Are you sacrificing everything to achieve your dreams? Today’s work culture emphasizes the extreme self-sacrifice and burnout that people supposedly “need” to succeed. Elon Musk famously stated that he once worked 120 hours a week as a show of leadership. Mark Cuban of “Shark Tank” fame once said that he didn’t vacation for the first seven years of his business and would routinely stay up until 2 a.m. researching technology. Yahoo’s Marissa Meyer used to work 130-hour weeks at Google and slept under her desk.
Which makes you wonder… is there another way to build a successful, profitable business and work your way to the top without sacrificing your body, mind, and soul?
The answer is yes, and there are examples out there to prove it.
Take Ingrid Arna: she’s an internet entrepreneur and marketing expert who made a million dollars after 18 months in business. She didn’t rely on sleepless nights, insane work schedules, or even capital to build her online brand.
Arna’s mission is to empower other women to own their financial prowess without sacrificing their mental or physical health.
“I’ve seen too many women silenced and broken financially and emotionally. I was one of those women until I made a conscious choice to master my finances and become the true creatrix of everything in my life, including my financial sovereignty,” says Arna.
In this exclusive interview, Ingrid shares more about her vision and journey to creating a successful life and business, without sacrificing her sanity.
Celinne Da Costa: Where did your journey begin?
Ingrid Arna: My childhood was peppered with struggles to find my place and create peace within myself. I grew up in Australia with two immigrant parents—a Russian dad and a Macedonian mom—who started a beauty salon and cosmetic manufacturing start-up under our house. Both my parents were passionate, driven workaholics who poured their hearts and souls into their business, which transformed into a multimillion-dollar company. I wanted to be just as competent as they were, and I worked to succeed, no matter the cost.
My father was always supportive, but unfortunately he projected his need to succeed onto me. The constant pressure to always be my best was something I eventually rebelled against. I made a decision during my teens to take control of my life and live it in a way that felt authentic to my dreams. A large part of who I am came from fiercely fighting to create a life that was loving and nourishing and not driven by fear or others’ expectations.
My mom was also a powerful mentor. She taught me resilience and showed me the backbone needed to succeed as an entrepreneur. She conditioned me to have no excuses, which embedded a psychology of responsibility and unwavering personal commitment. She also taught me to be results-driven, and it’s served me (and now my clients) well.
But it took me time to understand these lessons and to embed them into my life in a positive way. I had to go through many failures first. My life experience became my core teaching, which I now use to educate women to claim social, political, and financial power in their own lives.
Da Costa: How did you gain your business experience?
Arna: I decided to leave Australia to flourish on my own merits. I moved to New York City at 21 and carved out a job in corporate advertising. I was always the first one at the office and the last one to leave. I became a corporate executive by 28, with my own fancy office overlooking 6th Avenue.
But I wasn’t fulfilled. So, I decided to create my own clothing line, a passion that had been hiding behind the belief that corporate was best. And I made mistakes. The first was taking a year to get to market with my product, which meant I burned through my capital. The second was trusting a dodgy lawyer with my corporate kit, who then wrote out 50% of the stock to himself without my consent.
That was when I lost it all. The weight of the failure was almost unbearable. I then experienced a health crisis like never before. Overcome with exhaustion and barely able to stand, I learned two crucial lessons: first, nobody was coming to save me, and second, I would never again partner with someone without solid legal protection of my assets and IP.
This was one of my darkest times, but it was also a moment of absolute clarity: I was single-handedly responsible for my fate. That’s not to say that you can’t seek help from others—they can encourage you, teach you, and provide you with resources—but ultimately, you must take action to ensure your own success.
These failures forged me into the empowered CEO I am today, leading a global company with thousands of students every year. I’m a living example of how entrepreneurs can learn to thrive from their mistakes and misadventures.
Da Costa: How did you turn things around?
Arna:I returned to Australia and started a coaching business. But two people really changed my life. The first was my beautiful partner, who has always had my back and believed in my entrepreneurial vision.
The second was my daughter. After giving birth to her, I had another moment of clarity. I was lying in my hospital bed and still talking to my clients on the phone. I realized that I was trapped in this endless cycle of work, client delivery, and overwhelm, which required me to hustle day and night. And I was now holding a newborn in my arms.
