Leading a Rapidly Growing Business as a Young CEO

What goes into leading a rapidly growing business? What can we learn from a young and inspirational CEO? This week’s PPMP podcast shares one of the most inspiring, feel-good stories of the year, and I’m so excited to share it with all of you.

In 2017, she quit her job to go full time and follow her dreams. A year later, she hired her second staff member. Enter September 2020, and she has 40 staff across three states in Australia and a growth rate of 155%.

Meet Madeleine Buchner. At just 27 years old, she is the Founder and CEO of Little Dreamers. Leading a rapidly growing business hasn’t been easy, but it’s been a phenomenal experience. 

As Australia’s leading Young Carer organisation, Maddy and her team work with young people who provide unpaid care for a family member with a serious illness.

This incredible organisation works to recognise, celebrate, and amplify the voices of these young carers through a range of direct support programs. 

These include their Big Dreamers Personal Development Program, Peer Support Program, School Based Programs, and an Online Peer Support Platform (just to name a few).

Among many things, Maddy’s story and the journey of Little Dreamers is truly a testament to the power of communities coming together within the allied health sector. 

We can learn a great deal from Maddy as a young CEO leading a rapidly growing business. Not only does she reveal the ins-and-outs of how Little Dreamers works, but she gives some wonderful insights on her leadership style and learning moments.

For the full story, you’ll have to listen to the Episode. For now, check out these highlights:


Building a Passion-Based Business & Maintaining Growth

Maddy grew up as a young carer herself. Her younger brother has a range of chronic health conditions and learning difficulties. As young as six years old she was pouring out his medicine and packing the hospital bags.

From a young age, Maddy had a revelation: There was a gap in the healthcare system that needed to be fixed.

At just nine years old, she began running events for community organisations to raise money for sibling support programs.

Then, at around 14 years old, her world was turned upside down after her mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Maddy explains in the Episode how she and her father knuckled down to care for the family. She also goes into detail about the research report that became the turning point for creating her own charity.

She decided to create the change that she wanted to see in the world, rather than raising money and getting someone else to create it for her.

You may remember a past Episode in the podcast with Emily Lively where we spoke about creating a passion-led business to sustain and maintain growth

We can see a similar situation here with Maddy. She was able to transform her personal experience and ideas into a fully-fledged and flourishing business.

If you are doubting your ability to turn your dreams or passions into a reality, Maddy’s story is definitely worth a listen. It’s inspiring to hear how her perseverance and pure passion drove Little Dreamers to where it is today.


The Growing Pains of Rapid Growth

Little Dreamers has certainly experienced a snowball effect when it comes to growth. From public support and notoriety to invitations and awards, Little Dreamers shows no signs of stopping.

Maddy gives us raw insight into the reality of rapid growth. After feeling like they were tracking through the mud, the business pushed through and received recognition from the likes of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Harry.

Soon after, they got their first government funding and a generous donation. This allowed Maddy to quit her job and go all-in full time.

There’s no doubt that there were growing pains.

“It hasn’t been easy,” Maddy shares. “It’s been a massive challenge for someone who’s a control freak like me.”

She went from a solo founder to handing off her baby and trusting others with the business.

If you’re finding yourself relating to Maddy’s experience, what is stopping you from letting go of that control? As much as we’d all love to have an extra set of arms, doing every little thing within the business just isn’t practical.

Are there certain parts of your business that other people could be taking off your hands? 

What areas of your business have you been neglecting because you’re focusing on a task that could be done more efficiently by someone else?


Should We Really Fake it ‘Til We Make It?

Maddy remembers the feeling of getting her first ever private-door office. It was a huge step, but one that didn’t sit quite right with her in the beginning.

It took her a long time to feel like she deserved that space, but soon realised how important it was for her role. In the Episode you’ll hear some real-talk on showing emotion and being vulnerable as a leader, and how that has worked for Maddy.

If you’re feeling a bit of that “imposter syndrome” coming on, consider this:

Is there really any point in faking that you’ve got it all together?

Leadership is messy. It’s confronting, glorious, and surprising. You can grow with it, you can grow around it, and it’s a day-by-day adventure. 


Growing Through the Pandemic

Leading a rapidly growing business can be complicated enough without the onset of a global pandemic. 2020 was always meant to be a big year for Little Dreamers, but it just wasn’t the way that they expected it would be.

I bet around 7 billion of us can relate, right?

As you’ll hear in the Episode, Little Dreamers grew by 155% since the same time last year. For Maddy and her team, things feel busier than ever before. 

One of their biggest turning points for getting through COVID was transitioning their programs to online. You’ll hear how Maddy and her team made that transition, which involved delivering and mentoring using a new hybrid model of online and in-person practices.


If you’d like to know more about Little Dreamers or get involved, don’t forget to share this Episode to get the word out there about their amazing work. 

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *