In this week's episode we hear from former managing director of Apple and current CEO of the Canberra-based coaching analytics company, Today's Plan. Ben shares his insights into how he was able to develop a vision and capitalise on opportunity in the tech start-up landscape. In addition to this, Ben shares his approach towards developing business partnerships and a strong culture within the business.
Shownotes - Ben Bowley
0:00 - Intro
4:59 - How do you make key decisions in business?
12:32 - Key memories and experiences from working at Apple
15:16 What do you enjoy most about tech?
20:21 How did the vision for the Today's Plan come together?
22:05 The concept of Opportunity
29:21 How to discover hidden profit centres in your business
31:42 The culture at Today’s Plan
36:13 What’s your approach to partnerships?
41:10 What’s the essence of your culture?
44:58 Where does intuition come in business?
48:21 What keeps you going in the business world?
50:00 What do you think your business legacy will be?
52:04 Ben’s 3 key points for business start-ups
Find out about Today's Plan here
Find Today's Plan on Facebook here
Find Today's Plan on Instagram here
Find Ben's interview with the Australian Financial Review
Find Jonathan on Twitter here
Find Jonathan on Facebook here
Find Jonathan on Instagram here
Find out about Canberra Executive Coaching Website here
Jonathan Doyle: Hey everybody, welcome back to The Canberra Business Podcast. Jonathan Doyle with you once again. Great to be a host for another episode. I hope you're gonna enjoy this one. We've had some great guests in recent weeks. I hope you've got a chance to listen to some of those episodes, but this week, we are gonna bring you some value from one of the best business minds I think in the country and definitely a good, another great Canberra business success story.
Housekeeping for me, please subscribe to the podcast wherever you're hearing this. Uh, you can use the Apple Podcast subscribe button, the, uh, the Spotify button there. There's [inaudible 00:00:39], Stitcher, Android, Google Play. You can use the email box if that's easier. We just love to make sure that we're able to bring you the episode each Monday morning when we launch a new one.
Uh, please take a moment, uh, to check out the Canberra Executive Coaching website. That's, uh, the business that I'm looking after here over the last decade. I've had the pleasure of speaking around the world to over 400,000 people in live seminars. So if you need some staff training at these particular areas of learning, training and development within your business that would benefit from some really tailored seminars or some staff training. Please reach out and get in touch with me. It would be my great pleasure to have a conversation with you about that.
Now, down to business, Ben Bowley. Ben Bowley is today's guest. Former managing director of Apple. Started his own charter aviation business at one point. He's worked with Raymarine. He's an amazing business background. But here today, we're talking about the great Canberra startup that, uh, Ben's been a part of that's called Today's Plan. This is a tech startup that is really reaching the world. It's already signed up some major global players in the sporting space. And it's got thousands, tens of thousands of subscribers now.
So, if you're like me, you're surprised to hear just how dynamic and, uh, excellent the Canberra business community really is. Ben is being featured in multiple publications. Australian Financial Review, all of that stuff will be in the show notes. But I think he speaks for himself. He just brings a wisdom, a groundedness, a passion for how tech solve real problems and a real love for what's happening here in the National Capital [inaudible 00:02:15] business community. That's it for me. Let's hear from Ben. This is a good one. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Canberra Business Podcast. And here he is, Mr. Ben Bowley from Today's Plan.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome back to the Canberra Business Podcast. It's so good to have the pleasure with your company once again. We got a very special guest. We've got Mr. Ben Bowley from Today's Plan. Ben, I wanna start with a really important question. Many people can remember where they were, very special moments in history. I remember where I was with 9/11. Older generation might remember where they were, Kennedy was shot. Do you remember where you were when Canberra's Matt Hayman won [inaudible 00:02:53]?
Ben Bowley: (laughs) I do not I'm afraid.
Jonathan Doyle: Really? Oh, I'm gonna have to get him on the podcast one day. I was thinking, does he have a business, I'll start a business for him so he can come on the podcast. No, it was a great Canberra story. I remember being on, in the lounge with the kids. Very exciting times.
Well it's been great to have you with us. My friend, you have pioneered some really interesting stuff, with some fascinating people around the tech industry. You do fascinating stuff on the global scale, we wanna talk about. Your story begins on a farm.
Ben Bowley: Yeah, that's right. In fact, uh, just over the hills from here.
Jonathan Doyle: Really? Where was it?
Ben Bowley: In, uh, [inaudible 00:03:27]. So, just across the [inaudible 00:03:28]. And, uh, I grew up, I grew up there. Had a fantastic childhood in the, the [inaudible 00:03:33] valley. And, uh, my family moved there when I was one year old. I was the youngest of four kids, and, uh, just an idealic childhood. You probably don't appreciate it at the time, growing up on a farm and riding horses every day seems like a chore. But it was fantastic.
Jonathan Doyle: What do you think of [inaudible 00:03:49]? You're looking back, what are some of the key memories, learnings that you take from starting life that way?
Ben Bowley: I think you learn to look after yourself. I think you learn to get the job done, and to hang in when things aren't going your way. It's, uh, you know country life can be pretty tough. You know, it uh, I think, when we moved there it didn't stop raining for a year or two. And then, uh, a few years after that there was drought for years on end. So, you know, you learn as a family and you learn as an individual to see hard times through, and persevere.
Jonathan Doyle: You mentioned, like, in the most that we've shared, I was going to get to this later but some of the best business advice you were ever given was about never giving up. Does some of that go back to the farm?
Ben Bowley: I think it does. You've, uh, you know, perseverance takes you a long way in life. I mean, you can't, can't just persevere for the sake of it. You've got to check, and recheck your thinking and your ideas. At the end of the day, a lot of times you've just gotta stick at it. No matter how hard it, uh, how hard it seems. How tough it is, you've just gotta stick things out.
Jonathan Doyle: Was, as an entrepreneur, as a business person, you're obviously data driven and, so much of today's plan stories' data driven. You know, what you've just shared with us there about persevering, you know, persevere [inaudible 00:04:59]. How do you make the decision in business? So, looking back over your career so far, when you keep going, when you pivot, when you just go no. But how do you make those key decisions?
Ben Bowley: That's, that's a great question. But it's not an easy one to answer. You, uh, you consult your peers, your fellow directors. O-other people in the time, other people in the industry. You know, and, and listen to people. Draw them out, ask smart questions and you take all that information and you put it in the old thinking pot, called your brain (laughs). And uh, try and draw some conclusions. And if you do draw some conclusions, and you suspect you're going down the wrong path, and you need to change something, then it's great to be able to test that. And one of the beautiful things about our business, is we're an online platform, and we can test things with a small group of customers. And see how they react, see what happens. Or even survey those customers.
