By Mark Cox
One secret to business success is finding a gap in the market.
Here’s the thing, though – finding one of those gaps is a lot harder than it looks. Bankruptcy-court listings are filled with thousands of bright ideas that didn’t quite pan out.
But Meranda Vieyra has a sharper eye than most. And about seven years ago, the legal-marketing expert – then working for a major Colorado law firm – noticed something very interesting.
“Whenever young lawyers moved on to smaller outfits, I saw that they generally didn’t have many marketing options,” she recalls. “Obviously, most small law firms and solo practitioners can’t afford $100K a year for an in-house marketing director. But these firms clearly still needed help to promote themselves.”
So two years ago, Vieyra acted on her hunch and launched her company, Denver Legal Marketing, to provide support to smaller law firms. And the novice entrepreneur immediately sensed she might be on to something. “I actually had clients before I’d even printed out my business cards,” she says.
Still, going it alone was scary.
“My first morning as a business owner was intense,” she says. “I felt like I was standing in front of a huge mountain … of work. I had to start everything – logo, brand, messaging – from square one, then network like crazy to get the word out organically.”
But one thing in particular concentrated her focus.
“Believe me, being without a paycheck is a big motivator,” she says. “Luckily, I also had a great business resource in my husband, Gordon, who’s a skilled entrepreneur and helped me from the outset.”
Gordon’s involvement is fitting because Vieyra’s decision to start her kind-of family business was entirely rooted in the business of, well, family.
“When I launched, my oldest daughter was starting elementary school,” she says, “and I knew I’d need more flexibility to be fully present in her school life. Spending time with my family was my biggest inspiration for doing this whole thing.”
Two years on, the proprietor of the only Latina-owned legal marketing company in Colorado has zero regrets. “Having a remote business has brought amazing flexibility to my life,” Vieyra says. “My clients don’t care where I’m based, and I take full advantage of that by working from all over the world. Case in point: I am currently doing this interview from Jaco, Costa Rica.”
Success has also concentrated Vieyra’s focus on the personal goals she’d like to accomplish. For example, she would love to take her family to live in Barcelona at some point. And she hopes one day to create scholarships at the institutions that helped realize her potential – Metropolitan State University of Denver (she graduated with a degree in Chicano studies and criminal justice in 2010), Adams City High School and Northglenn High School.
She also considers mentoring others important. She tells young women hoping to follow her entrepreneurial path, “Treat people well – always.”
“Having a personal brand that people can trust really matters as an entrepreneur,” she says. “Your reputation, whether in person or online, is absolutely worth protecting.”
And Vieyra is living proof that doing the right thing can pay dividends. Last year, she was astonished to find herself included in the Denver Business Journal’s prestigious “40 Under 40” list.
“When I received the email, I just kept reading it over because I couldn’t believe it,” she recalls. “The competition is intense, so it was a huge deal.”
Vieyra took her family to the awards event, where a magical day encapsulated the journey she’s been on these past two years.
“I was explaining to my oldest daughter Itzel what a big occasion it was,” she says, “and told her, ‘This won’t happen again in Mommy’s life.’ ‘Yes it will,’ she shot back. ‘When I win it.’
“That moment, along with walking on stage holding her hand to accept the award, will be forever etched in my mind. It was like a dream come true.”
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MSU Denver Office of Marketing and Communications