Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Walker, Albert, 1920-

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Journalism


Business consultants--Colorado--Denver Metropolitan Area; Communication--Colorado--Denver metropolitan area


The question this study addresses is: What information could be elicited from a detailed survey of a representative sample of owners of small communications businesses in the Denver Metropolitan Area to provide some insight for interested others into the problems to be overcome, and the decisions to be made, in starting and maintaining a small communications business? A questionnaire was devised to elicit answers to possible problems and decisions in the following five areas: (1) obtaining demographic information; (2) making the decision to go into business for oneself; (3) implementing that decision; (4) getting clients and keeping them; and (5) handling business and financial matters. A list of twenty-four potential interviewees was developed through solicitation of names from several professional groups and individuals within the field of public relations. The universe of twenty-four was equally distributed between male and female. Twelve of these (50 percent) were randomly selected and interviewed by telephone. The criteria for inclusion in the study were; (1) It must be a solely owned communications business in the Denver Metropolitan Area; (2) The business must provide services to clients that often fall into a range of skills that might be taught in a journalism school; (3) At least one of the services offered must be public relations; and (4) The business must be "small," that is, it must have no more than five full-time employees, including clerical staff. The survey results led to this profile of the typical owner of a small communications business in the Denver Metropolitan Area. He is forty-four years old and has a bachelor's degree, usually in journalism or communications. He started his business—which is a sole proprietorship—at age 34, nearly 10 years ago. His reasons were to be his own boss and to increase his income. He financed his business himself, through savings and income. His background includes newspaper reporting, magazine editing, advertising, public relations, freelance writing and editing. He offers his clients the following services: publications, advertising, publicity, events, and audiovisual/films. He gets most of his work from word- of-mouth referrals and repeat business. Most of his clients are in similar specialties, yet he branches out to other fields when the need arises. When he doesn't charge a flat fee, he charges an average of $34-$36 an hour for his time, and he may or may not charge a markup fee of 15-20 percent on production. He earns more than $1,000 per job, and is earning more money today than he did in his last employment. His paycheck varies depending on the business income after taxes and expenses. He works long hours, depending on the amount of work to be done. It usually averages 48 to 55 hours a week. At least for the foreseeable future, he wants his business to stay small. After analyzing the results of the questionnaire, it was concluded by the author of the study that the responses to the questionnaire provided a great deal of insight into the actual decisions made by professionals about starting and maintaining small communications firms in the Denver Metropolitan Area. This information should be helpful to someone starting a similar business. Such a limited study as this could not hope to provide all the guidelines for going into business for oneself. Instead, it is one small step towards increasing the information available about regional communications firms.


Includes bibliographical references.


vi, 97 pages




Northern Illinois University

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