I recently came across Natalie Jill's story while browsing through Women's Fitness Magazine and was incredibly inspired by both her dedication and authenticity.

Jill is a popular fitness and diet trainer, licensed master sports nutritionist, social-media personality, award-winning DVD creator, and best-selling author. Her online business has helped her generate seven figures in revenue since 2010.

While fitness has always been her passion in life, she didn't start out there. Her education led her to a successful career in sales, which was lucrative but kept her traveling a lot.

Several years later, at the age of 40, everything she had worked to obtain came to a screeching halt. With a newborn daughter, Natalie took a voluntary demotion from her job. While that meant less travel, it also meant less money.

During the same time, the housing market crashed and the stock market took a nosedive that left her and many others without homes and retirement. The stress led to a divorce, and some serious weight gain. With seemingly everything propped against her, she could have easily thrown in the towel.

For so many people, the position at rock bottom is where reality really sets in. Instead of giving up, she decided to do something about her situation.

Using her background in sales within corporate America, Natalie tapped into her life-long passion for fitness. Her first entrepreneurial venture, Natalie Jill Fitness, was born in 2014. In just two years, her San Diego business boasted over $1 million dollars in revenue.

Here are four lessons she's learned in building her successful business, according to Jill herself:

1. Be authentic

People respond positively to those who make the effort to just be themselves. Authenticity is a lot more than a buzzword; it's an attitude that can determine the success or failure of one's business.

"Don't try to be someone else or try to do what someone else is doing," Natalie says. "Find what your audience wants, what works for them and you, and do that."

Being authentic increases your awareness of your own abilities and the expectations of others and can help deliver a useful product or service that customers will love.

2. Learn to delegate

This is the hardest lesson for me, personally. But it is ignorant to think we can do everything and still have the impact we aim to have. Yet many entrepreneurs sacrifice quality to make everything go.

Jill warns against this. "Don't try to do everything yourself. Learn to delegate," she says. "Make sure you are spending time doing what you do best and hire people to do certain things better than you could personally do them."

3. Manage your time wisely

Until one learns to manage time, it will be hard to manage anything else. Time is really the only real capital we have, and it's up to us to manage our priorities.

Jill challenges entrepreneurs to "dial in when it's best for you to do certain things in your day." Ask questions such as:

  • When are you most focused?
  • When are you most creative?
  • When are you checked out?

Those questions can help you to schedule accordingly, and that will make all the difference in your daily productivity.

4. Listen to your audience

Without people, there would be no business. You must be in constant dialogue with your audience if you want to stay in business.

Jill says this is part of how she made her first million dollars in just two years. "It took really sticking to my message, continually listening to my audience, and providing products and services based on what they needed," she says.

As business owners or executives in established companies, we all chart and follow our own path. Rarely is the rise both quick and profitable. For most, the path from bottom to top is a strange mixture of trial and error, mistakes and mess-ups, getting it wrong and then getting it right.

Authenticity, delegation, time management, and listening to customers are characteristics that are critical to every business, no matter the size. It's the slow, long, painful process that teaches the best lessons.

Published on: Sep 29, 2016