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Why Sara Blakely Is So Successful

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Sara Blakely is an American businesswoman and the founder of multi-million dollar underwear company, Spanx.

Blakely has been recognised in both the Top one hundred influential people, and Top one hundred powerful women in the World.

 

Sara Blakely’s Early Years

sara blakely billionaireSara Blakely’s original plan was to become an attorney, however, when she failed an entrance exam into law school she was forced to change paths. She accepted a job at Orlando, Florida’s Walt Disney World where she worked for three months. Blakely supplemented her Disney income with work as a stand-up comedian.

After the short period with Walt Disney World, Blakely took a job selling fax machines door to door for office supply company, Danka. By the age of just twenty five Blakely had proven quite the salesperson and was promoted to sales trainer.

Part of Blakely’s ‘uniform’ was to wear pantyhose which she disliked. She didn’t like having to wear them in Florida’s hot climate and didn’t like the look of the seamed foot when wearing open-toed shoes. However, she did like the way they eliminated panty lines and made her body look firmer.

 

“It’s important to be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is you become memorable.” – Sara Blakely

The Birth of ‘Spanx’

sara blakely billionaireWhen Blakely was going to a private party she cut off the feet of her pantyhose whilst wearing them under a new pair of slacks as an experiement. They consistently rolled up her legs but she did achieve the look she desired.

When Blakely was twenty seven she moved to Atlanta, Georgia and whilst continuing to work at Danka she spent two years and $5,000 on the research and development of her idea. Rather than spending another $5,000 on legal fees she wrote her own patent for her product after buying a textbook on the topic. Blakely then went to North Carolina, home of the most Hosiery mills in the USA to pitch her idea but she was rejected by every representative. They were all used to dealing with big companies and didn’t see any potential in her idea.

 

Sara Blakely’s estimated net worth is $1 Billion.

 

sara blakely billionaireTwo weeks later Blakely received a call from a male mill operator who wanted to support her concept after being persuaded by his two daughters.  As she went on to develop her idea, Blakely realized that the hoisiery manufacturing agency was run by males who weren’t using the products that they were creating.

The prototype product was finished within one year with Blakely and her female family and friends testing the product. This was a big step for the industry as testing on people had never happened up to that point. Whilst making progress on refining her product, Blakely noticed that the industry was using the same sized waistband for all hosiery products. For the development of her product, Blakely had variable sized waistbands to account for different sized customers.

 

“I think failure is nothing more than life’s way of nudging you that you are off course.” – Sara Blakely

sara blakely billionaireBlakely’s vision was gathering momentum, she proceeded to revolutionize the packaging of hosiery products. She realised that all of the current packaging was beige, white or grey, featuring the same type of model. Blakely opted for bold, red packaging with animated images of different looking women.

The next stop was to find a name for her product and she grew increasingly frustrated after not arriving at a decision after eighteen months of thinking. When she was in the final stages of deciding on a name she wanted to model the ‘k’ sound in companies like Coca-Cola and Kodak and this was further compounded by her knowledge of the ‘k’ sound getting the best reaction from a comedy crowd. Originally, Blakely was going to call her product ‘Spanks’, however she switched it to ‘Spanx‘ when her research revealed that constructed names were more successful and easier to trademark.

 

The Growth of Spanx

sara blakely billionaireBlakely managed to secure a meeting with a buyer for the Neiman Marcus Group, in which she changed into her innovative product in the ladies restroom to prove its worth. As a result of the meeting, Spanx was sold in seven of Neiman Marcus’ stores, with Bloomingdales, Saks and Bergdorf Goodman quickly following suit. Not resting there, Blakely sent a basket of products to the office of Oprah Winfrey with a card explaining her vision.

Blakely was handling all aspects of the business: marketing, logistics, product positioning and more. In the latter part of the year 2000, Oprah named Spanx one of her ‘Favourite Products’ which caused a boom in popularity and sales. Spanx achieved $4 Million of sales in it’s first year and $10 Million in its second year. Blakely signed a contract with QVC, the shopping channel around this time and sold 8,000 pairs of Spanx in six minutes!

