Moving from full-time employee for someone else to your own boss takes a lot of hard work, planning, financial savings and a passion in the type of business you want to run. With small business being so critical to our country’s success, it is more important than ever to have access to a resource with proven solutions.
One such resource is Melinda Emerson, better known to many as ‘Small Biz Lady.’ Melinda continues to grow as a successful business owner and is committed to helping others who desire to achieve the same success by making it her mission to end small business failure. In part two of my interview, ‘Small Biz Lady’ gets down to the tips that she offers those ready to make their life’s plan a way of making ends meet on an annual basis.
Gillean Smith:You mentioned that you started your own business and started having people ask you questions about starting their own businesses. Were you surprised that people came to you for advice?
Small Biz Lady: No, I think people who are not in business think entrepreneurship is glamorous and fun. They don’t see all the hours, sacrifice and hard work. Running a small business is like being a swan. Swans appear beautiful and graceful above the water, but under the water they are paddling furiously to stay afloat. Many people currently working a traditional job hate what they do for a living, and think that entrepreneurship is a good next option.
Gillean Smith:What initial advice did you offer?
Small Biz Lady: For most, I advised them that their personal expenses were way too high to consider starting a business. I said, “You love Prada, you can’t start a business. You have a 4K a month mortgage and two brand new cars. You can’t start a business.”
Then I realized that I needed to give them a path to scale back their lifestyle so that they could start a business. So I create my special report. “44 Things To Do Before You Go Into Business,” which I give away free on my website http://www.succeedasyourownboss.com If you request the free chapter of my book, “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months,” you can get the special report as an added bonus.
Gillean Smith:A new business owner should not expect to break even or make any profits for some time. How long did it take you?
Small Biz Lady: Actually it takes 18-36 months just to break even. It was between year three and four when I started making real money in my business.
Gillean Smith:To many, this would be a great time to celebrate, within reason. What did you do with your first significant earnings?
Small Biz Lady: I purchased a minivan and then I put the rest right back into the business.
Gillean Smith:You have a goal in business. What is it?
Small Biz Lady: My mission is to end small business failure. I want to be America’s #1 Small Business Expert! I want to have the opportunity to help small business owners daily through the web, TV, radio and writing more books.
Gillean Smith:How are you measuring your success? And how have you done so far?
Small Biz Lady: I have a professional bucket list for myself, and I am proud to say that most of the boxes are checked. I am not emotional attached to anything but my family. I measure my success by my ability to spend time with them and by having the resources to do special things for them. I once measured success by revenues, but that’s a very shallow way to live. I now measure success by profits and time. And time is really the most valuable currency. The better your business is doing the more time you can control.
Gillean Smith: That’s a very powerful statement. Is this what you would recommend others use to measure their own success in business?
Small Biz Lady: Yes. I would recommend it. As business people, profits are how we keep score. So I’m not trying to suggest that businesses should not be focused on the bottom line. But I think people need to always remember why they work so hard. They should not lose perspective. Many business owners, and I was once this way, think their business is who they are. That is the wrong perspective. Your business is just what you do for a living. How do you live? Who do you love? What makes you laugh? What do you need to learn? The answers to these questions should always be the focus. This way, when the chips are down you can figure out how to get back up. When my son comes and tells me, “I love you, Mommy,” that gives me the strength some days to stand up, put my cape on and go be the “SmallBizLady” once more.
Gillean Smith:A successful business must be run by someone who has a passion for what he or she is doing. Where do you draw your passion from to help others?
Small Biz Lady: I think my passion comes from just my desire to end small business failure and the fact that everyone has good ideas. It’s the business of running a business that is actually killing many businesses today. People have no idea what they don’t know about running a successful and sustainable small business.
Gillean Smith:How can someone best utilize what you have to offer? In other words, how should someone get connected with you via blogs, Twitter and such?
Small Biz Lady:
Gillean Smith:You offer a LIVE Twitter chat called #Smallbizchat every Wed 8-9pm EST for emerging and existing small business owners. How can those interested follow this chat?
Small Biz Lady: #SmallBizChat is a weekly conversation where small business owners can get answers to their questions. The focus of #Smallbizchat is to end small business failure by helping participants succeed as your own boss. http://succeedasyourownboss.com/what-is-smallbizchat/ You must have a twitter account to participate in the chat. If they don’t use twitter I also post a Q&A from every show on my blog every Thursday morning for all the non Twitter folks out there.
Gillean Smith:Finally, people interested in starting a business are many. What advice would you offer to someone contemplating whether they are truly ready to go the distance? And with all of the information you have available, what is the best place for someone to start?
Small Biz Lady: My book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months, is based on a month-by-month planning system for how to transition from a job to small business ownership. I tell would-be entrepreneurs to start with developing a life plan first. You need a life plan before you ever write a business plan. It’s important to figure out what you want out of life and then build a business around that.
The second step is developing a financial plan, so that you can determine if you can afford to become an entrepreneur and start developing a saving plan to break your addiction to your paycheck. Step three is to validate your business concept and examine what skills you have and need to run your particular type of business. It is during this step that you need to evaluate
The fourth step is developing a marketing plan. You must determine who’s going to buy and why. It is important to know how you will stand out in marketplace. Then the fifth step is writing the business plan, which I suggest start with business plan software and then take a course at the local community college, small business development center or a local SCORE chapter.
Then finally it’s time to start the business. The best way to start a business once you’ve done your research, is to start while working your job. You should put effort into the business working evenings and weekends until the business hits breakeven. I believe you should do both your paycheck job and your business until it hurts.
I also have a workbook and 9-week course developed to supplement the book, “Are you ready to become your own boss?” This is the go/no-go decision guide to starting a small business. This fall, some colleges will be offering my course as a pre-requisite to their business plan courses.
Gillean Smith:If someone wishes to ask you about a more specific business topic, how should he or she contact you?
Small Biz Lady: Anyone who wants to contact me should go to my website www.succeedasyourownboss.com or find me on Twitter http://www.Twitter.com/smallbizlady or linkedin www.linkedin.com/in/melindaemerson
Gillean Smith:One final thought?
Small Biz Lady: I want people to understand what is really involved is running a successful small business. Some days you will win and some days you will learn. Both are important. Both ways can lead to success. Just remember to plan the business and then work the plan.
For Part One of My Two-Part Interview: “Small Biz Lady” shares her secrets to becoming a successful business owner.