How Jim Budros’ skills in taking risks helped him develop a business built on confidence

Jim Budros, chairman of the board of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe Inc.

W hen Jim Budros speaks to young people about what it might be like going into business for themselves, he talks about the ability to take risks.

Budros, chairman of the board of Budros, Ruhlin & Roe Inc., founded the company in 1979. It is now the largest independent wealth management firm in Central Ohio.

After working in Boston, he came to Columbus, where there was an opportunity with The Huntington National Bank. Budros expected to stay in the city for about two years.

“It was not a prospect that I thought was going to be permanent,” he says. “But the most important part is what kept me here, and that was the opportunity to be in the trust business at the bank. That was the most important part of the formation of my interest in the work that we do today.”

Budros says determination and willingness to obtain different experiences are the keys to being a successful entrepreneur.

“I think, first, you need to have the idea that someday a business could be of your own making, and then secondly, I think when young people start in the business, they should start by developing a broad and diversified base of experience,” he says. “Your first job shouldn’t necessarily be what you believe is going to be your ultimate goal, but it should be part of developing a database of experience.”

But it takes a certain risk; you have to be willing to accept the results of failure.

“Most people don’t start out on a path with a 45-degree angle upward,” Budros says.
“They cycle up and down, they learn from their mistakes, and they press forward.”

So, for example, when a student graduates from college, he or she may find a resume doesn’t open many doors.

“If you graduate from a prestigious school, you probably have an opportunity to reach out right off the bat,” he says. “Some 95 percent of the people who graduate from college don’t graduate from a prestigious school with a job offer.”

It’s not time to stop job-hunting but rather to take a different approach.

“So you use what connections you have to get the first job,” he says. “Get on somebody’s payroll to begin to prove yourself to your employer and show that you are worthy of a weekly paycheck. Then develop the most important skills right off the bat of integrity, honesty and showing up on time and doing a full measure of your responsible job and maybe then some.”

You will gradually determine your tolerance for taking risks.

“Risk is an interesting concept,” Budros says. “Risk is the environment in which you are paid for taking a chance on something that is less certain than what is known. If you require certainty in your life, then you are probably not going to be a risk taker.

“If the most important thing in graduating from college is looking forward to getting a pension from the state of Ohio, you can probably deduce that you are not likely to be a risk taker in your life.

“I am not suggesting that risk takers are foolhardy. They have this notion in their mind that they can be paid handsomely for the willingness to be uncertain. It’s more of a psychological or behavioral concept than an analytical one.”

Budros says early in young people’s careers or even as they are growing up, they can be seen as ones who are willing to take risks or not.

“You might look at 10 first-graders who are longing to ride a bicycle, and you will see that three or four of them are willing to fall down. Five or six of them are not willing to fall down,” he says.

“I am not suggesting that risk-taking is necessarily good; it is often, however, an ingredient for being successful in business.”

But risk aside, one of the first challenges after starting a business might be communicating with prospective customers about what your new business does.

“When we first started this business, we were practically unable to describe what we did to the public, but we knew that we were totally competent,” Budros says. “We had absolute conviction in our competence that we were doing it the right way. So we were willing to take the risk in building the business on that basis.

“We provided really good financial planning and investment advice, and we had developed good name recognition with folks in Columbus. We had developed these relationships based on trustworthiness.”

The result?

“We became thought of and known by our clients as their trusted adviser,” he says. “It was that alone that catapulted us to the place we are today and that is to say a pretty good-sized firm in an industry with relatively small firms.” ★


How to reach: Budros, Ruhlin & Roe Inc., (614) 481-6900 or


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