"SmallBizLady" Melinda Emerson shares the top three mistakes she made launching her business.

Melinda F. Emerson, known as “SmallBizLady,” is one of America’s leading small business experts. She is a seasoned entrepreneur, professional speaker, social media strategist whose mission is to end small business failure.

Melinda is also the author of the bestselling book, “Become Your Own Boss in 12 Monthsa Month-by-Month Guide to starting a Business. Today, she shares the top three mistakes she made launching her own business.

Q: What were the top 3 mistakes you made starting out with your business, and if you could start over what would you do differently?

1 – I didn’t have a specific niche customer

I chased any and every opportunity that came my way for the first three years I was in business. I wasted so much time and money. Once we focused on the healthcare industry and became specialists in developing content for that niche, my life and business became so much better.  I should have done better research up front, on what specific customer or industry I wanted to serve.

2 – Not building a business that could survive without me.

My first company was a cult personality business. My personal energy made everything happen. I worked 7 days a week, and had no life. Everything was great, as long as I was there telling everyone what to do. But when I became ill when I was pregnant and put on bed rest for six months, we almost went out of business. You must hire smart people and empower them to make decisions, even if they do things differently than you would. When your business can’t run without you, your business will never grow.  I was not a great delegator. I convinced myself that no one could do anything as well as I could. It held me back for many years.  After I gave birth, I changed everything about my business and we soared.

3 – Poor hiring decisions

In the early days, I hired people because I liked them or because they needed a job. I didn’t do skills tests; sometimes I didn’t even check references. I hired people because I needed a body in the seat. Then, I would be slow to fire them, even when it was obvious they were not a fit. Experience has taught me to be slow to hire and quick to fire. I use detailed job descriptions, have personality and skills tests. We use outside consultants to evaluate candidates for key roles before hiring as well. I also put new employees on a 90 day probation period before extending full benefits.

Connect with Melinda Emerson

Twitter @SmallBizLady

Facebook/ SmallBizLady


  • Loved Melinda’s thoughts on hiring — and so typical of most small business owners.

    This question is for Melinda — what personality assessments do you use for hiring? I’m familiar with PDP, DISC and TTI assessments. But I’m curious as to what you use?

  • Harry

    Excellent advice from America’s Small Business Lady as always. Finding your niche and focusing on it is the most important element for success in my mind. This is the only way small business owners are able to compete with big guns like Amazon and Wal-Mart.

  • Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you liked it. It was an honor to chat with “SmallBizLady”

  • Great Article for escaping Small Business Mistakes and Put your Business on the rights track . Presented the Professional Small business Advice . Thanks


  • Great advice in focusing on a Niche for sure. So tempting to want to be everything to everybody, but not the best solution for longterm success.

    Awesome Advice Melinda and Herby!