This article was originally published in the Queensland Business Monthly, a lift out in the Courier Mail, Friday 29th of August 2014. Written by Nicole Madigan.
Having worked in the accounting industry for just a few years, Ben Walker quickly found himself brainstorming new concepts, determined to make his industry of choice less dry.
“I wanted to create an accounting firm that was far from the typical and stereotypical,” says Walker, who dubs himself “chief inspiration officer”.
The result is an accounting firm that’s as non-typical as you’re going to get.
It’s central hub is an interlinked coffee hub, Inspire Cafe, which not only serves as a connection between Walker’s customers and his business, but has become a landmark in its own right.
“We have businesses from around Brisbane and even flying in from places such as Melbourne and Singapore to run their own workshops and events here,” Walker says.
The 25-year-old developed the idea after outgrowing his first office space, where he launched Inspire CA as the “non-accountants’ accountant”, aimed at helping creative agencies understand the numbers that drive their business.
Despite the success of the business, growing from one to four staff in four months, bringing the cafe from concept to reality would be an expensive process.
So, in addition to the traditional methods, Walker sought out crowd-funding, which essentially means financing a project through contributions of various size from a large group, typically via the internet.
“The crowd funding was an ambitious idea,” he says.
“We used crowd funding site Indiegogo and had available perks like ‘Coffee for Life’ where the funder received coffee for the rest of their life.”
With the cafe installed and ready for service, Walker went about positioning it as a networking venue for local business people and like-minded thinkers – a place that was linked and unlinked to the accounting firm.
“We ran an email campaign of video updates for the cafe. Every week or two, I’d shoot a short video of the build and fitout and upload it on to YouTube and send this out to our audience,” he says.
Citing innovation as paramount to success, even in the seemingly mundane industry of accounting, Walker says his aim is to lead the profession through cutting edge innovations such as online signing and cloud accounting.
And so far, it’s paying off.
“We’ve received plenty of commendations and encouragements from business owners, entrepreneurs and other accounting firms globally of what we’ve created here.
While it wasn’t easy, it was definitely worth it and I really look forward to developing the community even more.”