Finding Passion in the Profits with Ben McAdam

When you decide to make a career change, how do you choose your new path? While you can’t know exactly where the road will lead, you can know the general direction that the path will take you.

This is exactly what Ben McAdam decided to do. With a background in music, he wanted to learn business. He followed that thread and it lead to some surprising places — and ultimately to what he’s doing today.


Listen in here:

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In this episode you’ll learn:

  • What Ben does
  • How to see opportunities everywhere
  • How to pursue both responsibility and passion
  • How Ben finds passion in accounting and in his music
  • His career path transition
  • The role of a Financial Controller
  • Ben’s process for going through different transitions
  • Ways you can monetize your passion
  • Ben’s advice for Start-ups

Resources Mentioned:

Ben’s website

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kyosaki

Software Generated Transcription:

Dan

Ben, thank you so much for joining me, welcome to the Meaning Movement podcast.

Ben

Thanks, Dan, great to be here.

Dan

So the question I like to begin with is how do you begin to talk about the work that you do in the world?

Ben

This was a  problem for me, actually, for a little while, describing it in a way that made sense because I, as you know, historically not so good at it.

But, you know, for what I do. So I consider myself a profits coach and virtual CFO. So it’s my job to help business owners generate more profit out of their business. You know what they want to spend, it opens up to them. Might be growth back in the business, might be pulling out for themselves. So I help them generate more profits and I help them understand the numbers, what they mean and how to use them to make important decisions.

Dan

I love it. I love it. It sounds like you spend a lot of time with spreadsheets.

Ben

Yes, but not as not as much as you would think. Honestly, there is a lot that you can do with napkin math and therefore not scare away a bunch of people who don’t love spreadsheets as much as I do.

Dan

How much of it is the spreadsheets and numbers and how much of it is mindset and. Yeah, approach strategy.

Ben

Yeah, good question. So for what I do, I use the numbers as like a diagnosis tool and then after that it’s like, like regular business coaching. So for example, one client, it might turn out that their profits aren’t so good. So look at some numbers, look at some ratios, look at their income statement and we find out that the problem is that they’re spending too much on marketing compared to the amount of revenue that they’re getting.

So we go, OK, let’s dig a little deeper. It turns out the return on their marketing is not good enough. It doesn’t line up with reasonable benchmarks. And so then I have a conversation with him. I say, OK, here’s what I found. Most businesses don’t have to spend this much on Facebook ads or in order to get the amount of sales that you’re getting from it. So he’s the conversation to have with your Facebook ads person.

And these are typical things that you can tweak. This is why you can ask them if they can if they can’t answer these questions, it means maybe we start searching for a new Facebook ads person, for example.

So, yeah, it’s just like finding the problem is very clear with numbers. Whereas when you ask somebody what the problem is, they’re like, oh, I think really the problem is that not so good on sales calls like. Nope, looks like according to these benchmarks, you’re you’re actually really good on sales calls. Let’s not let’s not mess with that. Let’s stop signing up for sales college courses. And in your case, let’s just get you more leads with better marketing return.

Dan

I love it. I love it. I have loads of other questions related to all of that as a business owner. But I think where I’d like to like to start is did you always envision yourself speaking numbers? Did you always have a goal similar to this in mind with your career?

Ben

Well, actually, no. One of the things we talked about before is that I actually started my studies after school and university in music. I was doing music education degree at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and my major was classical piano. That was the instrument that I was I was specializing in during the education course. And I got about a year and a half into that degree and decided that the following semester was where you go into schools and you do the practice training.

I’m like, no, no, no, no, I don’t want to be a school teacher. That’s not why I did this education degree. And I realized as I was there that, like, there are so few opportunities to earn a decent amount of money as a musician. Yeah. And especially a classical musician. So luckily, a couple of years ago, somebody gave me the book, Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki. And I read that like, aha.

Here’s another way that you can make money apart from the traditional script of Go Get a Job, which pulled the teeth out of me and I didn’t even have a job yet. I could not stand that kind of idea. And the three different ways he said you can make money with investments, with real estate, with business and business really actually captured my imagination because none of my relatives have been in business. So this was like a new thing. I didn’t realize it was possible.

And he said something in the book about, you know, everything you see around you like the lines on the road. There is a business behind that. And it’s just like, wow, it’s like that magic is everywhere at the moment.

