How Melanie Duncan Built Multiple Seven-Figure Businesses

How Melanie Duncan Built Multiple Seven-Figure Businesses

Melanie Duncan is a serial entrepreneur who, along with her business partner and husband, Devin, has been experiencing success since college. While studying, they started Custom Greek Apparel, an online store offering sorority and fraternity members apparel with customized colors, fabrics and embroidery. Next, they launched Luxury Monograms, offering custom monogrammed home decor items. Soon their products were being featured in magazines and on Good Morning America, the Nate Berkus show and more. When Duncan's businesses were well-oiled machines, she decided to jump into the online education space, offering classes and support for makers and small business owners selling physical products. Now she has had over 160,000 students go through her training programs, she’s consulted on digital strategy for major corporations, and spoken on stages all over the world.

I caught up with her recently in New York to ask her what she believes led her to such massive success, and what other makers and online entrepreneurs can do to follow in her footsteps. Here were her best tips, found on Entrepreneur.com.

How Hard Do You Need to Work to Reach Success?

How Hard Do You Need to Work to Reach Success?

As the driven, innovative, informed Entrepreneur reader I know you are, you already know you need to put in the hours to make your idea successful. If you’ve read my writing or watched my show, The Pursuit, you know that nearly every successful person mentions the power of hard work.

If you haven’t come across my work before, allow me to explain that this article comes from over 4,000 hours of the study of success in under two years. I’ve had the privilege of interviewing today’s leading entrepreneurs, celebrities and influencers -- people like Larry King, Tony Robbins, Barbara Corcoran, Seth Godin, Kathy Griffin, Simon Sinek and HGTV’s the Property Brothers. Usually these insightful, once-in-a-lifetime conversations happen in person in the guest’s home or office, giving me a sneak peek into their day-to-day life.

Following the interview -- and the prior hours of listening, reading and watching everything I can about them and from them -- I break down what I call Success for the Rest of Us. How do we apply the tactics of millionaires in our everyday lives? How can I -- a midwestern mom, wife, writer and media entrepreneur in suburbia -- implement what I learn from someone like Gary Vaynerchuk?

Let’s dive into those questions, specifically as they pertain to hard work. Is simply putting in long hours enough? What if I don’t have the capacity to work 18 hour days? What about “work/life balance”?

Go to Entrepreneur.com to read my top five keys to success for the rest of us when it comes to hard work and work habits, in order to produce your best work and become your best self.

How Serial Entrepreneur Jennie Enterprise Builds Successful Membership Businesses

How Serial Entrepreneur Jennie Enterprise Builds Successful Membership Businesses

Jennie Enterprise is not just the mastermind behind one of New York City’s most prestigious private membership clubs. She is also a serial entrepreneur who has created one successful venture after another.

As a teen, Enterprise noticed that her local community lacked a tennis program for kids, so she started one. She recalled that she borrowed $100 in May, and by September had made $10,000, calling the entrepreneurial experience addictive.

Later, as a student at Fordham Law School, she won a business competition, creating a coffee shop and entertainment venue concept. The venue not only booked solid but eventually expanded to multiple locations. This concept gave Enterprise her next idea, which would eventually become Reebok Sports Club.

Her most recent success, CORE: club, offers its 1000-plus members lodging, dining, culture programs, movie screenings and a home base from which to work, train with a personal trainer, get a spa treatment and more, for an annual fee of $17,000 plus a $50,000 initiation fee. For those of you running the numbers in your head right now, that’s almost $1.5 million in revenue each month.

I recently met Enterprise at CORE: to discuss her entrepreneurial success. Here are a few lessons from her on turning your business into a one-of-a-kind destination, particularly for those with membership or subscription-based business models, on Entrepreneur.com.

Dave Ramsey’s 10 Steps to Success

Dave Ramsey’s 10 Steps to Success

If you have ever so much as Googled the word debt you’ve probably heard of national radio host, TV personality, author and money management expert Dave Ramsey. The no-nonsense CEO of Ramsey Solutions is on a mission to get American families out of debt.

He has a popular story: The young bankrupt husband and father rebuilds his life and starts a business that grows from a church Sunday school class into a 500+ employee media empire. Along the way he wrote five New York Times bestselling books, grew his audience to 12 million weekly listeners and has had more than four million customers go through his flagship program, Financial Peace University.

I jumped at the chance to join him at Ramsey Solutions in Nashville, Tenn., recently and ask him how he bounced back and built his mission into a massive success. Get his 10 steps to success in my article on Entrepreneur.com.

THE GRANOLA.

THE GRANOLA.

