Billionaires often share their life stories and paths to success, but few disclose their tactics in any greater detail, which is why I was skeptical about the value of any online entrepreneurial course run by one. However, I still decided to enroll in the “Sara Blakely teaches Self-Made Entrepreneurship” MasterClass to see whether she might be different as a teacher.
If you’re reading this review, you’re likely wondering about what it has to offer and whether it’s the right fit for you. In this review, we’ll dive into the course and my perspective on it, weigh the pros and cons, identify the ideal audience, explore the cost, and help you decide if it’s a worthwhile investment. Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Who is Sara Blakely?
Sara Treleaven Blakely is an American entrepreneur who gained worldwide recognition for founding Spanx, a groundbreaking shapewear and undergarment company that revolutionized the fashion industry.
Sara didn’t graduate from a prestigious business school, nor was she a trust fund beneficiary. In fact, her journey to success is a testament to the power of passion, creativity, and unwavering determination.
For 7 years of her life, Blakely sold fax machines door to door. Tired of this, she used the $5,000 she had saved and basically converted it into a multimillion-dollar company over the span of a decade. That’s without any formal fashion or business education.
It’s Blakely’s unique approach to inventing products, which was primarily rooted in personal necessity, that made Spanx an iconic brand. She almost singlehandedly disrupted a market dominated by major players and became the world’s youngest self-made female billionaire (until Kylie Jenner took that spot).
Throughout her career, she not only built an empire but also became a pioneer in the shapewear industry. From humble beginnings to global recognition, Blakely’s journey is nothing short of inspirational.
What is the Sara Blakely MasterClass?
With 14 video lessons, this course covers a wide range of topics for the budding entrepreneur, from generating ideas and fostering the right mindset to in-depth strategies for production, marketing, and effective selling techniques. This three-and-a-half-hour course is packed with practical knowledge, personal anecdotes, and case studies providing essential guidance for those trying to start and grow their own business.
To maximize your learning, I recommend watching the video lessons and completing the assignments in the accompanying workbook. Whether you’re already a business owner or on the brink of launching your venture, you can approach this course in two ways: follow along in the same order with the development of your business or watch all the video lessons first while keeping the workbook handy as a valuable resource for the growth of your enterprise.
What is covered in the course?
Diving into her virtual classroom, Sara Blakely guides learners on how to take their inventions and develop them into a fully functioning business. Her lessons aren’t just about the “how-to” but also the “why” and “when.”
The course can be broken down into 4 main sections:
- Entrepreneurial mindset and generating ideas
- Making and selling products
- Marketing strategies
- Running a company
Let’s have a deeper look at each of these.
Entrepreneurial mindset and generating ideas
Blakely’s course begins with a personal anecdote on what kept her propelled towards her goal of making women’s undergarments that didn’t reveal panty lines. Why? Because they didn’t exist. So, her purpose was to invent shapewear – undergarments that considered women’s needs and wants. Here, she highlights the importance of turning your “why,” your purpose, into your business mission.
Having a purpose, setting your intention, and defining failure as only that which we never try puts us in a certain headspace. Of course, an entrepreneurial mindset like this doesn’t by itself get us anywhere, we need to develop ideas. To do so Blakely’s actionable advice includes letting your mind wander, filtering ideas, identifying unexplored entrepreneurial areas (“white spaces”), and deciding when to disclose or protect your idea. She even offers her thoughts on non-disclosure agreements and possibilities of patenting ideas.
Having ideas and an entrepreneurial mindset goes hand in hand. What Blakely shows, here, is how to align them towards your business goals.
Making and selling inventions
In the production and sales lessons, Blakely begins with prototyping, where you must manage cost, time, and resources. Feedback from others (such as family or friends) is crucial for improving your prototype.
The next step, according to Blakely, involves selecting a manufacturer and being prepared for potential resistance, especially if your invention is unconventional. Convincing manufacturers and negotiating terms is vital for success.
Expect unforeseen obstacles in the production process, but preserve your entrepreneurial spirit.
When your invention is ready for sale, Blakely advises understanding your audience, leveraging your strengths, and confronting your fears. Focus on selling solutions to problems, not just product features, keeping three things in mind: what the problem is, how your product is the solution, and why it’s better than others.
There are several strategic marketing lessons that Blakely presents; here are a few that stand out:
- Build your brand story, whether through paid or organic advertisements, external or in-house publicists, or any outlets that you can pitch your brand to.
- Make sure the packaging stands out.
- Break conventions such as pitching directly in stores that have your products for direct feedback or telling friends to buy your products and reimburse them afterward.
- Use social media, but make sure people associate positive emotions with your invention.
- Obsess over the product or always under-promise and over-deliver.
- Aim for perceived value and choose between value-based or cost-based product pricing.
- Strategize discounts so that you won’t struggle with putting the price back at the original.
Running your company
Towards the end of her MasterClass, Blakely provides tips on running your business. These tips cover her approach to interviewing potential employees, defining the company culture, and giving back to the workforce. In addition to these tips, she offers an exercise for learners to contemplate and write about how they would treat their employees to uphold the company culture effectively.
In the final lesson, Blakely shares her unique survival guide for business owners, which includes:
- Building a support system
- Taking calculated risks
- Starting small
- “Bucketing” time
- Figuring things out as you go
My favorite lessons
There are many lessons to choose from, but here are my top three favorite lessons from the Sara Blakely MasterClass.
Increasing your closing ratio
Blakely’s incorporation of four personality types – the director, the socializer, the relator, and the thinker – to optimize your closing ratio is a methodical and strategic approach that enhances sales effectiveness. By understanding and categorizing potential clients or customers within these personality types, sales professionals can tailor their communication and sales techniques accordingly. This can not only boost the likelihood of closing sales but also foster stronger and more authentic relationships between salespersons and clients, as long as you maintain some flexibility.