Jonathan Doyle: There was a lot in that, and uh, we'll dig through this as we go. You brought James Peek as a UX Designer, so u-use your experiences kinda crucially, you use the feedback. So, that's obviously a key part of decision making for you guys?
Ben Bowley: Absolutely. I mean, you know, right from day one, our CTO and one of my co-founders Andrew Hall, is very big on the whole idea of the voice of the customer. So, all of us, to this day, we get every support ticket in our email and, uh, I wouldn't say we read every one. But, boy, you know, all the directors read a lot of them. And see, hearing w-what, you know, what customers are saying, what they're asking, if they're struggling with something, uh, you immediately see if we've got a bug or something like that. So, listening to customers, that immediate feedback is really important to us.
And the other side of that is responding quickly to customers, and giving them what they need is super important. And has been a real strength from our business, because in this day and age, word of mouth and customers sharing w-with, uh, their friends is the most powerful form of marketing you have as an online business.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah, it's crucial. You would've come across, you know, Black Sheep Cycling up on the Gold Coast.
Ben Bowley: Sure.
Jonathan Doyle: I-I just, I've liked their business. I think they're actually, what they're doing with customer experience, in terms of their packaging and marketing, but also how quickly they respond to stuff. So it's been really good. So, I know, you make a great point.
I wanna take you back, b-before pressing t-towards this gold. I always ask people, when you grew up, back on the farm in [inaudible 00:07:19], the influential people in your life, your parents, uh, who we talked about off air. What do you think you've taken from them? As you look at their life, and how you grew up, what've you brought from them into your business journey?
Ben Bowley: Boy, that's a deep and insightful question as well. You know, my Dad grew up during the Great Depression. Y-you know, he was six years old during the Great Depression. H-he had a lot of hardship as a child. His father lost the family farm in Western Australia, and it put pressure on their marriage, o-on his parent's marriage and they split up. So, my father moved to the east, in a one parent family then. And, I guess that gives you a certain perspective on life. That I think, you know, if you think about those things happening to you when you're six years old, that gives you, i-it would drive so many values in your life.
Jonathan Doyle: Especially at that time in history too.
Ben Bowley: That's right. Yeah, exactly. And so, you know, I think that, to say that my Dad, I-I reflect on this a lot now being a father myself. And I think that those influential things in my fathers life, I think perhaps really subconsciously guided him, and the way he brought us up. And so, we, I think, you know, a-as kids we did get a lot of responsibility. You know, very young, I look at a lot of the things my parents let us do, and uh, and made us do, you know. You know, made us help around the farm and that sort of thing.
And, I-I don't think, I-I'd have the guts to let my kids do that. But, to him it was just, you know, y-you gotta do this. So I'm talking about things like, like a lot of farm kids do. You know, driving vehicles, driving tractors, plowing fields, doing jobs, uh, you know it was all part of the make up. And so, it gives you a work ethic, which I can tell you that work ethic is very handy later on in life when you're running a tech start up. You know, it doesn't have to be a tech start up, any business is hard work. You work very long hours, and you're always on. And, you know, that's the way it is on a farm, as well. I think there's a lot of analogies between farming and a, a tech start up.
Jonathan Doyle: I love what you say there about the work side of it. Louise Curtis, who uh, I did an interview with recently. You know, she just, we had a laugh saying that, I think that some public perception that people in business, we create successful businesses, basically just stroll through some [inaudible 00:09:25] fields of unicorns. You know, buying yachts, but there's a huge amount of work to get it done. So you learn this from y-your father, you learn the personal responsibility, the work ethic. What do you think you learnt from your Mum?
Ben Bowley: Well, I think the same things. O-our, probably in our family, it was a non-traditional, you know, parental relationship. As in my father was also a dentist, so he had a practice in town. When the children of the family were younger, you know, Mum stayed at home. But she would run the farm. So, for me, I'd get home from school, get off the school bus, uh, you know, go up have some afternoon tea and we'd saddle up the horses, and go and do some, a bit of sheep and cattle work. And so, you know, we weren't doing it for fun. You know, it w-was a job. But looking back, what a great job.
Jonathan Doyle: And how do you go, w-when I first saw that you'd grown up on a farm, to go from farm life to starting, you know, to working with Apple and then Raymarine, and then charter aviation, and then starting this, Today's Plan, which we wanna talk about. How do you go from farm life to being so immersed in the tech world? What was your journey?
Ben Bowley: That's, that's also a good question. Well, you know, t-the step to the big smoke, you know, is filled with the little smoke. I went to school in Bathurst, w-which I thought was the big smoke, you know (laughs). I went to Allsorts there in Bathurst, and then I went to the city after that. And I almost feel into, uh, I feel into the tech world. Uh, I'd started studying in Sydney. For a while I'd deferred, and I was doing this and that for work. And a boyfriend of my sister, got me a job at a, a tech distributor. And uh, it all started from there.
I was there for a couple years. I learnt the trade, I suppose. Learnt, learnt some skills. Then went to another tech company, actually a Japanese tech company with Sui. And from there I went to Apple. And, uh, that was, uh, you know, all of those things were done via building relationships with people. And that's, uh, you know ultimately, that's how I got the job at Apple.
Jonathan Doyle: Michelle Melbourne, who, you know, founded a great tech start up here in Canberra. I-It talks about a sliding doors moment, you know, she was gonna be, she was gonna go into organizational psychology and stuff. And then somebody just goes hey, uh, why don't you go and try this job in Sydney doing training work. And she jokes about being one page ahead in the manual. But, I'm interested in your take on the difference between this idea that, you know, people build careers, and the map it out from the start; and kids must get this certain score so they can go into this course, as opposed to just responding to opportunities as they come.
Like, do you look back on your career now, and go, you mapped this out, you had a vision from the start about where you wanted to be? Or did these things happen early and you just, took the opportunity as they come?
Ben Bowley: I definitely took the opportunities as they a-arose. As they came. It was, uh, definitely not mapped out for me. In fact, I would say that working for the straight tech companies that I've worked for, you know, I wasn't overly engaged with that technology. I didn't love working in those companies that technology. I actually enjoyed using the technology, for now and for the things we do in Today's Plan. Rather than in those companies, it was the other things in those companies, the business side of it, the learning side of it, that stimulated me more than the technology per se.