Thoughts on my interview with Marie Forleo. *Women, please read.*

If you watch one of Marie Forleo’s videos, the word granola does not come to mind. I’m using it here as another word for earthy, hippie, free spirit, someone who may go au naturel. So why am I applying “Down to earth, no-nonsense, practical, pragmatic, sensible” to a glamorous online television host with impeccable hair, glowing skin, and a killer wardrobe?

Because in “real life” Marie is more the former than the latter. Our interview was scheduled at the last minute, on the launch day of her flagship program, B School. I was ecstatic about this one, as I’ve been a MarieTV fan for years. When we showed up to her California home, she had no hair and make up team, unusual for the women I interview. I expected her glamsquad to pop out and start making her over, but they did not. Like myself, she did her own hair, make up, and wardrobe for the interview.

Why does this matter?

Let me say it clearly: it doesn’t.

But you wouldn’t know that based on the comments and questions to Marie, and about Marie, from other women.

One of the most common question she’s asked is about the production quality of her videos. People often comment about her stylish dresses and amazing hair, some in praise, and some claiming she’s no longer “approachable.”

As Marie discussed this during the interview, she got fired up, and so did I.

If those are the kinds of questions other female entrepreneurs are asking, they clearly don’t “get it.”

Get what, you ask? 

Get that she can better focus on adding value and creating incredible content — you know, one of the driving forces to the growth of her business — when she’s not stressed about what to wear.

Get that doing 13 videos in a row is smarter than one video at a time, and for hair and make up to last for hours upon hours, assistance is required.

Get that the content itself clearly speaks louder than the brightest of bright wardrobe ensembles, because hundreds of thousands tune in to her each week.

Get that if a man had a team that helped pick his suits and powder his nose for a day of shooting, no one would comment.

Get that if a man decided to build a sweet set and start creating videos in batches everyone would talk about the keen business decision rather than his “approachability.”

Get that if Steve Jobs could save time each day by wearing the exact thing, to focus on changing the world with his work, so can a woman. And to do so is genius because decision fatigue is real. Plus, when the iPhone came out no one gave a crap about what Steve was wearing on stage that day, did they?

Women, please get this. We are more than how we look on screen, or what other women *say* about how we look on screen.

I want you at your best, putting your best work out into the world, and I want you to care less about what you look like when you’re doing it. I want you to minimize stress about this, whether through establishing a wardrobe, outsourcing shopping or hiring a team. Find something that works for you. The more I set a uniform for myself, the less stressed I am before shooting videos, the quicker and easier I can shop, the more time and energy I save for what matters. Do I still care what I look like? Of course! Do aesthetics matter in today’s culture? Yes. Do I pick myself apart on screen when I have to edit or preview my video content? You better believe it. The difference is I’ve stopped letting a bad hair day eternalized on film keep me from posting a video, which yes, I used to do. I’ve stopped letting upper arm fat keep me from waving my arms in excitement because I’m so passionate about the message I’m sharing. I’ve stopped giving that negative voice in my head so much space and time.

Successful people know that the higher they climb, the less weight they want on their backs.

Marie had so much other amazing information that she shared in her interview, this topic was only a few minutes, but I feel like it deserves a second glance. Marie not only had to let go of control of how she looked, she also had to let go of the commentary about it. Successful people let go of the small stuff, like bad hair days, wrinkles, and arm jiggle - and snarky comments about said small stuff on their videos. That’s a lesson for the rest of us, especially us women. Give yourself permission to focus on your work, your mission, your unique message. Because whatever it is, the world needs to hear it. ♥︎

If you enjoyed this piece I’d love for you hop on over to Medium and hit that heart button below the article so more people will see it.  You can check out my interviews at http://thepursuit.tv.

THE PRACTITIONER

THE PRACTITIONER

Thoughts from My Interview Gary Vaynerhcuk

It’s fitting that my first post back on my blog - to be distributed on Medium - highlights a lesson I’m learning from Gary Vaynerchuk, Medium investor and advocate. For one thing, he told me to market my show using Medium, and when Gary tells you to use a tactic in your marketing, you do it.

After all, this is the guy who built the brand of a brick and mortar wine business on YouTube, when youtube was still in his infancy. He was a Snapchat advocate before most of the world knew what Snapchat was. Take a look at his investment portfolio and it’s obvious the man has a gift.

When you sit down with someone and chat exegetically, it’s a real peek behind the curtain, in my opinion. 

I think that’s why I’ve always loved watching interviews and now conducting them. There is no editor to perfect the phrases, no scripts or teleprompters. I’ve been surprised a few times with my celebrity interviews, sometimes the person’s home or office is not what you’d think, sometimes they are warmer than you expected, or colder, funnier or more serious, different from their public persona. Even though you’ve read their work, even though you’ve watched their videos, there’s magic about being with them on their home turf, which is one of the things I love about my show.