Marketing case study: Mented
In this case study, learners have the opportunity to access Blakely’s specific advice for a new startup cosmetics company. She discusses differentiation in retail, and students are exposed to how her tactics and strategies can be implemented in the real world. I found this case study very helpful as it reviews most of the previous lessons and demonstrates how they can genuinely impact a real company. This includes a reevaluation of the “why” behind Mented Cosmetics and identifying their “hero” or star product for marketing purposes.
The perfect black pant
This case study on Spanx black pant is a prime example of putting Blakely’s strategy into action. Firm on her stance not to diversify Spanx products until a clear problem can be identified and resolved, Blakely refrained from prematurely transitioning from shapewear to apparel and activewear.
In the early iterations, fabric technology couldn’t resolve the issue of incorporating shaping and smoothing into activewear. However, a decade later, Blakely and her team successfully designed the ideal black ponte pant, seamlessly incorporating shaping and smoothing in the fabric. This resulted in a perfect fit, wrinkle resistance, travel-friendliness, and ease of wear.
Blakely’s commitment to her tactics serves as a valuable lesson for entrepreneurs. It shows that patience and persistence can lead to innovative solutions and long-term success.
What are the strengths of the course?
Learning from an accomplished self-made entrepreneur
Sara Blakely’s insights and experiences as a self-made entrepreneur offer students a firsthand look into the world of business success. By sharing her challenges, failures, and triumphs, Blakely not only motivates but also provides practical guidance on what worked well for her. Students can draw inspiration from her story and learn from her achievements, gaining a unique perspective that can’t be found in textbooks alone.
High-quality course materials, including workbooks and additional resources
One of the standout features of the Sara Blakely MasterClass is the attention to detail when it comes to course material. The inclusion of a workbook that has further additional resources elevates the learning experience. These materials serve as valuable references that students can revisit long after completing the course. These resources ensure that learners have the tools they need to succeed, even after the MasterClass ends.
Clear and easy-to-follow explanations and demonstrations
Blakely’s teaching style is characterized by its clarity and accessibility. She breaks down complex concepts into understandable, bite-sized pieces, making it easy for students of varying backgrounds and expertise levels to follow along. Her demonstrations of key principles and strategies are not only informative but also engaging, ensuring that students stay connected and motivated throughout the course.
Emphasis on practical application for professional growth
Blakely places a strong emphasis on applying what is learned in a real-world context. Students are provided with actionable skills and assignments from the workbook that they can immediately put to use in their own entrepreneurial endeavors. This focus on application is an invaluable aspect of the course, as it equips students with the tools they need to drive professional growth and success.
Self-paced lessons for flexible learning
The flexibility of self-paced learning is a key advantage of this MasterClass. It accommodates the diverse schedules and commitments of students, allowing them to absorb the content at their own pace. This flexibility is especially important in the entrepreneurial world, where individuals often have busy lives and varying levels of experience. It ensures that the MasterClass is accessible to a wide audience and can be tailored to the specific needs and goals of each student.
What can be improved?
Some lessons have insufficient practical guidance
While the majority of Sara Blakely’s MasterClass provides practical and actionable insights, there are a few lessons that fall short in terms of offering specific guidance. Some students might find that certain lessons lack the hands-on, step-by-step instructions they were hoping for, which could be a limitation for those seeking a more direct application of concepts.
Self-motivation is necessary without built-in accountability measures
As a self-paced course, Blakely’s MasterClass relies on the self-motivation of its students. While this flexibility is an advantage for many, it can also be a weakness for those who require external accountability to stay on track. Some learners may struggle with maintaining consistent progress without the structure of set deadlines or regular check-ins.
Who is it for?
The Sara Blakely MasterClass caters to a diverse audience, including:
- Aspiring entrepreneurs: Offering insights and inspiration for those starting their entrepreneurial journeys
- Business owners: Providing strategies for growth, innovation, and overcoming challenges
- Business counselling professionals: Enhancing advisory skills and knowledge
- Students and educators: practical insights into entrepreneurship for academic or personal growth
- Innovators and creatives: Looking to develop entrepreneurial skills for turning ideas into reality
- Career changers: Exploring new paths in the world of entrepreneurship
- Curious Learners: Interested in the life and strategies of a self-made billionaire
How much does Sara Blakely's MasterClass cost?
Since MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, you can’t purchase courses individually. Therefore, if you want to take Sara Blakely’s entrepreneurship class, you have to become a subscriber.
The annual subscription to Masterclass costs $120 per year, or $10 per month. The MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 180+ classes. That said, if you want to take multiple classes, a MasterClass subscription is definitely worth it.
The platform also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.
Verdict: Is it worth it?
In the end, Sara Blakely’s MasterClass presents a valuable opportunity for those interested in entrepreneurship, but its worth ultimately hinges on your individual goals and preferences. For aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners, the insights from a self-made billionaire are undeniably appealing. The course’s curriculum and practical approach provide a platform for learning and growth.
However, the decision to invest in this MasterClass should be made with consideration of your specific needs – some students, for example, may desire more direct feedback and structured guidance.
To conclude, the Sara Blakely MasterClass offers useful insights into launching and growing your business. It has a broad appeal, from new entrepreneurs to those wanting to take their existing business to the next level. Blakely’s success story and practicality as a teacher make this course an appealing choice for many, in particular those who value hands-on knowledge and are self-motivated learners.
Ultimately, the course provides a unique opportunity to learn from a remarkable self-made billionaire, and for those who are committed to applying the knowledge gained, it can be a valuable asset in their journey to become a successful entrepreneur.