Melissa Schaller is a legal and compliance professional based in Aurora, Ohio. She started her career in 2003 as a legal secretary at Stapleton Law Office, where she worked for a year. In a career that spans 17 years, Melissa has built a strong reputation for her success in industries as diverse as wholesale pharmacy distribution to food processing. Her expertise stems from many skills that range from legal research and analysis, negotiations, project management, vendor relationships, and cross-functional collaborations, among others. Melissa’s success has a lot to do with her academic background. She holds an associate of applied science (AAS), legal assisting, dean’s list and president’s list. While there, she took part in several activities that have been instrumental in her career. Some of them include the Marshall University Symphonic Band and the criminal justice elementary education. Melissa then joined Lake Erie College, where she graduated with a bachelor of science in legal studies. Here, she also took part in several activities and won the outstanding excellence award in legal studies. She also managed to get into the mortarboard national honor society. Melisa then perfected her strategic decision-making skills by pursuing an MBA at Lake Erie College.
Aside from her deep academic background in legal studies, Melissa has honed her skills in the field. She did part-time work at Stapleton Law Office for a year and completed it in 2004. She then moved to West Virginia, where she worked at WV Legislature as an intern for less than a year. She continued to stay in West Virginia by taking up a full-time job as a legal assistant at Wilson, Frame, Benninger, and Metheney and worked there for a year until 2006. With her increased experience, Melissa took up a full-time job at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources as a DHHR CPS/APS intake reporter. She also got to work as a paralegal for four years at Litigation Management Inc and Cardinal Health until 2016. Melissa then joined Nestle, where she worked full time for three years in different categories, including as a category specialist for North American procurements. She left the company in 2019 to work for Pharma & Med Device as a manager for regulatory affairs and compliance before taking up her current role at Flipt as a healthcare compliance consultant in Jersey City. Besides work, Melissa is into philanthropy. She is a volunteer at multiple non-profits such as the more significant Cleveland food bank and the Cleveland metropolitan bar association, where she is a legal aid clinic volunteer.
How did you get started in this business?
I have always had a passion for professions that leaned toward legal affairs. That’s what led me to take courses that helped me learn about legal research and analysis. To broaden my career portfolio, I decided to diversify and acquire skills in project management, cross-functional collaborations, and topped it up with an MBA. With this wide range of skills and years of experience from the different positions I had held, it felt natural for me to settle on providing legal and compliance services. All this has led me to where I am today.
How do you make money?
I make money offering legal compliance with consultancy services. My consultancy services include identifying and prioritizing compliance issues, developing and implementing compliance plans, and completing and submitting regulatory agency applications and reports. I also develop regulatory strategies, interpret data, and train personnel to understand and comply with regulations. I also take on services that require the submission of formal responses to regulatory agencies when compliance issues occur.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
It took me six months to be able to make any profits. I spent the first six months trying to build a client base. Most of my previous clients were a bit reserved about using my services because our working relationships had been founded on specific services. They related me to either legal research, project management, or my previous role as a legal secretary. It took a while and some great persuasive skills to convince them that I had both the knowledge and experience required to provide different services. This was a daunting task, but I managed to pull through successfully. I have had repeat clients who also recommended my services to others, which helped me break even. Most of them now find it convenient having all their services managed at my firm as I provide an array of services all under one roof.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
I did have some doubts, especially within the first six months of being in operation. The profits were low, and I ended up spending a lot of my funds to keep the firm going. The longer it took to break even, the deeper I had to dig into my pockets. Nonetheless, I stayed inspired and hopeful. I refused to give up on my dream as I felt that I had a lot to offer, and the market was ready for my services. I also accepted the kind and thoughtful support that I received from my friends and family. It helped to have people who saw my vision just as clearly as I did. I felt accountable to them, and this gave me the strength to soldier on.
How did you get your first customer?
My first client was an old friend who happened to be seeking the services of a professional healthcare compliance consultant. She set up her first business and was not sure whether she could find a reliable and efficient consultant. She reached out to a mutual friend who informed her that I had also just started offering the services she needed. Once I got wind of this information, I reached out to her, and we settled on an agreement. She has maintained my services to date and has sent several clients my way.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
My main go-to method is social media marketing. This has put my business out there to the millions of users who are frequently online. I ensure that my marketing strategies’ content is interactive by asking questions and gathering their opinions on the services we offer. This, alongside Google SEO, has given me a good return on my investment dollars.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
My most challenging decision was having to lay off most of my staff. This happened because the business suffered several losses as we did not have enough clients even to keep the place running. They were really dedicated, and it hurt deeply to let them go. Letting them go also put me in a tight spot as I had to shoulder more responsibilities alongside looking for clients and service delivery. Although it took a while to be up and running and profitable enough to rehire, I gave no second thoughts in bringing the team back together.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
My success can be attributed to my invaluable support system and the team of professionals that assist me. The people that believed in me helped me sail through the difficult challenges that I faced starting up. They continually help me deliver high quality for 100% client satisfaction.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Coming up with legal compliance strategies that have helped small business owners keep their businesses. It feels good knowing that my services are part of the machine that supports small businesses going, and by extension, sustaining communities.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The future looks very promising. The business is growing, and soon we shall be expanding operations. I am also working on offering consultancy services to those with financial limitations by regularly providing free services to the community members that may be in need. The future looks bright for my brand.
What business books have inspired you?
Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office by Lois P. Frankel has some beneficial nuggets of wisdom.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to have more faith in her abilities. You are much stronger than you can ever imagine.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Yes, Contact me via social media.