 

Sara Blakely’s Billion Dollar Empire

 

Conclusion

Sara Blakely has built a net worth in excess of $1 Billion by using failure as a stepping stone, always innovating and believing in her vision. Her ability to find a solution has always been incredible, all the while enjoying her life and keeping a smile on her face.

Had Blakely passed herLaw exam, Spanx would not exist and she would most likely not be a billionaire. Rather than allow failure to get her down she used it as a springboard for success.

What have you failed at that could be the reason you are now pushing towards your ultimate success and happiness?

Jermaine Harris is a Coach, Trader, Author and Speaker. He is passionate about human potential and empowering others to change their lives in the same way he did. Jermaine believes that the opposite of being 'stuck in a rut' is possible and explains how in his book, The Rut Buster. Get to know Jermaine better at: jermaine-harris.com

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6 Creative Ways to Hype Up a New Product on Social Media

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It’s the week before the big product launch, and you’ve been asked to help with a big marketing splash. The problem is despite brainstorming for a few weeks and pushing out a few tweets to build the pre-launch buzz, you’re out of ideas. But merely wondering how to help the new product capture the minds of prospects and customers doesn’t really help.

Here are 6 creative things you should consider to generate excitement for your product in the target market:

1. Create a goal

Don’t limit your awareness program to merely “make people aware” of the product. Go beyond the ideal definition and expand it. There has to be a goal that assists you to measure the success of your program.

This goal can be the number of followers you drive to your webpage, or probably the ones who sign up for more updates. Find out what other options work best for you and let them guide you through the awareness campaign. The key is to make it measurable and ensure if your website is any good; it is fully geared to be not much more than a giant lead magnet.

2. Sell smart, not hard

No matter how much effort you put in, if you don’t do it smart, they’ll lead you to failure. Just because you are leveraging social media, doesn’t imply you can aim in the dark and wait for the arrow to hit the target miraculously. Make sure you very well know the problems that you are trying to solve.

Analyze the people affected by those issues and what attracts them. Leverage social media, but target your buyer personas. New products are often a great time to reconnect with existing clients and prospects. A fantastic way to do this is by getting your sales team to share the content and measure the engagements and click-through rate. Once you have the comparative view handy, you can make the most of social platforms.

“Working hard is very important. You are not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard.” – George Lucas

3. Strike a chord

Personalization is the key to hit the sweet spot in the hearts of buyers. Have the sales team personalize the message. Give your employees the chance to explain the value to their networks.

Write high-level social copy for the various vertical markets you serve and then set the team lose in honing the conversation online. Done effectively, the click-through rate can go through the roof!  

4. Build engaging content

Consider buyer personas while drafting the social copy of your content. And take note, we are referring to buyer personas, not a persona. It includes more than one streak of your ideal buyers.

Invest time in understanding the critical aspect of each of them. Make sure you know what your product has to offer to each of them and translate that understanding to explain this value proposition. The better you do at segmenting the message, the more clicks and engagements your content will produce.  

5. Don’t reveal too much

Sometimes, marketers get carried away and unveil too much of the information in the pre-launch phase itself. What is left for the final big reveal? Apparently nothing but the product itself. And mind you, dear friend, curiosity killed the cat because she could not withhold it. Why not leverage this mentality for your product marketing as well?

Build anticipation and create mystery around the product. Drop hints, create hype but make sure you have some excitement reserved for the actual launch. Don’t disclose every significant twist.

“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue.” – Andrew Davis

6. Narrate a story

Compelling narratives are a powerful way to engage people with your product even before it hits the shelves. Let the existing buyers talk about their experience with your current products. Not only will it talk about your offerings, but it’ll also highlight the positive relationship with existing clients. That’s something that can pay dividends when building a bond with the new ones. Additionally, you receive attention from followers of the customers you are showcasing.

Is your product launch is just a few days ahead, and you need to create product hype on social media? Well, it is quite a task to make the pre-launch ripples. But these six creative strategies can help you get the job done effectively. Use these ideas to showcase the hard work your product team has done and ensure a successful product launch.

Which one of the above 6 ways to market a product do you believe is most important and why? Share your thoughts below!

