08/26/2014 11:52 am ET Updated Oct 26, 2014

Extraordinary Women in Business: What Inspires Them to Keep Succeeding?


We all love a good success story. We learn about someone who built a business from the ground up, where they came from and how they got to where they are today. While a lot can be learned from that process, the question remains: What inspires successful people to keep succeeding?

I have always taught my clients that successful people leave clues. If you study them, you will find a common theme: Success can be found in one's daily habits. If you can change your habits, you can change your life.

Today I am sharing what I believe are success clues gleamed by extraordinary women who have reached the pinnacle of success in their fields. Many of these women have key habits and practices in common that played a big part in their career. When these habits are practiced, inspiration flows easily. And with inspiration comes continued success.

Success Clue: Visualization
Kimora Lee Simmons, President and Creative Director of JustFab

Visualization is a true success secret that many either aren't aware of, or don't take as seriously as they should. It is about taking time each and every day to sit quietly and imagine: imagine all of your dreams and goals, imagine yourself reaching them, imagine how it feels to accomplish them, imagine what your dream life looks like, imagine your best possible outcome. Visualization is about seeing it in your head. When you do this, your subconscious mind will go to work on attracting it into your life.

This is exactly what happened with Kimora Lee Simmons. In her book Fabulosity, she writes that with the first checking account she opened she wrote herself a check for $1 million. She says that she wrote it as a promise to herself of the success she would have in her future. Although she was earning good money as a model at the time, she wasn't yet at millionaire status. So she wrote the check and kept it in a treasure box. Kimora went on to create fashion label Baby Phat and it become a household name and multi-million dollar lifestyle brand. Kimora is now the President and Creative Director of JustFab, an online fashion subscription service that offers a personalized shopping experience for its members. Kimora has said that she still has that $1 million check and if she wanted to cash it today, she could. Because she visualized the outcome she desired, she was able to achieve that exact thing.

Success Clue: Planning
Natalie Massanet, founder and Executive Chairman of Net-a-Porter

Planning is a critical component to success as an entrepreneur. Planning and preparation are never lost time. It is important to plan out your week and day while also planning for the month and entire year. Things will always go so much more smoothly when you have planned them out. Slow down, get quiet for a few minutes and think through the process. What is your next move? What step should you take next to move you closer to your goal? What big things do you want to accomplish, and what plans are needed to make them happen?

In a Glamour magazine article, Natalie Massanet said, "Success begins at that magical moment when you declare to yourself, your friends, and the universe that you believe you can do something different." Natalie started Net-a-Porter, an e-commerce site for designer fashion, long before anyone else had even thought of such an idea. This year, Time magazine named Natalie as one of the 100 Most Influential People. She is now executive chairman of her company after selling it for $350 million.

This innovative entrepreneur tells her entire story through her Instagram account, @nataporter_mystorysofar. One of the posts tells of how she had the opportunity to travel to Tokyo, Japan, after graduating from college. She only had a hotel room for three nights and a small amount of spending money from her father. However, she was determined to stay and had already told her friends that she would be living there for a year! Through a strong belief in herself, she was able to make the trip a success and stay for exactly one year, despite not having a job or place to live when she first arrived. However, what she did before leaving for Japan was plan carefully. She researched potential teaching jobs and made contacts in Tokyo before her trip. Because of her planning, it was easy to get work, find housing and begin to make a living very quickly after arriving in the city that she was supposed to be in for three days.

Success Clue: Self-study
Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx

Doing your own research as an entrepreneur is crucial. We live in the "information age," and it is readily available through so many channels. You have to know your industry and your market. To do that you need to carefully study it. It's also important to recognize what you don't know and be willing to learn and grow in any area necessary to succeed, even if that means teaching yourself. For example, as a business owner, the bookstore should be one of your favorite places to spend time.

Sara Blakely is a self-made billionaire, that's right, a billionaire, thanks to her now-infamous shapewear line, Spanx. While the prototype was in development, Sara began working on the patent for her game-changing product. At the time, because her product was just getting ready to launch, she wasn't willing to spend up to $5,000 in legal fees that a patent lawyer would cost. In order to apply for the patent for Spanx, Sara actually wrote her own patent after purchasing a textbook from Barnes & Noble. Her resourcefulness and willingness to learn about patent law saved her thousands of dollars while gaining her a patent and trademark at a fraction of the cost. Her company went on to achieve $4 million in sales in its first year alone. She is now the world's youngest self-made female billionaire and Forbes has named her among its top 100 "Power Women Who Lead the World."

Success Clue: Storyboarding
Kelly Wearstler, interior designer, fashion designer and blogger

Storyboarding is widely used in the film and fashion industries as a way to visually map out anything from a movie scene to a new designer collection. In business, storyboarding can also be used as a tool to create a visual roadmap for where you want to go. It is as easy as cutting out words and images from magazines and pasting them on to a board. Keep the board in a place where you will see it every day. Focus on it during your time of visualization. Storyboarding is a practice that can accelerate your goals.

Kelly Wearstler has risen to the top of her industry as an interior designer, and is also a successful fashion designer, author and blogger. She has collaborated with global brands such as Bergdorf Goodman and Paperless Post, and appeared as a judge on Bravo TV's series Top Design. Kelly's blog, MyVibeMyLife, houses mood imagery and inspiration garnered from sources around the globe. It is like a stunning digital storyboard showcasing everything that Kelly draws inspiration from. She posts photos of everything that inspires her in the design and creative process. Her blog alone has gained a worldwide following and is a great example of how the process of storyboarding can come to life.

