homepage_name! > Editions > Number 132 > Business Thought - Melinda Emerson

Melinda F. Emerson “SmallBizLady”

America’s #1 Small Business Expert


Melinda F. Emerson, SmallBizLady, is America’s #1 Small Business Expert. She has been a thriving entrepreneur for nearly 20 years and is an internationally known keynote speaker and expert on small business development and social media marketing.

She publishes a resource blog www.succeedasyourownboss.com. Her small business advice is widely read, reaching more than 3 million entrepreneurs online weekly. A pioneer in social media marketing, she is the creator and host of #Smallbizchat, the longest running live chat on Twitter for small business owners. Forbes magazine named her the #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter.

Melinda is the founder and president of Quintessence Group, an award-winning marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA, serving Fortune 500 companies who target the small business market. Notable clients include Visa, Sam’s Club, FedEx, American Express, ADP, Verizon Wireless, Pitney Bowes, Staples and The Hartford. Melinda has lectured at numerous colleges and universities including; MIT, The University of Pennsylvania, Rosemont College, Chatham University, Point Park College, Temple University, Cheyney University, Delaware State, Howard University, and Morgan State University.

A former columnist for The New York Times Huffington Post and Entrepreneur, she is also frequently quoted by other media organizations including The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Fast Company, CNBC, MSNBC and Fox News. Forbes magazine named her one of the Top 10 Tech and Business Experts for 2017. Other magazines featuring her advice are Essence and Black Enterprise. Melinda is an expert on what it takes to start a successful small business, the go-to-market strategy, and social media selling. She is the bestselling author of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months and the ebook How To Become a Social Media Ninja. The title of her latest book is Fix Your Business. She is a proud graduate of Virginia Tech, and mother to her amazing son JoJo.

How did you become SmallBizLady?

“When I first got on Twitter my name was taken, so I needed a nickname and my publicist helped me create @SmallBizLady.”

How do you know you are ready to Become Your Own Boss?

“You first need to make sure that you have a viable business idea and a paying customer. Know why will they buy from you. You need to make sure that your business will be relevant 3-5 years from now. Look at the trends in your industry. Are you going into a business market that is growing or shrinking? Where’s the money for starting your business coming from? Can you afford to become an entrepreneur?”

What advice do you have for someone thinking about starting a business?

“Develop a life plan first, then get your savings together and your personal credit score up. If you don’t even have a credit score then look at the best credit cards for no credit and work up from there. It’s important to consider these things – you are your business’s credit. Start working for a business like the one your want to start to learn what it really takes. Don’t assume you already know. Develop a marketing plan and define your niche. You must fill a market niche to get rich in today’s economy. Write a business plan and then launch while working. It takes 18-36 months to break even, let alone replace your salary.”

Where do you get the money to start your own small business?

“The money to start your small business will come from your right or left pocket. Family and friends may invest a little capital, but be careful with accepting money from friends. Their money might not be patient. If you write an exceptional business plan you make qualify for a microloan of $35K or less. But that’s not enough money. You must be prepared to go without a salary for a year or two as you’re launching.”

We've all heard the stats regarding the high failure rate of many businesses. What sort of advice would you give business owners whose businesses have failed, or are struggling?

“I don’t see failure as a bad thing. It’s all part of the process of eventually running a successful business. You don’t fail in business, either you win or you learn - and some lessons are more expensive than others.”

If you think about yourself and your business in terms of growth and not goals you’ll always have the right attitude towards any situation.”

Could you briefly describe the most important trait a business owner must have in order to be a successful manager?

“You must treat your employees as if they were your #1 customers. If you don’t care about your employees, they won't care about your customers and you won’t be in business very long.”

What are a few key aspects a business owner must pay attention to in order to build or manage a successful business?

“I believe that to build and manage a successful business you:

·Must have a niche target customer - people want to work with businesses that specialize in solving their problems.

·Must communicate with your existing customers often as they are the best potential source of additional revenue.

·Need to hire smart people, and actually empower them to make decisions for your business.

·Should stay on top of industry trends so a technological shift doesn't put you out of business.

·Should build a business that can run without you.

·Need to develop ways to manage stress.

·Must make a point nurturing your personal life as well as your business life.

·Finally, grow your personal leadership skills. If you don't learn to lead, no one will follow you.”


Melinda F. Emerson, known as “SmallBizLady,” is recognized by Forbes magazine as the #1 Woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. As creator of #Smallbizchat, the largest Twitter chat for small business owners, Melinda reaches 3 million small business owners per week through social media and her blog succeedasyourownboss.com. She is a regular columnist in the New York Times and Huffington Post. [KP1]Melinda’s mission is to end small business failure. She educates her audiences on essential business skills, marketing and social media.

Her bestselling book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months is widely regarded as one of the best start-up books ever written. She has been featured as an expert on MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC and in Fortune, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Washington Post, Entrepreneur, Essence and Black Enterprise.[KP2]

The Emerson Planning System has widely been received as an Adult Education, Distance Learning, Community College, and Educational Institution curriculum. Melinda Emerson enjoys engaging as a speaker and keynoter at venues that encourage personal and professional growth of entrepreneurs, especially female business owners.

Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months

Whether you're newly unemployed, sick of office life and longing for a change, or just want to finally turn your business idea into reality, you can follow your dream and make your passion your profession. Drawing on her experience as founder of an award-winning company, Melinda F. Emerson shows you how in this practical month-by-month guide to getting your business off the ground. Inside, you'll find the timetable and steps you need to take to become a successful CEO of your own venture, including: Month 1: Meet with potential venture capitalists Month 3: Set a one-year marketing budget Month 5: Select a logo Month 9: Purchase customer relationship management software Month 11: Prepare your launch day press release Next year at this time, you could be calling the shots at your dream job. You supply the energy, an idea, and elbow grease—and this book will supply the plan.

Are You Ready to Become Your Own Boss?

Are You Ready to Become Your Own Boss? is designed to help would-be entrepreneurs make the go/no go decision about whether or not they should pursue small business ownership. Everyone has good ideas, but it is the business of running a business that causes most entrepreneurs to struggle. This is a companion workbook to the book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months by Melinda F. Emerson. It walks readers through a planning system to determine if starting a business is the best move for them. Would-be entrepreneurs will go through the steps of planning a new business and finish this workbook with a complete feasibility study on whether or not their business idea can help them accomplish their personal financial goals. After completing Are You Ready to Become Your Own Boss? readers will have a factual basis to make the decision to move forward with completing a business plan.

Fix Your Business: A 90-Day Plan to Get Your Life Back and Reduce Chaos in Your Business

This book specifically focuses on how to go from struggling to thriving so that you can scale or sell your businesses some day. Fix Your Business is the ultimate guide to running a business that works for you, while drastically improving your quality of life and bottom-line. Using her 12 P´s of Running a Successful Business readers will learn: • How to build your leadership mindset • How to remove the daily stress of managing your small business finances • How to build processes and systems that will allow the owner to have time freedom • Rock-solid techniques to improve people management • to create a sales system step by step

“Melinda Emerson has developed a detailed process that, when followed, will positively impact your business. She will help you find time to read this book and implement its teachings using her “12 Ps of running a successful business.”

Everyone wants to be more profitable. After all, profit is how we keep score in business. It’s not about what you make – it is all about what you keep. Sometimes the simplest ideas can help you increase your profits.If you’re ready to jumpstart the money making activities in your enterprise, implement the following seven ways to be more profitable in your small business![KP3]

1.Go through customer files. They are a gold mine.

How many customers are in your database?How many customers are active customers (you’ve done business with them in the past 18 months)?Usually the number of customers in the file is much greater, sometimes exponentially greater, than the number of active customers.

Reactivate your inactive customers.Send a postcard series with the theme “We want you back.”You’ll be surprised at how many call and say, “We thought you went out of business since we hadn’t heard from you in a long time.”

These people have purchased from you at least once. Give them a reason to purchase from you again!

2.Know your net profit per hour.

The net profit per hour denotes the total net profit before taxes divided by billable hours or revenue producing hours. Include all employees´ working hours needed for the delivery of your products and services. Do not include training hours, vacation hours, etc.

It is understood that you produce revenue with every hour, so what is the bottom line profit that you generate? If the number is lower than you’d like, then take steps to increase it. This might be raising prices, adding additional products and services to increase the total sale to one customer, increasing employee productivity, or cutting overhead. Ask your employees how to decrease costs or increase sales by $100 per month.They can relate to $100 and probably will have some great ideas. Implement them and they will continue to give you great ideas.

3.Don’t get stupid when you get busy.

Discipline in busy times as you discipline in slower times. When it is busy you have a tendency to let infractions “slip under the rug” because you can´t make the time to deal with them.You fear that you can’t afford to be without the infracting person because it is a busy time. If an employee commits a fireable offense, he or she must be fired. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is.

If you don’t fire that person, your revenues may start to slip. Other employees will see that “someone got away with something” and they will be less likely to work as hard. Less hard work means less revenue. Less revenues usually means less profits.

4.Ask for referrals.

One of the best ways to grow your company is through referrals from happy customers. Put a statement at the bottom of your invoices, on proposals, and the back of your business cards, saying“We grow our company through referrals from satisfied customers. If we provided excellent products and customer service, please tell your friends and colleagues. If we did something wrong, please tell us and we will fix it. Our goal is 100% customer satisfaction.”

This statement lets a customer know that you are serious about providing outstanding customer service and that you appreciate referrals. Some will call you with referrals. Some will let you fix a problem rather than spreading the fact that they were unhappy to friends, neighbors, and social media.

5.Call 30 days after you make the sale.

The person who sold the product/project or a customer service representative should call 30 days after the sale to make sure that everything is ok. He should ask for referrals by asking, “Who have you talked to about your new ________?”When the customer answers, he says “Do you think NAME would be as happy as you are with a new _______ like you have?”When the customer says “Ask NAME,” get NAME’s contact information and follow up on this referral.

6.Save 1% of every dollar that comes in the door.

This is your emergency cash account. For each bank deposit, write a check or transfer 1% of that deposit amount into a savings account when you make the deposit. You still have 99% to use.That 1% will be there when you need cash for payrolls or taxes.

7.Get timely, accurate financial statements each month.

Reviewing these statements takes less than 30 minutes per month. You will spot minor issues and can take care of them before they become major crises. You will also be able to make great business decisions based on the accurate information you get.

Implement these simple ideas. They can help you generate more profit today in your small business.

[KP1]Pasus ponavlja sve sto je vec receno na pocetku. Izostavila bih i pocela sledecom recenicom.

[KP2]Ponavljanje, izostavila bih.

[KP3]Ovo je nekako van konteksta. Trebao bi neki prelaz, nije jasno da li je deo knjige ili je novi odeljak