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Q&A: How Jamie Hoobanoff is adapting to a new normal.

The Founder of The Leadership Agency shares her strategy and advice.

Jamie Hoobanoff is Founder of The Leadership Agency, the recruitment partner of choice for North America’s fastest-growing startups. Coming from the corporate world, Jamie launched her firm in 2017 and has continued to grow it ever since; expanding into the US in just 18 months. opening an office in NYC, and earning multiple awards. A disruptor in the HR and recruitment space, Jamie contributes her expertise to The Globe and Mail, CBC, Inc., and HRD Magazine, and she’s on the Forbes HR Council.

 

What area of your business is getting your most energy and focus? 

Right now, I am concentrating on Operations and Business Development. 

 

What is the most important problem you are trying to solve?

Financing is taking up a great deal of my time. But most importantly, I am dedicated to understanding what challenges our existing and potential new clients are struggling with and are trying to solve right now. We want to help. It’s not the same for everyone, and if you approach each situation as if there were a cookie-cutter solution, you will inevitably run into a whole other set of problems.

 

What has been your most successful solution so far?

We have pivoted to two solutions that have been immediately adopted in the market.  One of the solutions is simply helping. We have a unique set of skills and expertise in the marketplace — and this is not only valuable for clients but also for candidates.  So, we are leading with a ‘help first’ mentality for both groups.  

We also have a unique approach to connecting people. We don’t follow traditional ways of doing business.  So, instead of slowing down, we’ve launched a proactive sourcing solution that helps employers who are currently hiring engage with top candidates in the market. It also allows those clients experiencing a temporary hiring freeze to continue with their recruitment process. That way, once the freeze is lifted, they will be able to make their hires immediately, without further costly delays. People are going to want to make up time. We can help.   

We knew we had to act quickly and adapt our services for our clients — as well as for our own business. We had to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone — now more than ever — all while leveraging our industry expertise.  It’s now or never. Typically, when launching a new product or service, it requires the investment of capital, resources, and R&D. Our reality is that we don’t have that kind of time. No one does right now. We are agile and not afraid of taking risks. Dreading failure is much worse than the actual experience of setbacks. 

 

How have you been staying connected with your customers and employees? 

The first thing we did was immediate outreach, extending and creating a space to offer advice, support, and help.  We launched an initiative that allowed small business owners and entrepreneurs to book time directly in my calendar every Thursday for 12 minutes.  We are doing this to offer any support we can regarding recruitment, HR, business operations, extend our knowledge of financing and resources available.

Our motivation for this is to be a pillar in our community but also so that we can learn from other business owners, leaders, and peers.  The more we know about what everyone is struggling with, the better we can adjust to establish value and to improve our own business practices.

We have also launched another initiative that helps people who have lost their jobs. These workshops are an open and safe space that allows people to network and get advice on how to build a resume, prepare for an interview, and how to apply for jobs during these times. Our intent here is to help candidates successfully navigate the changing job market right now. 

With our own employees, we take the approach of communicating and then over-communicating. During a period of uncertainty such as we’re experiencing, when many people are feeling anxious, it is especially important to provide clarity and resources to your teams, clients, and the greater community.  Instilling trust in your team that their safety is at the forefront of any business decision, and that when this is over they will have a place to come back to.  

 

“This may be a cliché, but I truly mean it: GO ALL IN ON YOURSELF!  Give it your all. Do not wait until you have all of the answers.”

 

What financial resources are you tapping into?

I have spent approximately 40% of my time learning, lobbying, applying, and asking SO many questions about the financing options that are available.

What I have taken from this journey is that money is available, and it’s available at an unprecedented rate.  However, it’s not all the same. Loans, grants, investments (debt or equity), they all have very different terms.

KNOW your terms, and if you don’t, ask more questions. You have to be your own advocate, and you have to be heard.  Personally, I am making decisions about my financing for the long-term future of my business. We have all experienced a massive amount of change, and this is going to continue for the foreseeable future.  We have had to make tremendous sacrifices. Once I was able to wrap my head around the short-term and immediate changes to my business and finances, I was able to start looking at this as an opportunity to grow my business with capital that is available and with terms that weren’t available previously.  

As entrepreneurs, we have a responsibility to ourselves, our vision, and our people.  I personally want to emerge from this with an AMAZING company that is stronger than it was before, with a growth plan that is fueled by capital, and with the people that helped build it.  So, my decision has been to take the capital and put it towards the future of the business.  

Establish a relationship immediately with the BDC, your bank, and the EDC.  Be very honest with yourself. Establish your immediate financial challenges, your 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month challenges.  


What has surprised you? 

I am so moved and surprised by how everyone genuinely wants to help, and many are helping in ways that I have never seen before.  We are all struggling, personally and professionally, but at the same time, we are all so willing to help someone other than ourselves. I have seen this universally, and it heartens me.  

 

How far ahead are you planning? 

We have a plan for the next 12-months. 

 

What keeps you positive?

Gratitude and kindness.  What you put out into the universe; you will get back.

 

What message do you want to share with entrepreneurs right now? 

You are not alone! I think a lot of business people and business owners look at their business as though it is something they can control.  But that’s simply not the case. Certainly not now. You haven’t lost control, and you are not failing. We are experiencing history in the making — and no one can control that.

This may be a cliché, but I truly mean it: GO ALL IN ON YOURSELF!  Give it your all. Do not wait until you have all of the answers. You don’t have time to wait, and you may never get them anyway. So, let your instincts kick in and take a few risks.  If you wait until you have all of the information, it might be too late. Move quickly but with purpose. Use the information that is available to you, and then trust your intuition.

Get more insights and advice directly from Jamie Hoobanoff by joining our WOI Virtual Event, What Now?: How Entrepreneur Jamie Hoobanoff Is Adapting to a New Normal. It's happening live on Wednesday, April 15 at 2pm, or you can find the recording — plus more timely advice and resources — on our What Now? page, built for women entrepreneurs in partnership with BDC and Cisco.