RedSphere Network

Interview Series: Natalie MacNeil, She Takes On The World

Posted on: November 2, 2009

According to a report by CIBC entitled, “Women Entrepreneurs: Leading the Change”,  it is predicted that by 2010 one million Canadian women will own a small business.  Reports aside, one could easily scan their own networks and recognize that entrepreneurial women are, indeed, a strong presence. 

As an entrepreneurial women myself, I am constantly on the lookout for resources that will support me as a businesswoman – and is one of the reasons why I started the RedSphere Network.  A few months ago, I came across a website that truly captured my attention as a woman biz owner.  The name itself was enticing enough – She Takes On The World is a blog authored by Natalie MacNeil, a Canadian entrepreneur who is passionate about helping other women business owners. 

Natalie MacNeil - photoHaving travelled to over 50 countries to date, Natalie was once Ambassador to Canada and has represented the country all over the world.  One of the greatest highlights of her travels was meeting the President of Tanazania Jakaya Kikwete and his wife Mama Salma Kikwete at their presidential home. 

Her latest passion, She Takes On The World, is a finalist for Blog of the Year at the 6th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business and Natalie will be heading to New York in November to attend the gala event.  I was thrilled to have the chance to interview Natalie about her life, her work and her inspirations.

What was your inspiration for creating “She Takes On The World”?

I was inspired by the fact that women are starting businesses at twice the rate of men yet only a fraction of business and entrepreneurship blogs are written from a female perspective. I created to provide women with resources, articles, and support to start and grow a business.

I love the name of the site. How did you come up with it?

The named used to be Taking On the World in 4 Inch Heels which was more of a personal blog about my adventures traveling the world and starting a business. In mid-2008 I decide to relaunch as a blog for businesswomen and women entrepreneurs and I rebranded it as She Takes On The World to put the focus on women entrepreneurs from all around the world.

The “Blog Carnival” seems to be a popular feature on your website.  Tell us a little bit about it.

Blog carnivals are a way of communicating across the blogosphere and connecting with people who cover similar topics as you do. I started the blog carnival for women entrepreneurs as a way of connecting women (and some men) who write articles that are relevant to women business owners. People submit articles and I find helpful blog posts and articles and put them together as one publication. It’s a great way of hearing other people’s perspectives and sharing other blogs that my readers may find interesting.

What are some of the other ways women entrepreneurs can benefit from the site?

Besides being able to access some really great articles and posts written by women entrepreneurs, for women entrepreneurs, there are many great resources to help women start and grow a business. There is a free directory for women-owned businesses to gain more exposure. We also feature the success stories of women in business and entrepreneurship as part of our interview series, In Her Heels, to inspire women around the world to create their own destiny. 

When did you first realize that you were meant to be a business owner?  Was it a childhood experience?

I always say that ever since I set up my first lemonade stand as a kid, I was hooked on entrepreneurship. I started my business in university so that it could become my job for when I graduated and that’s exactly what I did. I like knowing that my success and my destiny are in my own hands. I think I was born to be an entrepreneur.

I’ve read that you’re involved in several philanthropic activities.  Which ones are you currently active in?

It’s important to me to be involved in the community. I’m passionate about helping people start businesses so many of my volunteer efforts are entrepreneurship-oriented. I’m active with Junior Achievement, Ontario Small Business Centres, Summer Company program, and Waterloo Region Business Education Partnership. I also volunteer to speak at a number of schools, events, and seminars.

Who has been your greatest role model, and how has it manifested in your professional and personal life?

I don’t have one role model but rather a group of people who inspire me. I really feed off the energy and passion of others. Entrepreneurs that care about making a difference are the ones I have the most respect and admiration for. People like the late Anita Roddick, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey have used success to drive change. I see entrepreneurs as change agents and that’s the path I want to follow in.

What energizes you about the work you do?

Well, getting to develop new media every day is incredibly energizing! I love that I get to connect and work with so many amazing people. It makes me want to jump out of bed in the morning and start working. Being in the media industry is exciting because we always get to work on interesting new projects and every day is different.

What energizes me about the blog is the feedback and messages from people. I got a lovely letter from a woman who told me that after following my blog for 6 months she was inspired to finally start the business she had wanted to start for over 5 years. That’s why I blog!

If you could share your “words of wisdom” with other women business owners, what would they be?

Don’t be afraid to take risks! Studies show that women entrepreneurs tend to stay in a comfort zone and they don’t take the big risks that lead to big rewards. Women are much less likely than men to get to the $1 million revenue mark. I was at a business show last week and the speaker was talking about the fact that the majority of big accomplishments we have in our lifetimes are achieved outside of our comfort zones. Make the conscious decision to step out of your comfort zone and take more risks.

Thank you, Natalie.  We’ll be rooting for you at the Stevie Awards in New York!

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