Author Q&A: Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months

Author and Small Business Coach Melinda Emerson was a very informative guest on the Women Entrepreneurs Radio™ show. In this post she shares more of her insights about starting a business and her new book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business that Works

Why did you write Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months?

My mission as small business coach is to End Small Business Failure. I wanted to develop a tool for people who are unhappy with their jobs and wanted to start a business. I also wanted to discourage people from just quitting their jobs without a well-researched plan. Too often I got calls from people seeking my advice about starting a business—after they had already quit their job which is just too late to start planning. I started out sending these would-be entrepreneurs a one pager with start-up tips. Then it was expanded into a special report, 44 Things To Do Before Going Into Business, which was the basis for this book. Over the years I became a business coach and lecturer on small business best practices. Since the recession began, small business owners have even less time to hit it big with their niche target customer now. I thought the best way to help entrepreneurs would be to provide a step-by-step proven method to start a successful small business.

What makes your book different from all the other start-up business books?

Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months provides a realistic, month-by-month planning guide to start a sustainable and profitable small business. If you’re planning to start a business soon, the key to being successful is not only to create a sound business concept, but also taking the time to figure out the business of running a business. This book will point out the important and necessary steps to take – so you will have the right foundation for a small business. Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months is not a book about writing a business plan; it’s about planning your successful small business.

Why does it take 12 months to start a business?

12 Months is an ideal time-frame to start a business, it’s not meant to be restrictive. I have been an entrepreneur for more than 11 years. Based on my experience, I believe the longer you plan, the more research you will do, and the more money you save, the more likely you are to succeed in business.

What if you don’t have 12 months?

Sometimes people are forced to start sooner. This is triggered by layoffs, getting fired, buyouts or retirement packages. I only planned for three months with my first business, but the challenge with that approach is you learn plenty of lessons the hard way, and that can be expensive. If you live by a budget, have your debt under control, and have a significant amount of savings, you will be able to start your business much sooner. Depending on your individual situation, it may take more than a year to get your personal finances in order.


Who should start a business?

Anyone with a solid, profitable business idea, willing to learn the business of running a business, can start a successful small business.

Why do small businesses fail so often?

1) No Life Plan—You need to develop a life plan and then build a business around that.
2) No Network—People do business with people they like and people they know. Who do you know and, more importantly, who knows you?
3) Lack of Target Market Focus—You have limited time and limited resources. Choose a niche so you can focus your marketing efforts.
4) Undercapitalized—If you do not save enough money to run your household for at least a year and fund the business, you may not be able to hang on until the business can generate any real revenue.
5) Lack of Fiscal Discipline—Do you run your business with a budget? Do you just rob the cash register when you need some cash? Do you make business decisions based on up-to-date financial information?

What are the 7 Essential Principals of Small Business Success?

Throughout the past five years, I have interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs and business executives. After listening to what they said about running their businesses and observing how they did business, I realized that there were 7 things they all had in common. They include having an entrepreneurial mindset, utilizing strict fiscal discipline, and having a kitchen cabinet of advisors. They make use of a well-defined brand identity; have a niche market customer, excellent customer service, and a firm understanding every day of their cash position by carefully managing their banking relationship. Using these principles can help any business run at its best. It’s the gold standard all businesses need to strive for from the very beginning.

Who is this target audience for this book?

This book is for anyone looking to create a plan to fire their boss and start a small business. It will also help people who are within their few years of launching a new enterprise. I have also heard from seasoned business owners who tell me that this book could serve as a professional development course or a great roadmap to reinventing a struggling business.


Melinda F. Emerson, also known as Twitter’s SmallBizLady is a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, and small business coach whose areas of expertise include small business start-up, business development and social media. She hosts #SmallBizChat weekly on Twitter for emerging entrepreneurs. She is the founder and CEO of Quintessence Multimedia, an award-winning strategic communications firm. She has created productions for such companies as Johnson & Johnson, Verizon, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Comcast. Her book Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business That Works!” was released in March 2010 by Adams Media.

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