Melinda Emerson, @SmallBizLady offers advice and encouragement to more than three million entrepreneurs every week online. She is the publisher of succeedasyourowboss.com. Forbes magazine named her the #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She has a 20-year track record as a successful businesswoman as CEO of Quintessence Group, an award winning marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA. She is a social media expert, journalist, and dynamic keynote speaker and she’s a professional single mom. I sat down with her for an exclusive interview on the eve of the release of her new book, Fix Your Business that was released March 6,2018. For details log on to www.FixYourBusiness.com
Q: You’re an amazing role model for all entrepreneurs. Can you tell us your story?
SmallBizLady: I was 26 when I started my company Quintessence Group. I knew I didn’t know much about running a small business. I am journalist, so I approached starting a business like a research project. I read and took business courses to learn how to run my business and be a leader. After about seven years in business, I was doing very well. I had numerous professional accolades and awards, and I had the largest female-owned production company in my city. Then my husband and I got pregnant, and I was immediately put on bed rest with a high risk pregnancy. I went from being the worst workaholic in the world, to not being about to leave my home and Wi-Fi was not available yet. My business really suffered. In fact, I almost went out of business that year. Unfortunately, I built a business that couldn’t run without me. However, when I had six months to sit and think, I came up with a million-dollar idea. I realized all the expensive mistakes I had made in business and it also occurred to me that unless I started educating people about the right way to run a business, they must struggle that way I did. The first thing I did after my son was born, and I adjusted to motherhood, was write my bestselling book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, which is now in its second edition. It was completed in 2008, but when the global recession hit, my publisher postponed the release of the book until 2010. This was heartbreaking to me at the time, but it positioned me perfectly to become a national small business expert.
Q: How did you become SmallBizLady?
SmallBizLady: After my publisher postponed the release of Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, a good friend suggested that I hire a publicist to help me start promoting the book even though it wasn’t coming out for 18 months. I hired a woman who specialized in book launches and knew social media which was in its infancy back then. She suggested that I build my brand on Twitter. When I first went to Twitter to sign up for an account, my name Melinda Emerson was taken. After I got over the initial shock, my publicist suggested that we come up with a nickname that would tell people who I am and what I am about. We came up with SmallBizLady, which we now know was the best branding move ever. Later we launched www.succeedasyourownboss.com and I have used the SmallBizLady brand to build a social media machine to help small business owners, that now reaches 3 million small business owners a week online.
Q: The title of this book is Fix Your Business, A 90-Day Plan to Get Your Life Back and Reduce Chaos in Your Business, this is quite a promise. Can this book really help a business owner do this?
SmallBizLady: Yes, this book is designed to help readers create a 90-Day Turnaround Plan for their businesses and get back control. If a business owner actually implements the ideas, the money rules, develops processes, and a new strategic plan for their business, things will run a lot more smoothly. There are 12 chapters in the book based on the “12 Ps of Running a Successful Business.” Readers have two options for using the book, they can look at all 12 areas of their business and tweak things as needed or they can do a Deep Dive and focus on the three biggest trouble areas in their business. This book is designed to help you see results in 12 weeks. If the reader keeps to the schedule and follows the action steps at the end of each chapter, change will happen. The cutting-edge concepts in Fix Your Business are already producing results for businesses across multiple industries.
Q: What are the 12 Ps Running a Successful Business?
SmallBizLady: The 12 Ps of Running a Small Business are fresh strategies to help business owners develop a business that works for them. Each chapter is based on the one of the 12 Ps Preparation, Purpose, People, Profit, Process, Productivity, Performance, Product, Presence, Prospects, Planning, and Perseverance. I want readers to prepare themselves for their businesses to be different, then I want them to reconnect and recommit to their “Why” story and mission which is the purpose for their business. Then, I help readers examine their leadership and create hiring and onboarding processes in the people chapter. The profit chapter is all about learning better money management skills and create new profit strategies, and the process chapter is about how to document your signature processes and business systems. The productivity chapter is about getting the right technology tools to save time and money. The performance is all about what you should be measuring in your business, the product chapter helps you take a hard look at your current products and services. The presence chapter is about building your brand offline and online. The Prospects chapter will help you develop a formal sales process. The planning chapter will help you develop a new strategic plan and the perseverance chapter is about finding the strength to stay with your business for the long haul.