Sitting down with Gary, three things are evident.

First, this man is a sort of genius. I say this as fact not flattery. I got the same impression when I interviewed Seth Godin. There are just things he sees that others can’t. There are things he has in his DNA that cannot be taught, as sad as that is for us aspirers.

Second, this man is a lover. Not what you expected me to say, right? This guy, once you get past the expletives he likes to lace his rants with, is one of the most caring people I’ve met at that level of success. He tells his employees “I love you” and makes facetime for all 600+ of them. He is also one of the most engaged and responsive celebrities online, often responding to fans personally, more than once. Sometimes his message is one of tough love, but that’s because he truly wants marketers, entrepreneurs and small business owners to “get it.” Again, something that’s not easily taught.

But lastly, and most importantly, this man is a practitioner. He is working 18-hour days, executing, trying, planning, meeting, grinding, creating, and yes, hustling. His talk is as big as his walk, as evidenced by DailyVee, his new docureality YouTube show. This trait, though, gets me excited because unlike his innovative genius, anyone can develop his habit of execution. If you’re a GaryVee fan, you’ve heard him say “Ideas are shit. Execution is the game.” I first heard that years ago and it was an eye-opener for me.

But hear me say what I think is the one thing you shouldn’t miss today.

Gary — though it may seem like it — is not preaching that everyone work 18 hour days. He’s passionate about working hard and long, yes, but in relation to the kind of goals he hears his audience talk about. If, like Mr.Vee, you want to buy a 2.6 Billion dollar organization, you better be putting in 18-hour days. If you want to run a million dollar business, you hustle different than someone who runs a 300,000 business. A mom who is hustling to get to work from home has a different level of work than a mom who wants to build an empire with hundreds of employees. A guy who wants to become the top salesman in the country is going to have a different level of the hustle than the guy who wants to be the best at his company. All of these endeavors are worthwhile.

No dream is too big or too small, as long as you’re wiling to put in the appropriate amount of work. 

Most of us either don’t fully know the work involved to achieve our dreams, or we have fooled ourselves into thinking we can somehow take a shortcut. Listen, I want you to achieve your amazing goals, and I belive Gary Vee does too. The only way that will happen is if your actions are as big as your dreams.

Ask yourself today, is your hustle as big as your end goal? Are your actions as massive as your dreams?

Gary3

 

 

 

 

I want to take my show to mainstream television within the next few years. It’s lofty, I know. So, as Gary said, I’m “schlepping my husband around the country” making this happen. I work long days and invest a lot of time, energy and money into this dream of mine. Still I’m haunted, am I hustling enough? Are my actions large enough for this towering dream?

Only time will tell, but I’m pumped today because unlike some traits and tactics these massively successful use, hard work is accessible to me. Hard work is something I can do. It’s something you can do. That’s what I call an inspiring and important reminder about success for the rest of us.

WATCH THE INTERVIEW

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Go Beyond SMART Goals

Go Beyond SMART Goals

If you've ever thought about goals for your business or brand, you've probably come across SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). And that's all well and good and, wait for it, smart.

But was Oprah's dream to have a daytime talk show empire "realistic"? Was it really measurable and timely? I'm not even sure what timely means in this use.

When Richard Branson ran a magazine and decided he wanted to build a major airline, do you think people saw that as "attainable"?

Let me say what you might be thinking. We are not all going to be Oprahs or Bransons. I know that. But we also don't have to settle for small, safe dreams, either!

I love how years ago Gary Vaynerchuk started claiming he'd own the NY Jets one day. It's huge and probably scary for him to keep claiming out loud. Or maybe he has no doubt and is never scared. Neither would surprise me. But you can learn from this because:

This goal is big enough to keep him inspired for a long time.

This goal is not something you can talk about to feel accomplished. Saying "I'm writing a book" is a train you can ride until you die, book never finished, never published.

You either own the NY Jets, or you don't. Period.

If you find yourself losing inspiration and motivation, maybe it's because you're staying too small, too safe, and too smart. Get crazy and bold with your dreams! Make some claims that you'll have to work at for a long time. That's what I am doing with The Pursuit. Eventually I want to have a network talk show all about entrepreneurship and pushing ourselves. I will be working towards that for years. I have a memoir I'm working on that I don't plan to finish until I'm 40, because I want to accomplish a lot of things in the next decade and I want them all to go into said memoir.