Dan

Just a side note on that, because I’m such a great such a great point. I was just telling my wife the other day, I wish that I if I could have one superpower, would be able to look at everything and see the spreadsheet that it’s based on and which is like, you know, just another way of saying that same thing. Like, I want to be a look at the line on the road and then see how that’s profitable for someone to be. 

Like, how business runs, I think would be amazing anyway, not to interrupt, but I think you could appreciate that as a numbers guy.

Ben

Yeah, absolutely. It’s fascinating for me. I always like things with complicated little details that all work together to do one thing. And so looking the line on the road to realizing like the business structure and the processes and the materials and the people and then the business supplies that business and like, just yeah, it’s fun. I like it’s it’s very fractal. If you if you just keep going, there’s more down the rabbit hole. The other thing that was in the book, Rich dad, poor dad.

This was the big thing that set me the path I am now is that he said that the lawyer and the accountants see everything that happens in the business. Business owners should be involving them in all the major decisions. And I’m like, yes, because that’s how I can learn about business if I can see everything. Yeah. And so my choices were lawyer or accountant. That was really helpful to have it narrowed down to two, especially when one of them’s an obvious hell.

No, that’s the lawyer side. I’m like, OK, what is an accountant? What does the accountant do? And I know off I went. It was so when I hit that point with my music education degree where I’m like, I, you know, I don’t want to be a teacher, you know, it actually hit me like this path has an end that I’m on and I don’t really want to head that way. It’s been fun learning about music and focusing on practicing piano and whatnot.

But I, I need to make sure I’m I’m on the right path. And so accounting was where where I jumped into and grateful that I had something else when I hit that realization moment with the music.

Dan

Yeah. Yeah. It sounds like you’re you’re still pretty young, pretty early in the process. You hadn’t invested in multiple degrees yet. Yeah. Done that down that path. Yes. I like you. Yeah. Like your decision to pursue music initially was really motivated by passion and just love for love for the music. Right.

Ben

Absolutely. Yeah. And you know some someone had told me, you know, when I was young, just do what you love and the money will come or do what you love and figure out a way to make it work. And I like the sentiment behind that. It turns out I don’t like the logic behind it. Yeah, because, like, you can’t abdicate responsibility for making sure that you generate enough money to support yourself and your family like that.

I don’t like is that sense of like I don’t have to think about it. It’s not my responsibility. But I definitely like the idea of prioritizing. Follow your passion and what you find most meaningful. And that was the decision I made to go from music into accounting, which was I thought was my learning pathway to get into business.

Dan

Mm hmm. Do you feel like at that moment, did you see the potential in business as taking the place of that passion for music as a new passion? Or I guess I’m curious in just about your thoughts about that. Do what you love piece. Like, did you see a path towards loving your work in that switch?

Ben

I did. I think the big difference for me, like I had three passions at that time. One was learning more about business and, you know, buying lots of Robert Kiyosaki books.

Dan

Yes. Lots.

Ben

It’s selling books.

So, yeah, that was one. Music and the piano was another one. And then the third one for me was like I was an administrator and coder and quality checker for an online text based game. You know, this is before the World of Warcraft where they had graphics. Yes, I was doing that kind of thing. And so being a programmer was something I was very interested in because I like I don’t know, when I was a kid, you had those little Lego robot packs that got to play with on a school excursion way.

Like you give the instructions and then the robot goes and does something. And that really appealed to the lazy person inside me.

Dan

Yeah.

Ben

Just write the instuctions  and off it goes. Yeah.

Dan

I think that would be my five year old son’s dream right there. 

Ben

Yeah. But for me, when I hit that crunch point with my music degree is that I looked at the path. If I followed each of these passions, what would I most likely have to do in order to make money if I followed the programing? It was a job in, you know, commuting into the city. And I’m like, no way. I’m not commuting into the city. Turns out I did it for about eight weeks as an accountant and I loved it. If I followed the music.

There was like a big question mark over making the kind of money that I wanted to, you know, had the lifestyle that I wanted. And so the accounting, I’m like, yes, I deal with numbers. And man, some of the stuff that accountants have to deal with, it’s just tedious, dotting of I’s and crossing stuff that computers should be doing more of. Yeah, at the time I thought this not computers do think of.

