Tammy M. Ruffin is a native of Mobile, Alabama and the Founder and CEO of Little Angels, Inc. After college, Tammy relocated to pursue her career in the financial services industry. She eventually returned to Mobile in 2014, due to a life changing event that has propelled her down the path that she is on today – community outreach. Read our interview with the lovely Tammy below…
What motivated and inspired you to start your own business?
My experience is what inspired me to start my own business. After being unemployed and having a washed up savings account with a newborn baby, I thought to myself, there are other parents/guardians with children who have experienced a life changing event that has negatively impacted their ability to adequately provide for their children. Thus, with God’s spoken word and grace, Little Angels, Inc. was formed.
Tell us about your business.
Little Angels, Inc. is a newly formed charitable nonprofit organization established in Mobile, Alabama and designed to assist children and families in need of daily essentials such as diapers, wipes and other various hygiene necessities.
- Meet the Experts: Entrepreneurial Business Development Forum, Co-founder/Volunteer
- Junior Achievement: Youth Business Development & Mentorship Program, Tutor/Volunteer
- Hope VI Project: Community Development Initiative, Researcher/Volunteer
- Multi-Cultural Student Union: Intercollegiate Organization focused on developing Diverse Professionals, Vice President
Where is your business based?
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
My first step was transferring my thoughts and ideas from my head to paper. Then, I visited the local Chambers of Commerce website, as it is a massive resource for business needs and economic development within my community. From there, I could find what I needed. Finally, I scheduled a meeting with the small business development center and the rest was history.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and getting new customers?
Word of mouth and social media outlets.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
As a new organization, establishing a presence within the community is quite a challenge.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I transitioned from a home office and obtained an office space from The Fuse Project, which is a co-working workspace that is devoted to nonprofits within my area. The concept of the co-working workspace is to share ideas, create synergies and provide access to nonprofit members on a regular basis. I have been able to brainstorm with other nonprofit organizations without the hassle of going through a gatekeeper and network without attending a networking event!
How do you keep motivated through difficult times?
Through my relationship with God, daily prayer, affirmation, my family and friends; I have the ability to have a kindred spirit to carry me through each day.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
With regards to community outreach services, I do not think of it as competition. Why? Because our community faces social challenges that are not isolated, instead interrelated. Our collaboration and partnership with other organizations who are battling the various issues of the community will bring a whole collection of common good that will contribute to the solution.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
If you do not do anything else, be sure to pray and pray more!
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
- Like Nike, JUST DO IT! You will never know if you do not go! Get the nerve to take the leap of faith because if you do not scratch that itch, which is your passion, you will always wonder and say, “what if…?” I believe that if something does not work out in your favor, it does not mean that you have failed. It simply means that you took a chance at learning something new. However, if you never take the first step, you will not learn something new and it means that you have failed… yourself.
- Be patient with the process. Embrace where you are on your new endeavor as an entrepreneur.
- Have the right support system. In other words, be selective about who you choose to have in your corner while on this journey. Just know that everyone is not going to understand the risk that you are about to take. As an entrepreneur, adversity comes with the territory. Therefore, you do not have room for unnecessary negativity, especially from those who have not taken the necessary strides towards accomplishing their own goals.
- For those who do not support you or struggle with the idea of entrepreneurship, do not take it personally! Relax! Simply understand that it is YOUR vision and NOT theirs.
- Be your own cheerleader! My father once told me that if you are expecting to receive a hand clap or some form of recognition to validate who you are, then you will be waiting a lifetime! You will never be able to satisfy everyone all the time and if you had all the time, you will never be able to satisfy everyone! It simply is not realistic. Therefore, as you move forward, learn to give yourself a pat on the back, a round of applause/standing ovation and affirmation daily.
What is your favorite business tool or resource?
Google, various business articles and social media of course 🙂
What social media outlets do you use? List them below.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
This question is such a coincidence because as of this month, I just started reading books again. Prior to becoming a mother, reading books was my hobby. However, once I stepped into the mommy role, my hobby almost ceased to exist. But now that I am acclimated to my “new” schedule, I have managed to carve out some time devoted to reading. I have a goal of reading at least one book each month for the remainder of this year and so far, so good! I am currently reading “Courage” by Debbie Ford. This is an awesome book! It speaks about perseverance and conquering your fears. I believe every entrepreneur and aspiring entrepreneur should read this book!
What are you currently learning about for your business or looking for help with?
I am constantly enhancing my knowledge base by feeding my mind with the latest regarding health disparities and other pertinent issues amongst the youth population in my community. Having a deeper understanding of the matter allows me to create programs that are unique to the problem, which positions my organization in a manner that is accepted by the community. However, there is a lot of research, marketing and networking that must occur to be successful and there does not seem to be enough time in the day to get things done! Therefore, having an intern to assist in these areas will be most helpful.
What are your goals for the next few months and how are you striving to achieve them?
I have been inspired to write a book, which is something that will manifest in the near future. So, stay tuned! In addition to the book, another goal of mine is to have at least one monthly event. This will allow me to bring forth unique and fun experiences to engage my community while raising funds to support the mission of my organization. Lastly, I would like to branch out and attend events that are not local such as summits that are designed to bring entrepreneurs from various sectors to a centralized location. Not only will this provide the opportunity to expand my network, but it will allow me to return with new ideas and approaches.