Jonathan Doyle: And the people side of it right?
Ben Bowley: Absolutely. Yeah.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah. Just quickly, I mean Apples, some people always got an interest, but looking back on that time, what are some of the, the key memories or experiences that you had there?
Ben Bowley: Wow, w-well. I think people look now, and particularly younger generation and see this massively successful company, which it is. Uh, which is, which is fantastic, and perhaps, if they took the time to have a look at the journey of Apple, they'd see a lot of ups and downs as well. You know, people forget in the, the mid 1990's Apple was almost bankrupt. It was Microsoft that lent Apple 150,000,000 U.S. dollars to help keep it afloat, I guess probably through self-interest. So Microsoft didn't have to face Andy Truss.
But Apple had very good core business, and cores, this really sticky core customer group that kept buying Apple, no matter what. And kept the company alive, and most companies don't, don't survive that.
Jonathan Doyle: How do you explain that? Like I mean, in terms of, you've got a great tech start up that you're building now. How do you explain that core loyalty that Apple had, i-in a general sense? How do you think companies build that?
Ben Bowley: I mean, by creating something that's uniques by building a vision. You know, people follow that vision. They love that vision, and you know, at Apple, in those days, people definitely bought into that vision. And you know, times have changed now. It's easier to swap platforms, and that sort of thing. But, I think that people feel this sense of belonging. I remember back then, Apple had a much smaller market share, it, it was the underdog. And uh, people I think love the underdog as well.
Jonathan Doyle: I remember that famous commercial they did, was it here's to the, what was that one?
Ben Bowley: Oh, the uh, think different, here's to the crazy ones, the rebels.
Jonathan Doyle: That's right. So, how did it change? What did you, in that time with Apple, what did you think you learned? How did you grow as, as a business operator?
Ben Bowley: Yeah sure, and look, I-I was very young, uh, when I went to Apple. I think the things I saw were, I mean in my first year at Apple, the share price went from, I think, $25 at the time to $75. It trebled. Then a few years later, it crashed. I mean, you know, it goes up and down, that's the point. And, you know, it's that lesson about there are good times, and there are bad times. And, you know, y-you've gotta have the internal fortitude to drive through the bad times. And have, have the vision, and, and uh, be able to push through those times.
Jonathan Doyle: Stressful at times?
Ben Bowley: Of course. You know, I think every job has its, has its stress. But, you know, a lot of pleasure there as well. And a lot of learning about, you know, about how powerful a brand can be. And that's something, you know, Steve Jobs had this incredible vision for the power of the brand. It was always hearing Steve talk when you were in a room with him, hearing him talk about the brand was very, was a lot of clarity about it.
Jonathan Doyle: It was like Moses coming down from Cyanide. I wanted to ask you, you mentioned something before you talked about tech and, you know, you said you loved the people side of things. But, y-you said you enjoyed using tech. What do you enjoy about technology? Even if it what you're building now, what is it about technology you most enjoy or appreciate?
Ben Bowley: I love the way it enables things. Uh that's, that's I guess to summarize what I love. You know, and our business, uh, the technology lets people, lets us bring together for our customers all these different elements to let them, you know, become better athletes. To let them train better more efficiently, and that sort of stuff. So its, the enabling side of that. I think, uh, you know look at the internet, it's, there's some bad in the internet but there's a lot of good. There's so much enablement in the technology around the internet.
Jonathan Doyle: You currently, and t-these numbers could be a bit behind now, but uh, 11,000 subscribers. You're probably at more now, uh, in 50 countries. You've got these amazing partnerships with some incredible global brands, we're gonna talk about those in a minute. The company forms around 2014, you launch in 2017, 2016?
Ben Bowley: Uh, we formed at 2015. January Tour Down Under 2015.
Jonathan Doyle: So what I wanna know is, take us to the moment, either you or Andrew or Matthew Wilson or Mark Fenn.. What was the moment when someone said, "Hey, I've got an idea"? W-Well, do you remember that moment? Was it you? W-was it a group thing? Or, how, what was the genesis point?
Ben Bowley: For the whole business?
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah.
Ben Bowley: Sure. Well, I guess it starts with three of us. It starts w-with Mark Fenner, Andrew and myself. And the way, the way it worked is, I got into cycling about five years earlier, before I started Today's Plan. I'd started, just socially riding with some mates and we'd enjoyed that, and I'd be carrying quite a bit of weight. More than I'd care to admit. And uh, the cycling helped me get the weight off and keep it off. So it was a good thing, and then, after a few years of doing that, riding socially, uh, on the weekends, a mate and I said, "Hey, let's do one of these, one of these races we hear about, one of these half marathon races".
So we did the Highland Fling in the Southern Highlands, it's a 60km half marathon at the time. And uh, you know, that was pretty good and honestly we, we didn't struggle too much with that. We had about three hours to do the race, and we really enjoyed it. And I think we did another half, and then we said, "Hey, you know, we, our cycling, our mountain biking careers not complete unless we do a marathon, a 100km race". And so, we did one out of Sydney called the Convict. Which is, uh, about around the Wiseman's Ferry. So [inaudible 00:17:36] region, it's a beautiful ride. You're riding along the, the ridge top.
Jonathan Doyle: Is this the one where you crashed?
Ben Bowley: I-I probably crashed (laughs).
Jonathan Doyle: Because there's one where you crashed, and you, you had bad grazes and you didn't quite, you pulled out at 90km?
Ben Bowley: Oh, no. That was my last Highland Fling where I crashed in the first 100 meters.
Jonathan Doyle: Oh, really?
Ben Bowley: Jonathon, I don't want you to tell that story mate.
Jonathan Doyle: We'll get the editors on that.
Ben Bowley: So, so look. My mate and I, decided to do this Convict 100, and we trained for it. You know, we got another friend who told us how to train, you know, do hill repeats, do this, you know, you do that. We read about you need nutrition, and whatever, and we trained. And we went and we did the, we did the event. And we finished it together in six hours and two minutes. That's not a bad effort for your first 100km mountain bike race.
The next time I did that event, I did it in four hours, 47 minutes. And that's about, that's about 23% faster. But I didn't spend anymore time training, I didn't have a lot of bike. I wasn't light on myself, there was no magic, in terms of I didn't fall off the first time. So the question is, how did I make myself 23% faster without spending more time on my bike?