And but if I followed accounting there was like there was the business stuff was at end of that path, and so I’m like, OK, well, that made it a bit of an easy choice for me as far as whether it became more of a passion. I think I was a little burnt out over the music thing because I was really stressed being at the City Conservatory of Music, because that’s like, oh, it’s a big deal. And they are like internationally successful musicians, just kind of roaming the walls and saying roaming the halls and saying hi as they pursue and teaching you in classes.

And like my my piano teacher was a Russian lady who was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. And and my other teachers. And they were like normal people being nice and polite as well as like international superstars. And like I was in there going, I’m only really been seriously playing piano for a few years. Like, I don’t belong here, like all the other imposter syndrome stuff was going on. So it was a bit I was a bit burnt out from that at the time.

So, yeah, I mean, I’m still passionate about music. I still do it. I recorded to a recording to sing in a virtual choir, but at the other day, but and I have a local choir, I sing and I still play for fun. But for me there was there was more potential in business and I was really excited to see what lay down that path.

Dan

I love it. I love it. And before we move too far from Robert Kiyosaki, I want to mention for listeners that his book, Rich Dad Poor Dad is just a fantastic starting point. I think of a lot of people’s journey towards understanding, having better, better grasp on finances, building, building wealth, becoming more and more entrepreneurial generating. Yeah, I guess setting yourself up for financial success and definitely, definitely recommend that your back to you then.

I’m curious about so codding, accounting and piano. I often think about people and talk to people about their work because people come to me asking about how do I find my calling and what is it for them. Talk about these kind of big themes of like what’s the meaning, what’s the purpose of my life and all of these things and how does that intersect with work. And I often tell people that you’re calling whatever word you want to put to that. Your purpose is not a job.

I think that’s a really important misconception. A lot of people have your job as a way opportunity to express that. It’s like a muscle, but you can flex. But there’s lots of ways it can go about doing that. And when I think of the three options on the table that you’re at that juncture in your life, I could see how there’s this then diagram of like, they are very different. But there is like this overlap of attention to detail, right.

That classical pianists like you have to have every single note. Right. You’re not a jazz, you know. And then, you know, coding like you have to. Every keystroke makes the code work. And if there’s one that’s out of place, it doesn’t work. And accounting like the same. But with numbers, I’m curious for you, if you feel like there’s like like we are at that fork in the road, like, do you feel like there’s a related energy behind each of those paths?

Or was it just like these are just three things that won’t work?

Ben

Probably definitely related thing. It’s not as much the keeping everything perfect and tidy and doing it the right way as you might think. Like, for example, when I actually started doing accounting, I didn’t really gel with the other accountants because they think that way. And I don’t I’m a little bit more creative. And I don’t mean creative accounting, like lying and fudging.

Dan

Hahaha. It’s important. An important distinction.

Ben

Yes. But for me with programing, what I was doing was like I was creating a set of systems that other players could interact with, and they were a variety of ways the players could interact with it and something fun or interesting would happen and then present them with more interesting choices. And for me, when I play piano, I don’t actually like the having to train yourself to be a robot that can do the thing right over and over and over again. That was like that’s actually part of the reason why it was it was hard for me at the conservatory because, like, this doesn’t, you know, this turning myself into a music robot is not what my passion was.

My passion was making beautiful music and having people who are listening, including myself, like be transported. Like I had an experience. The experience that got me into classical piano in the first place is that I had this piece called The Heart USC’s Pleasure First by Michael Nyman. It’s from the soundtrack of the movie The Piano many years ago. And I heard that I was just like stunned. It was beautiful. It was amazing. Like it was simple.

I could feel the patterns in it, but it just like it worked and it is beautiful. And like I wanted to be able to give other people that experience and have. It again, myself, by playing these pieces of music. And when it comes to like the business side of things, I don’t really enjoy arranging numbers and analyzing numbers, like that’s not the passion for me. The passion is what I can do for people’s lives, like the business owners, the team members, everybody.

It’s their families, the suppliers. Even a business that’s run well, provides fantastic opportunities and meaning for people, gives them excellent quality of life that, you know, they have a good experience when they’re at the business, whether that’s the business owner or the team members like, they then take that good mood and good energy back to their families and their communities like it’s a very powerful thing. I know I say, but profits coach and I help people grow their profits.

But like, there’s very meaningful reasons behind it for me that I’m really passionate about.

