Inés Ruiz did not set out to become the CEO of an online learning platform. While studying language translation in school, her heart was set on an internship that was supposed to carry the rest of her career. A week before leaving, the company asked her to fill out a form under short notice. A day later, she received an email rejecting her from the program entirely. The reason? She’d missed one accent mark on the form. One accent mark sent her plans spiraling – but that led her down the path of creating Diary of an Entrepreneur, a community centered around businesswomen.
Ruiz wanted to create a space where women could both improve their skills and reach out to a group of other entrepreneurs for support. To truly uplift them, she aimed to make the resources as accessible as possible. It’s entirely free for members to join, and they can read articles on topics ranging from networking, creating targeted ads, and developing leadership skills. These were designed for women who were starting their businesses and needed guidance but lacked the revenue to hire an expensive coach.
Clients can also choose a paid membership, which offers online courses that provide deeper dives into aspects like marking or designing a website. They also have a monthly coaching session with Ruiz to talk about their business and the opportunity to promote themselves on the community’s Facebook page. Ruiz explained that some of the income covers administrative expenses and paying staff writers, but the majority of it goes towards investing in other businesses owned by women. Her income from developing Conversa Spanish Institute — another online learning platform — gives her the flexibility to invest in companies and initiatives such as Girls With Impact, a nonprofit entrepreneurship program for teenage girls.
“I’m trying to have a more realistic view of empowering those women,” said Ruiz. “Because for me, how you empower women, at the end of the day, is with money. And it’s not about money, but it’s what those women can do with that money. For me, money is choices.”
Ruiz said that she loves working with women who are enthusiastic and determined to achieve their goals. That drive reflects her values: Ruiz built Diary of an Entrepreneur after dealing with a fair share of challenges herself. Beyond being a woman of color and constantly moving as a military wife, she had multiple surgeries after an allergy nearly left her blind and was diagnosed with ADHD in 2017. But she was never held back by these. She considers her ADHD to be her superpower.
Ruiz believes and has noted in the past in pieces such as, “The 5 Superpowers People With ADHD Can Use to Be Better Entrepreneurs,” the benefits of having a creative mind and being far more willing to take risks. High energy, passion and the ability to hyper-focus on a task – those are all skills that business owners can utilize to help their ventures thrive. Ruiz said that those traits allow her to connect with her work in an entirely different way.
“I’m able to figure out a lot of things that other people can’t just because I think differently. I have this whole creative side of me that is making me a badass at business!” said Ruiz. “It’s not despite of [ADHD]. When you start adding up those preconceived things that are always against you, that’s what really empowers you. You take those weaknesses and those negatives and make them positives.”
After all, Ruiz seems to thrive in her environment. Before becoming a CEO, she received two master’s degrees in e-learning and education and taught Spanish at the University of Cambridge. But she expressed that the necessary research and restrictions were not for her, and so she focused her attention on projects that would allow her to have a much greater impact on the world. That’s what she loves about having an online business: she can grow constantly while working with women from every continent.
Of course, it’s not always easy. In the first six months after she started, she tried to complete every task from tutoring to answering emails by herself. Soon afterward, she realized the importance of finding a team that she could rely on. Diary of an Entrepreneur has four employees that she knows will always be there to support her. Ruiz shared that she would be undergoing surgery soon, and though she used to try and fight through difficult times alone, she stressed how important it was for women to ask for help and express their needs – particularly if they struggle with chronic illness or mental health.
“Do what you can, but don’t feel guilty if you can’t do 100%. If you can do 20% and do it with all your heart, that is more than enough,” she said.