5 Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Melinda Emerson
Who is Melinda Emerson and what you can learn from her:
Melinda Emerson is known as the Small Biz Lady. She is the founder and president of the Quintessence Group, a marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA. Melinda founded an organization that aims to provide training materials to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Her curriculum is available for purchase, but she also gives out free advice to those who need it. Here are five of her biggest tips that I got out of her book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months:
1. Create Working Hours
One of the great things about being your own boss is that you get to set your own hours. But you should create a schedule and stick to it. Try to get most of your work done during your most productive hours. If you are a morning person, get up early and be at your desk ready to make the most out of that part of the day. If you think more clearly at night, sleep in as late as you want but don’t go out with your friends until you’ve finished what you need to get done that day.
Setting hours also helps friends and family respect your schedule. Many people will get the impression that you can take off whenever you want since you don’t have a boss to report to. While it’s okay to take advantage of this from time to time, it is not the path to success. By letting people know that you are not available for a set time period each day, they will get the message that you take your work just as seriously as they take theirs.
2. Don’t Quit Your Day Job Yet
There is a lot of research that goes into opening a new business. Once you quit your job to pursue your own company, you are living off of savings. This gives you a limited time to start pulling in money through your new company before you have to return to the workplace. So instead of setting yourself up for disappointment and failure, do as much of the preliminary work as you while still holding your own job.
Research is one of the most important steps in pursuing any new venture. And much of it can be done before you quit your job. Spend one hour each evening looking into what the growth potential is for your business. Learn what you need to succeed in this field. Get as much lined up as possible ahead of time. That way, once you do put in your two weeks’ notice, you can tackle this project with your full energy and get up and running in no time.
3. Do Your Own Research
Corporations have huge budgets dedicated simply to market research. You don’t have six figures to spend on this. So you’re going to have to do a lot of the legwork yourself. But this isn’t that difficult. Much of it can be done just by asking yourself a few key questions.
You can get a large number of responses simply by asking people. Once you’ve run your ideas past a few trustworthy sources, send out a Facebook message to get as many answers as possible. But if you leave open ended questions hanging out there, you are going to be overwhelmed with the endless answers you receive. Instead, ask simple yes or no questions to keep people focused and to collect the specific information that you are looking for.
4. Identify Your Target Audience
Don’t assume that anyone and everyone is going to want what you are selling. Something that appeals to a wide audience is of course more likely to succeed than something that only a few people are going to want. But when you are just starting out, it’s helpful to focus in on a tight group.
This gives you a concentrated focus that can keep you centered. Particularly in the beginning stages, you are going to have limited resources for things like advertising. Instead of trying to appeal to everyone, send a strong message out to a target audience. As they support your company, your reputation will spread through word of mouth. Once you’ve established yourself with your original audience, you can reach out to other groups.
A word of caution on branching out: you don’t want to betray your existing customers. If you change your image too much to attract a different crowd, you will lose your original audience. This type of change leads to a drop in customer loyalty that can have far reaching negative consequences.
5. Use Social Media Consistently
Social media is a cheap and easy way to reach out to a wide audience and develop relationships with your customers. But it has to be used well to be effective. This is not your personal profile that you use to catch up with friends. You need to use it to present a consistent business image that lets your customers know who you are.
This doesn’t mean that everything has to be overly polished. Customers appreciate rough pictures that show behind the scenes action. But just because something looks spontaneous doesn’t mean it is. Thing through something before you post it. Pictures and videos can always be taken down later, but if the Internet has taught us anything, it is that nothing ever completely disappears.
More Information about Melinda Emerson
Preview Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months with Melinda Emerson herself
Buy Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months by Melinda Emerson on Amazon today
Visit SucceedAsYourOwnBoss.com to get the first two chapters and some more resources
Follow Melinda Emerson on Twitter and Facebook