Dan

Yeah, I love that. It’s a really beautiful, beautiful way to think about, I think all of those things, music, programing. And as long as, you know, the profit coaching that you’re like you’re doing now. Well, well said. Very well. So thank you. So after starting down this path towards accounting, accounting is one thing. What you’re doing now is related, but different. So what was some of that that path, that portion of your journey like?

Ben

It was an experimental one, like figuring out I mean, apart from learning accounting, which is not really that complicated, it’s boring, but not complicated.

Dan

Hahaha. I love talking to an accountant or some other accounting background. Just hearing accounting is really boring.

Ben

Yeah.

Dan

It’s great.

Ben

So it was a bit of an experimental thing I first got as I was studying, I was working three to five days a week throughout my studies. I started as like a, you know, an apprentice type role in accounting practices, suburban accounting practice with only a couple of accountants in it. And so I got the opportunity to practice like bookkeeping and tax returns in practice. Which man was that valuable? If anybody’s actually listening to this, thinking about going into accounting, don’t just study for three years and then go get a job, because what they teach you in universities is not quite the same emphasis, what you’ll actually be doing day to day.

Dan

Interesting.

Ben

And so I worked in a suburban practice for a while and then they merged and there was like no career progression options because the business, they just weren’t focusing on growing it fast enough. So I was getting bored, couldn’t really see I didn’t want to stay where I was. Like, it was always a stepping stone for me to getting into business. And they were at that practice. There was no path there. So I thought, oh, I’ll go work in the city.

That’s where, like there’s promotion opportunities and more money. Right. I know I lasted eight weeks before. I’m like, I don’t have another job to go to, but I’m still leaving this one. I will, like, go be a music tutor if I need to to make ends meet.

Dan

Oh, definitely had a strong no on that one.

Ben

Yes, absolutely. Yeah. But it turns out there was interesting music brought me back is because I went to my choir rehearsal and you know, I was telling them and then the choir director cut up the front and said it bends, just left his job as an accountant in the city. If anybody knows of some accounting work or some, you know, music teaching work for Ben, just let him know. And I’m like, wow, that was nice to say that kind of thing.

And the guy sitting behind me taps me on the shoulder and says, Hey, Ben, I need a financial controller, is that, you know, run these couple of businesses and I need someone to run the accounts department. I’m like, yeah, sounds good. And so I became an accountant inside a business. So my yes, my path.

This is the way I want to go. I was so excited.

Dan

Yes, I love it.

Ben

So that job, I turned it from a two four hour days a week to I absorbed to admin assistants and the person who’s part of the job was managing them, turn it into a full time, real streamlined everything. And I’m like, oh, there’s no way further I can go with this. And so I went to work for a real estate of a series of real estate offices as their financial controller. And boy, was it interesting to see behind the curtain of what real estate agents are like when there’s no buyers or sellers in the room.

Dan

Oh, interesting.

Ben

Yeah, it is. It’s fun to daydream and allude that they were you know, they harbor money grabbing people or whatever, but no, it was like they just real people. Some of them are great, some of them suck, some of them are way too aggressive that they are horrible human beings to work with, but successful at sales and you know, treat their buyers and sellers well. Yeah, it’s a bit of an eye opener. But one of the things that advanced my you know, I’m glad that I took that because, again, it gave me clarity on what I don’t want to do.

Like, I don’t want to run real estate for sales agency, but also from where my office was. I heard the sales training. And so I learned a little bit about how sales works for the first time. You know, what kind of. Are involved not doing it. The real estate agent way might be leading people down the streets, giving people the wrong idea. But just like the importance of handling objections and how to handle objections earlier in the sales call.

So there are no objections at the end. Things like, you know, how to build rapport quickly and make sure that the person in front of you is actually in a place ready to buy before you waste your time pitching them the value of getting referrals out of people. If you can’t get a sale like that, extra little details that don’t pop into your mind when you think of sales, if you haven’t seen that kind of thing before. So that was not the most ideal.

How many months that I was with them, I did learn a lot. And it was good to be inside the business because like I had hoped, I learned about business.

Dan

Yeah, I love it. I love it. And so. Well, I guess just to clarify, for people listening, financial controller, can you define that role? Is that similar to a CFO? It was how we should think about I don’t know if that’s just a term that is less common in the States as supposed to Australia or if that’s just a term I’ve encountered as much.

Ben

Yeah. So financial controller and CFO normally titles for much bigger businesses, like hundreds of millions of dollars, like a CFO is chief financial officer. It’s like big corporate business that has a CEO will have a CFO and a CTO or COO, CMO if there’s lots of C something O roles.