Q: Why did you write Fix Your Business?
SmallBizLady: There’s so much in the world around right now that feels out of our control. And many businesses are on that list too. My new book Fix Your Business will encourage people to take back control and change how their business run. It’s not okay to skip paychecks on a regular basis. It’s not okay to feel like you could never take a vacation. It’s not okay not to know how much profit you made in your business until your taxes are done. I want business owners to stop letting their businesses be a runaway train. I’ve written this book to teach processes and systems to help business owners run their business intentionally. My goal is to help existing entrepreneurs create a business that allows them to have the freedom to live their dream life.
Q: How is Fix Your Business different from your Bestselling book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months?
SmallBizLady: My first book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months was about how to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur to start a business, but staying in business requires a different skillset. For years, I’ve been getting letters and emails for business owners who needed more help. My new book Fix Your Business is the answer for those entrepreneurs. They are in business full-time, and they’ve had some success, but things are overwhelming and stressful. They need specific advice and systems to handle the tough stuff going on in their businesses so they can reduce the chaos and start loving going to the office and serving their customers again.
Q: How to did you create you mission to end small business failure?
SmallBizLady: It just made sense to me based on this work that I do helping small business owners. Being my own boss is the ultimate form of freedom, but success will not just happen to you. You must plan for success. I wake up each day without an alarm clock; I have a purpose clock. My mission is the focus of every speech I give, every video I create and every blog post I write. Most people have great business ideas, they just don’t know how to run a business. I try to stand in the gap for those people and give helpful business advice before they realize they even need it.
Q: What personal qualities do you have that you think have made you a successful entrepreneur?
SmallBizLady: I am a successful entrepreneur because I have never believed I couldn’t be successful. I use being nice and good to work with as my secret weapon. I am constantly reading and learning to be a better leader. I don’t take a no from anyone who can’t say yes. I leverage technology to be more effective in my business. I am relentlessly consistent in my business habits. I do not believe in daily to-do lists. I make business decisions based on my budget and my current financial statements and I believe in paying vendors quickly. I delegate things I don’t do well or enjoy, and I have a team of mentors who I call for advice regularly. I also pray over my business regularly.
Q: What are the biggest lessons you have learned in business?
SmallBizLady: You must have a niche target market. If everyone can use your product or service, no one will. You must hire people who are trustworthy and polite. You can teach someone how to do anything, but you can’t teach them to be nice. You also cannot teach them to have integrity. Your employees must have these traits coming in the door.
Q: What are you most proud of?
SmallBizLady: I am most proud of the fact that I have survived nearly 20 years in business, and that I have had the opportunity to see the world as the SmallBizLady, helping people live their dreams as entrepreneurs. I have been fortunate enough to accomplish nearly all of my professional business goals. I am currently developing a new bucket list for myself.
Q: How do you define success?
SmallBizLady: Success is just success; it really doesn’t mean a whole lot. When I was younger in business it was all about revenues, but that is not a good measure of success. There are plenty of wealthy people who are miserable. A better question is how do I define happiness? I define happiness as having complete control over my time and having the resources to invest in the things and people I care about. I cherish my son and family and my deepest friendships and I love to travel. I also believe ultimate happiness is having someone in your life to build with and share your life.
Q: When is Fix Your Business being released, and aren’t you going on a National Book Tour this April?
SmallBizLady: The book will officially be released March 6th, 2018. It will be available on Amazon, and you should go to your local bookstore and request it as well. We are kicking off the National Fix Your Business Book Tour on April 2, 2018, in partnership with SCORE chapters across the country. I’m excited to be going to 12 cities. We are starting in NYC, Philadelphia, PA, Washington, DC, Nashville, TN, Memphis, TN, Atlanta, GA, Miami, FL, Chicago, IL, Houston, TX, Los Angeles, CA, San Francisco, CA, and Detroit, MI. Click here for tour details.
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