Steve’s guest, Natalie MacNeil, is an Emmy award-winning media entrepreneur, author of She Takes on the World and The Conquer Kit, and the creator of SheTakesOnTheWorld.com which Forbes recognized as one of the top 10 websites for entrepreneurial women.
Steve starts by noting that quite a few women have taken to starting their own businesses, with the number of women entrepreneurs up 59% between 1997 and 2013. Many of these women did not have a roadmap, an MBA, or any kind of management experience and still succeeded. It is this that Natalie MacNeil has set out to replicate by giving women entrepreneurs a roadmap to success.
For instance, Natalie started The Conquer Club which is a 12-month business incubator that connects women entrepreneurs with the mentorship support system that they need to be successful and reach their fullest potential.
Top Mistakes Women Make When Starting A Business
Natalie sees the lack of having a mentoring and support system as a major mistake, along with finding only one mentor to give them advice. Natalie believes diversity in mentoring can help you go further faster. The Conquer Club and The Conquer Kit connect people to a range of different experiences and expertise.
The other major mistake she sees a lot of women make is not hiring help to grow their business and take it to the next level. She recommends getting, at least, a virtual assistant so you have time to work on the bigger picture.
She Takes On The World
Steve commends Natalie on starting her business from scratch and scaling it while helping entrepreneurs along the way. At SheTakesOnTheWorld.com, Natalie shares a lot of the resources that she herself is using and is transparent about what is working and what is not. She says she’s continuously making little improvements and credits Toyota’s Kaizen program for giving her the mindset of continual improvement. Her business is a transparent work-in-progress that’s continuously trying to improve.
Steve wants Natalie’s advice for women who run small businesses on the side, not full-time. Natalie MacNeil lauds people who take risks to work on a side business while still holding down full-time jobs, but she stresses the importance of setting a date by which you will dedicate yourself full-time and suggests taking baby steps to move toward your vision. She calls it the 5-9 plan, where you focus on building your side business after work, from 5 pm to 9 pm.
She also wants part-time entrepreneurs to recognize that they may not be able to do as much as someone who’s running their business full time, and that’s okay. As she puts it, big visions and big dreams are achieved one baby step at a time.
Differentiating Yourself In A Crowded Online World
With millions of authors and entrepreneurs on the web, Steve is keen to know how Natalie built-up traffic to her website. Natalie, firstly, attributes it to having been at it since 2008, consistently putting out quality content, and providing value to the community while many others dropped out. She stuck with her plan even though creating something of value every single week was a challenge that required a lot of time and effort.
She says the other thing that helped her site grow quickly was candidly sharing opinions and experiences that were sometimes very controversial. She’s all for sharing your opinion, even if it might create a little controversy or if people might not agree with you.
In wrapping, Steve agrees that controversy can be a good thing because it gets people to notice you, but if you’re like everybody else, then you’ll just be invisible.
So if you’re a budding entrepreneur, check out Natalie MacNeil’s She Takes On The World website, stay focused, and build your business one baby step at a time.
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Steve Pomeranz: Natalie MacNeil is Emmy award winning media entrepreneur, author of She Takes on the World and The Conquer Kit and the creator of shetakesontheworld.com. Forbes recognized the site as one of the top 10 websites for entrepreneurial women, and she joins me today. Where are you currently, Natalie?
Natalie MacNeil: I’m currently in Seattle on my book tour.
Steve Pomeranz: Congratulations on that. Natalie MacNeil, of course, is with me today. Natalie, quite a number of women have been starting their own businesses, that’s up 59% between 1997 and 2013. Many of them didn’t have a road map or MBA degrees or any kind of financial planning experience or management. Are these the women that you’re talking to?
Natalie MacNeil: Absolutely. We’ve just seen this growing trend of women leaving the workforce in draws to stay at home and run their own companies. It is an incredible trend that we’re seeing right now. It’s like you said, there’s a road map that is needed, that’s missing, and that traditional business training is just not solving right now.
Steve Pomeranz: I guess that is your niche then, is trying to fill that gap, the knowledge gap ,and maybe give them workbooks or … I know that you have The Conquer Club as well, so I guess, they can share ideas.
Natalie MacNeil: Yes. The Conquer Club is a full, 12-month business incubator that connects women entrepreneurs with the mentorship team that they need. Because, really, being successful in any area comes down to having the right support system. If you don’t have the right people raising you up, there’s no way you’re going to reach your fullest potential.
Steve Pomeranz: Having a mentor is very, very important when you’re getting into a field that you’re not very familiar with. I think again, your service and your website and your blog are filling this niche. What are some of the top mistakes that most women are making when they’re starting their own business?
Natalie MacNeil: Not having the support is really one of the top ones that we’re seeing. Not just not having the support, but not having different perspectives. The other mistake that I see a lot of woman making is finding only one mentor, finding only one person who is giving them advice. For me, in my own experience running businesses for over 10 years, it has been the diversity in perspectives that I’ve been able to get from different mentors that, I think, have allowed me to go further faster. In The Conquer Club and with The Conquer Kit and everything that I’m doing, we try to connect people to a range of different experiences and expertise. Because, I think, that is one of the most important things.