Dan

Yeah. Yeah.

Ben

But what it basically means is that there’s two parts to it. One is like you manage the finance department, you’re like the head of the finance department.

So it’s your responsibility to make sure the bookkeeping gets done. The reports are produced that all the government filings and compliance is dealt with, not necessarily like watching the tax returns yourself or doing the bookkeeping yourself, but making sure they get done to like that manager, the finance department aspect to it. And then there’s also the strategic advice part to it. So, you know, someone says, you know, I want to open this new real estate office in this place.

And so the strategic advisor would say something like all. We’ll put a series of cost together. We’ll put a cash flow projection together on how quickly we think this thing will pay for itself and therefore how much money we need to borrow at what terms. And they’re not, you know, not just putting the analysis together and then presenting, but also making recommendations. We’re like, OK, this this is going to take 12 to 18 months to be able to pay for itself based on the number of buyers and the growth in this particular region and the number of sales people we can already transfer over there in the number of potential people in the market we can hire, we’re going to need to borrow about this much, which means that things are going to be tight for the first six months.

We will not be able to start any other growth projects in the business. So let’s spend some time thinking about what they are. And so, yeah, there’s the finance manager and then there’s the strategic advice aspect of it, whether it’s a financial controller or CFO, like that’s generally what it means for a small business. In a large business, there’s some extra other things like a financial controller is the person who make sure the money moves where it’s supposed to and only the right people have access to transfer it and things like that.

Dan

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ben

But what I was doing was the the manager and advisor now.

Dan

Nice. Yeah. And so a lot of ways it sounds like it’s very similar work to what you do now, except at that time you were working in a particular business and now you’re working outside for a bunch of businesses. Is that a good kind of understanding of it?

Ben

Yeah. Yeah. There’s, there’s a few actually work inside of like I actually do the manager part and they have a team. I make sure the payments move smoothly where they’re supposed to handle any questions with the billing process and things like that. That’s like one of my favorite clients calls me a safety net.

Dan

I love it.

Ben

That extra pair of eyes and a safety net for anything going on. The money for one of my clients. I’m their unofficial head of growth, too, which is like totally unrelated.

Dan

That’s interesting. That’s really interesting. And guess as you’re saying, that it’s kind of like, you know, soccer or football or another country. So I’m like, oh, you’re kind of like the goalkeeper, but maybe you’re also playing forward what we’re doing yourself on the soccer field, on the football field?

Ben

Obviously, I’d be the coach on the side.

Dan

Yeah, yes, ok yeah.

Ben

Occasionally I step on the field. Yeah. But most of the time when people come to me like they have the time or the team or the financial resources in place to have somebody else on the soccer field, that’s not me, which is helpful because I’m a very expensive goalkeeper sometimes.

Dan

I’m sure that makes a lot of sense.

Ben

Yeah. There there are cheaper goalkeepers that can do just as good a job with a little coaching from me. So that’s high leverage thing. And it’s better for my client. It’s also better for me because I get to focus on more what I love to do rather than sitting in the goals and I get to help more people. So yeah, that’s. I could announce thank you for bringing that up.

Dan

Oh, yeah, absolutely. We came up with it together. I think it came out of the conversation when you made that transition from being a player on the field to, you know, working in the business to consulting and changing your approach to your work, because it’s a mindset switch from being an employee to a business owner. And I’m curious about that, that that piece of your process.

Ben

Yeah, well, for me, I actually got a bit of a shot of motivation because my first child was on the way and I had moved from the real estate agency. I’d gone back into working in a tax practice because I wanted my qualification. I needed extra hours to have experience, to get the license in order to run my own tax practice. And I saw that as the quickest path for me to get into business. So I went I went back into a tax practice and my baby girl was on the way back at the time.

I was only intending to have one. Now I have four. But anyway, at the time I was only intending to have one child. And so, like, every moment, especially when they were like just a baby was critical. That was like once in a lifetime stuff that I rearranged the rest of my life around. Like that’s the priority level in my head. It was. And so I thought, oh, crap, I’m going to miss out on so much if I’m working in somebody else’s office.

