It’s been said that there are two rules for creating a successful accounting business:
- Don’t tell them everything you know,
All joking aside, Ben Walker has been writing his own accounting rules since he started his firm, Inspire CA, at the age of 23. His rules have nothing to do with holding back information, though, but rather with giving it.
More than just calculators of debit and credit columns, Ben and his team strive to give their clients what he calls “game changing advice” to help them gain equity in business, family, and life.
Ben hopes that his clients will then use what they have gained to find their own inspiration to do good in the world. For his part, Ben has tried to leverage his success to help people in need obtain the simplest resource that many of us take for granted: water.
Ben, Paul, and a cup of Joe
The first time Ben heard B1G1’s Paul Dunn speak was at a 2013 “The Power of Small” event in Brisbane, Australia. When Paul asked who in the audience gets a little “grumpy” when they haven’t had their morning coffee yet by 10 a.m., Ben gleefully threw up both hands.
That enthusiasm soon turned to thoughtfulness, though, when Paul asked the same question, but this time about going without water… not until mid-morning, but for a whole day. Now, thought Ben, grumpiness was replaced with dehydration, fatigue, headaches, or worse.
Then, when Paul told the audience that this is a real problem for nearly a third of the Earth’s population, the realization was a wake-up call more powerful than any cup of coffee Ben had ever had.
“It hit me at the time like a ton of bricks,” Ben said.
That how UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #6 – Clean Water and Sanitation became Ben’s passion and his favorite goal. His enthusiasm for this goal was further solidified when he and his wife toured Kenya with B1G1 last year.
Water… by the numbers
Like all good accountants, Ben has a knack for seeing the numbers in all things.
For example, he points out, one liter of water at an Australian service station costs about $6 AUD. The same amount can supply one person in Malawi with clean water for over a year!
Furthermore, he says the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that every dollar spent on water and sanitation in areas of need has a quadruple return on investment (ROI) in the form of reduced healthcare costs.
Any accountant will tell you that’s some eye-popping ROI, and If these numbers don’t inspire action on SDG 6, what can?
Here are some more numbers from Ben. The women in one of the villages that he visited in Kenya carry 20 liters of water from a nearby lake balanced atop their head up a hill for 30 minutes back to the village – and they do this several times a day, just for the drinking water they need to survive.
“It would be amazing what a water pump and filter could do for this village,” Ben observes. Those projects in Kenya are now his favorite ones.
Legacy: “The good life” for everyone
Ben started his business with nothing but his laptop, a borrowed printer (talk about ROI!), and an idea.
Inspire now has offices in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The firm’s mission is firmly implanted in its name – to Inspire its clients to create businesses that do more than just make money.
To give them the time and freedom to focus on their families and on making their own positive impact, as Ben has.
Part of Ben’s philosophy that he tries to pass on to his clients and others is to measure wealth in time, or what Inspire calls “Freedom Days”, rather than in money.
Simply divide your net worth by your daily cost of living, and you get your wealth in terms of the things that mean the most to you – like spending that time with your family or taking up an important cause.
It’s a simple formula by accountant standards, but it might be the most important one for achieving a Better Business, Better Life, and Better World.