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Start-up Advice

How To Build A Side Hustle Into A Massive Success

Emmy-winning entrepreneur Natalie MacNeil’s 10 tips for conquering the world.

Kelsey Humphreys

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Natalie MacNeil is an Emmy Award-winning producer and the bestselling author of She Takes on the World, The Conquer Kit and Conquer Your Year.

MacNeil is now focused on transforming businesses around the world through The Conquer Club, a 12-month incubator programme 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.”

Related: Entrepreneurs Should Always Be Dabbling In Side Businesses. Here’s Why

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. Maximise that time

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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.”

Related: How Nyalu Communications Began as a Side Business but Grew to Success

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 maximise 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.“

Related: Hustling on a Side Business? How to Find the Time.

6. Get really (really) detailed

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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 realise 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.”

Related: How To Start A Side Hustle Without Quitting Your Day Job

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.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Kelsey Humphreys is an entrepreneur and journalist on a mission to inspire and equip you for success. She is the creator of the Pursuit Planner and author of the Amazon bestseller Go Solo. Catch her interviews with today's leaders on her show The Pursuit.

Start-up Advice

Start-ups: Creating A High Tech/High Touch Environment

Here are some practical tips for creating a ‘high tech/high touch environment’.

Dirk Coetsee

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In this fast-paced tech orientated world things are changing at a frightening yet exciting rate. It is so easy and so quick to create a tech start-up from anywhere in the world and office space as a requirement to start up has become obsolete, your garage will do. Yet because it is so easy and so cost effective for so many to create a start-up it is so hard to stand out amongst this entanglement of serial tech entrepreneurs and innovative start-ups.

The millennial generations’ general paradigm of thinking, which is more open –minded and entrepreneurial is slowly but surely breaking through the barriers of traditional business operations, mechanisms and methods, imbalances are created, however, when tech is the sole focus and people are forgotten in the process. As is so evident throughout history eventually by some means balance is sought in order to create equilibrium.

This writing serves as advice to all tech start-ups to seek balance from the onset in creating a “high tech/high touch” environment. A “High tech/high touch” environment can be defined as a balanced approach where both tech solutions, and of equal importance, team empowerment and inspiring leadership form a potent combination of enduring success.

Related: What Is Limiting Your Entrepreneurial Mindset

Technology by itself cannot solve everything but technology applied in unison with a strong people centred approach can be a powerful catalyst towards solving at least some of this worlds’ major challenges.

Although many factors such as for example fiscal discipline and other management controls play a vital role in your start-ups’ success do not forget to create an inspiring environment for your team within which they feel safe and united in purpose. Key to business growth is the individual growth of all team members and no stone should be left unturned in moving from a toxic and/or culture of complacency to a learning and growth culture.

Co-create an inspiring vision for your team and get their full buy-in. If you cannot do that you might have to put in more effort when it comes to your own leadership skills and/or “free up the future” of complacent and lethargic employees whom simply do not want to work hard to collectively actualise your business’ co-created vision.

Although very hard, it is worth the effort to only hire people that are passionate about and have integrity in what they do. If a sustainable and successful “high tech” environment is the aim ensure that it is underpinned by very smart hiring and training practises further enhanced by a good dose of inspirational servant leadership.

Generally speaking, everyone wants to feel part of something bigger, exciting, and inspiring. It is your responsibility as founder and leader to create a motivating and energetic business climate wherein every team member is empowered to execute at a rapid pace and with a “zero defect” mind-set. A team environment wherein everyone sincerely wants to be great at what they do and are energised by ‘small wins’ on the path to actualising the grand vision of the company is far more inspiring and sustainable as opposed to an environment where ‘subordinates’ are only managed and basically forced to do their jobs.

Related: The Anatomy Of Peak Performance

Sincerely care for your people yet maintain balance,as caring does not mean you treat them like children. Caring means taking great interest in both their career and personal development, and to be tough enough to eventually let those go that does not constructively contribute to a positive growth culture.

