Episode 57: Inspired Wealth with Ben Walker

I'm Shivani Gupta, and welcome to the Ask Shivani podcast. I believe that one of the best presents that you can give yourself is time to be able to sit down and ask yourself some questions. I believe that the quality of the question that you ask yourself will determine the quality of your life.

Shivani Gupta (00:40)

Welcome to the AskShivani podcast. I'm so excited to have Ben Walker on our podcast today. I'm in been through this amazing organization EO Entrepreneurs Organization that you may have heard me talk about before.

But let me talk to you a little bit about Ben. Ben is a chartered accountant. He's got over a decade of experience. He is the founder and CEO of Inspire and the co-author of Cashed Up: The 7 Steps Method to Pulling More Money. That doesn't sound like a typical accountant. You're probably wondering already as I'm reading this particular introduction. And Ben is also the winner of the Anthill Online 30under30 award in 2014. And he was also named a finalist in the Brisbane Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. Welcome, Ben.

Ben Walker (1:26)

Thank you very much, Shivani. That's a bit of reflection for an intro for me. So, thank you.

Shivani Gupta (1:32)

Yeah, I don't know many accountants that use the word inspire, in my experience. And so that's kind of kind of nice to do that. The first question I always want to know, I don't just want to know the linear journey, then I want to know kind of your ups and downs are either things that may be super positive, or super horrific, and maybe you know, 3--5 things that you go, that's kind of brought you to where you are today. So, tell us about that first.

Ben Walker (01:57)

Yeah. Did you want to kind of like a quick, quick rundown through each of those sorts of five things?

Shivani Gupta (02:02)

Yeah and the impact of that? Absolutely.

Ben Walker (02:06)

Yeah, cool. Well, one of the sorts of first positive moments was sort of choosing to start inspire, I'd gone through maybe sort of six months or so feeling like I wanted to give it a crack. And, and I finally, so when I returned after Christmas break, I think in 2013, I finally made the decision and went in and told my boss and, and then the first sort of six months was awesome. We'd sort of grown really fast. I'd had a really small client base and just sort of winging it really not from a technical perspective, so much, but more the business side of things, I now look back now like a chase, he had no idea. And then the first sort of six months was good. And one of the next big things which actually said a couple of sort of poor choices I made at that six month mark, I kind of sort of stayed with me for a few years after that.

So, one of them was, you know, seeing the growth, I thought, this is gonna keep going forever. So, I signed a massive lease, when growth was like, crazy, crazy, fast, massive lease, lots of money per month, I chose to start a cafe as well in the foyer of it called Inspire Cafe. Can which yeah, I guess it was just a bit bold at the time. And I hired, I think we had two or three team members going from zero. Just me and so all of these things made cash flow a nightmare, especially when I found that the growth I'd had was from my immediate network, my friendship circle. And, and so a lot of family and friends came in and switch their accounting to me, but then that didn't continue. So, all of those things rolled up into one made it a nightmare for a few years. So yeah, I mean, it was it had its ups and downs. We had fun throughout that time. But geez, I, yeah, I didn't make it easy for myself. And so yeah, one a couple of learnings for me, or I don't really deep into digital marketing, to build my client base organically through that time. And that's actually done wonders. Not only through that time, but also it continues to pay dividends. Like I look at some of the blog articles that are getting us our organic views on Google. And I wrote them. When I my wife was studying veterinary, she sort of worked, doing sort of free labor throughout the week, they call that prac. And then she was studying, you know, books on the weekend. So, I'd be at a garden where she was studying and I'd be sort of typing blog articles that are converting clients now, they are getting views from Google right now. So that's pretty powerful. And obviously the ability to relate to clients when it comes to cash flow, stress. That's, it's not fun. And I knew at the time it was I sort of felt really down about it. But again, I had some good people saying, hey, look, I've been there, you know, people who are 20 - 30 years ahead of me, you know, hey, I've been there and I don't know of a business owner who hasn't had cashflow dramas so yeah, lesson learned. And yeah, we ended up getting through that. Got out of the lease, close the cafe down and I guess learned the hard way about sustainable growth.

Shivani Gupta (05:41)

A tough lesson, yeah.

Ben Walker (05:47)

Yeah, absolutely. But again, they teach us so much. And I think that's, that's the interesting thing about challenges.

Shivani Gupta (05:56)

I love the fact that you know, I've been through that, you know, they say that what you go through and you become a teacher about it, I just think that's great, too. So, rather than saying, well, you know, here's a lovely trajectory of growth year on year growth, you can say, well, actually, we have these tough times, too, which I think people really love in a way and can relate to as well.

