Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Mercedes Ramirez Johnson, a Professional Motivational Speaker, based in Dallas, TX, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

I travel North America as a professional speaker delivering customized keynotes and programs focused on professional development and workplace safety. My clients range from nonprofit organizations to higher education institutions and corporate/industry conference organizers.

Tell us about yourself

Rarely have I ever met a “normal” person that set out to be a motivational speaker. Like many others in my industry, I fell into it. In 1995 I survived a horrific plane crash that took the lives of my parents, with a total of 160 souls lost on board. As one of only four survivors, I continued my studies in international business and joined the workforce in 1997. And over time, I grew to field many requests to share my story of survival and triumph over tragedy. Once my firstborn twin sons came into the world in 2004, I decided to turn my passion for helping others into a full-fledged career. Eighteen years and four children later, I am so glad I took the leap to start my own speaking business. I’ve been blessed to work with a number of speaker bureaus that believe in my message and my impact on clients.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is to see how my clients have become my own little sales army. Word-of-mouth business and referrals mean so much when your next paycheck is dependent on the next door opening for you. When a client opens that door FOR you, it's all the validation you need to know that all your hard work is noticed, valued, and wanted.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

The hardest thing as a business owner has been the absence of a salary. Nothing is guaranteed, even when you work at a large organization that pays you a salary, but not having that safety net has been one of my biggest drivers to give my best to all that depend on me.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. There’s no such thing as a self-made man or woman. Your success will come from the relationships you make, the clients you serve, and the partners that cheer you on along the way. So if you don’t consider yourself a “people person,” you’re going to need to reframe that quickly if you want your business to be viable.
  2. Continuously put yourself in your client's shoes. If you wouldn’t want it, use it or buy it, why would you expect them to? I had a writing editor that explained to me that I cannot fall in love with my words. I would write and write, and she would edit ruthlessly. It taught me that just because you worked your tail off to create something doesn’t mean it’s what is needed on the other end. Effort doesn’t translate into sales; only relevance does. So keep a humble hustling heart to focus on what matters.
  3. Protect your mind and heart. Surround yourself with inspirational and positive people. Be mindful of your mental health. What you consume is who you become. Steer yourself to consume the things that will build your spirit, inspire your gumption and provide you peace so you can be the best version of yourself.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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