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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

(Infographic)The Do’s And Don’ts Of Naming Your Business

There’s a lot that goes into a company’s name.

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Finding the right name for your business can be crucial to its success. If you’ve got a boring, vague name, then you might repel potential customers.

When it comes down to it, there are some major do’s and don’ts that go along with naming your company. For starters, keep things simple and short – a long name can confuse potential customers and won’t make a lasting impression on them.

Your name should also tell your story. Not only will this help people recognise your company but you’ll build the brand’s character.

Something a lot of people don’t think about is how their company’s name will sound in another language. Even if you’re in the early stages of building your company, who knows what could happen in the future. So create a name that sounds good and has a positive translation in any country. Next, always test your ideas before setting them in stone.

Ask potential customers to take a survey and compare your name with other companies in the same industry. Of course, you also must ensure that the name you came up is even available.

To learn how you can create the best name for your business, check out Business Backer‘s infographic below.

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Related: Your New Business Name Should Be Memorable, Spell-able And Available

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.


Read next: How to Name (Or In Some Cases, Rename) Your Company

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Start-up Advice

Fuel Your Hustle

These two practical goal posts will keep your start-up on track, even when things get tough and you start to lose traction.

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Make sure you have a clear vision and a plan — something to chase and celebrate when targets are achieved.

When you start a new business, everything is exciting. You have a dream, something to work for. Once the business takes off, it’s easy to fall into a rat race of just going to work and reacting to challenges as they happen. Many established business owners get to a place where they wonder if it’s all worth the effort. Whenever I talk to entrepreneurs feeling this way, I always ask them what they are working towards.

Most times, they don’t have an answer.

No, I’m not going to give a motivational talk on how important goals are, but I do believe it’s important to work towards something. To chase something worthwhile. Is it a vision and mission statement? Maybe that fuels your energy, but there are two practical things that I can suggest to any entrepreneur to keep you on track, and keep you motivated with a reason to wake up in the morning.

1. A one-page business plan

The logic behind a business plan is great. It’s a plotted journey, with marked goals and targets. It gives you something to work on, and work towards. And you’ll definitely need one if you’re looking for financing. But very seldom does it actually become a real working document for the small business owner; business plans are too long-winded and rigid and don’t allow for the fast changes and flexibility you’re going to need when you’re running a business.

So, gut instinct is how most survive, and the plan goes into the middle drawer.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need a plan. It just means you need a different kind of plan — one that works for you at the stage you’re at. A one-pager plan that acts as a dynamic working document is where it’s at. The keyword here is dynamic.

Try to compile a one-pager of what you aim to achieve in the next year. Break it down per month and list the small steps that you will be taking to reach your bigger vision at the end of the year. This plan could include anything, but you should know that it will be your guide to what is important and what isn’t.

Work on it weekly, review it monthly and ensure that you are moving in the right direction. At the start of every month, review your plan and list your priorities for the month. If you hit a snag, stop, re-evaluate your plan, make changes and move on. It is not set in concrete. It is dynamic.

Too many entrepreneurs go to work each day and solve issues as they arise without planning proactively for what they want. Others view their business plan — all 100 pages of it — like it’s the Bible. Neither approach will get you very far.

The one-pager will be your plan, your guide. Keep it with you at all times so it can be as flexible as you need to be.

Related: Keep It Simple: How To Write A One Page Business Plan

2. Your break-even figure

For most entrepreneurs, numbers are one of those complicated matters best left to others, although it needn’t be that way. And when it comes to one particular number, it cannot be that way: That number is the break-even figure. It’s the one number every entrepreneur must know. If you don’t have a break-even figure, how will you know if you’re succeeding or failing?

A break-even figure is the amount of sales you need to make in a month to cover all expenses and to make a target profit. If you can calculate this, then you have a number that you can chase every day — something that is measurable and understandable for the entrepreneur.

The break-even figure is calculated by using three figures:

  1. Gross Profit Percentage: Your gross profit percentage is calculated by taking your gross profit (sales minus cost of sales) divided by your sales. Let’s say you sell a product for R200 and the cost of that product is R150, then your gross profit will be R50. Your gross profit percentage therefore is 25% (gross profit (R50) divided by sales (R200).
  2. Overheads: Overheads are the total of all your fixed expenses each month. Examples include rent, salaries, Internet, fuel and all other costs that you need to pay, e.g. R100 000.
  3. Profit Target: This is the profit you would like to achieve in a month, e.g. R20 000.

