Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in financial services but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Shaun O'Keefe, Founder of Network Financial Planning, located in Peregian Springs, QLD, Australia.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
Network is an Australian financial planning business. As a financial adviser, I help people solve their important financial problems and connect them with a team of high-level professional service specialists. We do this by focussing on customers in three key areas:
- We help individuals and families create a financial roadmap, which gives them fresh direction and better financial decision-making power so they can achieve their life goals.
- We help small businesses develop their strategic business plans and financial forecasting so they can identify their priorities and be better supported to do what they do best.
- We help people with disabilities to better manage their government-funded disability support budgets, empowering them to build greater independence and quality of life.
Tell us about yourself
I'm a husband, a father of four, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu brown belt, and a coach. My family calls the Sunshine Coast in Australia home. My financial planning business is a family-focused business; this is by design - because family is important to me. I'm very motivated to address some common financial problems for families because I think they're worth solving. As a financial adviser, I found that:
- Most families and small businesses don't have a financial plan to guide their decision-making.
- Financial stress is a leading cause of family stress, family breakup, and business blow up.
- Most families and small businesses desperately need financial security and guidance.
- Families want to preserve their generational wealth; they just don't know how.
When I'm not being the financial adviser, I'm training and coaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. It's been one of the greatest things I've done and is responsible for a large chunk of my personal and professional growth. And it overflows to my clients. Many people feel like they're the smaller, weaker person and that they're inferior to a big, bad life, or debt, or financial mistakes and uncertainty. But I help them learn how to work with concepts that give them confidence and financial power so they can achieve their own goals with whatever resources they have. This is what drives me to be the best financial adviser I can be for my clients.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
My biggest accomplishment was a discovery. And this discovery will be the basis of every good business accomplishment in my life. I discovered that my business and professional skillset are actually aligned with my purpose in life. You should read that again.
If you're an entrepreneur, there is nothing more powerful and encouraging – and it will save you years of confusion and painful mistakes. My business purpose and my life's purpose are one. It doesn't mean that my life revolves around my business – it's more accurate to say that the purposeful activity of my business is a pure outworking of who I am. And I get a thrill of excitement just thinking about that.
I had a moment of clarity at the start of 2022. The thought occurred to me that if I can help families, I will be helping more people. It was a mathematical and logical thought. The simple fact is there are more individual people, across multiple generations, in a family unit than anywhere else in society. So, by extension, the most important question for my business became, 'How can I help more families?' I discovered something powerful in my life.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Isolation. I started my business in August 2019. Just me, from scratch, not a single client – and just before COVID shut down the world. When starting out, doing everything by yourself is seen as a rite of passage – but it keeps you so busy that it can keep you apart from other people. And to make it a bit harder, at that time in the world, there was very little we could physically collaborate. But I liked it at first. It was a simple time and less complex than today. But then, like a silent enemy, isolation started to slowly erode me. It wasn't until I deliberately connected with other entrepreneurs that my business worldview truly expanded - and it's largely through these new connections that my business is growing today.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
Here are four – the first three are a summary of the above, and the fourth is for courage:
- Be obsessively preoccupied with the needs and desires of other people. The money and growth will be a natural outcome.
- Serve as many other people as you can with your specific skillset. Your skills and your purpose in life are probably very linked.
- Collaborate with as many people as you can to do this. Don't try and do it alone. We can achieve more together than we can individually.
- You may not be as ready as you want when an opportunity comes. It's normal. But keep moving forward. I didn't feel as ready as I wanted, and honestly, I don't think any of us ever are. But move forward anyway. As my Brazilian friends like to say, "Vamo que vamo!" It means "Let's go!"
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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