- 16 March 2022
- Posted by: Canberra Innovation Network
- Category: Women in Innovation
We interview women in our community about innovation and what drives them to make a difference in their industries. We caught up with Tennille Skelly, Founder and Managing Director of Deam Admin Services to see what she’s been doing since we last spoke.
What are your big wins/challenges since we last spoke?
When we last spoke Dream Admin was only about a year old. Since then, Dream Admin has enjoyed incredible growth. The Dream Team has expanded from a team of four to twelve, revenue has increased more than threefold, and our client base has become more diverse across industries and geographies. We now have clients all across Australia, as well as in the US and Asia.
Naturally this rapid growth has brought several challenges, especially around recruiting and onboarding staff, scaling our processes and systems and evolving quickly to adapt to new and more clients. We also work hard to stay on top of advancements in technology to support our clients, especially with COVID highlighting the need for businesses to have more flexibility in how, when and where work gets done. There have been many sleepless nights and long hours working behind the scenes to make sure everything keeps running smoothly. We have also been pushing the limits of our physical office space for a few years now – COVID and remote working helped alleviate some of that pressure but working in the same space is an important part of our team being effective, so moving to a bigger space is a priority for us in the short term.
Being in a rural/regional town makes recruitment a challenge. Although we provide virtual support services to our clients, we are not a virtual team. Working together in the same physical space is a critical part of our ability to create fluency and deliver the best outcomes for our clients. Regional areas don’t have the same talent pool as big cities, and we are looking for staff who don’t just bring the right skillset but are also a good fit for our culture and work ethos.
Personally, my outlook on business and life has also evolved and expanded. Navigating these challenges as Dream Admin has grown so quickly has put me more in touch with our clients. I really understand what they are going through and respect the obstacles they face, the pressures they are under and what they are trying to achieve. I am at the cold face, running a growing business while also helping support other business owners as they grow theirs. And this is another challenge that comes from rapid growth – making the shift from business operator to a CEO type role. I really enjoy being client-facing and spending time directly with our clients, and I don’t want to lose that – however, I also need to balance that with the demand of running and growing the business. So, I am still navigating a way to do both well.
What advice would you give yourself 5 years ago?
Don’t doubt your own capabilities. I know I have a good business brain, it is geared towards solving problems associated with operating businesses efficiently and achieving growth. I am always looking for the next idea, the next thing we can do for our clients to add more value and help them get closer to their goals. But I often fall back into a mindset of doubt, doubting myself and doubting my ideas. So, I would remind myself that I have been at rock bottom and I climbed out of there, many times and now I am thriving. My advice to myself would be to continue taking the risks, don’t talk yourself out of it, because with risk comes reward. Don’t operate from a place of fear. I have done it before, I persevered, I can do it again.
What do you want to ask your future self?
This is a tough question! It would probably be something around how to be more kind to myself, how to not get so caught up in the business so I can carve out more time and energy for myself outside of work. At the same time, I hope I keep pushing forward to achieve bigger and more ambitious goals for Dream Admin. So, I guess it would be nice to get some tips on how to make wise decisions on where I invest my time and energy. It would be nice to stop more often along the way to enjoy more of the things that make me happy, and not just be focused on business success. So, future self…how do I do that, what is the magic solution?!?
What are you proud of right now?
Creating Dream Admin from the ground up has, without a doubt, been my biggest professional achievement. I have been pushed out of my comfort zone so many times I don’t even know where it is anymore! So many opportunities to learn and grow, and to nurture my team as they grow too.
It was always a dream of mine to own my own business, but I never felt it was going to happen as I was happy in my previous job. But then I lost my job basically overnight, through circumstances that were out of my control. So I created my dream, I made it a reality. And now I can make a significant contribution to 11 other women, to help them grow their careers.
I am so proud of how strong the business is. When I started Dream Admin, it was one of the first Australian based businesses to offer a full suite of business support solutions – not just a stand-alone bookkeeper or admin assistant. Combining multiple back-office functions into a one-stop-shop for virtual business support was a completely new model, a new service. And I have also been able to diversify into a subsidiary business, Pink Door Collections – a debt collection agency. This came through seeing the needs of my clients and creating a complimentary service to help them. I am so proud of where we have come in the last five years.
Dream Admin has far surpassed the expectations I had of starting a business that could support me financially and give me the ability to provide for myself and my family.
Building this business while also being mum to young children is a daily challenge. I have such a wonderful support network who help pick up the slack on both sides – business and family – when I am stretched. None of this could have happened without the support of my family, so I am really proud of them and grateful for them helping me achieve this dream.