I described last week's edition of the radio show featuring Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Sara, you recall, is the dynamic young entrepreneur who turned women's undergarments into a billion dollar business.
Well now you can listen to the Sara interview. (And I do mean listen. Sara's voice is to die for.) The "Legends of Success" website has archived the Sara Blakely show here. I strongly recommend the audio if you're in business currently or are considering going into business for yourself. Sara's insights are invaluable.
Here's a quick summary of the secrets of success Sara shares on the program:
1. Differentiate your company and your product and service from your competition. This only makes sense. Sara noticed a need in the marketplace that wasn't being satisfied. She filled it with her unique product.
2. Get out of your comfort zone. If you don't, Sara says, you can't expect different outcomes.
3. Persevere. Don't take no for an answer. Keep plugging along until you get a "yes."
4. Go with your gut. Sara believes that too many entrepreneurs listen to the naysayers and are discouraged. Believe me, if you are looking to go into business, you will not find a shortage of people who will tell you not to do it. Many of these people are well-meaning family and friends. Sara says believe in yourself. You know the correct answer is inside of you. Believe in it. Visualize your success. Follow your vision.
5. Don't be afraid to break the mold. Sara says create your own outcomes by breaking away from the way others have always done something. She advises you to do it your own way. She counts ignorance of the way things have always been done as a huge advantage. If you think things through yourself, you're likely to come up with a better solution than the status quo. She advises you to step back and critically look at your own job. Imagine no one taught you the "right" way to do it. Do it the way you think it ought to be done.
6. Depend on yourself. Don't allow your fate to be put in the hands of others who are sure not to be as committed as you are to your success. But this doesn't mean insisting on doing everything yourself.
7. When you are able to afford it, hire your weakness. What Sara means by this is bring strength into your organization by hiring people who are really good at doing something you either hate to do or are not good at doing yourself. People tend not to do things in areas in which they have weaknesses. Solve this by hiring to this weakness.
Sara insists the single most important "secret" of success is trust yourself and your gut. I tend to agree. Entrepreneurs are out front leading the way in places most people fear to tread. They are like the scouts in the Old West who rode out in front of the wagon train to blaze the trail. They must use every bit of talent and common sense they possess to find opportunity and avoid pitfalls. They must trust themselves because often they are the only ones brave enough to strike out on their own.
As a political aside, I thought it was interesting that Sara made this comment:
I feel so lucky to be a woman in America. We are the luckiest women in the world!
So true, but it ain't all luck. It's mostly individual freedom that was hard fought and hard won, individual freedom which is nowadays threatened by the progressive political philosophy.
NOTE: In a followup post, I'll list some of the secrets I think are most important to business success.