Playing It Smart
MBE, WBE CERTIFIED
In today’s business environment, purposeful leaders must be prepared if they want to run a successful company. No one understands this better than president and CEO of Ruiz Strategies, Michele Ruiz. By understanding her company’s future needs, looking outward for resources that can help her company, and creating new opportunities for growth, Ruiz and her team have managed to create a strategic communications firm that articulates the message they are always, “Ready to play.”
Ruiz Strategies specializes in helping world-class companies, professional services firms, government entities and C-level executives communicate transformative messaging to connect with customers in relevant ways, grow their businesses to achieve broader market penetration and elevate their brands as recognizable thought leaders. Ruiz and her team deliver messages through content production. They develop strategies and execute or augment internal and external communications strategies.
Early on, Ruiz understood the value of investing in her company, which she founded in 2001. In fact, it was a matter of preparation and having the right expertise that enabled Ruiz Strategies to win a $300 million contract with NASA.
While businesses must meet certain federal guidelines to receive large government contracts, Ruiz was aware of exceptions made especially for small businesses.
“We didn’t have to do all of that because we were still considered a small business on the government side,” stated Ruiz. “In other words, there was some leeway, but we wanted to communicate we were ready to play big.”
Not satisfied with the status quo, she retained consultants in government contracting. She also changed the internal accounting system and other processes that solidified her company’s capabilities.
When it comes to creating new opportunities with corporations, Ruiz believes authentic relationships based on trust are essential.
“Relationships are critical, but more important is the trust building aspect of the relationship. I have known from day one that it’s very important for our potential customers, and more importantly, that the people, at the large corporations we’re interacting with, trust us as a company, trust we’re going to deliver what we say we’re going to deliver, trust that we can handle the work and trust that we’re reputable,” Ruiz added.
Ruiz has always had a keen awareness of the role a supplier diversity professional plays and advises entrepreneurs, especially those who are beginning their careers, to do the same.
“It takes not only numerous meetings, but the approach that everything you do and say communicates something about your company. That means everything in terms of how we show up and how we conduct ourselves becomes critically important. We need to make it easy for the supplier diversity professional when they make an introduction to their colleagues within their corporation,” she said.
The CEO also recommends delivering exceptional service to initial clients, or “marquee customers,” as another way for companies to propel themselves to the next level. These initial contracts can be used to help companies establish credibility to do business with large corporations.
“The fact that Shell Oil, the largest multinational corporation in the world, is one of our clients was a very strong plus when the government considered us for the NASA contract,” Ruiz revealed.
Ruiz said she understands businesses must be ready for what lies ahead and doesn’t underestimate the role technology plays in every industry. This is a critical element, she explained, because many diverse businesses, women-owned included, are so busy running their companies they don’t realize what is happening within the industry.
“For diverse suppliers, [technology] is imperative. If we want to make sure we are relevant five years from now, we need to stay on top of the technological advancements that are happening in the industries we focus on,” explained Ruiz. “We’re really running two businesses; we’re running the business as it exists today, and we’re running a business that will exist five years from now.”
Maintaining a competitive edge in the industry is essential, according to Ruiz. She and her team stay involved in organizations, entities and conferences that are outside of the supplier diversity space. Oftentimes, the conferences are centered on technology and current conditions within the industry. Ruiz also remains in the loop by frequently speaking with clients about what’s happening within their businesses.
A serial entrepreneur, Ruiz will be announcing a third business in 2017. She leads by example, and has a passion for creating businesses and solutions while empowering others along the way.
“It’s not just the size of our business; it’s the impact we have; it’s the jobs we create, and family legacies we change. That’s what drives me,” she shared.