Yes, I'm a little crazy. So is Gary Vee. So is Oprah. So is Branson. You don't have to be crazy to reach your goals for success. You don't have to dream giant dreams either, but I beg you, don't limit yourself! Don't play small because of fear or laziness. At the end, I don't think we ever look back on our lives and think, 'hm I wish I'd played a little smaller and dreamed a little less.'

 

I believe in you!

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Watch the video I made a few weeks ago that inspired this post:

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Starting Things Always Feels Lame

Starting Things Always Feels Lame

{People loved this post so I made a video about it, watch it here}

So if you follow me at all you know about The Pursuit. If not, you must be new here. Welcome! Right now it's in the starting phase. And it feels lame. I realized this morning that starting always feel this way. Let me elaborate.

I am uploading some Bonus Questions & Blooper Reels to the YouTube channel this morning. The channel is brand new. It has hardly any views or subscribers. Lame. My playlists each have one video in them. Lame. The show soft launched last week, so of course there are not many subscribers/fans yet. Lame. I still haven't gotten my verification notice from Twitter.  Lame! Lame! Lame!

The thing about starting is that it's lame for a while. Like being the new guy at the office. Or implementing a new system or process. Or starting a book and only having 10 pages. But you don't stay the new guy forever. The new awkward process eventually becomes "just the way we do it here." Your book grows beyond ten pages to fifty, to one hundred. Eventually I will have tons of videos. If someone checks out The Pursuit in May it will look like a legit operation that has its youknowwhat together. I'll have 13 sets of interviews, 13 sets of bloopers, a "making of season one video", and interviews with greats like Guy Kawasaki! GUY KAWASAKI.

But no one can see that yet. Except for me. I can see it. And that's why I keep going even though I feel like I'm covered in thick gooey Lame Sauce. Because lame is just a season, starting is just a season. {Tweet That}  Keep coming back to the finish line in your mind. Only you can see your vision right now, so it's like pushing a cart uphill by yourself everyday (by the way, that's a quote from an interview with Donald Miller, airing on 4/9). Eventually, everyone will see the fruits of your awkward labor, the fruit that you could see from the beginning, back in Lamesville. Soon everyone will be riding that cart, pushing it with you, cheering on the side of the road.

So today, if you feel like the weirdo, and no one "gets" your cart or why you're pushing it, You are not alone. Many other weirdos are feeling the same way right now with their little carts. And we weirdos will have our day, if we just push past starting, push past the lame and the awkward. The road will eventually start downhill and we'll catch that momentum and ride high. The wind will blow in our hair. The finish line will come into view. The fruit will be sweet. And not at all lame.

Watch the Pilot of #ThePursuit, How to Become a Successful Speaker & Consultant! 

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Married to a Serial Entrepreneur?

Married to a Serial Entrepreneur?

Valentine's Day is around the corner, so I thought we'd take a little time to show some love to our supportive better halves.

It's not easy being married to an entrepreneur, ideapreneur, dreamer, etc.

I have so many great one-liners from my husband in response to crazy ideas and repeated questions (that usually start with Do You Think I Can Successfully ....) I get emails from him every so often asking if we can let such and such domain name I bought 5 years ago expire. Luckily, he is entrepreneurial himself, so I have it pretty easy. I talked to a colleague recently whose wife has a rule that he cannot talk to her about a new idea until he's decided to pursue it, because there were simply too many ideas!

So, with love and chocolate on my mind this week, here are some resources for you and for your better half:

Is Your Business Taking Over Your Marriage?

The four words an entrepreneur’s spouse dreads hearing: “I have an idea.”

Ways to Support Your Entrepreneur

7 tips for marital bliss with a business owner

The Entrepreneurial Spouse: The Vial Role of the Significant Other

How to Be an Entrepreneur, and Stay Married

The 5 Commandments of Running a Business WITH Your Spouse

There's a Big Difference Between Spouse and Assistant

Multiple resources from Families.com

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2015 Trends for Service Based Businesses

2015 Trends for Service Based Businesses

There are many business, social media, and marketing trends expected in the next year. Here are the trends you cannot ignore as a service-based businesses.

The Growth of Outsourcing
More businesses are shutting down in house departments in lieu of an experienced freelancer. This is great news for many service-based entrepreneurs! At the same time, more and more experienced workers are starting their own solo businesses (remember that department that was laid off?) On one hand, this means more vendors for YOU to outsource to. Don’t waste time outside of your strengths! This also means that while your opportunities grow, so does your competition pool.

