We're so excited to introduce Beth Ruffin, our newest Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EiR).
Beth spent 20 years in corporate America before realizing her dream of being an entrepreneur and opening her own boutique consulting firm, The Everyday Inclusionist.
As Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Beth will support, mentor, and educate new entrepreneurs and budding start-ups through office hours and public programs, building an ecosystem that sustains the development and growth of future entrepreneurs in the region.
In preparation for her Residency, which will run from February 1 - May 31, 2022, we asked Beth a few questions in order for you to get to know her better.
How did you begin your present career/profession?
I spent the first 20 years of my career in Financial Services, which is very white-male led and dominated. While I had a great career, I often struggled with the sense of belonging. I noticed that many other underrepresented people felt the same way and that is what first got me interested in the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). I then got the awesome opportunity to help build a DEI program for my then-employer and knew immediately that this was my life’s purpose. I did that work as an employee for a few years before leaving to start my own consulting firm. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made!
Was your career something you always wanted to do or did it develop over time?
It developed over time. For a long time, I thought I would retire from the Financial Services industry until I was presented with the work of DEI. I love that I’m able to use all the skills I’d built over my career to build a successful business. All those years sharpening my relationship building, leadership, strategy development, and communication skills are what I lean on as a business owner.
If you could sum up your company's goal in one sentence, what would it be?
Making our world more inclusive through consulting, coaching, writing, and speaking.
What are the top three challenges currently facing new small business owners? Established small business owners?
New small business owners:
1. Mindset – this is perhaps the biggest challenge business owners will face, but it’s really where success starts.
2. Starting costs – Many new small business owners are trying to figure out how to finance their dream. I’m excited to share some of the ways I’ve raised funds as part of this residency!
3. Building a team – Hiring people takes money, but there are some interesting ways you can hire help without breaking the bank!
Established business owners:
1. Mindset – with each new level of success comes new levels of challenges. Business owners need to consistently check their mindset in order to grow.
2. Keeping up to date with needs of the market – our market changes quickly and customer needs change quickly. Business owners should be prepared to adapt as customers adapt.
3. Delegating – it can be really hard to trust others with parts of your business, but you can’t grow if you try to do it all yourself.
As a small business owner, is it important to have a mentor?
Absolutely. EVERY business owner should have someone they can look to for encouragement, advice, tough-love, and guidance. Build a personal board of directors. In addition to mentors, I have several people who I lean on.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
Don’t play the comparison game. It is so easy to compare yourself to others as a business owner. Resist the urge to compare and compete. Instead, find ways to collaborate. Excel at what you do best and work will come to you.
What do you most look forward to doing as part of your residency with the library?
What I’m looking forward to most is building connections with aspiring & existing entrepreneurs. I love meeting new people ❤