There is no way, with all the buzz going around, I could not include Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx and self-made billionaire on the list of women entrepreneur profiles this month. And in the event you have no clue who Blakely is, I suggest you click here to read the article written about the youngest American woman to join the billionaire list at age 41.
I’m not going to rehash what you can already read for yourself but I do want to share three lessons I took from Sara’s inspiring story.
Patience, Planning & Persistence Pay Off
Sara started her business while she was working a full time job. She spent every free minute she had researching, designing and testing prototypes to find the answer to the irritating problem most women suffer from–uncomfortable pantyhose. She didn’t just quit her job and start pursuing her business without a plan. In fact, she researched for two years before she even launched her product.
First-time women entrepreneurs usually are so excited by their idea they want to quit their job immediately and start working on their business full time. This is extremely risky, especially if you do not have any savings to hold you over while you are growing. It takes time and patience to do your research, test things out and eventually create a consistently profitable business. So, even though it may feel as if it is taking you forever, be patient and make sure you are financially ready and can put your full confidence in your business before you launch it full time.
No is Never Final
Throughout her life, Sara has learned that “no” is just a two-letter word. When she started working for Danka, an office supply company, her job was to cold call and sell fax machines. She says “I had business cards ripped up in my face because I was soliciting.” She’d also been escorted out of buildings. But she didn’t let that stop her from becoming Danka’s national sales trainer.
When she was cold calling hosiery mills looking for someone to produce her invention, she was told no, repeatedly. That certainly didn’t stop her from just showing up at the warehouses.
I love that she never took no as the final answer. When one door closed she went around to check the back door, if that one didn’t open you can bet your booty she was going to come through the window.
The next time you hear no–after you have your fit–get back in the game and think of another way to pitch the idea or other avenues to get what you are after. And if you can’t think of one, then get your friends together and have them help you brainstorm.
Perfection is Paralysis
Sara didn’t wait for things to be perfect, she did the best she could with what she had. When she was notified that Oprah was going to feature Spanx on her Favorite Things Show, she was also warned to make sure her website was up-to-date for the numerous orders sure to ensue. Well, she didn’t have a website so instead of stressing and hiring a big time designer, she scanned the Spanx package and used that as her website. That’s it!
How many of you would have been okay with that? Oh heck no! You would be and probably are stressing over your website now and are waiting for it to be perfect before you even tell anyone about your business.
But it doesn’t have to look perfect. Your clients and customers, unless you are a designer, don’t care about the aesthetics. They care that what you have to offer can help solve their problem. I’ve seen many sites that are plain and the business is doing amazing. So, if you are waiting for the perfect look or stressing over colors, quit it. Start with what you got right now. You can and you most likely will change it later on.
This is what I’ve learned and I’d love to know what lessons you took away from Sara’s feature on Forbes.com?