Stay ahead of the game by outsourcing your weaknesses so your strengths shine to your target client. Also, stand out by addressing the rest of these 2015 trends:

 

Social Responsibility
Just like the big players, you can benefit from promoting conscious capitalism and causes that matter to you. It’s time to get out in your community, volunteer and serve on boards. Not only will you be networking with other businesses, you’ll set yourself apart from other consultants who cannot or will not make time for such activities.  Consider offering your services to nonprofits and worthy causes. Customers who see two similar contractors may choose the one who gives a percentage billable hours towards curing alzheimer's.

Choose a cause to champion, and put somewhere on your site, maybe in one line on your about page, that you contribute to that cause. Don’t overstate it, just mention it.

 

Data, Data and more Data
It’s 2015, you should, at the very least, have google analytics set up on your website. You should have spreadsheets or CRM software that manages your client relationships. You should have also sent out year-end surveys to your existing customers. You should make sure you’re set up as a business account on social channels so you can track engagement. If you indeed have all of those boxes checked, don’t forget to actually look at the results! Service-based business owners are busy doing the work and forget about marketing, which is why I created this handy Marketing Made Easy Course. It is also why you may never look at your stats. Big mistake.

SCHEDULE some time each week looking at your google reports, Facebook Insights, etc. If you haven’t done all of the above, schedule time to set up those tracking tools this week.  

Face to Face Networking
Don’t lose a client because you chose to email instead of skype. As the internet grows bigger and more impersonal, videos and, yes, selfies, have grown increasingly popular. People want to see your face like they did in the old days. Call on the phone instead of texting or emailing. Genuine connections win every time. Make time to attend networking events. Leave your house more. With more people starting their own service based businesses each year, it’s no wonder coworking spaces have expanded recently. Coffee shops are full of writers, designers and consultants who needed to get out of the house. Though you may love checking email in your pajamas, coworking, whether officially at a space or unofficially at a coffee house, can offer networking benefits, improved focus, and improved mood.

The next time you’re tempted to email a client, call instead. The next time you’re tempted to call, set up a video chat via skype. Commit to working out of your home one day a week, or commit to attending a monthly meet-up.  

Online Learning
If you need help with a specific part of your business, a quick google search will yield multiple online resources available to you right now. In 2015, that list of options will grow. Closing the gaps in your knowledge, for example learning wordpress maintenance or twitter strategies, will give you an edge over your competitors. Whether an online class, course, e-book, or set of tutorials, take advantage of this online trend.

Make a goal to tackle areas where you need to learn - via a course, class, webinar etc. - once each quarter.

The Impact of Social Media
Social media will continue to drive consumer spending and customer service in 2015. Advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will become more important and prevalent as algorithms cause your unpromoted posts to get less traction. LinkedIn has become a valuable publishing platform for content marketing, and will continue to grow in that aspect this year. New platforms like Ello and Tsu have emerged, and more will be released. With so many options, it’s easy to get sucked into “posting as working” and focusing too much energy on social media. Instead of quantity, focus on quality, offering your best content and posts on the favorite platforms of your target client.

Choose your best platforms and focus in. Consumers want interaction, value and authenticity online. Be sure you’re offering all three consistently on those platforms. Consider making an easy publishing schedule for yourself.  

Content Marketing Is Not Going Away
You refuse to set up a blog for your site? Well, that may be to your detriment. However, there are alternatives, like publishing case studies as white papers, how-to videos on youtube, or linkedin articles as mentioned above. Find what comes easily to you and what you can keep up every week or every other week. If you ignore content marketing, instead of hiring you, your potential client will hire the photographer who wrote the “What to wear for your Family Photoshoot” and promoted it on pinterest. Instead of hiring you to sell their home, your ideal customer will hire the realtor who is always posting those fun “Deals Around Town” posts on Facebook. Don’t get bogged down with the idea of writing long reports or creating witty social media images. Just add value to your ideal client with free content on a consistent basis, and promote that content so they actually see it.

Figure out one aspect of content marketing you can tackle easily and consistently, and aim to release content once a week.


Millennials Probably ARE Your Target

According to Leaders West Digital Marketing Journal, there are 76 million millennials in the United States. They’re well-educated, with 63 percent having at least a bachelors’ degree. Meaning these mid-20 to mid-30-somethings are starting businesses, working up corporate ladders, leading teams and making big decisions. Those decisions include who the company hires as a copywriter or to which company they will outsource their social media. The reality is you probably need to market to them in some way, whether that means you add instagram to your social media platforms or you start watching Jimmy Fallon to have something to discuss over happy hour.

Take a look at your business this week and see where you can add or change things in order to attract and engage more millennials. Schedule an action plan to do so.

There are many articles about what you need to do to excel in 2015. I hope you check them out, but all of your reading and researching and learning won't matter if you don't execute! If you can't tackle all of these items this week, schedule in some time over the next few weeks.

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