How to Become Your Own Boss In 12 Months

How to Become Your Own Boss In 12 MonthsA trend in business books lately has been brief content that gets to the point of how to operate a business.

But sometimes start-up efforts need a meatier guide that delves into ordered steps more comprehensively.  Melinda Emerson, host of Small Biz Chat and Founder of Quintessence Multimedia, provides a delve-worthy start up manual:  Become Your Own Boss In 12 Months: A Month-by-Month Guide to a Business that Works.

Melinda offers standard commentary on the subjects of financial planning and adding employees. Yet,  Become Your Own Boss remains a wonderfully accessible book for those with an entrepreneurial heart and yet no other vital organs, so to speak, with regards to what steps should be taken and when.

How To Execute The Best Laid Plans

Emerson shares what should occur in a 12-month period.  The book is based on client experiences, as well as her trials starting her first business in 3 months.

The 12-month timeline starts with planning one’s life and available capital.  Emerson’s writing style is straightforward, offering vital information with a pace suited for project management and potentially reducing startup havoc.

Emerson enhances the text with various asides called Essentials (what you must do at the given step), Experience (recalling related lessons along her start up journey), and Action Steps (more detailed what-to-dos). These notes help Emerson easily relate to the reader in a relaxed style.  The text is  understandable and worthwhile reminders of what a business should and should not do, such as the following:

“Unless you have a complete business plan with financial projections, you are a person with an idea.”

Emerson’s media background shines on segments regarding promotion and cultivating the brand and message prior to a launch.  I loved the phrasing of the starting sentence for her message on e-mail contact and CRM, for example:

“Permission is perishable. Once someone gives you his or her e-mail address there’s a clock that is ticking on your relationship. You must keep your list engaged. Communicate with your list at least quarterly, monthly if you can.”

There are a few references on social media usage, but minimizing coverage of the latest and greatest social media may be a blessing given that so many books are written as if social media is the first (and unfortunately only) perspective that needs to be addressed. From a segment on social media, Emerson offers:

“Don’t spend your work time on social media unless there is a clear business reason. If you open e-mail first thing or start replying right away to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn request, you are operating on someone else’ agenda, not your own”

What Might Have Worked Differently

The order of steps in the book may seem to introduce complexity too early for some business structures.  The chapter on hiring an attorney, for example, might be better after a startup entrepreneur has completed some detailed research, like that presented in chapters  “Niche to Get Rich” and “Every Business Needs A Plan.”  For example, if you are working a side business, it probably makes sense to do market research early on to make sure  the market will support taking the business full-time before giving up your day job.

There are a few segments where further detail would be better, but the brevity in places is mostly due to an ambitious coverage that 12 Months brings in 200 pages.  The chapter on business plans gives an overview, for example, but does not drill down into how to create the financial projections.

Your business of choice will determine if the order and detail in 12 Months is enough.  But Emerson makes a reasonable pitch for having professional guidance early so you can make the right choices when forming your business, and so you stay on track.

What Readers Will Gain In 12 Months

Readers with little financial knowledge or project management skills will know where to start.  Become Your Own Boss In 12 Months can complement more industry or segment-focused books like Found Money (Finance).

Its project building approach can augment specific business start up concerns for industries such as restaurants, spas, and auto repair.

I am sure in 12 months being a boss will be much easier with Emerson’s sage advice.  Put this book in your hip pocket before you get your dreams going.  Better still, read this book and see how your dreams can become a great reality.


Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

7 Reactions
  1. Great writeup, Pierre. I read Melinda’s book and got a bunch out of it and I’ve been in biz for a while. I read it with the intent to share it with other aspiring biz owners that I meet every week. There are things she suggests that I wish I did when I started. Sage advice, for sure. I completely agree it is a book worth reading and using.

  2. As a teacher of business startups as well as internet marketing I am always eager for tools to help my students be successful. I appreciate the review and intend to purchase a copy to review for myself. Thanks SBT and Pierre D!

  3. That sounds like a very interesting read! I will definitely have to try and get into this. I would love to be MY own boss in the next 12 months! Thank you Pierre!

  4. Thanks Josh, Harmony and TJ for the comments! I hope the book offers more new insights for you than I have written.