Melinda Emerson (@smallbizlady) is an incredible woman no doubt! Her small business advice reaches more than 3 million individuals each week online. Forbes named her the number one woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter. She is a former columnist for the New York Times and Entrepreneur. She is frequently quoted by the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Fast Company, CNBC, and Fox.
Forbes named her one of the Top 10 business experts to follow in 2017. She is the best-selling author of the Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months and recently published Fix Your Business. More than just a business expert, Melinda has found her calling. She is passionate about what she does and is excited to share her experience with you.
Bobby: Hello Melinda, thank you for joining us today. Let’s just hop on in… What is the greatest moment in your professional career? Take us to that moment.
Melinda Emerson: I think the greatest moment in my professional career was when I saw the first review of my first book, become your own boss in twelve months. The reason why this review was so significant was because it was a publication that gave me validation, it said people wanted to hear what I had to say.
The review was written by Black Enterprise Magazine. The headline was, “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months: Best Startup Book Ever Read”. I literally cried when I saw that, because I got validation from someone else saying that my words help others. That review launched everything. That lead to Inc. writing articles on me and me being on the front page of the Washington Post’s business section.
To give you the real backstory, my book was shelved by the publisher for 18 months when the market crashed. When the book was finally released, people were already ready for it. Because of the delay, I got more serious on social media and became known as “The Small Business Lady”. Without the delay, I would’ve never gotten so well-known online. And I now reach more than three million people every week online. So the moral of this story is, every kick is a boost.
Bobby: So, that leads me into the next question. What has been the hardest moment in your career?
Melinda Emerson: Back in 2005, my business was doing extremely well. My husband was able to quit his fulltime job to join my business. I suddenly got pregnant when I was a workaholic, so I was put on bed-rest. In 2005, wifi was not what it is today. I was pretty much in my bed trying to run my business.
I was in a bad position, because the business couldn’t run without me. I was very sick, at the hospital three times a week getting tests. This all put a damper on my business. I almost lost everything when I had my son. On top of that, my marriage was crumbling. I had a meltdown, not knowing what I was going to do.
I was only 33 and had accomplished a lot, but I was not happy anywhere. I had to figure out what I was doing with my life. After I had my son, I didn’t want to go back to work at all. But I knew I had to make money to pay for the divorce. I literally started praying. Within two or three months, God gave me a vision three times to become a small business expert. It was in that moment that God told me why I’m here: to help end small business failure.
Bobby: That’s powerful stuff. If you could do one thing over in your early twenties, what would that be?
Melinda Emerson: I faced a lot of people challenging me and my abilities as a black business woman. I internalized the doubts of others a lot, and started to second guess myself. What I will say, particularly to women, you are already enough. You DO NOT need validation of any sorts. The world is waiting on you. It doesn’t matter what your casing is. If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door, I promise.
Bobby: Now, I probably shouldn’t even ask you this next question then, because you probably don’t have any regrets. If you died tomorrow, what would be your single biggest regret?
Melinda Emerson: I don’t have one regret. If I die tomorrow, what I know is that the people I love, know that I love them. My son knows that he is the light of my life. I have lived an amazing life. God has blessed me so amazingly. I mean, I travel around the world as the Small Biz Lady. I’ve always wanted to publish a book and write for a major paper. I have published a book and have been a columnist for the New York Times.
Bobby: That is great to hear. How can listeners start living a life without regrets?
Melinda Emerson: I think to live a life without regret, you have to live a life of authenticity and truth. The first person you have to be honest with is yourself. You have to realize, nobody’s life is as good as it looks on Facebook. That’s a highlight real, same with Instagram. That’s where people are flossing these days.
You just need to learn how to be present and appreciate your life as it is. Even the hard days. My dad used to say, you need to thank God for bad days because without bad days you wouldn’t know what good days are.
You need to think about it like this: you never lose in business or in life. Either you win or you learn. But you never lose. This is not a zero-sum game. You can always hit the reset button. No matter your circumstance, your mistakes do not have to define you.
Bobby: Okay, great. Then what is one action that listeners can focus on this week to improve as a person?
Melinda Emerson: I think one thing that a listener can do this week is to pick up a book that he or she has been meaning to read and actually start to read it. Because success leaves clues everywhere and most of the time it’s in a book that someone already wrote for you.
So if there’s a book in your office or at home that you’ve been meaning to read, just pick it up right now and start reading it. You’ll be better for it.
Bobby: That is one good life hack. So, I’d be insane if I didn’t ask the Small Biz Lady what the most important thing is for a startup?
Melinda Emerson: The most important thing for a startup is becoming very clear about who your paying customer is. If everybody can use your product or service, nobody will. You need to get extremely clear on your niche. Who will pay you for your product or service?
Bobby: Thanks, that’s great advice. Before you go, do you have any closing words? Any way that we can reach you online?
Melinda Emerson: Well, my handle is SmallBizLady everywhere on social media. You can reach out there. My government name is Melinda Emerson. My books… If you’re just getting started in small business, check out my first book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months. Read my new book, Fix Your Businessif you already have a business that you feel could use some change.
Bobby: Well great. Thank you so much Melinda for taking the time to be on the show today. It was a pleasure.
Some reminders from this podcast:
1. Melinda shared some powerful words on life’s challenges: you never lose in life. Either you win or you learn. There is no losing.
2. You have to remember, in both business and life in general, that you are enough. You do not need the validation of others to reach for success.
3. THIS WEEK: Pick up that book that you know you should be reading and actually read it. You will become better because of it.