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By Alicia Adamczyk
September 7, 2017
Luisa Dörr for TIME

Michelle Phan’s interview is part of TIME Firsts, a multimedia project featuring 46 groundbreaking women. Watch the rest of the videos at Time.com/Firsts.

Buy the book at the TIME Shop.

What started as a few YouTube videos with tips on how to apply makeup has transformed into a $500 million company for 30-year-old Michelle Phan — and she’s the first woman to do so from a web series.

What’s her advice for other women seeking to start and grow a business?

“The first advice I give to any women who want to become an entrepreneur is find a problem that you see in any industry, and if you’re very passionate about it, find a solution,” she said recently in an interview for Time’s new series Firsts. “We have to see potential in something that no one is looking at.”

Phan uploaded her first video in 2007, with the goal to make beauty knowledge more accessible to industry outsiders. “I started to make these beauty videos not thinking anyone would watch them,” she said. But as her videos caught on, she realized she could create a full-fledged business out of what started as a creative outlet.

“If all these resources and tools are here for me, I’m not meant to keep it, I’m meant to share it,” she says.

While she’s far from the only YouTube personality to make a name for herself, she is one of the most prolific. Her videos and tutorials have close to one billion views, and she’s been profiled by the likes of Forbes and Fast Company for her creativity and business savvy.

Phan credits her mother, who emigrated from Vietnam, with her entrepreneurial spirit. “I dealt with a lot of people who second guessed me and undermined me because of my age,” she says. “My mom is the reason why I’m such a hustler, such an entrepreneur.”

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The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.

Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.

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Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.

Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.

To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.

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