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5 Skills I Learned in the Military That Helped Me Become a Successful Entrepreneur

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The moves I’ve made in my career from the military, to the mining industry, to running a multinational business in Latin America, aren’t linear. It’s not every day an ex-Australian military officer finds their niche in Latin American business.

Graduating from Australia’s Royal Military College and Defense Force Academy, I served as a commissioned officer in the Australian Army for nearly 11 years, completing operational tours to Central Asia and the Middle East.

The transition from various Army engineering and infantry roles through to managing a team of legal and financial executives was neither quick nor painless. But, as I entered the company formation process, I found my military service played a significant role in shaping my entrepreneurial fitness. The skills I developed in the Australian Defense Force supported me through several commercial iterations more than once.

Here are some of the key connections I drew between core military values and those I apply to the boardroom environment:

1. Be calculated and decisive

Unsurprisingly, a crucial requisite of military functionality is working quickly and effectively under pressure. This rings especially true for the strategic planners of operations: the commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

My military role made tough demands on me to decide on the best course of action for myself and my team. When deployed overseas, making the wrong decision or not making a decision fast enough could mean failing our mission, and putting people in danger.

In business, it’s vital to understand, analyze and communicate the risks involved in the options laid out before you at various stages. Making offers to clients, moving into a new market, investing large amounts of money into projects. And decisions need to be made based on this analysis before these opportunities pass by.

I can confidently draw on my experiences in service to act fast and capitalize on opportunities as they become available, and make tough decisions in high-pressure situations.

“You cannot make progress without making decisions.” – Jim Rohn

2. Resilience is key

Resilience is fundamental to success in any military career. In training and on operations, one soldier’s spiralling morale could put an entire section in danger. Military personnel are vetted for their adaptability and mental strength from day one, using tried-and-true techniques to push people to their limits.

Having a high level of resilience allows you to cope when things don’t go to plan in business. Investments might not show returns as quickly as hoped, a competitor snatches up an important client, or a difficult situation arises between staff that needs careful management.

I can confidently draw on military-learned techniques to support my own and others’ resilience in the office. Being able to maintain a high level of morale among teams fosters productivity and a willingness to ‘soldier on’ in challenging situations.

3. Leadership and cooperation

People in leadership positions are those that others turn to for advice and support. As a leader, you have to be prepared to make tough decisions that others can’t or won’t. A high-performing team has a courageous, empowering, and communicative leader at its helm.

This is as true in the military as it is in business. Building the right team and driving them to success is both challenging and rewarding – whether the outcome is securing a key logistical foothold to allow aid and other supplies to travel into a war-torn area, or seeing a newly-opened office secure its first major client.

4. Discipline

Not every soldier has an easy time appreciating the ubiquity of drills in their military workplace, nor their role in underpinning the success of a smooth operation. But a lack of discipline is tantamount to putting oneself and others at risk. Ignoring lawful orders, or not applying proper first-aid to a fellow soldier, are a couple of examples of this.

To me, commercial discipline means being professional always, even in stressful or frustrating situations. Maintain integrity in everything you do, and don’t cut corners. Carrying out proper legal and financial procedures means staying compliant under local law, and avoiding complications with authorities.

Staying committed to an objective and refusing to drop standards enables you to build a credible reputation for your business that clients hold in high regard.

“We don’t have to be smarter than the rest, we have to be more disciplined than the rest.” – Warren Buffett

5. Cultural awareness

Finally, but no less importantly, showing respect for cultural customs in business is essential for cultivating strong professional relationships. Being aware of your cultural background, and sensitive to those of others, will help build social connections, and make you more relatable to others.

Foreign militaries operating in troubled parts of the world understand that building trust with local individuals and communities is imperative. Without that trust, moving around becomes difficult and more dangerous. To gain trust, soldiers must show respect for people’s culture and way of life.

The same is true in business. A small hiccup such as not shaking hands, or giving an air-kiss to a new acquaintance here in Latin America could start an entire working relationship off on the wrong foot. Cultural sensitivity shows a willingness to embrace people and their society. Never underestimate the significance people place on this element when evaluating your suitability as a professional partner.

