How to Build a Side Hustle Into a Massive Success
Emmy-winning entrepreneur Natalie MacNeil's 10 tips for conquering the world.
MacNeil is now focused on transforming businesses around the world through The Conquer Club, a 12-month incubator program for entrepreneurs. She has appeared in outlets such as Inc., Forbes, ForbesWoman, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Mashable and more.
I recently sat down with her to ask how others can take on the world -- and conquer it.
1. Quiet your mind.
MacNeil wanted to go solo after college, but faced opposition from friends, family and colleagues. Most recommended she first get "some real world experience." She also had doubts herself. To figure out what to do, MacNeil unplugged from life and went alone to Europe.
"Sometimes we need that," she explains. "Sometimes we know what's right for us, but as Steve Jobs said, we let the noise of other people's opinions drown out what we know is our truth and what feels right for us."
On her trip, she not only felt convinced she was meant to start a business, but also came up with the "She Takes on the World" concept. Listening to your intuition is key, MacNeil believes, and can lead to the best feeling in the world: alignment. She defined this as "when you feel like you are in the right place, doing the right thing."
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2. Make the time.
When MacNeil started She Takes on the World, she was actively running her first business with her co-founder. What she is known for now was actually her side hustle for about three years. How did she make the time? She made use of what she calls five-to-nine time, the space outside of one's nine-to-five.
"There were a few solid hours every day that I would focus on just doing two or three things to move forward," she says. "Sometimes that was creating a smaller digital course, sometimes it was writing for the blog or sometimes it was writing for another media outlet. Sometimes it was filming a video, but just small baby steps."
3. Maximize that time.
When you carve out that time, make the most of it. Like many of the entrepreneurs I interview, she swears by batching.
"Batching is my life," she jokes.
For example, she does all of her meal planning and preparation on Sundays so that she wastes no time on meals during the week. When I chatted with her, she had recently shot 72 videos -- basically her video content for the entire year -- during a four-day shoot.
But as entrepreneurs, we have new ideas and we want to tweak and to hone, so I had to know, do you still love that video when it actually comes out nine months later? Not always, she said, but as the saying goes, done is better than perfect.
"As an entrepreneur [you need to learn] to just let go of the perfection," she says. "My goal is to always get things to where I'm 80 percent happy, and then we get it out there, and we get feedback and we tweak it along the way."
4. Make the commitment.
MacNeil creates and publishes a massive amount of content each year. It's necessary, she explains, if you want to build a personal platform and grow a blog into business -- or grow any business in today's content-driven world. Many don't find success because they can't stay committed.
"It's a huge investment of time and resources and so many people give up along the way," she says. "If you want [big opportunities], you've got to be in this for the long haul. So find something that you are going to be passionate about, talking about on a regular basis, because you've got to do it and you've got to do it consistently."
Consistency is a key component of commitment, and one of her biggest pieces of advice to rookie entrepreneurs. She explains that between 2008 and 2011, there wasn't a single week that went by where she didn't work on the She Takes on the World brand.
5. Choose your priorities.
Once you make time and start to maximize that time, it's important that you have your priorities straight. If you don't know the big picture goals, you'll end up putting effort into tasks that don't actually move the needle for your business. For MacNeil, those goals included getting press coverage, finding an agent and getting a traditional publishing deal. To stay on track she has a "5 by 5" Plan: five major goals a year, with five important tasks per goal.
"These are 25 main things that you're working on for the year, which I find makes your year flow a lot better," MacNeil says. "Focusing on 25 things in 365 days [makes it easier to know] what to say yes to and what to say no to."
6. Get really (really) detailed.
At this point in the interview, as MacNeil gave examples on how to break down goals and steps, I literally touched her arm to make sure she was human, and not a robot. The woman is a planning machine. She's passionate about this step because she believes many entrepreneurs don't realize just how much detail should go into their planning.
"The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs make is not having enough deliverables," she says. "Not having enough things to hold yourself accountable."
7. Be proactive.
One of the big turning points for She Takes on the World was a Forbes feature on MacNeil. The feature came about, she explained, because she proactively followed reporters, journalists and editors on twitter. She made sure she was engaged in their conversations.
"That is an investment of your time but one that can definitely pay off," she says. "Business is all about building strong relationships. And Twitter was the platform that I used to build relationships with people who I otherwise may not have had access to."
8. Take care of yourself.
Like many peak performers, MacNeil is a believer in green juices, bulletproof coffee, staying hydrated and eating whole, organic foods. She is also a big believer in meditation and breathing exercises, which she's practiced for years.
"Health is wealth," she says. "You've got to take care of you, so that you have the energy to do the work that you want to do in the world."
9. Find support.
MacNeil says she believes mentors and mastermind groups are vital for success.
"I think you need to surround yourself with people who are going to lift you up," she says. "You need to surround yourself with people who have been where you want to go."
She warned about working with mentors that are too far ahead of you in their journey. Many times they can't remember what it's like to be in your shoes, so find someone who is just a few steps further along.
Support for MacNeil also includes a team of about 18, from part-time virtual assistants to production teams and a house cleaner. She recommend to look at your budget and start outsourcing small things as soon as you can.
10. Create a vision.
Early on, people in MacNeil's life didn't understand how she was making so much money from a blog. But She Takes on the World was never a blog to MacNeil. From day one, she treated the brand as a media company, even raising a round of funding to build the first iteration of her online membership platform. Having a long-term vision is vital not only for success but also for your own morale, she says.
"Know your purpose, stay in alignment with that, stay grounded in that, remember that why, always," she says. "Remember who you're serving."
Watch more videos from "The Pursuit" on the show's YouTube channel.
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