Goals and Achievements

January is always a time to pump yourself up for the New Year. You make lofty goals, plan and compile lists and work very hard on implementing them. One of the best things we could have done for ourselves and our business this year was to attend our industry tradeshow. We spent a full day in education classes, which I will talk about in another post, and we visited over 850 supplier booths to get new product ideas to help our customers. But the most exciting thing we did was attend a keynote with Sara Blakely, the founder and owner of SPANX.

If you have not heard Sara speak, or heard her incredible story about her struggle to bring her product to market, a product that has revitalized the $2 billion hosiery industry, you are missing out. In search of the right undergarment she cut the feet out of her pantyhose to wear with white pants and open-toed shoes. At that moment, Sara knew she had a million-dollar idea. 

I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house. At least the women in the audience, all around us, had tears in their eyes; either from laughing at her humorous anecdotes of how she embarked on her adventure or from the fact that she didn’t stop trying even when no one would listen to her idea or help her manufacture a prototype, which eventually built her a $100 million company in just seven short years!

Sara didn’t have venture capital, she didn’t have a sugar daddy, or the type of connections some have when starting a business. All she had was an idea, and sometimes a plan, and a lot of perseverance to make her dream come true.

Her struggle was real. She shared her thoughts all along the process of working through her idea and getting it to market. They weren’t generalizations, but “here is what I did, and these were the problems I encountered along the way”.  She was answering the same type of questions I ask myself about others who grow their businesses fast, and I am sure others ask: Did they know someone in the business? Did they have a huge pile of cash available to them? Was her idea purchased by someone in the early stages that catapulted her to fame? The answer to all of these questions is no. She honestly didn’t have a clue as to how to bring her product to market, just tenacity and a burning desire to make a difference for women who purchased undergarments.

I asked my staff to tell me what was the most important information they learned from the keynote, and here is an excerpt of their answers: “I definitely did have some tears in my eyes when Sara was speaking. She was very powerful and very insightful. She made me believe that regardless of your background in life, if you have a mindset and you’re willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in whatever project you’re setting out to achieve, it can be done!  Another key point is: Dedication. Everyone told her that she wouldn’t get anywhere with her ideas and that her invention was "crazy". She was determined to make a name for herself and her product even though everyone had their doubts and nobody wanted to help her market her idea (in the beginning).” Michelle"

If you weren’t trained to do your job, how could you make it better?”  This quote was powerful to me. Jaime 

As we look ahead to our plans and ideas for 2008 and beyond, I hope that my staff and I can use Sara’s story to help work through any issues that come up, keep sight of our goals and try to find better, more efficient ways to do our job.