My name is Litsa Adamou and I am the first female building inspector in South Australia, at House Inspect Australia – Western Adelaide. My team and I currently undertake over 3,500 inspections annually across our B2B and B2C clients. I am a proud mum to daughter Ana, 13 and son Yianni, 12 and work alongside my partner in life and business, Barney Adamou.
My success as a female in a male dominated industry has led me to be recognised with numerous awards and nominations. I have built a culture of inclusivity in our business, which is all about embracing the right people to do the work based on passion and skillset and not gender or nationality.
When did you start your business?
We launched our B2C retail business franchise in 2020 and we brought the B2B side of the business in 2021. We are in Underdale, South Australia and we service most of South Australia.
What was the inspiration behind starting this business?
My post uni career began as a public servant and 14 years later in 2019 I was promoted to Assistant Director, in the Federal Government. I had achieved my career goal 10 years earlier than I expected, however, I discovered that my passion has always been the building industry. It was not long after my promotion that I realised I was not fulfilled. I let stereotypes dictate what the right career was for me and I was miserable. I took a day off work and went to work with my husband doing building inspections. I loved it. I felt at home and strangely peaceful and that was the day my life changed.
I left my secure job on Christmas Eve 2019 and started our franchise the following year. I upskilled and attained my building and construction and project management qualifications. From there I went and got my general builder’s license. It was all or nothing and there was no room for failure in my eyes.
My passion for the building and construction and real estate industry saw me flourish in my new career. I had transferable corporate skills to run our business and a new opportunity doing what I loved. Everyday I felt like I was living my dream it did not feel like work. I was able to refine our ethos, culture and our service to our clients by building a culture of inclusivity and embracing the right people to do the work based on passion and skillset and not gender or ethnicity.
What are you most excited about in your business?
Let me just put this out there early on…..many things excite me about my business!!
Part of our vision is to have the most qualified team of inspectors in Australia and that is what we are! Our team including myself, are all fully qualified and licensed builders, which is paramount as across most of Australia there are no minimum requirements or qualifications to being a building inspector. That is where our business is different, as we are here to provide the correct information to our clients and that is exciting!
Our business model operates across two industries both the building and construction and real estate industries and that is exciting, particularly as both industries are growing.
Most local building inspection companies are often led by a male, older former tradies with minimal customer ethos. My passion for the industry, advocacy and prior experience saw me change our culture to one that was client focused and inclusive! This is very exciting as I get to not only do what I am passionate about but I also get to challenge stereotypes and advocate for skillset based recruitment!
Finally, I am very excited about our business growth. The first two financial years we doubled our revenue each year and are forecast for 20% growth this financial year also!
What has been the most challenging thing about starting your business?
2020, when we started our business was a difficult year with the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. It was a year that brought with it uncertainty at a global level, with a true fear of the unknown, in all aspects of life. Life as we knew it changed overnight and our business had to adapt in order to survive.
Adding to that, I was the first female building inspector in SA at the time and an ethnic one at that. That during a global pandemic was the most challenging part of starting our business. I had to work harder to prove my capabilities to gain the recognition and respect that any industry professional deserves. My findings were questioned, and I was told that I am wrong countless times by men threatened by my confidence. I am an academic at heart with qualifications in my field that allowed me to back myself when faced with such challenges. Nevertheless, I saw the challenges I faced as an opportunity to showcase my skills and using my professional background I was able to adapt my mindset and our business.
As a result, although 2020 decimated some industries, our business turnover more than doubled in 2020-2021 compared to 2019-2020 and doubled again in 2021-2022. Not only that but my hard work in the industry making my mark as a female, was recognised across many platforms and awards and I used my challenges as a way of showcasing construction as a pathway for women.
What advice would you give to other women thinking about starting a business?
My advice would be to jump right in, but not before you have undertaken your due diligence within yourself to ensure your business is what you are passionate about doing. Research your market and what qualifications you need to succeed and then do it all! Be prepared so that when you are faced with setbacks, you have the backing to stand your ground and back yourself. Give yourself and your business time to grow as it does not happen overnight and my key advice is NETWORK! Join a BNI group, join your industry associations and local area networking events. Nothing grows your business faster than networks and word of mouth support.