And the answer is, because I did proper structured training. And the guy, who set that training for me, was Mark Fenner, as a leading coach. And so, I'd, you know, I was working in a corporate world in Raymarine, and, and have a young family. And he was my little thing on the side, that I did, you know which was getting coached by Mark; which was a luxury but I was able to afford it. And, you know, at the same time, Andrew, who I didn't know at the time, i-is an elite mountain biker as well. He's one of those nutters that does those solo 24 hour races.
Though he hasn't done any lately, h-he's got a young family now. But, you know, Andrew is a fairly analytical guy, also had his frustrations with the tools available to him at the time, with the technology tools, to, to see, you know, where he could improve. And Mark, as a coach, if you think about anyone who coaches, particularly coaching athletes, uh, you are time poor and you know, y-you really can only make as much money, as the technology tools you have, allow you to do.
You take that perspective from the three of us, we each had our own, could see, a better way. Each of us from our own perspective. Andrew from his perspective as an elite and analytic athlete. Mark as a leading coach. And myself, just as an age group competitor. I thought, "Wow, wouldn't this be great, to bring this structured training to the masses". You know, not everyone has the time or money, or the inclination to go take a coach. Uh, but wouldn't it be great to give them a step onto structured training and, and allow them to enjoy those benefits that I got, you know, getting 23% better for the same amount of time on the bike.
Jonathan Doyle: I don't know about you ladies and gentleman, I'm sold. I-I know what I'll be doing after the podcast. So, that genesis point was it o-over, you know, a couple of wines one night? You were all sitting around going, "Hey, what if you do this, and what if you brought that?". W-was that how it happened? How did it come together?
Ben Bowley: Yeah, y-you know over a few months we started talking about these things and, and we got together and, and discussed, discussed our ideas and started mapping them out. You know, Andrew is a, is an absolutely [inaudible 00:20:37] developer of software, in terms of his volume. You know, he's a 10X developer, and so in the development world, you just have people, who can churn out literally ten times more than anyone else. He's one of those guys.
Jonathan Doyle: Just coding, cranking stuff.
Ben Bowley: Coding, got it in his head. You know, t-the j-just blows me away the amount of stuff he can fit in his head. It's incredible. Now, you know, the other part of the story is, uh, you mentioned a few people there, James who's our UIUX, uh, lead. And Matthew Wilson who's, uh, an investor in our business, but also, uh, a director of a cyber security company here in Canberra. And, and Andrew, Matthew, and James had all worked together in previous start ups that Matthew had been involved with. So, you know, those guys had a long history together over, probably 15 or 20 years. So, you know, i-it had worked, and knew each others strengths and weaknesses. And, uh, so that's, that's the genesis of the business and the idea.
Jonathan Doyle: There's two things I wanna ask you. One is, Louise spoke brilliantly in a recent interview about opportunity, about how success in business is often about the ability to perceive opportunity. So you guys have obviously, you know, seen this d-disruptive emerging point between tech and the desire for leverage of time, and so, talk to us about the perception of opportunity. I mean, is it just obvious, was it just a no brainer? In your business experience, how do perceive opportunity? How do you execute on it? Wha-, I'm thinking about people listening going, "Okay, well this is great, that's obvious, you know, Ben's building this business, it makes sense". Talk to us about the perception of opportunity, how, how do you find it?
Ben Bowley: Well, you do those things we talked about earlier. You got out, you talk to people, you do research. You use that marvelous tool the interwebs (laughs) and you, you do a lot of research into it. You know, maybe other people who are slightly in the space, or someone in the space. Talk and discuss things with people. But you can do so much research, then you've gotta be driven by, uh, you know, your own instinct on these things. And you, you put things out, you test them. And then you iterate them, if they aren't right. And that's what it's about, you know, listening to customers and iterating your product if you're getting enough feedback is really important.
So we've avoided any major pivot points per se, because you know, we're listening to the feedback early on and changing thing, uh, you know, for the better.
Jonathan Doyle: So, is this like, h-have you [inaudible 00:23:01]. Is that kind of thing? Like, you just, you bring out your beta, you get feedback as rapidly as possible. You iterate, iterate, iterate.
Ben Bowley: Absolutely. And in this day and age, you know, cloud platforms, uh, your customers are expecting, they're paying a subscription, and they're expecting your product to grow and develop, and change, and improve, u-under their feet. And of course, Google are the masters of that. Every time you use Google Maps, there's been an update. Not that you know that. T-they've just improved it someway, and so, it was a smaller tech start up. We try and do those things, and you know, at least every two weeks, new features or a, a-a new integration or a new something, a new bit of sports science that's some of our customers may find valuable.
Not everyone's gonna find everything valuable. It's about, you know, it's about giving people the choice of, of the things they may.
Jonathan Doyle: Well, let me ask you, this is a really important question. T-the process of iteration, and the voice of the customer. I felt with some platforms over the years, there's almost this compulsion to add layers of benefits and features which can either weigh at the, the simplicity core functionality. So I'm really interested in that question, like today, I mean we all use Strava, I'm on Strava, I'm waiting for bunch to roll out today. And the damn thing is on some kind of audio motors, talking to me, it's going, "Paused, paused, resuming", and I'm going, and everyone's looking at me, and I'm going, "I'm that guy".
I've become that guy. And I'm like, "No", I don't want that feature. So, tell me, I-I'm really interested in this, because I don't know the answer, i-is there pressure on you as a tech start up to keep adding stuff, when you may have the beauties and the simplicity. How do you navigate that question?
Ben Bowley: Okay. Interesting questions, I-I'm gonna kinda answer this long hand, because it's the other way up for us, you know. Where Today's Plan sits, is right at the tip of the sphere. Currently so, w-we have a very solid business in, in coaches and their athletes; and we c-create a microclimate for those people. Uh, we have two of the worlds best, you know, cycling teams on our books we've Team Sky and [inaudible 00:25:01], with our exclusive data and analytics partner. And then, in self-coached athletes, uh, we have people, people who get the most of our platform are quite analytical, data driven people.
So the challenge for us, is actually, is to add, or to maintain that functionality, but broaden our appeal by making it easy to use, easier to use for the every person.
Jonathan Doyle: Right, okay.