That was my “F**k this sh*t” moment.
Even though I was hardwired with an unbreakable work ethic, I finally understood that I could no longer sacrifice my freedom, power, and wellbeing for work.
I then had to figure out how to change my pattern of people-pleasing and over-compensating that had been the backbone of my business. I had to stop idolizing hustle culture and running my business in a way that was driving me into the ground. I realized that I was stuck, like many women, in toxic over-giving and wasn’t focused enough on cash flow, growth and sustainability. My clients were thriving but I was struggling to get by.
First, I needed to forgive myself for past mistakes, then take all my knowledge and turn it into a product that I could sell 24/7, without the hustle. I understood for the first time why I wanted financial freedom: it would give me time—time for myself and for my family. It was also the best pathway for me to create a legacy brand, where I get to do what I love and pass on my knowledge to other women.
I stopped freaking out and got busy mapping out my business plan. Within seven days, I had a comprehensive offer that started selling immediately, with few start-up costs. This one offer was the cornerstone of my now multimillion-dollar business.
One of the best things I remember about that time—only five years ago—was how quickly my business grew once I committed to escaping financial chaos. With that first offer, I broke the consultancy curse, made $60,000 in about five months, and put $10,000 of that back into Facebook advertising. I then accrued over $150,000 in the next four months and went on to double that income repeatedly. No matter your niche or expertise, you can both serve and make millions in the most fulfilling way possible.
Da Costa: Why is your business so successful?
Arna: I’ve fused my innate generosity with advanced strategy and unparalleled service. My over-giving had previously crippled my income and allowed others to exploit me. Now that I’d fully taken the reins in my business and life, I turned my genuine care for people into a catalyst for consistent cash flow and impact.
I’ve told my story and delivered heaps of free content to my audience because I believe that what I have to share is too important for the financial sovereignty of women to be kept behind a paywall. If clients like my free content, they’ll enjoy my paid courses even more. I believe that I’ve found the holy grail: give away some of your most potent teachings, automate how you virally share your content to a wide audience, and have an irresistible offer that people can’t help but want to purchase.
It’s essential that women learn how to package and sell high-end offers, so this is what I teach. These are the skills that I’ve mastered through my tumultuous years in business. These insights helped me succeed during that time and now thousands of global students have been able to replicate my success.
The best part about my programs is the real-time live support with world-class experts. Everything we teach is easy and quick to implement. You don’t have to wait months or years to get your product to market.
I also let my clients do the talking by sharing their testimonials because their heartfelt stories of success in their own words are more powerful than every other marketing message.
Without a strong “why” to move it forward being an entrepreneur will break you. When challenges come—and they will—you need a clear and inspiring answer to why you’re in business. This will provide the resolve that you need to work through the tough times and prosper, even in difficult economic climates.
When you have a product or a service that delivers on its word, the money, clients, and contribution are almost guaranteed.
Da Costa: What are your goals for the future?
Arna: I believe that life is just an extended learning opportunity. My plan is to double my business over the next 12 months as I grow as a leader. At the end of the day my core objective is to always deliver on the promise. I feel confident about my ability to hit that milestone—even with the current economic conditions—because I’ve mastered the process of scaling and successfully managing my clients and team.
My business now employs 16 staff and supports over a thousand students and clients each year. Hiring and investing in a talented team was one of the smartest moves I’ve made in business, as it allows me to have time and energy for myself and my family while still providing an unparalleled service to my clients.
Business isn’t just about making money for me: it’s about forming relationships and helping others on their journey to achieving their dreams. Getting the support you need is about learning from those who have gone before you how to thrive without the hustle or insanity-inducing drama while minimizing challenges. I can’t express how vital support is if you want to grow without succumbing to constant headaches and heartache!
I’m steadfast in my goal to take a stand for women’s financial and personal growth. I want every woman to know that she’s good enough, knows enough, and smart enough to build a profitable, beautiful online brand.
I believe that anyone can create a booming online business without sacrificing their mental or physical health. It’s all about learning how to leverage your knowledge, voice, and experience and playing to your strengths while building a powerful service or product that you can monetize, automate, and market—without working all the time.