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6 Things Sara Blakely Said about Starting a Small Business

Spanx FounderSara Blakely started her first business just out of high school—a kid’s club at the local Hilton charging $8 to babysit a child while parents sat in the sun tanning. She wanted to go to law school, but when she failed the LSAT, she took a job at Disney World. After a few months, she joined an office supply company, becoming the national sales trainer in less than 5 years. But, like so many other business start-ups, her real break-though came when she tried to solve a nagging problem—how to look firmer and eliminate the lines created by typical underwear. With just $5000, she launched Spanx and hasn’t looked back. Last week she was named to Forbe’s list of World’s Billionaires, the youngest woman ever to achieve that success entirely on her own. But most impressively to us, she and Spanx have “paid it forward” by donating nearly $18 million to favorite charities. We’re inspired by her story and by some of the things she has said about starting a new business:

“Most of the reason we don’t do things is because we’re afraid to fail. I just made a decision one day that I was not not going to do things in my life because of fear.”

“With every obstacle that has happened to me in my life, my brain immediately says, ‘Where is the hidden blessing?’ In starting a business and growing a business, every day is learning how to manage obstacles.”

“My advice for an entrepreneur just starting out is to differentiate yourself. Why are you different? What’s important about you? Why does the customer need you?”

“You’ve got to visualize where you’re headed and be very clear about it. Take a polaroid picture of where you’re going to be in a few years.”

“Embrace what you don’t know, especially in the beginning because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset. It ensures that you will be doing things absolutely differently from everybody else.”

“Don’t solicit feedback on your product, your idea, or your business just for validation purposes. Be really careful about that. You want to tell the people that can help move your idea forward. But if you’re just looking to your friend, coworker, husband, wife, for validation, be careful. Because out of love… a lot of people will express some concerns, and it can stop a lot of multi-million dollar ideas right in their tracks.”

—Sara Blakely, Entrepreneur, Founder of Spanx