Ben Bowley: So we talk about making structured training as easy to use as Google makes navigation on your phone. And that's our goal, because there's a whole market that sits between the higher end of the pyramid, the tip of the sphere, and down at Strava; which Strava has made an incredible business in, in telling people, uh, how they're going against their mates and this and that. But we're about telling people how to get better. So you know, for you Jonathon, we can tell you what sort of rider you are. What sort of events, if you want to win an event, you know, w-where your power profile is gonna best sit for an event. You know, what you should target and how to improve for that event, and guys like us, built like us, we shouldn't be trying to ride the Alps in the [inaudible 00:26:06], 40 minute climbs aren't our cup of tea.
Jonathan Doyle: We'll post some photos, I-I love what you've done, I-in the research I looked at how, I think it's a master stroke that you took the base platform, which obviously was a volume proposition, let's get as many people like me, I-into the platform. But I think it's very clever that you've kinda gone, you know what our other market as coaches, so we're gonna give them the functionality and, and use, am I right, they can brand it? And use the back end, I mean, so this is adding layers, it's adding profits centers to the business, who was that? Which one of you, kind of went, "Why don't we?", w-who was that?
Ben Bowley: Yeah, I think, you know, A-Andrew's our CTO. He really has the vision for that, so for all along it's had that idea, of how we can add value there. So, like every, every other business in the world, the business of coaching is being disrupted. And what a coach has to sell is their own intellectual property. And so, you know, ten years ago if you were a coach, you'd be probably less than this, but certainly ten years ago your days consisted of copying and pasting training plans in Word documents and Excel, and whatever.
Well, technology can do that for you today. And so what our system is about for a coach, is that they can create their own little microclimate there, with their own branding. Well that's just kinda the tip of the iceberg, they create their own workouts, their own media library, get their, you know, c-customers can visualize data in a way that coach wants. Use the sports science, the coach wants to use, not forced to use a certain sport science. So, it really lets a coach work in a way they want to work. And that's been a very successful business for us.
There's actually three ways we, we get customers. So self coached athletes, who come to us and use our tools online on Today's Plan banner. Coached athletes who are using, you know, chosen a coach and using that coaches methodology, and IP. But the third one is a business to business sell, and this is about providing cloud services to industry so people who want the whole, everything that our platform offers, but they wanna run it with their own customer data base, and their own, uh, app layer over the top. And then bring to life the things that, that they want their customers to see; and typically, that's, that may not be around training. We're working on some, uh, some exciting deals at the moment.
Though I can't talk about them, but we'll actually be pivot points for our platform, but if you think about, you know, what's at the heart of our platform, it's this very big complex data platform. Think about other people in the sports tech space, and their need to have cloud platforms. We bring a lot of that to the table and they can work on the things that really count for them, which is the user experience.
Jonathan Doyle: And, and underlying it all, is the essence of business roles, which is solving problems.
Ben Bowley: Absolutely.
Jonathan Doyle: I'm interested in your creative process, like, y-you, the profit centers that you're finding, you're going, you know, here's this athlete, here's the, here's his coaches, here might be an enterprise solution for people who wanna use data in different ways. How does your creative process in the business work? Like, I mean, what I'm asking is, y-you've obviously looked at your business, and it's almost if you guys are going, "How can we offer the most value, to the most diverse base of people, how can we extract the best possible value for our business from these different offerings?". What can you offer people about looking into their own businesses to find the hidden profits in it?
You guys seem to be doing this really well, you've got a great base product that you've got a lot of trust in, you've got a great time. But you seem to be very good listening to you going, "Hang on, t-there's another application here, there's another application here". How do you do that? Like, h-how, you just teach us t-the mindsets behind what, how you guys come at this?
Ben Bowley: Sure. So I think, s-some of these things we had the vision for right at the start. Andrew, James and I sat, sat in a room that's now our office, and put these stuff up on the big whiteboard and, and drew the links about the different types of customer groups, the teams we wanted to go after, the b to b targets that we had. You know, the businesses in cycling, and eventually we would branch into multi sport, you know, triathlon like, w-which we've just done in April.
And so a lot of that came from the vision, but equally, in the same way we listen to customers, we try and listen to partners. And we try, w-we not just try, we do listen to our staff a lot. And just take as much information as we can in, and think about things. Gotta be careful there, you know, it's easy to have good ideas. We call that the good ideas factory, and if, if, once you've opened the can worms, you know, there's no shortage of good ideas. So, you can think about those things, and often good ideas, I think this goes for everything in life.
Good ideas often are not just born, and there they are. They might start with something with that doesn't seem that, you know, t-that spot on to start with. But you iterate it, you discuss it. You talk about it, and you work it into an idea. And then, hey, what does that cost to implement that idea? What's the likely return? And so, you're able to rack and stack those ideas, in terms of priorities. And so, w-we've probably got 100 ideas, and the resources to do ten, and you know, and that's like most businesses I think.
Jonathan Doyle: So, the essence of your decision making process, appears relatively collaborative and I wanted to talk about that. Y-you've got Andrew, James, Matthew, Mark, yourself, you've got other people obviously in a growing business. This is quite a good team, like it's an interesting mix of personalities. We always ask our guest, does everyone play nicely in the sandpit? And, how do you guys work with difficult decisions? How do you work with conflict?
We had a guy last week, Pat, who's got 250 staff. Give or take now. And it's what we call a robust discussions, you know, i-it's a pretty strong group. How do you guys respect each other, value each other? How do you push each other? How do you push back? What's that culture like in this nerve center?
Ben Bowley: Oh, look, it's like, we all just hold hands in the morning and have a sing along (laughs). The-there's no type a personalities in our group.
Jonathan Doyle: (laughs) No, it doesn't sound like it.
Ben Bowley: No, in every successful tech business, I've worked in, there are people who drive the organization and, you know, make things happen. And then, y-you know, you mentioned one of those guys that Apple earlier, right. In our company, we've got those people as well. That's their strength and my, my job as the CO is, is to make sure that that strength, you know, of those personalities don't leave a trail of destruction, you know, i-in their path. Or i-in their wake. And then we're bringing along with us, and so I, I think it's about communication with the whole team. It's, it's about having that shared vision, the shared goal, making sure people understand, you know, where we're going.
Yeah, of course we deal with conflict we, we deal with all that sort of stuff you deal with in a workplace. But equally, we're all adults. We all have the shared vision, and you have those adult discussions. And, you get it done. And as a team, you know, I'm very proud of, of the things we've got done. You know this, this year, we had a major, major push to reinvent our platform for multi sports. So, from just a cycling product to, to include eight other sports.
Jonathan Doyle: Wow.
