In this episode, Ben Walker, a small business accountant and founder of Inspire CA, shares with us the business strategies he and his team used to provide programs online to help the business adapt to conditions arising from the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.
He also discusses his thoughts on how automating the business using online tools helped him, his team, and their clients to thrive.
He’s also supplemented this approach with strategies that help clients take advantage of business opportunities during this trying time.
In this episode:
- What is Ben’s background and what does he do?
- Ben runs an accounting firm, Inspire CA, out of Brisbane and serves clients all over Australia.
- He is proud to share that his company has helped his clients save over $10 million in tax so far.
- What has been the company’s biggest challenge since Covid-19?
- Almost 200 clients reached out to Ben’s company for the government stimulus measures.
- Their biggest challenge was to adapt to the new measures and become experts in the government programs such as the JobKeeper and other stimulus programs.
- Another challenge was dealing with massively increased workload overnight as the company was receiving so many calls from clients.
- How did Ben and his team overcome these challenges?
- “We met as a team and basically put together an approach to the stimulus releases making sure we were always on the front foot.”
- Ben and his team hosted webinars literally the day after announcements detailing the government announcements, including details of how this would affect the clients, what can be done, and answering inquiries at a higher level.
- “I think we went from having no course, to the live webinar, the webinar recording, and then setting this big document to help our clients through the process all up, literally, in 48 hours.”
- On business automation and leveraging online: “We can help the market or the people following us in a massively leveraged way. And that also protects against our potential downside of this Covid, if we were to, you know, lose business or our growth plans were thrown off a bit.”
- What is Ben’s biggest achievement through all of this?
- A couple of hundred people signed up for the courses and webinars in Ben’s company. For the JobKeeper webinar alone, 500 people signed up and 200 people from this showed up.
What processes and strategies were used by Ben and his team to get their business, in a sense, online within 48 hours?
- The team made extensive use of mind maps, checklists and support documents to get the webinar off the ground.
- “So one of the things we did is we shared a Google doc between the whole team and we said – Look, let’s write down all the questions we’re getting, and highlight the ones if they’re the same one over and over again.”
- “One of the things that we recommend to our clients is, ask your clients – If you could wave a magic wand right now, what would it be that you could provide to them?”
- Where does Ben think they’ll be with the training in the future?
- Ben and his team will launch a number of other online courses over the next few months, and training or one-to-one advice will be conducted in a more leveraged way.
- Ben sees opportunities to replace repetitive face-to-face interactions with online courses that achieve the same outcome but at a lower cost to the clients.
- “The way I see the future with training is that we will never be the same again, but I do believe we still will do face-to-face training, but we can give so much more with complementing it with online training.”
- How does Ben see his whole business operating in 12 months’ time?
- What does he think he would do differently from how he was operating pre-Covid-19?
- “We’ll still have an office but I think we’ll do a lot more of our meetings with Zoom.”
- What opportunities has Ben seen come out of the current challenges that may have diversified his business?
- The online stuff has broadened their reach, or credibility even, in the market.
- As larger accounting firms are having to make staff redundant this is providing an opportunity for smaller more nimble firms like Inspire CA.
- How does Ben keep motivated each day?
- “It’s showing up every single day knowing that there’s hundreds, hundreds of people, relying on our help right now. And that’s a huge motivator.”
- “My focus has been on our clients and on our team which has been a really good distraction from, uh, toilet paper and other things that are happening out there.”
- “As a business owner, it is that pressure to keep up with what your clients need and how you can serve them best, but also maintaining that mental health of your team and not only your team yourself, can be quite difficult.”
- “Often we’ll overlook the small wins and that sort of thing. So it’s nice to have sort of external people or your own team having a rhythm around celebrating stuff.”