There is a business secret that is pretty much guaranteed to make you successful. Today I’m going to share what it is, and three steps that you can take to implement it. But first I want you to see what Sara Blakely has been able to achieve with her billion dollar business.
Sara Blakely recently sold her brand Spanx for $1.2 billion. This is a brand that she started with just $5,000 of savings, and which she scaled to 1.2 billion – without taking on any external investment. How has she been able to do it? That’s what you’ll find out in this blog post. You’ll realise that Spanx is about a lot more than just selling shapewear …
So I thought I would switch it up a little bit today and talk about one of my all time favourite entrepreneurs – Sara Blakely of Spanx. Sara Blakely was (and still is!) a massive inspiration of mine when I was starting an online business. Spanx – it’s just shapewear, right? Not exactly. The story of how the brand and the company came about is so much more than that. Spanx was actually born out of a problem that a lot of women were experiencing: Whatever women wore under white trousers, you could always see a panty line underneath. So Sara decided to just cut the feet off of a pair of tights she had, and wear that underneath her new trousers! By cutting off the feet of her tights, she created a new type of undergarment that was invisible beneath clothing.
Problem: Whatever women wore under white trousers, you could always see a panty line underneath
Sara’s solution: Let’s just cut the bottoms off my tights and wear that underneath my trousers
And the rest is history! So let’s talk about three things that will help you to create a lasting business like Sara Blakely, and not just something that is a flash in the pan.
#1 Create a movement, not just a product
The first thing is to create a movement, and not just to sell a product or service. For this to work you need to have a big “why” that’s driving you and your business. You need to care about giving your clients or customers a transformation. When we think about Spanx and Sara Blakely, the whole mission of Spanx is actually to empower women. This is what they are selling! Female empowerment. In addition to selling shapewear, they are a company that strives to make women feel good about themselves, regardless of the clothing they wear. It’s this mission that has been at the centre of the company, and has also driven Sara Blakely, from when she started Spanx, right to this day.
A mistake that a lot of new entrepreneurs make is choosing a product, service or business just because they’re going to make money in it. But really, that’s not enough to drive you when things get tough – because things will get tough. So instead of just trying to come up with online business ideas that are just going make you money, really think deeply about:
- What do you actually care about?
- What group of people do you want to influence and impact?
- What kind of movement do you want to create?
The best, most prosperous online businesses are actually movements. The product or service that you ultimately choose is just going to be the embodiment of the movement that you’re creating. For example, I’m super passionate about entrepreneurship, and I just want it to be available and accessible to all. So I want to have the best online program in the world that makes that happen. Now, that is my reason why, and that’s what drives me when things invariably get really tough. If I didn’t have that mission, and that drive behind what I’m doing, I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t be sitting here today, because I would have just given up on my business when things got hard.
#2 Be your true self
The second thing is to be your true self. The reason I admire Sara Blakely so much is because she is the epitome of female leadership. She did things completely differently to what was being done in the industry. That’s what allowed her to stand out when she started out. It was a completely male dominated industry with men making underwear that they’d never actually worn themselves, for women.
By doing business in a very feminine way, Sarah completely disrupted the status quo. The use of her intuition, her humour, and her business depth were all things that were not done at the time.
I see business as competitive, regardless of your niche. A lot of the time when we start out, we’re really tempted to blend in because we’re scared of doing something wrong. But actually, doing things differently is going to make you stand out. It’s going to put you ahead of the competition. A lot of my clients worry about competition, and they ask me how they can stand out from the sea of other online entrepreneurs. All I say to that is:
YOU are the secret sauce
You could have the exact same service and the exact same offer as someone else, but you’re going to put your unique spin on it in a way that no one else can do. It’s that unique spin that you put on it shaped by your experiences, your background, everything about you that makes people want to buy from you over someone else. So remember, if you’re copying someone else, you’re copying their business, then you’re literally taking away the one thing that’s going to make you stand out. And you’re going to end up blending in and not growing and shooting past all of the competition.
#3 Focus on one thing at a time
Another mistake that a lot of new entrepreneurs make when starting an online business is getting excited about all of the things that they can do, and launching a bunch of different offers. In reality, this prevents you from creating something amazing because you’re too busy creating a load of substandard products. Sara Blakely focused on one core product for years, and really perfected it. Only then did she branch out into creating other products. This is what allowed her to become known for that one thing, and this is what allowed Spanx to be known as the shapewear brand.
As an entrepreneur, you want what you are creating to be the best in the market. This does not mean that you should wait until it’s completely perfect to put it out into the world. I fully believe that you should put out the minimum viable product. But once you do that,really become obsessed with perfecting it:
Become the scientist of your business
When you first start out, that one product is going to allow you to build up that loyal client base of clients and customers. And if you absolutely wow them (as Sara Blakely did with her first prototypes of Spanx), then those customers are going to become your raving fans. They will sing your praises, be obsessed with your product, and really help you grow via word of mouth.
For example, I have a one flagship core program called the Content Accelerator that helps new entrepreneurs launch a coaching or consulting business. I am absolutely obsessed with perfecting that and impacting as many people as possible with that program before I even consider launching everything else. That’s just my approach to business, and it’s something that I’ve taken directly from Sara Blakely herself. So if you’re starting an online business and you’re looking to secure coaching or consulting clients, then you can see if the Content Accelerator is a good fit for you.
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