How to Be a Successful Female Entrepreneur: Natalie MacNeil of ‘She Takes on the World’

Libby Kane
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Psst! We’re giving two lucky readers a copy of Natalie’s best-selling book, “She Takes On the World.” Scroll down for details on how to enter.

If you ask Natalie MacNeil when she realized she was an entrepreneur, she has to think back a while. “I was the kid with the lemonade stand,” she says, “then the business selling stationery and gifts to neighbors, then the customer service auditing business as a teen.”

But as far as co-founding Imaginarius, the digital media company which won an Emmy award for producing Out My Window, the world’s first 360-degree interactive documentary (like a web-based choose-your-own-adventure film) or authoring She Takes On the World, her popular blog and best-selling book about women and entrepreneurship, there was one moment that started it all.

While traveling after college graduation, unsure of her next move, Natalie saw what she considers to be a sign. “I was driving through the Czech Republic listening to David Guetta’s ‘The World Is Mine’ and I saw this enormous, two-story globe out the window that said, ‘The World Is Yours,’” Natalie explains. “I pulled over the car and knew in that moment that I had to follow my dream of becoming an entrepreneur.”

She still has a picture of that moment, and has used it as inspiration while founding both Imaginarius and She Takes On the World. But one moment isn’t what won her an Emmy, made her a best-selling author or allowed her to co-found Y.E.C. women, an organization to provide young women with the mentorship and support needed to grow their own businesses. Natalie shared with us her top secrets to being a successful female entrepreneur.

Could you please explain the idea of working on your business, instead of in it, a concept you bring up in your book?

When you’re working in your business, you get really occupied trying to do it all, and a lot of that is busywork that makes you lose sight of the bigger picture. To grow your revenue potential you need to be working on your business—focusing on where you want to go by working on revenue-generating activities like reaching out to clients and following new leads. You can outsource the little things to someone else. It doesn’t have to be expensive: You can even hire a virtual assistant a few hours each week and use that time to work on your business. If you want your company to grow, it has to happen beyond just you.

In the book, you mention a few of your favorite tech resources that help you run your business. Which are your top three?

  • Shoeboxed: You send all of your receipts in an envelope and they scan and organize them for you in a digital file. No matter where I am in the world, I can pop my receipts in the mail and my accountant can download those files to do the books.
  • Google Drive:  You can share and collaborate on your documents, and have them wherever you go.
  • Skype: I pay something like $35 a year and make tons of calls from all around the world. The video calls are really cool—I have people I consider friends who I’ve never met in person.

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And what does the concept of “working happy” mean to you?

Working happy means living on purpose and doing something you like (or love) to be doing. It also means working no more than you have to. That doesn’t mean you’re lazy or not dedicated—it means hiring help or outsourcing things that feel tedious and drain your energy, especially in your business. Do the tasks you’re best at, focus on working on projects, not in projects, and hire help for the things that feel like work.

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  • http://twitter.com/Lucky_IJ Ijeoma S. Nwatu

    Thanks for sharing her story. Glad she followed her passion. 

  • cathlyn

    The working “on it” versus “in it” is a great nuance that you clarify here. I think many businesswomen get mired with all the details, and they lose the big picture. The key here is to delegate and ask for help. It might sound weak at first but it is not. Getting others to work for you and encouraging them to do their best is a sign of a successful entrepreneur. One should not lose that sense of passion and thrill though, see here: http://smallbusiness.printplace.com/2013/01/02/the-entrepreneur-a-thrill-seeker/ . And beyond management, never forget to enjoy the whole process of growing a business.