It’s no secret that commercial success requires passion, hard work, and dedication. Don’t be afraid to call upon your own and others’ previous experiences to find solutions to problems or forge ahead with complex projects. For military personnel considering testing out their business acumen, be confident that your years of service to your country have also set you up for success in the world of business.

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3 Scientifically Proven Things Entrepreneurs Should Be Doing to Increase Overall Performance

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Many of us know that becoming an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Most are working very long hours, seven days a week, and are making tremendous sacrifices to ensure their businesses are increasing in all areas. They are actually building empires right?

While this type of mindset is okay for a season, many get stuck in the vicious cycle of working non-stop and not taking care of themselves. We all know working hard definitely has its rewards and benefits, but overworking can lead to many unnecessary and unhealthy developments.

Below are 3 things entrepreneurs should be taking advantage of, in order to develop a proper work-life balance and still stay ahead of the eight ball:

1. Get enough sleep

Many of us have been programmed to think that you have to work hard and long in order to be successful in life. While working hard is very important to becoming successful, recent studies have shown that getting the proper amount of sleep is even more important. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is one of the main causes of stress and burnout in the lives of many people.

Arianna Huffington is a huge advocate for getting a minimum of eight hours of sleep per day, in order to improve our decision-making, well-being, creativity, and productivity. Those bragging about only getting four to five hours of sleep are actually admitting that they are not functioning or performing at their maximum potential.

Researchers have also shown that when you are getting seven to eight hours of sleep, your brain signals your body to release hormones and compounds that assist in brain memory, maintaining your immune system, and decreasing risks in health conditions. Therefore, getting enough quality sleep is key for a healthy lifestyle.

“There’s practically no element of our lives that’s not improved by getting adequate sleep.” – Arianna Huffington

2. Take vacations

Studies show that there are multiple health benefits of vacationing. A few of them consist of less stress, decreased depression, improved productivity, and improved mental health. Who wouldn’t want to experience that right? The ones who break away from the day-to-day functions of working, to go on vacation usually come back on fire and ready to keep crushing their goals.

Vacationing allows you to really put things into perspective, not only for yourself, but for your business as well. Taking vacations gives you the opportunity to unplug and spend that much needed quality time with yourself and your loved ones.

It also gives you time to relax, reflect, and recharge. In doing so, research shows that you come back refreshed and ready to function at peak performance. You also get to have fun, visit really cool places and check off destinations on your bucket list.

3. Take breaks

No matter how much you love your work, you can’t continue to be a driving force while running on empty. CEO Chris Cavallini, of the multi million dollar company Nutrition Solutions, believes in this principal one hundred percent and stands firm on the idea that taking a 60 second break every hour will reboot, recharge, and refocus your mind, body and spirit.

It makes the team more efficient and productive, says Chris. Many times a quick mental or physical shift is all you need, to come back to work with more creativity and more energy for your next breakthrough.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes…including you.” – Anne Lamott

Recent studies have shown that those who experience constant stimulation of the same thing, is registered by our brains as unimportant, to the point that our brain erases it from our awareness.

They also show that taking a two-minute break can increase productivity by as much as 11.15%. Since entrepreneurs are constantly on the go, several short breaks through out the day should definitely be included due to all of the amazing benefits they provide.

Some of the things you could do on your breaks that will increase performance and productivity include, standing and stretching, resting your eyes, quick exercises like jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups, or pull ups and even checking your social media.

The next time you feel like you don’t have time to take a break, think about all the benefits you’ll miss out on by not taking one.

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12 Essential Skills Required to Succeed as an Entrepreneur

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There are lots of unwritten rules about the right set of skills needed to succeed as an entrepreneur. No doubt, entrepreneurs are filled with a sense of uncertainty on the right set of skills they need to acquire. So, how do successful entrepreneurs know the right skills to integrate into their operations? This is the million dollar question, and it’s time to answer it!

As an aspiring or veteran entrepreneur, here are some of the essential skills you need to succeed as an entrepreneur:

1. Money Management

Let’s face it, you can’t achieve your entrepreneurial goals if you don’t know how to manage your finances. You need to put structures in place to monitor where your income and expenses come from.

