Melinda Emerson “SmallBizLady”: A beacon of hope for small businesses across America

The Most Influential Black CEOs to Follow, 2023

Tapping into her vast 20+ years’ experience as a master content developer and business executive, Melinda Emerson, CEO of Quintessence Group, guides small business through vital development stages, advises Fortune 500 companies who market to small business owners and helps both of these audiences incorporate digital marketing strategy and social selling techniques into their outreach efforts. Besides leading the company, she is also a best-selling author and speaker whose three sharpest arrows are small business start-ups, marketing strategy and content marketing.

Brewing her dream into reality

In 2007, Melinda was unhappy everywhere. Her business was struggling after she was on bedrest for over 6-months with a high-risk pregnancy. She adds, “My marriage was on its last leg, and I had a little baby boy who was depending on me. I basically had a meltdown, and I started to pray and ask God for guidance.”

After about three months, God gave her a vision in a dream to become America’s #1 Small Business Expert. She states, “While she was on bed rest, she started working on my book ‘Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months,’ and when my son reached his first birthday, I picked up those notes, thanks to God who gave me the strength, and get up every morning and worked two hours a day to finish that book.”

When the first edition was about to come out in 2008, the market crashed, and Melinda’s publisher postponed the release of her book by 18 months, which devastated her. Her good friend suggested that she hire a publicist to start promoting the book even though it wasn’t coming out until 2010.

Melinda hired a social media expert who suggested she build an author platform on Twitter. She mentions, “When I first went to Twitter to sign up for an account, my name Melinda Emerson was taken. After I got over the initial shock, my publicist suggested that we come up with a nickname that would tell people who I am and what I am about. We came up with SmallBizLady, which we now know was the best branding move ever. Then we launched my blog, shortly thereafter. We coined my mission to end small business failure and I have used that brand to build a social media machine that now reaches 3 million small business owners a week online.”

Tunneling through all the roadblocks with finesse

Melinda had to face several challenges on her way up. Being an African American woman in a male-dominated field, she was roped down by a lot of discrimination. On top of that, she was a newbie in the business space, which further added stress on her shoulders.

However, she surfed through all the high tides with confidence and relentless consistency. She took on the challenges of learning lessons and paved her way to the top. She quotes, “You never lose in business, either you win, or you learn.”

Transforming the small business space

The SmallBizChat Podcast is a weekly interview show where Melinda interviews top business leaders and authors on marketing, finance and leadership to empower her listeners with advice to stay in business. Topics range from start-up to online marketing, health and wellness, to finance and human resources.

The SmallBizChat Podcast is an outgrowth of Melinda’s SmallBizLady brand. She started the podcast in 2019, after ten years of doing a weekly tweet chat on Twitter called #SmallBizChat. She adds, “We used to feature one guest a week, now we broadcast it live once a month with three guests on my SmallBizLady Facebook page and my YouTube Channel.” Even though her podcast interviews are under 30 minutes, she researches her guests and asks them unique questions that only they can answer. The last four questions always add some fun element to keep the audience engaged.

According to the latest small business statistics, “88% of women-owned businesses in the U.S. don’t earn $100K in revenue, and African American woman-owned businesses earn less than $25K in revenue.”

So, her legacy mainly concentrates on helping business owners learn the business of running a business, so they can live their dream life. She wants to empower them with the tools to start and sell online through her online school, Her main customers include professional women looking for a way out of corporate America and as a business owner, side-hustlers who want to convert their small business into a full-time venture and any small business owners who want to scale their business through technology.

She adds, “Many of our resources are free, but our online school was especially designed to help those minority and women-owned entrepreneurs hurt by the Pandemic and struggling with their digital pivot. Also, since marketing is complicated these days, we try to simplify this with our online courses so that everyone can have a business that is profitable and sustainable.”

Life as a Relentless Small Business Coach

As the CEO of Quintessence Group, Melinda manages a team of 10 people. She is also responsible for working on existing client engagement, content marketing as well as social media strategy. She is constantly on the phone and computer all day.

Being a self-motivated person, Melinda enjoys getting connected with other business owners. She believes that her mastermind group acts as a great source of inspiration and education to keep her skills sharp. Moreover, she adds, “I also enjoy going live on my Facebook or Instagram feeds and answering questions from my fans. They always keep me motivated. I also pray and attend regular church services, and that helps me reset and move into a new week with a grateful spirit.”

Sharing her greatest accolades, she states, “When I released my book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months in 2010, Black Enterprise magazine wrote that “it was the best start-up book they ever read.” I cried when I read the review. It was such validation. That same year, Forbes named me the #1 woman for entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter.”

Besides work, she prefers to maintain a good personal life as well. For that, she has strict work/life boundaries. She dedicates specific hours to work, so she can streamline communications with her customers and her team. She doesn’t respond to client calls and requests around the clock, and her family know that she doesn’t allow any technology at the dinner table. She even leaves her cell phone changing in another room, to resist the urge to watch TikTok late at night, choosing instead to maintain a home phone instead.

Upcoming Future Roadmap

Her future vision is to continue as the thought leader in small business marketing and continue to partner with brands to engage small business owners to start smarter businesses, learn to sell and market online, build sales systems, leverage email marketing, and build strong brands that they can monetize.

She further aims to create an executive coaching program and certification program for all aspiring business coaches to provide more opportunities for people to get individual coaching time with her to grow their businesses and build successful coaching practices to spread knowledge to even more business owners. She is currently on a mission to train the next generation of small business leaders all across the globe via

Melinda shares her special message women in business, “Women need to support other women in business. Women business owners need to hire women, mentor younger women and do business with other women and remember that every relationship is, “Give to Get.”