Moving through a merger at break-neck speed: Ottawa businesswomen of the year nominee Shelley True

TRUEdotDESIGN.com president nominated in emerging entrepreneur category
Shelley True
Shelley True is president of TRUEdotDESIGN.com. (Photo by Michelle Valberg)

On April 20, the Women’s Business Network will honour 12 of Ottawa’s leading women entrepreneurs at its Businesswoman of the Year gala. The nominees are divided into four categories: Emerging entrepreneur; established entrepreneur; organization; and professional. OBJ will profile each nominee leading up to the event.

What is your proudest business accomplishment?

I am fiercely proud of the team that I have assembled: 14 dynamic, creative and dedicated individuals who blow my mind with their never-ending energy and drive to think big and do great work. We have been working our guts out and I couldn’t be more proud of the award-winning work that we are creating together. In 2016, we won an industry-record 10 sales and marketing awards at the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association’s annual SAM awards. I took the entire team to the awards to share in the recognition and watching the excitement and pride that my team felt as we won each award was an overwhelming feeling of contentment.

2017 continues to build on our efforts with my being named a BYA finalist, Distinctive Women Entrepreneur of the Year and a 2017 finalist for Business of the Year from the West Ottawa Board of Trade.

Who is your greatest inspiration?

I am continually inspired by dynamic conversations with people who are doing big, bold, disruptive things. We work with some pretty amazing clients who are building innovative products and services. Their passion for their craft inspires our team to bring our A game to create strategy and marketing initiatives that will support their business objectives and goals.

What is the biggest professional obstacle you’ve had to overcome?

The acquisition of Avenue Design Group in 2015, hands down. The merging of two teams into a single space, restructuring roles and analyzing the best practices of both firms, all while creating a new structure and corporate culture, is not a process that can happen overnight. But it was imperative that we move through the merger process at break-neck speed to reassure our clients that they could count on the same high level of services they’d come to expect from TRUEdotDESIGN and Avenue. So literally overnight, the team dove in, embraced the spirit of expansion and quickly capitalized on our new capacity to offer more services. I am proud to say that we retained all of our clients throughout the merger and have continued to grow our client base and expand our human resources.

What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?

As a businesswoman always looking to grow, I can’t forget these words of wisdom I received early in my entrepreneurial journey: “If you want to keep growing without falling flat on your face, don’t manage more than 8-10 people without adding in another layer of management.” It has proven to be true and I will continue to heed the advice as we grow to 15, 50, 100 ... watch out! Other sage advice that I try to live by is to always surround myself with people who know more than me, to be in a constant state of learning and to never be afraid to own my mistakes.