Ben Bowley: Yeah, significantly run and swim. But, but others as well. And, you know, the team effort in that was, it's the most remarkable team effort I've ever been involved in my life.
Jonathan Doyle: How do you explain that? Like what, what is that? Why is there buy in? You talk about communication, I can imagine you in there, you know, constantly painting a picture, "Here's where we're going and here's what we're trying to do". But to, to make a big pivot, well not a pivot, but t-to shift into multi sports, was it just the novelty? Was it the excitement that everybody wanted to try something new? H-how do you explain the fact, that you had a good positive vibe around it?
Ben Bowley: Novelty and excitement wear off (laughs). The first, you know, the first midnight finish, uh, wipes the, uh, the photo of that, that look, I think it, I think it was the shared purpose in why we're doing that. You know, we're not, we're not just doing it because we think technically it's a great idea or, it's a great solution. We're doing it because it gives us a much larger addressable market globally, you know.
We discussed that as a team, that you know, we, we clearly identified the work that needed to be done, you know. And, and we're all pretty scared about the amount of work that needed to be done. But having understood that, I think that's a really important thing, the expectation, this is gonna be an incredible, uh, saying to ourselves, and saying to the team, this is gonna be a really hard three months of, four months of, of getting this done. And it was, it was very, very stressful on everyone. But everyone had the expectation that, that here's what we're doing and that we could see ourselves moving through that pile of work. And it was enormously proud moment for us all to say, "Hey, we got there". You know, we got there.
You get to the start line, and then you find, you know, y-you roll it out to our existing customers. You find we haven't got some things right, you know, we've made a few mistakes. We gotta go back in and fix them quickly. So when you're think you're at the finish line (laughs), actually-
Jonathan Doyle: Someone moves it (laughs).
Ben Bowley: You, you've adjusted the start gate for the finish line.
Jonathan Doyle: There's something you've valued about Matthew which is this concept of, you know, of partnerships and building partnerships. Uh, so classically you've got [inaudible 00:35:03] win-win, I don't know if you've ever read the 'Speed of Trust', which I think was written by [inaudible 00:35:08] son. A-and t-the mantra in that book is, when trust is high, costs are low. When trust is low, costs are high. And th-there's a great example where, uh, [inaudible 00:35:20] Hathaway did a merger worth about 500 mil, with no lawyers. They guy did it with [crosstalk 00:35:26]-
Ben Bowley: Smart, smart man.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah, yeah. And he was like, a-and the idea was, you know, when trust is high, costs are low. So, I'm fascinated by what you've learnt from Matthew about, now you guys, for people who aren't from a cycling background, [inaudible 00:35:38] and, uh, Team Sky definitely the biggest, two of the biggest, most prominent cycling teams on the world stage. Major businesses, so, Today's Plan with Ben and the team have done an amazing job securing these guys as partners over the last few years.
So talk to us about, how you built win win with partners that you go after? Because I'm interested to know, our listeners going, "Where are the possible synergies for what they're doing?". Oh, there's gotta be people trying to build partnerships with this crew and everybody, and its mercenary. How do you guys avoid that? You obviously have, what's your approach to partnerships? What do you look for? How do you maintain them? What's the secret source?
Ben Bowley: Sure. Yeah, okay. So, h-how, w-what are we looking for? W-we're looking to work with leading brands, uh, so it's a deliberate strategy for us, that is a tech start up for us to go and market to the world, and build our platform to, you know, we're at 50,000 users today to build that to 1,000,000 users would costs us, uh, in customer acquisition costs millions and millions, and millions and millions of dollars. Yet at the same time, there are brands in the sport tech business out there, I'll pick on cycling because that's, that's been most of our heritage, that needs services like ours, they don't have the sort of technology and platform stack that we have.
And it's about picking those partners, that have the strong brand and have a hole in their strategy that we can help them fix. And it's about getting to the right people in those businesses, identifying the problem with them and helping them solve that problem in their business.
Jonathan Doyle: And is that, sort of, what Matthew has brought, the awareness that if we just, just summarizing what you're saying there, because I really want people to hear that. You've gotta find who you need to talk to, you gotta find what the problems are and you've gotta help solve those problems; or prove that you can, right?
Ben Bowley: Yeah, y-yeah I think, you know, my background in business I knew a lot of those things. For me, Matthew is that, is brought that sounding board, "Hey Matthew, I-I'm gonna meet with such and such, at this place, I just want to bounce my pitch, what I'm saying to them". Is that sort of tactual nature, and he'll say, "Mmm, you know, half and half, maybe you could add this". He's very constructive, but then actually when it comes to writing the deal up, you know, to making the deal, to getting it crystallized, Matthew's thinking in that, you know, it's just been pivotal for us. It's really important.
So, you know, great to go build relationships but unless you can monetize them, there's not a lot [crosstalk 00:38:11]
Jonathan Doyle: That's right, otherwise you've got a hobby. So, what are you most proud of so far? Looking back on this journey that you've been on, if you could pick a couple of things that you go, "You know what, that's a good thing, we've done well there". What are you proud of?
Ben Bowley: Sure. Well, the most recent one is, is launching multi sport. You know, basically on time, you know, within a week of what we'd set a-as our own goal. W-we said Easter, and w-we launched in early April. So, it was just after Easter. And then the public launch on the 26th of April, and just the team effort there. And, and the way that, people in our team grew and stepped up to the plate, a-and grew as individuals, did some incredible things. I mean, you know, the whole team did incredible hours, incredible miles, and that's, that's what happens, uh, when you're doing that sort of effort.
But, not just that, the personal growth of some our staff, uh, a young guy who I know you know, y-you ride with occasionally in Canberra. He joined us two and a half years ago from Uni, you know, he was great young fella, a bit raw around the edges straight out of Uni. Part of our multi sport launch, was we put him on a plane to Europe for a month, going over to see coaches. Pitching coaches in Europe. You know, he met with Team Sky, took them through the platform changes we were making and you know that's, that's a big deal. I think for anyone in business to go spend a month on their own in Europe. Let alone a guy who's two, two and a half years into a career with us.
So the way, you know, the way he stepped up, but I can go through staff member by staff member, and give that sort of example of how, you know, how people, uh, really stepped up to the plate. And that team effort, I mean, we can, you know, a few of us can do whatever as individuals but unless you've got the whole team swimming like that, it doesn't work. Say, the other things, I-I'm really proud of is, is the partnerships that we've built. You know, the partnership with [inaudible 00:39:54], very early in the piece was, was pivotal to us. Dislodging our established competitor at Team Sky, becoming their exclusive data and analytics partner is uh, is a massive achievement.
