Female Founder Feature: Tanya Abbey – Black Wolf Group

Tanya Abbey is CEO of Black Wolf Group, (the parent company of Black Wolf Consulting) and the creator of two Human Resources-related platforms, CoHealth Workplace Management and Placeme.com.au.

 

She also volunteers her services as a Small Business Mentor under the Queensland Government’s Mentoring for Growth program.

 

As a CEO, wife and mother of two young boys, Tanya is a strong supporter for women in business and proves, through example, that women can maintain successful careers and personal lives.

 

Black Wolf Group (BWG) is a boutique recruitment agency established in 2014, by Peter and Tanya who have over twenty years of combined experience in Recruitment and Consulting.

 

We recently spoke to Tanya…

 

How did you come to start your business? Was there a particular spark or a significant turning point?

Prior to starting Black Wolf Group with my husband Pete we had a combined 20 years experience in the recruitment industry. I have a great passion for recruitment. I love finding companies their ideal employees, and matching a candidate with their perfect position. It’s really rewarding for me, and something that can be life changing for both employers and candidates.

 

I was excited to start a business of my own in this area as the recruitment industry can often get a bad rap. The environment amongst staff is quite competitive and there’s often high employee turnover. For me, workplace culture is so important, so creating my own agency with my husband – a business that challenged the stereotypes long associated with recruitment – has been really fulfilling.

 

When you initially started your business, what hurdles did you face?

Like any ‘technician’ who is starting their own business, I faced many hurdles. We started the business with $2000 in a home office in Brisbane. Cashflow, accounting, legal advice and structure were one of the few hurdles we faced. We had minimal experience in owning a business so we ran for the first year on passion and coffee.

 

Who or what was integral to you overcoming these hurdles?

As well as having each other, Pete and I were surrounded by a close, small group of friends and family. A few of our clients, early on, gave us a lot of advice and support to help us by.

 

When we had issues with our first accountant, we were introduced to another who has now been with us for 7 years and is one of my business mentors and advisors.

 

All of the people who supported us then and gave us advice or just an ear are still in our lives today and I am eternally grateful for them.

 

What makes your business unique?

Compared to other recruitment agencies, being smaller in size means that we can offer a very bespoke and personalised service. We meet with our clients in person through various stages of the recruitment process – from the time we first meet to determine their needs, to after candidates have been placed in their companies.

 

We know people do business with people, so it’s important to us that our clients, and the public, know the faces behind our company.

 

What is a piece of advice you wish you had been told before starting your entrepreneurial journey?

You need to be prepared for the fact that there’ll always be people out there who will want to criticise you. It’s important to stay true to yourself and be confident in your capabilities. Having your own back, as well as a strong support network, is also really important.

 

Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?

Based on the great growth and expansion we’ve seen across the last seven years, I definitely see further growth across Australia and internationally, in Black Wolf Group’s future. We’re excited to continue to take on more clients and build our team of great recruiters. 

 

 

What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

I love that, as an entrepreneur I’m responsible for both my own success as well as the business’ success.

 

As an entrepreneur, each day I get to pursue my passion and work with amazing, funny and insightful people. I get to help business owners and companies grow their team with awesome talent whilst learning about different industries.

 

Every day is challenging, everyday is learning and every day is rewarding. 

 

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

I would say three key skills are resilience, discipline and passion – they’ve certainly helped me get to where I am today.

 

What has been the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?

Being too trusting. I feel like, in the early stage, I treated staff as friends and people who were helping me as opposed to people who were supporting the business. I did and still do go out of my way to make people feel at ease, supported and looked after. Sometimes people still take advantage of this and it is always disappointing. I feel I will always have this trusting nature of taking people at face value, I just have to be a bit more selective.

 

What do you believe was the best decision you made in business?

I think for one, it’s just been to start. The idea of breaking away from what you know, and creating something of your own can be scary, but it’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve done. I’ve also loved being able to do that alongside my husband Pete.

 

How do you personally measure success?

Success means having a positive impact on someone where they feel that they are part of something, have contributed to something or have learnt something as a result of interacting with me. As well as this, I think that overcoming challenges, constantly learning and maintaining a good work life balance are great ways to measure success in business.

 

Outsource the skill or learn the skill?

If you have the time then definitely learn the skill, but if your priorities have to be elsewhere then being able to recognise that, and choosing to outsource the skill, will be more efficient for the business.

 

How do you generate new ideas?

Having a collaborative workplace culture is a great way to generate new ideas and asking for employees’ feedback is important, especially given they’ll be impacted by any new ideas implemented. I also have a great group of friends also in business. Being able to run ideas by them is great as they can offer advice based on their own experiences.

 

Who are the people around you that allow you to thrive and give support?

Definitely Pete, my family, friends and colleagues.

 

How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?

I’m quite persistent, so if I think an idea has legs, I definitely like to pursue it. Being an Entrepreneur, we are risk takers so more often than not, the idea will come to fruition after some testing, shaping and molding. Although, it can come down to knowing how to best prioritise your time and resources – there’s only so much you can take on at once but there is also no such thing as a bad idea.

 

What keeps you going in difficult times?

Knowing that I have people replying upon me, including staff, clients and my family, certainly keeps me going. There will always be difficult days in business, but, like anything, remembering why you do what you do, having one clear path and a purpose can keep you pushing through those times.

 

What keeps you up at night?

New ideas for the business – I’m always thinking about our next steps, and other things that are going on at work.

 

How do you handle doubt?

To a certain extent, listening to other people’s doubt is important, as it allows you to really test the validity of an idea. So, I think take it on board, but at the same time be confident enough in yourself and your abilities to not let it impact you too much. I don’t entertain negativity or doubt as a general rule because it always throws a shadow on every action, viewpoint or perspective.

 

How do you make the most of your day? Any tips?

I love to get up early to have time to myself before I start the day and when my children wake, I spend the rest of the morning with them and my husband. The things you do in the morning truly set your day up and remind you to be grateful in every interaction. Other tips, getting work done while I’m travelling to meetings as it allows me to use my time most productively. Reading a chapter of a business book and a chapter of a fiction book a day to improve my grammar, creativity and education. And I end with family, gym and time with Pete.

 

Do you have a business app you can’t live without?

HabitTracker! Simple, easy to use and it keeps me accountable as my friends can see when I have completed my habits!

 

Do you have any tips for work life balance?

I think pursuing your passions and making time for yourself, either side of the work day, is so important. I schedule things into my diary that I want to get done outside of work (like I would a work meeting), to hold me accountable.

 

Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?

It is probably not limited to a business or company but more the people that run it. I love asking people about where they work and why they enjoy it. Business owners that aren’t afraid to be proud and assertive in their space, but have fun along the way are the ones that I truly find inspiring.

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