How Putting Purpose Before Profit Led Spanx Billionaire to Success

Spanx owner Sara Blakely
Spanx owner Sara Blakely

When Sara Blakely started her own company, little did she know she would change an entire industry. She created a new product category when she introduced Spanx. The founder was working as a salesperson by day and performing stand-up comedy at night. Then, she came up with the idea for a better pair of pantyhose.

How did she do it?

Blakely visited mill owners and convinced them to make her product. She wrote the patent for it and personally modeled her prototype for retail buyers. She grew her company without formal advertising or any outside investment. Today, her company offers more than 100 styles of Spanx in stores ranging from Neiman Marcus to Target. She continues to innovate and recently released a new denim collection along with opening stand-alone retail stores across the country.

Blakely was interviewed by Forbes about her advice on disruptive leadership: “My advice is to ask a lot of questions,” said Blakely. “Why did you do it that way? Is it because it’s how it’s always been done, or is it the best way? As a leader, you have to teach your team to find new ideas."

The billionaire also encourages failure. “When you’re disruptive, there are bound to be missteps. Celebrate mistakes and lessons learned.”

Blakely continues to innovate and invent. She’s disrupting not only her industry, but her own company as well—proving that with this kind of breakthrough leadership, creativity has no bounds. Spring Arbor University offers an online MBA with six unique concentrations.

While not all of our students have dreams to start their own business, our online MBA program ensures graduates are equipped to develop the expert skills in critical thinking, ethical reasoning, analytical problem solving, decision-making, and financial skills needed to make positive impacts on industry.