And our first, uh, managed service cloud agreement with Stages who are the, the biggest manufacturer of power meters in the world was a, was an enormous achievement for us.
Jonathan Doyle: I'm incredibly stoked for you. I'm just pumped listening to it. I-I, take us to the original Canberra connection. Your offices are here, but how did the Canberra connection emerge for you guys?
Ben Bowley: Right. Well those three guys that have worked together previously so Matthew, James and Andrew, were all in Canberra. And that's just, just where we've formed the company.
Jonathan Doyle: So you're based at Sydney at the moment, but I know that, uh, you've been here today and winter in Canberra, and I know that this weather is, is really pulling your heart strings and, and there's probably a good chance...Northern Beaches of Sydney is overrated really, when you can have a Canberra winter.
Ben Bowley: (laughs) Lucky I got used to it living at Bathurst in boarding school for six years.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah, that would be worse. Just tell me, y-you know, you're obviously really proud of your people, which is wonderful thing to hear, and you can hear it and, and see it in you. J-just quickly, your culture there, how do you explain it? You know, there's obviously a minimum number, or no office psychopaths, there's obviously it's a exciting business to be in. It's an interesting business. Explain your culture to us. How do you reinforce it, is it conscious [inaudible 00:41:13] deliberate or is it just good people being good people? What's the essence of your culture?
Ben Bowley: Uh, look, I think we're all passionate about the domain. Uh, you know, w-we're passionate about cycling, or triathlon, or you know, we're into our sport. Uh, that's really important, it's a great starting point, uh, we like to go for a ride together. We don't do it as often as we should. You know, one of the tough things about being a small business punching above its weight, you know, 72% of our customers come from outside Australia.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah.
Ben Bowley: And so we're, always busy and so, we don't down tools often enough and just hop on our bikes. But, I-I think our culture is about being open and, and honest, and trying to be constructive. You know, just open communication, I think paints the clear vision of w-where we're going and gets the best out of people.
Jonathan Doyle: I want to ask you a couple final things. So, we always ask people here, is about how you manage yourself personally as a business operator? You've worked in some interesting places, and you're in a real upswing in your career and, and with what you're building. How do you manage your own time, like when you walk in the front door, Michelle who's built Intelledox, she said that, you know, for her it's about landing planes. She says she comes in, and she's with a team, and she's like, "Right we got one 747 here but that's okay for half an hour, we've got one we gotta get on the ground now".
So when you walk in the morning, h-how do you plan your own days? How, how do you maximize your own leverage? How do you use your self most effectively? How do you run your own day?
Ben Bowley: Okay so, I have, uh, I run lists.
Jonathan Doyle: Do ya?
Ben Bowley: Because my memory's just the place I like to forget things. So if I don't have it written down, it's not gonna happen. So, uh, I write myself lists of the big things that I need to get done. And the small things, because the small things are important to different people. It could be, uh, a casual employee who wants uh, who wants a couple of t-shirts to wear because he's proud of working for the company.
You know, that's important for him. That's as important as me talking to, uh, Trek or Sky. So I, I write things down, I make the list. I prioritize my own time, and then, I'm thinking about, and you know, Andrew and I spend a fair bit of time thinking about, uh, how we're gonna make this staff productive. You know, you've got short, medium, long term goals. And then, you know, the days, what we're doing for that day falls into that. We do a daily stand up meeting in the, in the morning, which is a bit of a software thing. Short, 10-15 minute meetings where people are, you know, w-we're talking about what everyone is up to.
You know, the big things. It's not a, we're not talking about the, the getting dressed and coming to work (laughs). We're talking about the, uh, you know, the important the things are up to, and any blockers that they've got. That's how we, as a company we, we manage our time right through the company.
Jonathan Doyle: And are you, uh, are you a morning person or a night person?
Ben Bowley: I'm a morning person.
Jonathan Doyle: Really?
Ben Bowley: I like to get up at 5, I like to be on the bike at 5:30 ideally. And nothing, you know, i-in an arduous Sydney winter where temperature slips below ten degrees, uh there's, on the coast, know it really is beautiful. And it's beautiful anywhere watching the sun come up, seeing the first rays of light, you know. As a friend of mine says, "It sets up your day". And it's, uh, it's really true and, you know, that's important for us. I, it's important for me personally, to have that time on the bike where I can just think, and think about the day ahead. Think, you know, get the endorphins running.
We're proud of w-where we've been as a business. But, w-we've now got really much bigger growth aspirations because we've just launched multi sport. That over doubles, or maybe trebles our market.
Jonathan Doyle: Wow.
Ben Bowley: But we wanna increase the way people can use our tools. Making them as easy to use as navigations, and we wanna open our addressable market massively. So, you know, I said earlier we might have 100 priorities and the resources to do ten. Well, we've probably got 150 priorities and the resources to do ten. So, you know, w-we've gotta focus very carefully, you know, o-on the things we do to make sure we're hitting home runs.
Jonathan Doyle: Well something I wanted to ask before was, w-with all this complexity and opportunity, and possibility, you are a data driven guy, you do love the tech and the analytics side, i-intuition for you. Is there e-ever a point where you go, "I'm not sure, but I'm gonna go this way", w-where does intuition come in for you in business?
Ben Bowley: I-intuition comes in when I'm dealing with people.
Jonathan Doyle: It does?
Ben Bowley: You know, the g-gut feel. If you've got a gut, gut, bad gut feel about someone, listen to your gut. That's, that's my thing. But other than that, I try to be data driven. I try to listen to others, and take those things into account. I-I try not to make gut decisions on things we can use data for because, otherwise I think you're driven by your own perspective. Rather than, you know, a b-broader view of the world.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah. You said something I really liked i-in the notes, it was I asked you what you most enjoy about your work, and what's most enjoyable. And you said, well it's dealing with people. The next question was, what is the hardest thing you've faced, and you said, dealing with people. And you had this great line, where you said, "They don't always go in the direction you want".
Ben Bowley: Yeah, that's right.
Jonathan Doyle: So, what do you enjoy about humans? What do you enjoy about pitching, about meeting people, about traveling and, y-you must get to meet some interesting people? You know, why aren't you sitting in a library or, you know, writing, doing something else? Like, what do you like about humans?