And then when, like, things come your way, and you know, hundreds of challenges come your way, every week, over a year, maybe 1000s. Do you have like a methodology or a process or a way for your mindset? Like, is there a way that you approach challenges that come your way? How do you do it?

Ben Walker (06:34)

I guess there's, there's been great examples of me not dealing with stuff well, and then some of the great ways of dealing with it. But yeah, I've had a few challenges over the last two years, I think a lot of people have, and some of the bad examples of dealing with it is having a few too many beers. Eating a little bit too much and not looking after your health. And that's that sort of, yeah, I guess that doesn't deal with the actual issue. But the I guess the more functional ways of doing that is just basically hit it tackling it straight on. Yeah, every time I've gone to deal with something straight on, it's actually had a much better outcome. For me personally, or business wise. If I just you know, get it sorted. Don't procrastinate. And, and I guess if it's something I can deal with, on my own great, but also have a great network of friends and business owners and even EO weirdly enough, I'm wearing the shirt today here. Then, but again, if it's a really tough one, then I'll go and get some assistance through the experience. Here's my EO or bring up a couple of mates who have gone through something similar. So yeah, I. Yeah, I mean, again, after the last two years, I don't know that much can throw me off.

Shivani Gupta (08:00)

Yeah, yeah, I think it is, isn't it's been fairly challenging for a lot of us around that. And your business is called Inspire. What's going to inspire you, when you look at your future aspirations whether you're looking 3, 5, 10 years, I'm not sure what sort of timeframes you look out and beyond some people alive, bringing their timeframes in others are going way out as a result of dealing with them with a pandemic. So, what's going to inspire you? What are some of your future aspirations for you, whether they be business or personal? What do you want to get done over the next few years?

Ben Walker (08:33)

Yeah, it's kind of a kind of a bit scary thinking about it, but we just had our team retreat on Friday. And our current plan, we're kind of about 18 months into it, our three-year plan, and our goal was to basically triple the team by 2023. So, we've got about 18 months left, and that includes tripling our client base as well, which, and we actually had a look at it the other day, and it's weird, I, the thing I keep learning about goals is the more you write them down and reflect on them. This, I think, has been the secret the law of attraction, and all that stuff. It's weird, but I I've got too many examples of it working. But so, I've been kind of blown away with that stuff. And we're on track to do that, and, and inspire as well, we do tax for small business owners, we have like a proactive tax and accounting service. But what we're looking to add to that is a really cool way of helping business owners grow their profits. So next year, we'll be on built, rolling out our product called total financial control with the goal of, of helping our clients understand their numbers and ideally grow their profit and business value. So that's 2022.

And then in that last year, adding like a wealth service. So, the focus is on building the family's wealth. And so yeah, that's kind of the overview or the future of where I'm taking inspire, and building up a great team. We've got an awesome leadership team and, and even that's, you know, that's taken a few years to bring together so yeah, you know, I feel like we're in a great place and it's an exciting, exciting few years ahead. I keep learning stuff every, every week, every day really.

Shivani Gupta (10:28)

I think what's phenomenal about what you just shared Ben is you know, on one hand you're talking about the challenges that COVID has brought, and which it has to so many of us as we were just speaking about. But then on the other hand, your kind of almost inspiring to say like to go through that period and say, we're going to triple our client base, we're going to triple our team to be able to service those clients. We're going to like they're quite big, inspirational, lofty goals, and you're kind of still on track. So, I think that's pretty cool in terms of being able to say, look, it's really hard, but we can have you really living up to the name in terms of what we do, which is yeah, we're just super cool. That brings me to my next question Ben in terms of futurist, like, in terms of your philosophies around leadership. So do you have I know, you talked about the secret there, and I think a lot of people are, you know, but like really manifesting those. Those dreams, I just think are phenomenal. And you and I might need to have a separate conversation about it at some point. But do you have leadership philosophies or philosophies in general that you really live by, and, you know, for yourself, but also for your team? In terms of what you do.

Ben Walker (11:35)

Yeah, I don't really follow sort of one person in particular, and maybe sort of picked it up through examples in my family, or even just observing great leaders that I've worked with in the past. But a couple of things come to mind when you asked me that. One of them is, you know, sticking to your word. Like, that's, that's so nonnegotiable. And it hurts me if I can't, like if I'm, if I'm late for something, or I've got to cancel even if I've said yes, before, but even if I cancel, I still have this, you know, I've essentially done something wrong. And you know, there's might not be a problem to the other person, but just feels like that, to me. And that, that goes with sort of anything is sort of meaning what you say. And saying what you mean. So that's, that's one of mine in there.