Why did you enter the AusMumpreneur Awards?
I entered the awards because my story of being a successful business owner, a mum, from a non-English speaking background, with a disability and being the first female building inspector in South Australia is one that needs to be told! My story aims to inspire and pave the way for other women to enter male dominated industries, if that is their passion. I had a passion for the building industry from young but could never find a way to enter it, so I remained in an unhappy corporate career for 15 years before I took my leap of faith to follow my passion. I have been able to break some cultural and gender norms, overcome challenges and build a successful business that is growing. I wanted other mum’s to see that you can follow your dream and change career and build a successful business if that is your passion!
What did you enjoy the most about being part of the awards?
Over the past 2.5 years, I have been so busy building our business and raising our family that I hadn’t taken a minute to reflect and look at how far I had come and our business had come. The AusMumpreneur Awards helped me stop and reflect and celebrate my success throughout the awards journey. It was truly enlightening and as a family we all felt so proud!
What surprised you most about the awards?
For me it was winning!!
It was such a reflective experience for me, that the process of being part of the awards was truly inspiring for me. Not to mention, I entered in two categories that I was always a little shy about promoting about myself, and I did that purposely so I can celebrate being a successful business owner, mum, from Greek background and with a disability. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would win not 1 but 3 awards!!!!
How did the awards help you in your business?
Obviously, the amazing support and well wishes from our family, community and the general public has been amazing and really helped put our business out there! More importantly though, it has helped me to share a side to me that I always kind of protected and did not showcase. Being from a non-English speaking background with a disability was not something i promoted when I discussed inclusivity in my business. Now our culture has broadened to capture these important aspects of me and in turn our business. So overall I feel more holistic and real in our business.
What advice would you give to other mums thinking about entering the awards?
Do not hesitate, jump right in!! It is such an amazing and reflective process and we all have such unique and amazing stories to share. Our stories need to be heard and well done AusMumpreneur for allowing us to share our stories.
What has been the best thing about starting your own business?
Aside from the financial aspect of running a profitable business, the best thing for me has been discovering my true purpose and pathway for the future. My purpose is more than just the growth of my business. My purpose is to advocate for gender equality and skillset-based recruitment in industries where one gender dominates. This realisation is significant and amazing for me, as I am a person with a disability, from a non-English speaking background, having undertaken a career change to a male dominated industry, undertaking a first and achieving outcomes I never even dreamt off AND inspiring change in the process.
My story is being heard, and I have been recognised with several awards, which I see as a means of helping get my story out there to champion for the things I believe in and want to make change in.
These significant achievements however are attributed to hard work, perseverance, and support for one another. My partner and I working as a team in business and in our family life which has been pivotal for our success.
What’s happening next in your business?
Thankfully we are still in growth phase, but we are also looking at all our processes to systemise further our administrative practices with the aim of continuous improvement and innovation. In turn this will allow us to scale further and hopefully look at expanding nationally! We also can’t wait to reflect on the big year that was 2022 and celebrate our successes as we near the end of this amazing year!
What are your big plans for the future?
In the next 5 years, I want a 50% female workforce in my business that will have expanded further nationally. The aim is to build the 50% female workforce into the culture and growth of the company. This is currently difficult as the pool of qualified female candidates is so small. Not to mention the issue of attrition, as bias and discrimination do not retain females in the workforce.
In order to try achieve my 5-year goal, in the next 1-2 years I will be focusing on becoming more involved in leadership roles in my industry associations, by actively being on committee’s and using that as a platform to drive change. I also aim to source speaking opportunities to promote advocacy by sharing my story and passion. Particularly seeking opportunities to speak in our schools and education system.
Finally, and very importantly, I want our business to be the reason why the building inspection profession became regulated with minimum qualifications. This is already in motion so watch this space!
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