Here are some practical tips for creating a ‘high tech/high touch environment’:

  • Have a balanced approach in hiring. Hire for technical and people skills and ensure that there is a clear development and training plan for all team members that is reasonable and attainable.
  • Find your purpose as an entrepreneur and with great enthusiasm model that purpose at every juncture as to inspire others to find their purpose.
  • As ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’ guard the positive and growth culture that you model as a leader with all your energy and remove anything and anyone from the aforesaid culture that is counter-productive to your business performance.
  • Sincerely care about and show that you care about each individual team members’ personal and career development.
  • Regularly put having fun and inspiration high on meeting agendas as we generally take ourselves too seriously.

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Start-up Advice

Why You Shouldn’t Quit Your Job To Start A Business

Rather than taking the plunge, consider dipping your toe in first

Yannick van den Bos

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As the world becomes more digitized and access to the internet is something we all enjoy, more and more of us want to quit our day jobs to start our own businesses. The word “entrepreneur” is thrown around a lot these days, with many people seeing it as a means to enjoy a whole new level of professional, financial and personal freedom.

It is not difficult to see why, either. Having the ability do what you love, when you want and on your own terms is certainly attractive, especially when you could potentially build it into a sizeable income. Don’t be too quick, however, to abandon your day job to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams. Many of today’s best-known entrepreneurs consider doing so to be reckless and unnecessary.

“Entrepreneurs” are rarely the modern-day maverick who suddenly decide one day to quit their jobs and pursue their dreams. After all, quitting a job to pursue business is risky, especially without having a safety net in place. In fact, the majority of people who decide to start an online business will fail within the first year.

Further, there is far more involved in transitioning from being an employee of others to becoming your own boss than you may realise. Changing your mind-set from that of an employee to an entrepreneur is a major key to successfully bridging that divide.

Related: 3 Key Law Areas To Know When You Launch That Start-up

If you operate with the mind-set of an employee — a person who is used to working for others and being paid by them – you will almost certainly fail. When you work for others, you do what they tell you to do. As an entrepreneur, you decide what the next best step is, and you execute that step in your day-to-day actions. The latter requires both a significant mind-set shift and major discipline.

At the same time, in our rapidly changing economy, you would almost be doing yourself a disservice not to start a business. But, how can you do so while working full-time?

Take the “hybrid path” to entrepreneurship

If you’re willing to sacrifice much of your free time now to reap the rewards later, you have what it takes to become an entrepreneur. Often called the “hybrid path” to entrepreneurship, many successful entrepreneurs started their business while still being employed full-time.

Research has shown that those who kept their day jobs while starting their businesses were 33 percent more likely to be successful than their risk-taking counterparts.

Leveraging your full-time job in the early days of your business, allows you to build on firmer financial ground, increasing the likelihood that your enterprise will last and thrive through the initial stages.

Related: What You Need To Know About The Lean Start-up Model

In addition, being entrepreneurial within your existing job allows you to build the necessary skills and traits you will need as you transition from your employee to entrepreneurial role.

Being impatient and chasing short-term gratification by quitting your job and going all-in, is risky and often ill-advised. Building slowly and steadily for the long-term is often the wisest course of action.

Today, it’s more important than ever to start a business

Still, with all that being said, the time couldn’t be more right to start your own business and become self-sufficient. Unlike in years past, having a job no longer guarantees financial security.

Rapid developments in technology and the ever-increasing digitization of our world puts creative and business-building tools in the hands of everyone. Whether you have skills to market or a great idea for a product, you too could be the next Bill Gates or Elon Musk.

Even if you set your sights a little lower, consider what skills you have that others would gladly pay you for. Figure out what you can charge per client, and how many clients you would need to completely replace your income. Unless you’re already earning seven figures, you’ll soon realise that the numbers are not that daunting.

Related: 6 Resources For Start-ups Looking For Funding

I was able to build my first business through affiliate marketing With affiliate marketing, you don’t have to create your own product. Rather, you earn a commission by promoting other people’s products.