And then in terms of like team culture, and leading a team, one of the biggest things I did at the start of Inspire is sort of, I was just myself, as has weird and whatever, wonderful, if you'd call it, but I didn't have this facade, or this, you go to a big accounting firm in the city, I used to work in one. And it was just this weird vibe, where the only people who were themselves were the newbies who just started and you know, trying to have a bit of fun. Everyone else was like, cold. And we're not friends with people we spend a lot of their time with, and then all serious. So yeah, I guess, you know, we're serious about what we do at Inspire. But we don't take ourselves too seriously. And, and I think that's really made the pie what it is, which is, you know, most of the time, it's a fun place to work. You know, we get along with people were incredibly inappropriate at times. But, but again, everyone's having fun along the way.

Shivani Gupta (13:30)

Yeah, really like the differentiation between your work and you and not taking yourself so seriously. So, you can, you can work really hard, but also not take the whole thing, you know that seriously. And Ben, when you're giving out so much of yourself, you're trying to triple your team, you're trying to triple your revenue, you're trying to, you know, do all the different things that you do. What about your own wellness? So, what about, you know, sometimes it's the mindset, sometimes it's physical, sometimes it's emotional, sometimes it's psychological. What are some of the rituals that you have in practice? What are some of the wellness things that you do to make sure you're going okay?

Ben Walker (14:10)

Yeah, great question. Because you kind of question your sanity sometimes. But, and, you know, I've had a few different cracks. But what's really working for me right now is, there's one thing that if I do that, it makes everything else easier or easy to follow. So, for me that's doing the gym for, for about nine, I don't actually, I'm not in the gym for 90 minutes, but the 90 minutes in the morning, I'll leave work, go to the gym around the corner, and do a workout with a couple of other team members. Come back, refresh. But I chose the middle of the morning for a very specific reason. Because I used to go and sort of towards the end of the day, but then there's low energy things get in the way. Another excuse to cancel it, but you go too early and then you've got all these things on your mind and you haven't had a chance to just get a few things done. So, works really well because I get into the office, get a few things off my plate. The team has their sort of morning meetings, daily huddle sort of stuff. And then a few of us go to the gym, especially at a session that we're back when we're energized.

And for me that that makes me want to drink more water. Eat well and not sort of write off the work I've done in the gym. And it's also great for my guess, mindset as well. So, there's benefits that I've sort of shown of physical exercise helping mental health as well. So, I mean, there's so many good things there. And I've also got a client do mini shout out actually, who's who I've just ordered an infrared sauna from. So, hoping to do quite a few sessions in that one. So, they're businesses called Found Space. And they have awesome Australian made infrared saunas, and there's so many benefits if you read into it, of you know, 30 minutes, 45 minutes in infrared sauna, and the benefit of has on sleep, you know, weight loss, detoxifying. They even have Bluetooth speakers in them when you can plug into meditation. So, you can kind of like take off so many different things at once. Nice and efficient, like, like an accountant would like it. So, 30 minutes in that sauna is ticking so many other boxes. So yeah, that's kind of my two headlines is the gym and. And in about two days of the sauna.

Shivani Gupta (16:39)

Oh, that sounds awesome. I've written that down on that. Right, I'm going to check that out, too. That sounds great. And I love the efficiency part of it. Where do people find you? How did they find out more about you Ben as a person and as a leader, but also about your business? Where did they go to what platforms that you want?

Ben Walker (16:57)

Yeah, so me as a person. I've got a personal website. Sorry, hang on. https://benwalker.com/ is my personal website. And I've also got Facebook, I post some personal stuff in and a bit of businesses videos and things like that on my Facebook profile. And then if you want to check, check out more Ben Inspire the URL is https://inspire.business/

Shivani Gupta (17:25)

Awesome. That is great. Ben, It's been such a pleasure having you on mate. I can't wait to hear and look at your next installment of how you inspire yourself and others. Thanks for being on today.

Ben Walker (17:37)

Awesome. Thanks, Shivani.

I'm Shivani Gupta. And you've been listening to the Ask Shivani podcast where I'd like to ask some questions. Thank you so much for listening. Please follow Ask Shivani on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. And if you haven't done so, please go to the Apple podcasts and subscribe rate and review this podcast. It would mean a lot. Thank you.