Success Clue: Networking
Ivanka Trump, Executive Vice President of Development & Acquisitions for The Trump Organization

It is important to always be nice to people, as you truly never know whom you're going to be sitting next to. Networking can be done anywhere. As a business owner you have to step out of your comfort zone and talk to people, every day, everywhere you go. Carry business cards and set a goal amount that you will distribute daily. You just never know what connection could lead to a major breakthrough for you and your business.

With an impressive resume that includes model, business executive, author and fashion designer for her Ivanka Trump Collection brand, Ivanka Trump learned early on the value of networking. In her book The Trump Card, Ivanka explains how she learned from her mother the art of sending hand-written notes. Practicing this put her face-to-face in a private one-on-one meeting with the world's wealthiest man. She shares how she sent a note to Carlos Slim, who is known as the richest man in Mexico and was ranked by Forbes as the richest person in the world from 2010 to 2013. Ivanka had read of his success in rescuing The New York Times from financial trouble. She was impressed and sent him a note stating she had been following his brilliant career. A week later, the business mogul contacted Ivanka and invited her to a meeting where she was able to spend two hours discussing business philosophies, real estate trends and the future of media. Ivanka said, "I believe very strongly in the power of networking."

Success Clue: Authenticity
Rebecca Minkoff, fashion designer and Creative Director of Rebecca Minkoff LLC

As an entrepreneur, you are your brand. And as people learn of your brand, they will want to get to know the face and name behind it. They will want to get to know you. Showing your real and true self to your customer goes a long way toward earning their trust, which in turn earns their business and builds a loyal following. Social media is one of the best ways to get your brand out there and let people see your authentic self.

BusinessWire has listed Rebecca Minkoff's company among the top 50 fastest-growing women-led companies. The brand's expansion can largely be attributed to the use of social media. Rebecca says she uses sites like Twitter and Facebook to listen to her customers and connect with them. She takes their feedback seriously. According to a report in Women's Wear Daily, Rebecca used Instagram to post a photo of her own shoes each day. This prompted a 100 percent increase in footwear sales in 2012. In an Entrepreneur magazine article, Rebecca said, "I'm never going to be a designer who will sit in an ivory tower. My die-hards know that they can email me and I'll be the one responding."

Success Clue: Atmosphere
Beyonce Knowles-Carter, musical artist and entertainer

Your environment plays such a big part in your success. Among other things, it affects your mood, productivity, creativity and thinking. A messy or cluttered environment will drain you. On the contrary, a beautiful, clean environment will energize you. Additionally, a change of scenery every so often is just as important. Expose yourself to new places. Exposure breeds desire, and with it motivation to forge ahead.

Beyonce, a world-famous musical superstar, understands the importance of getting in the right atmosphere. In a Self magazine interview, Beyonce said, "I love going to dinners, seeing plays and visiting museums. I know it's time to jump back into my work when everything I do starts inspiring lyrics and melodies." She is able to stay inspired by changing her environment and exposing herself to new things.

Success Clue: Tuning in to Intuition
Oprah Winfrey, media and television host

Tuning into intuition is sometimes overlooked because we have a tendency to focus on all the practical things we can do. However, having a spiritual focus is important too. Oprah Winfrey is a great example of this. Take time regularly to focus on your inner voice: What is your intuition telling you?

Oprah has perhaps one of the most inspiring success stories of all. From growing up poor and suffering abuse as a child, to turning her life around by focusing on her education, to moving up through the ranks in the media industry, to getting her own talk show. Oprah set big, yet clear, goals about what she wanted to achieve in life from a young age. In 1987, she was quoted saying, "I always knew I'd be a millionaire by age thirty-two."

Oprah is known for following her intuition. Going with her gut instinct has been a major force behind her success. She practices quiet meditation and listens to her inner voice. She has said in interviews that she takes time daily to get quiet: "Take five minutes to center yourself in the morning...Set your intention every day...If you don't have five minutes, you don't deserve to have the life of your dreams."

Success Clue: Mentorship
Tracy Reese, fashion designer

As they say, "no man is an island." We all succeed through the help of others. It is often those who recognize the need for coaching and mentorship who achieve their goals more quickly and reach higher levels of success. When you are willing to follow the path carved out by those who have gone before you, it makes it that much easier to get there.

Tracy Reese is a fashion visionary whose designs are famously worn by First Lady Michelle Obama. She grew up in a middle-class household in Detroit and would sew clothes for her dolls as a child. She had the opportunity to attend New York's Parsons School of Design through a scholarship and finished in an accelerated program. From there she became an apprentice to French designer Martine Sitbon. Through this relationship, Tracy was encouraged to develop her talents and start sketching her own designs. This was very uncommon in the industry, but because Tracy had found a great mentor, she was pushed to move forward toward her dream of designing for her own line.

Tracy went on to work for Perry Ellis, and teamed up with designer Gordon Henderson, who also became a mentor to her. By this point in her career, she had tried to start her own line but had to close the business because she couldn't meet production costs. Henderson mentored her about running a successful start-up line. Tracy re-launched a contemporary sportswear line but continued struggling to meet costs. Finally she was connected to an accountant who was a India native with ties to textile manufacturers. She launched her Plenty line and sales grew into the millions. Today she is one of the top African American women designers running her own label. Because she recognized that she couldn't do it alone and followed the wisdom of her mentors, Tracy was able to reach major success.

These are some of the success clues that extraordinary women have followed. When you catch the clues and implement it into your own life and daily routine, you will notice your mindset begin to change, and you will start to form success habits that cause you to manifest your desires. Be inspired by the examples of success by stocking up on books and audio programs that guide you towards your goals. My book Success Attraction Notes and Quotes, is a compilation of my own success clues that many have asked of me. It's set up as a 30-day program to help you take daily action as you pursue your own extraordinary achievement!

Tell me in the comments below, what successful clues have you picked up and implemented in your business and life?