Ben

So I hustled my butt off in order to get the qualification I need and then start getting some leads, getting some clients that I could do the work from home. And it worked well enough for me to be able to stay home with my daughter for which she was young. For the first six months, I was doing accounting at, you know, tax returns and a bit of bookkeeping for people. And and then about six months in the opportunity came to start an online booking business with another accountant who had similar values, not because you wanted to spend time with children, but because she really likes coffee.

Yeah, so we wanted flexibility. We didn’t want to have to go into work. We wanted enough money to support our lifestyles. And so working for ourselves from home ticked all the boxes and we got into business together.

Dan

 I love it. But how long ago was that. How old is your daughter? How long ago how long ago was that transition?

Ben

She’s she’s seven and a half.

Dan

OK, OK. So you’re a seasoned veteran at this point.

Ben

Yeah. Yeah. I ended up selling my tax practice and selling that online bookkeeping business that we started and I’ve been doing this profit’s coaching and virtual CFO, I think, for many years now. And and I’m really grateful that this is what I get to do all day.

Dan

Yeah, I love it. That’s awesome. I’m curious for you, as someone who has navigated the questions about passion and purpose, where you going knowing that a lot of people are listening and have these things that they love and want to figure out how to go pro, how to make them a job? I’m curious what just your thoughts on it in general to know like someone’s thinking about, you know, wanting to take their art full time or their writing or especially the creative things where it is harder to make to make money.

What how would you advise someone like that in thinking like how should they think about what’s next for themselves?

Ben

Yeah, happy to help. I think it’s possible to make money from what you are passionate about and from what gives you meaning. It’s possible to make money in surprising ways from it. And sometimes with creative people that I’ve worked with, like they feel like making money as if that taints what they’re doing. I really love that Patreon is a thing I think is brilliant because not not not only because it’s a way for people to make money, but it’s also because it shows people that you can make money from it in, you know, in a way that you doesn’t feel like, you know, you are giving value to people and it’s like it’s there.

There are so many examples on Patreon of different tiers of rewards and different amounts of money that people can do different benefits, that they get different levels of communication. And so, like, there’s a lot of examples there that you can follow in any field that you want and some surprising fields if you actually get down the Patreon rabbit hole, some very surprising ones down there. Yes. Yes. And this is this is an extension of a concept that I came across.

It was Kevin Kelly, his thousand true fans ID, and he wrote a blog post about it or something. But the key message that I got for it that was a real light bulb moment for me was all you need is a thousand true fans who are willing to pay you one hundred dollars a year in some fashion for your art or for what you do. So, yeah, it could be a thousand people that are. I knew, what, eight dollars and 33 cents a month on a patron thing, and that’s 100,000 dollars a year, which is more than enough to support yourself, to have a good life and to pay for any supplies and materials you need for what you do.

And it doesn’t even have to be a thousand. Like the number is actually probably quite a bit lower for a lot of people. And I love that idea. Like I you know, especially when you combine it with looking at the examples on Patreon, like there’s a bunch of people that I follow on. I support on Patreón that have, you know, 100, maybe 200 patrons on there and just, you know, I can mentally add up if Patrón doesn’t say the amount that that person is actually being supported by, I can actually mentally add up an estimate of how much they’re getting from like, yeah, it’s actually a pretty decent amount of money with such a small number of people.

And like there are ways to grow from there, like looking at the top tier on Patreon, the great way to get ideas. But there’s a couple of other things I want to mention. Lots of different ways of monetizing what you do, like ad revenue if you do something on YouTube. Product placement for people who create content on Instagram, I recommending products and getting a commission from them only. Only if you actually like and enjoy that product, if you would really recommend it, then you can get some sort of commissions.

You can get referral commissions like for example, if you’re doing your art and somebody does your video editing or somebody does has done a fantastic job and a website for you, they can get a referral commission for recommending them to the people who follow you or the people in your audience, like building an audience around. What you do is surprisingly easy. Again, go on YouTube. There’s channels with tons and tons of views doing surprising things. There’s people on social media with lots of followers like you get an audience and there are lots of ways to monetize that in ways that you’re comfortable with so that you can just mainly you can just focus on your art, like producing an experience that people are interested in following along to like, you know, update photos on the painting that you’re painting that you’re working on.

Like, you know, I make a video, but it doesn’t have to be and, you know, be on Pinterest or Instagram, take photos of what you doing. Like, there are so many ways to make money from your passion that if I was to go back in time, the advice I would give to younger men, who is in that transition with his three passions is keep going with the music and put some videos on YouTube. You know, if your piano playing, keep going with the programing.