Ask yourself if you are spending more than you earn, and also calculate your savings ratio. You need to keep yourself informed of the latest financial investment rules and how to navigate your business through difficult situations.

2. Ambition

Yes, ambition is one of the hardest skills for entrepreneurs. The aim is the skill you need to keep going when situations become dire. It’s the ability to know your destination and not to lose focus.

Successful entrepreneurs have an aggressive nature, and this is what drives them to work hard. More so, their dynamic environment keeps them cautious and always on the alert for windfalls.

3. Willingness to Learn

Learning is a continuous process. Most entrepreneurs make the mistake of restricting their education to their educational institution. Instead, knowledge is a life-long process, and it’s an essential skill for successful entrepreneurs. Therefore, you must be updated with recent events in technology, your environment, and your industry. Remember, even old dogs can learn new tricks!

4. Creativity

You need creative skills to succeed as an entrepreneur. Trying out the same thing over and over will still generate the same result. Therefore, you need to harness your creativity to discover new methods of doing things. Mind you, being creative doesn’t mean you have to do something drastic. Sometimes, it requires simple actions such as talking to people or taking up new skills.

“Creative thinking inspires ideas. Ideas inspire change.” – Barbara Januszkiewicz

5. Productivity

Successful entrepreneurs have learned how to harness their productivity skills by discovered what is productive for them, and adhering to it. More so, successful entrepreneurs increase their productivity by working at energy peak levels. Lastly, utilize the productivity tool that works for you and improves on it throughout your entrepreneurial journey.

6. Social Skills

Some entrepreneurs downplay the importance of social skills. This group of people fail to realize that you improve your chances of success by walking with the right people. Search for entrepreneurs with similar goals and observe how they overcame challenges. Furthermore, study their success strategies; this will help you to perfect your business plans.

7. Management Skills

It’s not enough to learn the skills as mentioned above without improving your management skills. As an entrepreneur, you will need to manage your workers effectively to get the right result. This is the time to learn how to encourage, develop, and support your employees. Learning a management skill will help you to recognize and allocate tasks in tandem with their strengths and weakness.

8. Social Media Proficiency

Here’s one skill that can shape the landscape of your business. Yes, social media is an integral part of your success as an entrepreneur. In the initial phase of your business, you will need to assume the role of a social media manager, and this involves knowing how to navigate and use social media platforms.

9. Perseverance

Every successful entrepreneur has experienced failures and crippling defeats. They were able to survive these dire situations when many others lost their businesses. Successful entrepreneurs persevere through these hard moments by choosing to learn and make calculated decisions from experience.

“It’s perseverance that’s the key. It’s persevering for long enough to achieve your potential.” – Lynn Davies

10. Time Management

Time management is considered a valuable skill by a successful entrepreneur. With time management, you need to have a detailed plan or schedule for your daily tasks. More so, this skill helps you to prioritize tasks and how to tackle the important ones.

Time management helps you to battle procrastination when making crucial and everyday business decisions. Think of time management as one of the hard skills for entrepreneurs. Remember, you will never achieve your goals without gaining mastery over your time.

11. Communication

It doesn’t matter if you run a small business or a large corporation. It is imperative for you to know how to communicate effectively with your clients, mentors, stakeholders, and even your employees.

It’s one skill that’s crucial to your success as an entrepreneur. Why? You won’t succeed if you can’t communicate the values of your brand. So, you need to master all forms of communication. What’s more? You need to show your employees the importance of effective communication.

12. Business Strategy

Having a business strategy is considered an essential skill for successful entrepreneurs. Although most entrepreneurs reached the pinnacle of their careers through sheer will and strength, it’s necessary to have a business strategy. Utilize the skills mentioned above to create a business structure that’ll stand the test of time.

We’ve successfully created a list of skills to succeed as an entrepreneur. No doubt, it’s been an eventful journey. Now, all you need is to integrate these skills into your mode of operations. Practice these skills until it becomes the core of your business operations.

Which one of the above 12 skills do you feel is most important for an entrepreneur? Share your thoughts below!

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