The last mistake I see a lot of women make is not actually hiring help to actually grow and take their business to the next level. Everybody needs, at least, a virtual assistant or you could free up more time by having somebody clean your house or take over more of the housekeeping and at home responsibilities, so that you have time for working on the bigger picture. Just the support system is the biggest thing that’s missing. You can’t be superwoman, you need to have the help in place.
Steve Pomeranz: What I see, it seems to me you’re accomplishing here is that your own site, your own business is, in a sense, a reflection of what you’re teaching. It’s a work in progress, as you learn and change you, you share those with others. Actually, from looking at some of the videos and some of your previous interviews, I can see that you basically started from scratch and you’re just imparting the information. You’ve basically turned your website into something very successful. This is a model that other women, I suppose men as well, of course, we shouldn’t exclude them. But is it a set model that you’re showing them, or is it just a process?
Natalie MacNeil: For shetakesontheworld.com we try to share a lot of the resources that we are actually using in our business. We’re really transparent about what is working and what’s not working for us. I think it’s that transparency that people really appreciate. People enjoy seeing the behind the scenes and seeing all the little improvements that we’re making along the way. We do a lot of tweaking. One of the only real jobs I ever had was working in quality control for Toyota as a student. That taught me so much about Kaizen and continual improvement.
Putting things out there, that aren’t perfect and recognizing no one is perfect, but that you are always having to make those improvements along the way that will make your product better, that will better serve your customers. That’s the way that I look at it. Everything is a work in progress, and we’re just sharing that journey and letting people in the behind the scenes, so that they can see what is working for us and then apply it to their own businesses as well. We never try to be perfect or want to come across as having figured it all out. Because, I think, we all are just works in progress.
Steve Pomeranz: As you’re listening to this, if you want to hear this interview again or find out more information about Natalie, don’t forget to join a conversation at onthemoneyradio.org. Natalie, you have mentioned in your writing that a lot of people have side businesses. Whether they’re yoga instructors or artists or they own a small fitness company or they work for something like that. A lot of this is on the site. What do you tell these women who it … who it’s really not a full time gig, so to speak? How do you counsel them?
Natalie MacNeil: I love when people take the risk and do something on the side. I think there’s so much power in still having your full time job, but it’s important that you set a date by which you are going to leave. Leading up to that date, what you do between the hours of 5 and 9, you might be working a 9 to 5. Your 5 to 9 plan is key. Every day, what are those one or two baby steps that you can take to move toward your vision? To move toward actually leaving that full time job to dive into your side hustle and make it your full time gig. That is the key thing. I get people to set a date by which they’re going to leave and have that on their calendar, so that they know what they’re working toward and then create that 5 to 9 plan. Recognizing that you may not be able to do as much as someone who’s running their business full time, and that’s okay. Big visions and big dreams are achieved one baby step at a time.
Steve Pomeranz: Natalie, there are a lot of bloggers out there, and they’re multiplying by the day. How did you get traffic? How did you differentiate yourself? How did you perceive that differentiation and actually get that message out to draw people to your site?
Natalie MacNeil: One of the things people don’t realize is that I’ve been writing She Takes on the World since 2008. In 2008, it started as just my little, personal blog while I was building my media and production business and traveling. Where She Takes on the World is today, as a full media company with staff and a community of tens of thousands of women, is really the results of consistency over the last 8 years. Consistently putting out quality content, consistently providing value to the community. Along the way, those people who started in 2008 alongside me, those people who were writing blogs in this niche, a lot of them have dropped off. I don’t see them creating content anymore. It is challenging to force yourself to create something of value every single week. It’s a huge commitment, it requires a lot of time and effort. I think, that’s why we are where we are today, is that consistency.
When we were getting started, the other big thing that helped us grow quickly and start getting the attention of bigger media outlets is sharing our opinion. The opinions that were sometimes very controversial. Talking about our experiences as women starting businesses, what that looked like. Some of the harassment, too, we would take at certain events. It was this sharing those experiences really candidly, even though they started major discussions and were not always well received, was sharing our opinions fully that, I think, started to get us the traction in the early days. Never shy away from sharing your opinion, even if you think it might create a little controversy or people might not agree with you.
Steve Pomeranz: Actually, controversy is a good thing because it gets people to notice you. If you’re going to be like everybody else, then you’ll just be invisible. You mentioned marketing, and you’ve been doing this since 2008. I can tell you that, in my view, all marketing stinks and it doesn’t work, but you have to keep working it and working it. It’s a war of attrition. After a while, it does gain traction, and you can become very successful.
Thank you for taking the time to join us. If you want to hear more about Natalie, this was Natalie MacNeil, my guest today. To hear this interview again, don’t forget to join the conversation at onthemoneyradio.org. Hey, Natalie, thanks so much for taking your time.
Natalie MacNeil: Thanks so much for having me, I really appreciate it.
Steve Pomeranz: Very good, that was fun.