But, you know, move to an online game that pays an amount to their developers or create your own smaller games instead of like being a contributor, that is an enormous thing. Create your own smaller games. You can make little bits of money to fund this and to quote unquote justify the time spent on it.

Dan

Yeah. Is there a part of yourself that I mean, just all that is fantastic price for anyone is unfamiliar Patreon. And it’s a platform where it comes from the idea of a patron, a patron of the arts where you could contribute is usually small amounts on a monthly basis to artists and creators that you enjoy, podcast, lots of other stuff just to define it for listeners if you’re unfamiliar. But I’m curious, you know, just about, you know, what you said about, you know, advice to younger men.

Is there any part of you that wishes that you had continued in either of those other directions?

Ben

No, not really. Honestly, one of the things I realized very early on is that those particular passions would get ruined if I had to consider money and make a job out of it. For me. I am involved in music as much as I want it, like playing piano. At least every couple of days I sing in a choir every week. It was too before covid. And, you know, like I said earlier, is like starting to get involved in virtual choirs where I record things singing into this microphone and then some audio engineer puts us all together.

A lot of that sound sounds wonderful. And for the programing stuff, it turns out like, yes, it was really interesting. And I, I really love the intellectual challenge and the artistry of the different ways you can make something work with the programing and the kind of experiences you could give people when they’re playing a game. But it’s something that I don’t know that I would be interested in doing full time. Like every now and then I fiddle with something on my website, like I’ve got a few integrations on there.

Occasionally I build a website for somebody, just a simple one. And that kind of gives me my fix. I call it.

Dan

Yeah, scratch, scratch, your itch?

Ben

Scratches the itch.

Dan

Yeah.

Ben

So all three of the passions are a part of my life. Yeah. And there’s no pressure to make money, music and other programing.

Dan

That’s great. So many different questions swirling in my head. One is just out of curiosity. We sit down to play piano. What have you been playing recently? I’m just curious. Yeah.

Ben

I found for me the type of music actually most enjoy is movie soundtracks stuff. Yeah. So, like, you know, I’ll find a good piano arrangement of it that I like and I’ll sit down and I’ll learn that, but not exactly because there’ll be some bits. I’m like, oh, I’d rather it was done this way. I think that would sound better. So, like, definitely not the classical thing. Like, I remember one time I was playing fairly complicated piece, but the only piece of music I had was a slightly simplified version.

And I took it and I showed my piano teacher because, you know, I was supposed to be working on something else, but she’s like, OK, well, at least play it for me. Let’s see. And I sat down and I played it and she was reading along with the music. And then I did something differently that seemed like the real version, but wasn’t written on the music. And she got a bit upset. I always got to do what’s written down.

I’m like, yeah, no, that’s not really my thing. So movie soundtracks stuff. I like movie soundtracks because it’s like it evokes the emotions and the atmosphere of what’s going on. Like the piece of music. Actually now is the main theme from the Chronicles of Narnia movie.

Dan

Interesting. I love. Yeah.

Ben

And occasionally, like my kids throw in some Disney request.

Dan

Yes. Some singalongs. It’s great.

For your approaching work. Who are your ideal clients?

Ben

Yeah, for me, I like working with people who are doing something that’s meaningful or provides a lot of value to other people. So I’m not really interested in maximizing the volume for somebody. Makes a small amount of money selling crappy stuff, for example. Yeah, that’s that doesn’t really give me meaning to help them with that, even though it makes them happy and provides meaning to their life. It’s not not usually enough. Like I make exceptions. I really mostly it depends on the business owner I’m working with.

I tend to enjoy working with online businesses, whether it’s a service business or they sell a product or they’ve got a digital product or course of some sort, because normally I find those then more. My people like to have an interest, like there’s a reason why they’re working online instead of doing the traditional path. And we have some things in common then. And yeah. So any client up to about, you know, high eight figures, I transition them off to other coaches and help them hire a virtual CFO in-house that can actually work full time, costs a couple of hundred thousand dollars that.

Yeah, normally people who are just starting out, I don’t necessarily work with them, but I give them advice in this, you know, some helpful stuff on my blog.

