Jill Nelson is an entrepreneur who studied business as, in her words, “an act of rebellion.” She wound up as a receptionist for a business broker. She learned firsthand what buyers are looking for in a business acquisition and what gives a company value. That experience led her to build an answering service called Ruby Receptionist.
She built a unique product and culture that made buyers flock to her door. Jill explains how she built such a strong culture and made sure Ruby had value beyond the bottom line. Jill’s story is a perfect example of how to do it right and go to market on your own terms. She is still CEO of Ruby Receptionist but she sold her company in a stock sale to a private equity firm. She walks me through the process and explores how it was so different from any other experience she’s had previously in her career.
What you will learn:
- Jill’s decision to study business.
- How she built Ruby Receptionist.
- The struggle to get Ruby off the ground.
- Why metrics are so important.
- The things Jill believes contributed to her success.
- Jill’s motto: easy to hire, hard to empower.
- How she built a unique and valuable business culture.
- How Jill dealt with the sales process and due diligence.
- How to create organic growth by empowering.
- Why an investment broker was a key part of Jill’s deal.
- How finding alignment with buyers is a lot like dating.
- What life is like as Ruby’s CEO.
- Jill’s advice to the audience.
Jill is a textbook example of the five principals.
- She had the vision of what she wanted.
- She aimed for targets to build value into her business.
- She researched her exit plan options and found the right one for her.
- She created a system that could run without her.
- She was on top of due diligence and hired the right people to help her.
Links and Resources:
A driven entrepreneur passionate about building a one-of-kind company, Jill Nelson has grown Ruby Receptionists into a nationally recognized organization for its inclusive, people-powered company culture and its record-breaking position as one of Oregon’s fastest growing companies for the past 11 years. Since founding the company in 2003, Jill has led Ruby to double-digit revenue growth every year, and in 2015 sold the majority share of Ruby for $38.8 million to Updata Partners.
In addition to her own entrepreneurial endeavors, Jill has been recognized by her peers, receiving the Pacific NW 2017 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and named the 2017 Oregon Technology Executive of the Year—the first woman to receive this recognition.
A fervent supporter of local business, Jill has served on the board of Entrepreneurs Organization in a variety of roles including President of the Portland chapter and acted as a mentor in its Accelerator program, successfully helping business owners reach the $1,000,000 revenue mark.
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