Sara Blakely grew her career from selling fax machines to being an entrepreneur  running a multi-billion-dollar company. Spanx was created as a solution to a problem she was experiencing. Sara didn’t have experience in fashion. She wasn’t an expert in manufacturing or supply chains, and she had never run her own business. But here she was doing all of it – teaching herself, asking the right people the right questions, experimenting, and learning from the outcomes. 

“Don't be intimidated by what you don't know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”* This quote from Sara provides powerful insight into her thought process and the way she has grown her company. 

A characteristic of Sara that I appreciated the most is her belief in people’s ability to learn and grow into a role. Let’s look at this from two perspectives: 1) as a founder and 2) as a founder hiring staff. 

As a founder, this is a powerful mindset. One that allows you to start before you are ready, to experiment and learn from each outcome. One that allows you to change the way things are done. As a founder hiring staff, it allows you to hire more heavily based on company culture fit and empowers your staff to grow into their role. It leaves room for staff to come up with creative solutions, adapt to changing industry standards or change industry standards and make your organization stand out for doing things differently. 

Let’s caution there are some positions where creativity does not belong consider accounting, finance and health and safety. These roles will require specific training and hard skills to complete the job. Creativity will play a role in finding more efficient ways to collect the necessary data or implementing strategies that adhere to standards while increasing value to employees and customers. 

“I’m not fearless because I’m scared of a lot of things. I’m courageous.” – Sara Blakely**

Sara’s success doesn’t mean she is a superhuman who never felt intimidated or scared. She felt it and found the courage to make big moves anyway.

*https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/sara-blakely-19-inspiring-power-quotes-for-success.html
**Sara Blakely Facebook

 

"Bad shit is coming. It always is in a startup. The odds of getting from launch to liquidity without some kind of disaster happening are one in a thousand. So don’t get demoralized."--Paul Graham, co-founder of Y Combinator

"Be bold, proclaim it everywhere: They only live who dare."  -Voltaire

Being bold is understanding your values and acting passionately on those values. Being bold means standing up for what you believe in, even though that might not be the popular or easy thing to do. People who are bold don’t wait for opportunities; they create them. This is particularly true of entrepreneurs – being bold must be part of your DNA if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

I still vividly recollect walking into the Accelerator building 10 years ago to start my new career and standing in the entrance wondering how it will all unfold.

When I started there were only half dozen companies in the building, there was no clear long term business model for the Accelerator, and I had to begin my education about business incubators and entrepreneurial ecosystems from scratch.

As Gary Vee aptly states, “without hustle, your talent will only get you so far”. During my 10+ years working with hundreds of startups it has become very apparent who is not going to make it. It is those who may have great talent or a great idea, but do not have the patience and passion to see it through to the end. They do not respect the hustle. The true winners in any field, be it sports or business, are always looking to achieve more. Think of Ronaldo in soccer, Steph Curry in basketball, and Sarah Blakely and Elon Musk in business, they never stop.

“Good things happen to those who hustle.” – Anais Nin

Sara has built a multibillion-dollar business by trying, analyzing outcomes, and learning from the results.

New entrepreneurs will take away at least one concept from Sara that is actionable and will help grow their business in a sustainable way. Resist the urge to say that because you are not in the apparel industry or because you provide a service her MasterClass isn’t for you.

The Oxford Dictionary defines Respect as follows: "A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements."

The more time I spend working with entrepreneurs, the more I come to appreciate and respect the drive and determination required to build a successful company.

 

He who serves the most reaps the most.”
– Jim Rohn

Giving is the key to manifesting our greatest aspirations. When we start giving we state our intention to create positive change. There are many reasons why giving is good for us: it makes us feel happy, it’s good for our health, and it promotes gratitude and cooperation.

If you are going to be anything, be genuine. This is an important life principle and absolutely mandatory to be truly successful in business.

Business is all about relationships. To build long-lasting relationships you have to build your social capital. You have to earn people’s trust and respect and the best way to do that is to be genuine.

“Be genuine. Be remarkable. Be worth connecting to.”
–Seth Godin

“Time is the most valuable thing a person can spend.” - Theophrastus

Time is the most important resource available to all of us. As such, how we use our time will play a critical role in the outcomes we create. If we use our time poorly, we will have poor outcomes and inversely, if we use our time wisely, we will have positive outcomes.