5 Tips on Starting a Business

5 Tips on Starting a Business

People often ask me, “What made you decide to go into business for yourself?”

My answer is always the same.

For starters, I was bored. I knew what got me out of bed in the morning—helping leaders manage their reputations—and I knew I wanted to use my skills to address conflict in the workplace. Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing either.

I was acutely aware there was a need. Over the years, I had worked with too many uncoachable leaders who were adamant that how and when they said or wrote something wasn’t a big deal. (It is!) Those who preferred to “wing it” were making it tough for me to truly make a meaningful contribution.

I also believed that I could earn a living on my own. My corporate experience presented me with countless opportunities to craft strategic messages that helped to drive change, manage crises, boost engagement and build brand awareness. All I had to do was find leaders who wanted my help.

So, here are some of the steps I took to start my business:

  • Embrace the challenges. Being your own boss is probably tougher than you’d think. Things will get tough, very tough. Sleep will be sacrificed. It can take a long time to achieve sustainable momentum. Still, always hope for the best and project positive energy.
  • Price it right. Network with competitors to make sure you’ve priced your services realistically. But be open to negotiating with clients who are willing to commit to long-term business relationships. Consider flexible pricing, as well. For example, my self-study programs offer professionals an alternative to my private coaching.
  • Plan on success. Strive to stay at an already established salary/revenue projection. Divide your former salary into weekly segments and use that as your sales barometer. It works because it’s much harder to gain momentum when you drop down to zero.
  • Don’t go it alone. Invest in the expertise you need to help you manage your business and your most important asset, your brand. We all have strengths. Mine is communication. I let others worry about taxes and accounting. Find someone to help you tackle what’s difficult.
  • Avoid “freebies.” Unless it’s a one-time chance to help a good cause and earn some recognition, don’t work for free. It only gets you more free work.

But above all else, stay true to your core offerings—the work that you’re passionate about—that you know can benefit others. This will keep you focused.  


Before you act …

Don’t handicap yourself with a meager first-year-income goal. Instead, plan for earning at least the same salary you presently make.


Then celebrate your success …

Five years in business! I want to share this accomplishment with everyone who helped make TruPerception a trusted leader in reputation management and strategic communications.


Join me for food, fun, entertainment and prizes.


What: TruPerception 5th Anniversary Party

When: July 14, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: My new downtown Minneapolis office: RBC Plaza, 60 South Sixth St., Suite 2800




P.S. I’ll also reveal an exciting new venture launching this fall that will help busy leaders like you deliver clearer and more thoughtful messages.


Melissa DeLayRead all author posts