Related: Self-Made Millionaire At 24 Marnus Broodryk On How To Build A R1 Billion Business

Now that we have these three figures, we can calculate our break-even amount:

Break-even = (overheads + profit target) divided by gross profit percentage.

So, continuing the above example:

Break-even = (R100 000 + R20 000) / 25% = R480 000

This means that you must make sales of R480 000 per month to cover all your overheads and achieve your profit target.

If you have this figure you can now plan how to achieve this target and go out every day chasing a goal, rather than just crossing your fingers. One can take this number and divide it by the number of working days in a month to get to a daily target of sales. Also, make sure it’s on your one-page dynamic plan.

Sometimes, we just need basic things to give our journey meaning again. Something to chase and something to celebrate once we’ve achieved it (yes, make sure you celebrate). To have goals, a clear vision and a one-pager plan might sound like petty things when you run a business — but you might soon realise that you need these things to keep you going.

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Start-up Advice

Insurances To Consider If You Are Starting Your Own Business

Below are just some of the insurances you need to consider if you are starting your own business.

Amy Galbraith

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Starting your own business is a brave and bold step. You will be joining many others in the journey of becoming your own boss, and this can be a stressful time. You will need to have a sound business plan in place, as well as other aspects that will secure both your business and your financial future. These include certain insurances that are geared toward insuring your salary, your investments and yourself.

All small business owners should look into taking out funeral insurance so that their family is not burdened and can pay for their funeral, investment insurance so that their money is protected and commercial insurance to protect your business and your property.

Below are just some of the insurances you need to consider if you are starting your own business.

General liability insurance

General liability insurance is important because it will protect you and your business from any possible legal action taken by customers. This insurance protects you in case of any injury to or damage to a customer which happened on your property.

It is also important if you manufacture products, but this would fall under product liability insurance. If a product harms a consumer, then you are legally responsible for expenses which means that having liability insurance will help immensely with costs. If you sell homemade cakes, toys for children or even clothing, liability insurance should be at the top of your list.

Related: I would like to start an insurance business. What are the basic guidelines?

Funeral insurance

Now, you might not think that funeral plans are that important but, in fact, they are. Not only for you but for the employees you might have. Funeral cover pays your family a lump sum within 48 hours of your death so that they can pay for your funeral without having to worry about expenses.

As a small business owner, funeral plans make sense. You will likely be the sole breadwinner, which means that your family will be under considerable strain if you die. The same can be said of your employees. Their families will need to be able to pay for their funerals, and it will also ensure that employees stay loyal to your business.

Funeral cover is a benefit that many companies offer their employees to ensure they’re happy and satisfied in their roles.

Property insurance

If you own property or are leasing a building, property insurance is vital. This insurance covers your office equipment, the signage both inside and outside the building, all office furniture as well as your inventory. These will all be covered for disasters such as fire or a storm as well as in case of theft or damage.

However, it is important to note that if your business is based in your home, your homeowner’s insurance will not cover any business equipment. This means that you will have to take out additional insurance for your business equipment. You will also need to speak to your insurer about disaster coverage, especially if your business is based in an area that is prone to fires and floods. Property insurance is important because it will protect your business from incurring costs it cannot afford.

Commercial auto insurance

If you use a company car or have bought a car specifically for your business, you will need to take out commercial auto insurance. Just as homeowner’s insurance will not cover your business inventory, personal auto insurance will not cover a commercial or business vehicle. This is why commercial auto insurance is so important.

If your employees drive their own vehicles to and from work, you should try to ensure that they have personal auto insurance. And if they use their own vehicles for business reasons, you could ask your insurance provider about covering the risk as part of your general liability insurance. This will keep them safe in case of any accidents that might occur during their trip.

It is a good idea to purchase or hire a company car for your employees to use for any business trips so that your employees are safe and correctly insured.

Related: Insurance For Small Businesses: What Should Be Covered?

Look after your staff and business

Along with funeral insurance, workers compensation insurance is important for ensuring your staff is covered for any eventuality. And it will show them that you value them as employees, which will keep them happy and content in their roles.

This insurance will cover medical bills, death and disability benefits if an employee is injured on the job or on your property as well as salary protection. If you offer these as separate packages, you will not have to worry about worker’s compensation insurance but you will need to speak to an insurance broker about this. Protecting your employees is the mark of a true company leader, and happy workers are also more productive.

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