Though the thought of running your own business, spending your days working on something you’re passionate about, and choosing how and where you spend your time is enticing, realise there are days if not years of sleepless nights, cash flow shortfalls and mind-set hurdles between you and your destination.

By building your business while working full- or part-time, you will have the cash flow in the short term to get your enterprise off the ground. Once your business begins bringing in an income which rivals that of your day job, then and only then should you consider whether to pursue it full-time.

Building a business is not for the faint of heart. But, if you’re willing to work crazy hours, delay gratification and learn from your failures, you can build both a business and life like few others. After all, “Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream.”

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Start-up Advice

How To Survive 150 Straight Rejections

And come away smarter, tougher, and more successful.

Joe Keohane

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Sam Sisakhti had an idea for an e-commerce company called UsTrendy. It would sell clothing made by talented, unknown fashion designers from around the world — acting as a marketplace for great styles that could not be found anywhere else.

It didn’t matter that he had no experience in fashion or building a brand, or that he had just quit his first job out of college after only four days. What mattered was that he believed that this idea could be huge. And to get it there, he figured, he needed to raise money. A lot of money.

Initially, it seemed easy. On their very first pitch, Sam and his associate landed a $500 000 offer. “Crazy,” he says. But there was a catch: The VC required them to move to Silicon Valley to receive the money. Sam’s right-hand man didn’t want to move. Sam decided he’d just do it himself.

Related: Beauty Of Failure: The Art Of Embracing Rejection

So he moved, failing to understand that investors buy into a team, not just an idea. He promptly lost the funding. No matter, he thought. He’d just get more money

Thus began Sam’s real journey. He started pitching to anyone and everyone, regard-less of their field of expertise. It went badly. By his count, he was rejected around 150 times in a row over 18 months. Worse, he kept revising his business plan based on their feedback, reducing it to an ever-changing muddle that made it even harder to sell.

This beating culminated with a meeting with a VC who, humiliatingly, was a family friend. “He threw my business plan in the trash, right in front of me,” Sam says. “And I just remember thinking, Man, what am I doing?”

Entrepreneurs hear a lot of nos. In fact, it’s probably the word they hear more than any other, especially starting out. It can come in torrents. It can get crushing. The key, as Sisakhti learnt, is twofold: To survive it, and to learn from it.

And here’s what Sam realised: He needed to stop pitching. Not every business needs funding, nor is every business ready for funding.

“I was spending all my time pitching, and I wasn’t spending any time building the business,” he says. So he scaled back. “I went from wanting to create the next Amazon to just saying I wanted to grow a business organically,” he recalls. “I just wanted to pay for a modest, middle-class lifestyle.”

Freed from the ceaseless need to fundraise, Sam drew on his natural creativity and resourcefulness. He’d always thought he needed funding to help recruit young designers. But now he started to get creative. He recruited them right out of design school — using student brand ambassadors to get around rules about recruiting on campus. Soon he had a thousand. Then he linked up with London Fashion Week to do a show for emerging designers. He pitched a design competition, and that got him 3 000 more, along with a bunch of press coverage.

Related: Motivation-Boosting Tips From 8 Of The Greatest Entrepreneurs

Now he had inventory,  revenue, and exposure. He was feeling good. One night, over dinner, Sam sent a magazine piece to mega-investor Tim Draper, who had rejected him twice already. Fifteen minutes later, Draper responded, saying he wanted to talk. Eureka.

“I think the reason he was interested was that I’d shown I was going to do this with or without the money,” Sam says

He even got a little cocky. “I told him that it’s just a matter of time: ‘If I have your money, I’ll get there faster, but if I don’t, I’ll still get there. And then the valuation’s just gonna be that much higher to get in.’”

Draper invested $1 million in a first round, then came back for a second round. In total, UsTrendy has raised more millions since, grown by 300% annually in its first few years, and worked with more than 20 000 designers from more than 100 countries. It has attracted more than two million followers on social media and other digital media channels.

Now when Sam reflects on all those no’s, he thinks not of rejection — but of how it changed him. How it showed him the way. “It was awesome,” he says.

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