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Female entrepreneur used fear of failure to persevere

Angie Hicks' sense of not wanting to fail helped her persevere through the unpredictable obstacles she encountered while establishing her start-up business.

Angie Hicks' sense of not wanting to fail helped her persevere through the challenges and unpredictable obstacles she encountered during the first years of establishing her start-up business in Indiana.

"It came down to: 'I'm not going to let this beat me,' so I think that was really what kept me going every day," Hicks, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Angie's List, said Friday in a web-exclusive greenroom interview with Afternoon MoJoe.

Hicks was the first person in her family to attend college. When she graduated from Indiana's DePauw University in 1995, she chose risk over an accounting job. That same year, she established Columbus Neighbors and struggled for a year to maintain the business. She worked seven days a week and survived doors being slammed in her face—all for a no-guarantee gig.

But then Angie's List came along.

The company is a self-proclaimed "homeowner's grapevine" that serves as a "word of mouth." It allows consumers to file reports about the service providers they use. More than 2 million subscribers rate home improvement and healthcare businesses on an "A" to "F" scale in punctuality, professionalism, price, quality, responsiveness, and overall performance.

The company is available nationwide and operates in 219 cities and all 50 states. A member's annual fee is about $6 per month, depending on the market.

An advertisement published in Cleveland's Plain Dealer signaled her business' success.

"I remember having a moment of, 'Oh my gosh, what are we doing?' " Hicks said during the interview.

The major stumbling blocks for business owners are promoting their ideas, being uncertain of taking the leap to start a business, and keeping focused on customer service, Hicks said Friday on Morning Joe.

Hicks traveled to Washington, D.C., on Friday to celebrate National Small Business Week. Before departing the Morning Joe studios in New York, she urged business owners to take a vacation.

"It's important for you," she said, "and for the business."

Related: Joe Scarborough: Small businesses finding ways to lower risk

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Watch Hicks' web-exclusive greenroom interview: