In this episode of Connecting Business, host Christina Munoz visits with Renee Sobotka, financial analyst and banker, and now owner of True North Technologies. In this episode, Sobotka talks about how the hectic and dynamic pace of a startup also allowed her to leverage communications technologies and learn how to “fail fast” by recovering quickly from mistakes to put her business on solid ground.
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Munoz: So True North Technologies, where did the name come from? And it's a very competitive industry, so how do you set yourself apart as better or different?
Sobotka: Well, the name came from an article that I read. It was about finding your true North. And if you make all of your decisions based on your values then inevitably you will get on the path to finding your true North. […] There's a lot of things that we try to do for our customers. We try to help our customers stick to their values, and we try to find out what's really important to them and really convey that in our websites. And I think that's something that sets us apart. We do make sure to really get to know our customers and make them personal.
Munoz: So you're doing great, you're in it about a year. It's now February, 2020, and then COVID hits. So take us through what that was like for you. Every business has somehow been affected, but how did it impact you?
Sobotka: Well, I just got to work. I was scared, I was just like any other business owner out there. I was kind of in panic mode, I sold a website at bargain basement price, just to make sure that I could keep my web developer busy.
I was working with a business coach and we were working on like, how do you create value within your company? Something that would be worth selling at some point? And me being the center of everything, the sales person, working on projects, teaching people how to use them. I needed help. There was no way I was gonna be able to like continue on with that business model and sustain it. So I knew it was time to hire some people.
So I thought this was actually maybe a good time. There would be people out there, that had maybe unfortunately lost their job, but I would maybe be able to hire at not the same price that I was before COVID. So I tried to look at it as just maybe an opportunity to find the right person. And so I started my interviewing process with my office suite meetings, and I've I did hire like one of the most amazing people ever. She's now my COO and I'm just so lucky to have her, and through her, I've met other people that we've hired on and we've just kind of taken off, we've grown significantly since COVID started.
Munoz: How wonderful. And what a cool lesson there in delegating to others, because you could be doing a great job, and you can be running a great business, but if it's all on you and your shoulders, it's almost always short-term, you just can't sustain that. So what is it like now that you have these people, and you have people that are doing some of the work, not for you, but with you. So how has it been for you and your family? You still have two kids and still running. I'm sure to events and activities.
Sobotka: I think there's a lot of people out there with great ideas. They wanna start a business, they don't know how to do it and they're scared. A lot of people let that fear stop them and almost keep them paralyzed in one place. But if you just really start asking yourself, like what's the worst that happens if I try this? And I finally asked myself that, and it was, well, I guess I go back to working for somebody else. That's the worst thing that happens.
Munoz: You are so right. And there could be somebody hearing this today, that is saying, I needed that. The reminder to face your fears.
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