Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Deitra Reiser, founder of Transform for Equity, located in Silver Spring, MD, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Transform for Equity is an antiracist repair group working to dismantle racism through organizational and individual change. Businesses and nonprofit organizations with a strong commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) outperform their competition in areas such as hiring, retention, and profits. Study after study has shown that diversity matters. Organizations almost always require support to implement the changes necessary to transform into equitable organizations.
Tell us about yourself
Like many of us, the seeds of this business were planted very early in my life. I settled on psychology in elementary school. I liked the idea of helping people change into who they most wanted to be. Since high school, I've been involved in diversity and equity work. As a Black girl growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I was motivated to start a diversity club.
Fast forward some years, I was working in my chosen profession as a school psychologist while volunteering on diversity and equity committees at work and in my place of worship. Through my volunteer work, I realized that many diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) efforts fall short due to approaching the work in small bites while not understanding how and why people are motivated to change and act. I understood that for DEIB efforts to flourish and thrive, people had to be willing to change, and relying on social science change models provide proven strategies. As a psychologist, I am blending what it takes for individuals and systems to change with what works in creating spaces of DEIB.
When knowledge is paired with motivation for action, success follows. Each person who makes personal change keeps me motivated. I'm energized when the partners I'm working with recognize that their business or nonprofit organization can do better and then begin to build DEIB principles into policies and practices. Even if cliche, diversity wins.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
Transforming how people think about diversity, equity and inclusion is only the beginning of this work. Every new insight an individual has that provides clarity on how we can create spaces of equity is an accomplishment. The bigger accomplishment is when folks begin to put their new insights and thinking into actions and policies. Businesses that transform practices for equity are huge wins.
What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?
For me, being a business owner means that I must know about all types of things that I didn't learn about in school, such as social media, contract negotiations, etc... Keeping all the balls in the air is no small task. And yet, the joys of being a business owner far outweigh the hardest challenges.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Talk to as many people as you can, both business owners and those in your field. Some people might call this networking; I think of it as chatting.
- Find a few people who you can go back to time and again for the advice. These advisors can be either in your field or outside your field.
- Continue to improve your expert and business knowledge.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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