Dan

Yeah, awesome. And for people who are because a lot of people listening are looking at transition off of that transition does include starting something, maybe a side hustle that they helped to scale at some point. And I’ll definitely link to your blog in the show knows as a resource. But if there’s any from your experience with working with businesses, is there any low hanging fruit or common mistakes or things that, like you would say, yeah, 90 percent of people when they’re starting out do this or that incorrectly or should do this or not, but are like, what are your words of wisdom about starting.

Ben

Oh yeah. There is like definitely 90 percent of people get their pricing wrong. Mm. Well I’ll say that the urge when people start a business is to lower their prices so that they can get their first clients because they’re nervous, they think that their business is no good. People entrust it so they lower their prices to get the first customers. That’s not actually bad strategy. That’s not the problem. The problem is that they delay too long, bringing their prices up to normal levels.

Yeah, and the way that manifests is they can’t seem to grow their business, or especially if they’re running a service business. They find that they’re working really hard and they’re on a bit of an income rollercoaster, like they get a lot of work and they have money. Great. And so head down, bum up. They do the work. And then they started to wrap it up and they’re like, oh no, I’ve got no more clients lined up next.

And then they panic. There’s this feast and famine cycle. And in a product based business, it’s a problem of growth because they can’t reinvest the money they earn from their sales. They can’t reinvest it enough in order to grow. Like you just get stuck at a certain size. If you’re not willing to raise your prices and to get the ratio between what your price is and how much it costs you to deliver the service or how much it costs you to manufacture and ship the product itself.

If you don’t get that ratio right in this stuff on my blog about what the ratio is and ways to improve things. But if you don’t get that right, that’s that’s what it feels like. And most people go through that unless they’re really good marketers, are they really confident? And they set their prices pretty high from the start. Everybody goes through this. And so I would say like, yes, OK, maybe if your initial customers some discounts, but try to limit it to that.

And if you can’t sell at a normal price, don’t bandaid the problem by lowering your price. Actually work out why you can’t sell it like. Is it that you’re you’re saying the wrong things on the sales call or you think sales is icky and so that’s driving away the person on the other end of the sales call? Or is it that you’re not sending enough of the right people to your website, like fix the problem instead of mandating it with lower prices because your business will get stuck?

Ben

That makes sense?

Dan

I love it.

It makes a ton of sense. I love it. Yeah. Yeah. Just thinking through friends I have have side hustles that will potentially always be a side hustle because of all these issues you’re talking about. Yeah. Like just even to to reach sustainability, a sustainable income for it to be become less of a hobby that pays for itself and to become a income generating business that you can count on. Like it’s a really important key piece of the puzzle.

Dan

Yeah. Thank you for that.

Ben

Yeah. Yeah.

Dan

Well why don’t we just need to move towards wrapping up here for people who are just really enjoying hearing from you and your work and want to connect further than anything in particular you’d like to invite them to?

Ben

Yeah, absolutely. So for me, like I said, this is a bit of a passion project and I’ve been recently inspired to set a mission for this year, like what I want to accomplish through my business. I want to find ten million dollars of extra annual profits for other business owners by the end of the year.

Dan

I love it.

Ben

I think all up I met somewhere around three million all time so far, depending on how you count it.

And yes, I want to get to ten million. And so for me, you know, I’m going on a lot of podcasts helping people like telling them about that margins rule of thumb so they generate a bit more profit. I’m so I’m being fairly active. There’s a lot to follow. But also, like, one of the things I’m doing is instead of, you know, give me your email address and I’ll send you some little PDF and then email you forever.

 And instead of doing that thing, which honestly isn’t as horrible as I just made it sound. But, you know, sometimes people are very reluctant. So what I’m doing is instead it’s like there’s a form where there’s a couple of different forms on my website that you can fill out. Give me a little detail about what your business does. A couple of numbers I ask you questions about, and I’ll send personalized profit strategies like, OK, go do these things and that will raise your profits a little bit.

Don’t jump on a call with me. Don’t need to pay me. But you do need to give me an update about, you know, how it goes. If you update it, if you actually implement it.

Dan

I love it. That’s fantastic. Well, definitely link to that show notes that people can jump in and get some strategies if you could find the rest of those million in one of my businesses, that would be awesome.

Ben

Well, we can talk after we stop recording if you like.

Dan

Ben this has been so much fun. Thank you so much for just everything we have just for being so open. And just a great conversation, partner. I appreciate you coming on the show.

Ben

That was a pleasure. Thank you, Dan.

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