Sara Blakely is one of the world`s, self-made, female billionaires. She is the founder of the American Company, Spanx, which makes a range of undergarment, body shaping products. She is estimated to have a net worth of, $1 billion dollars.
So how did she become successful?
It all started because she wanted a product that could help her to shape her body. Unfortunately, there was no suitable product out there and so she decided to invent her own.
With a pair of traditional pantyhose and scissors, she designed Spanx, a product that later became, a hot-selling range of body shapers for women.
Having designed the product, she then went to manufacturers hoping to find a company that could make a prototype for her invention.
She was rejected by most of the manufacturer because they simply did not believe in her product. Eventually one of the manufacturers decided to call her after his daughters had told him it wasn’t such a stupid idea.
She later pitched her product to American luxury specialty department store, Neiman Marcus and her product found its way onto their shelves.
Before long, and with highly creative selling persistence, the product entered retailers, Saks, Nordstrom, and Bloomingdales.
In the first year of operation, Spanx sold, $4million worth of products and that rose to $10 million the second year.
In 2001, she reportedly agreed on a deal with home shopping TV channel, QVC, to sell her products. Within 6 minutes of the product being featured on the channel, it sold 8000 pairs.
So what were the key driving characteristics?
She was innovative. The fact that she was her own customer at first made it easier for her to design a product that actually met her specific needs.
Being a woman, it meant that if she loved the product and felt comfortable with it, then it was highly likely that other women would like it too. The key here is creativity and innovation.
To succeed, you have to be constantly thinking about how you can make people`s lives better. Providing solutions to problems is one of the best ways to become successful in business.
However, it is not just about being creative with the product, but also all aspects of your business.
Think about innovation with regards to, how you package your products, how you market and promote your products, and even how your shop or website is designed. It all requires creativity and that can make all the difference.
You cannot expect to succeed in anything without expending a lot of energy and effort. Sara is the epitome of hard work.
You couldn’t find a better example of hard workers to inspire you. Before she even got into the business, she already had two jobs: working as a sales trainer by day and performing stand-up comedy at night.
Business requires a high level of hard work. But be aware that even more important is what you spend your efforts and energy on.
It is possible to work very hard on things that bring little value to your business. That won`t bring you any success. Consider your time and effort as precious and always expend it on high-value projects.
Master of Rejection
You must also be prepared to be rejected countless times, and you should never allow it to stop you.
It did not stop Blackley and so why should you allow it to stop you? Blackley was first rejected by lawyers who refused to help her to patent her product concept. Then it was the manufacturers who did not believe the product had any value.
She said of manufacturers:
“They always asked the same three questions: “And you are?” “And you are representing?” “And you are financially backed by?”
When I answered Sara Blakely to all three, most of them sent me away, not to mention they thought the idea “made no sense, and would never sell.”
Never give up if you think you have an idea that will make a difference in people`s lives. The only people who can truly validate your idea are the customers.
Let them have the first and last say as to whether your product has any value or not. Not some `know-it-all` who does not actually care about your business. No one person knows everything.
No matter how experienced in business one is, they can always get it wrong when it comes to brand new business ideas. So never allow anybody to crush your dream other than your potential customers.
Sales make the product a success or failure. You simply have to be able to sell, or if you cannot then find someone who can.
In Sara`s case, she benefitted from her previous experience as a sales trainer. She came up with creative ways of selling. She sold through sales rallies, and word of mouth, and also appeared on TV shows like Oprah, the Today show, Tyra Banks show, CNN and many others.
She says that she was known for lifting her pant leg up and down to every woman walking by, to show off her product. That is sales passion at its best.
Remember, she did all her first year of business without spending a penny on advertising. Yet she sold $4 million worth of products in that first year.
Now that is rather surprising isn’t it, considering that you hear how advertising is crucial in all start-up programs. Well remember what I said earlier;
“No one person knows everything”. Beat your own path to business success.
Have passion when you sell your product and customers will come. There will never be a substitute for sales passion.