senior advisor to Gilt, but focuses her day-to-day efforts on building the mobile company that has been called the “Uber of beauty services.”

In a recent interview on "Real Biz with Rebecca Jarvis", Wilson doled out some invaluable advice to hopeful entrepreneurs.

1. How to find the right mentor

Know the difference between mentors and role models. Just admiring someone, Wilson explains, doesn’t mean they will be on the lookout, offer support and be trustworthy with big career questions.

“Earlier in my career, I mistakenly had the thought that my mentors should all be women," Wilson said, "and they should all be women that I want to become in the future.”

“Going to people who you love isn’t a bad place to start," she continued. "And then going to individuals who you’ve met throughout your career who maybe really understand what you’re like in a professional context is important.”

Wilson said it’s a good idea to have multiple mentors you can turn to under different scenarios. One of Wilson’s go-to mentors? Mindy Grossman, the CEO of HSN.

2. How to build a brand

“Creating a brand in a very short period of time is critical, it’s not optional,” Wilson told Jarvis.

“What is your mission, what is your vision, what is your company culture and what are elements you want to keep forever?”

Wilson added that it doesn’t have to limit a company’s specific future goals. “We don’t use the word ‘women’ in our vision, because we want to leave it open to the possibility of servicing men in the future,” she explains.

3. How to stay focused

It’s great to have a vision – a BIG vision – when starting a company. But prioritize quality over quantity in the beginning, so the customer base learns to trust the brand.

“Clients will say what about brows, what about spray tanning, what about facials?” Wilson says. “For now, we’re going to focus on our three core services and maybe in the future, we’ll focus and expand in other ways.”

Choose a few near-term goals and focus on them. If something doesn’t meet that end, it can wait. AKA, don’t spread the company too thin.