Ben Bowley: Well, I-I think we're all wired differently. A-and my, my strength is dealing with people. You know that's, that's a big role for me and the team. I mean, you asked earlier about the different personality types and important role of what I do is, is bringing the team together. As, as the leader of the business. And so, uh, you gotta use those skills outside as well, and deal with partners and, and make the relationships that are gonna set us up for the future.
Because, you know, b-business has to be done on a fair degree of trust. I mean, you can have the best lawyers in the world, you know, we don't have the money to have the best lawyers in the world. So, so we've really gotta build good relationships, uh, have very clear communication with our partners, and then that lets us set up the deals and, uh, relationships that we need in the future to make us really successful.
Jonathan Doyle: But there seems to be something in you, that when you, when you go to meet people, y-you're not striking me as the kind of guy that's like, "How can we maneuver this person to get what"... You know, y-you're obviously more of a win win thinker. One of my favorite entrepreneurs talks about think, uh, 51-49, you know. You give the other person 51, like what's your mindset? When you come into pitch, when you come into explain your vision, your platform, your offering, you obviously, y-you're not trying trick people at all. You're-
Ben Bowley: No. In fact, you know, I'd say that's something I've learnt from Matthew is, is what we're doing and our product, and our vision of our manage cloud services is not for every other business. Our products not for every other consumer. And trying to force fit it to that, and trying to make a bad deal, is much worse than no deal at all.
Jonathan Doyle: Sure.
Ben Bowley: Because one of the enemies you have as a small business, is spending too much time on the wrong things. That's, in fact, that's probably the biggest enemy. And so, if you have a bad partnership, i-it chews so many calories. You know, i-it can be the death of you. So, just be upfront. Tell them the good and the bad and, and what we think we add to the deal. And what we're looking for to get out of the deal, and it's not about trying to trick them or maneuver them or, or anything like that. It's, uh, looking to see if there's a deal that really is win win out of it.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah, synergy. Alright, last couple of things was to ask you, what keeps you going? Like, you're still young, but you're also, a-at a more advanced age in your business journey. Like you're not, you didn't come in, i-in flip flops at 21 saying, "Dude", you know, you've seen a lot of the business world. I'm interested in what keeps you going? There's a huge amount of energy required for business operators, and leaders, and entrepreneurs, to keep going. So, i-it's obviously an exciting time. You've got a great business but, but what, wh-why are you still in the game? Why are you not backing off? What keeps you moving forward, what are you looking forward to?
Ben Bowley: I-I just need my mind to be active. Uh, you know, wh-when I sold a business about ten years ago, it was the aviation one you mentioned, I took some time off. My kids were on school holidays, summer school holidays, it was fantastic. You know, a couple of months off. We took a holiday. We, you know, spent time with the kids. We did this, they went back to school, you know, I did some jobs around the house, it was great.
And a couple weeks later, kinda tapping your fingers, saying, "What's next?". Uh you know, you know some people, I've had this conversation with a friend the other night, and you know, he can't wait to do nothing. To ride his bike to the beach, and go for a coffee. Well, I do that. I just get up at 5:30 and do it, so I'm at my desk at 7:30. So I-I don't aspire f-for that. You know this to me, is life. I enjoy this. I-I love what I do.
My Dad worked until he was 76, so I'd like to out-do him. I'd like to be 80. You know, you know keeping your mind active is really important, and I-I don't necessarily wanna work the sort of hours, and the intensity tI work now. But, y-you know, those things are important to me. So that, that drives me a lot. You know, personally and financially, I have, uh, my wife and I have a special needs daughter. I wanna make sure that she's set up for the rest of her life when, when we're too old or we die. Uh, you know, I'd hate to think she wasn't taken care of. So, those things, uh, motivate me.
Jonathan Doyle: Keep you going. Keep you focused. Oh, uh, it just occurred to me to ask you, y-you are still very young, there's a long way to go. But, intuitively, what do you think you want your business legacy to be?
Ben Bowley: I-I think I'd like us to be known as the company that turned structured training on its head. Uh, the made, we've truly made it accessible to the masses. That people have that light bulb, you know, moment that I had, you know, d-doing that Convict 100 race.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah.
Ben Bowley: That's the legacy we'd like for our business. We wanna bring the same technology, sports science and tools that are available to the worlds best athletes and coaches to the every man and woman.
Jonathan Doyle: So when Today's Plan is a massive global phenomena, which I think it could be with what you've got and, and the people you've got. So you'll have the little office in, uh, in Canberra, and y-you'll have head office in [inaudible 00:50:42] or somewhere, and I want you to imagine that it's your farewell. You've got the gold watch, what do you think your people say about you? What would you like to, what would you like to hear?
Ben Bowley: Gee. I-I don't, I-I wouldn't like to hear anything. I'm not, I'm not [crosstalk 00:50:55], you know.
Jonathan Doyle: Really?
Ben Bowley: You know, I'm really not. I-I'd like to think I've, t-that I've helped people develop is what I'd like to hear. I just clarify for you, we're here in Canberra, you know, t-this is a great place to do business and, this is our head office. We have not intention to move from here because of fantastic business community that's here. It's very special, you don't realize it, a-and you know, you come in as an outsider, as I have, just how strong it is. It's fantastic.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah, that's what I found doing the podcast is, is just, I was like, you know my good friends at Senator, and asked him, "You know, what's, uh, what're businesses here", and you know, he gave me some insights. But it's only talking to people like yourself, and Michelle, and Louise, and other people that I've gone, "Hang on, there's some people here really having a crack and doing big stuff", and especially Michelle with Intelledox, similar to you guys.
When you mentioned before punching above your weight, she said that like 30 times. She just said, you know, small Canberra tech start ups.
Ben Bowley: Yes, yes. Yes I listened to her talking about it, every time they, they say we've won a deal. So it's, it's a big competitor comes after them to shoot her down. Tough.
Jonathan Doyle: Yeah. So, last thing, I wanted to ask you, like I ask each person who comes on, if you can imagine being in a room with a hundred young starry eyed business operators, and entrepreneurs, starting up, and you could offer them three pieces of advice from your journey so far about business. Uh, what would you say to them? What are the three key things you think would be helpful to people to hear in their businesses now, or starting out?
Ben Bowley: Okay. I think the first one is, you know, it's gonna be hard. A-and you're gonna take, you're really gonna have to stick at it. Above and beyond anything you imagined. So, it's, you've gotta have a lot of perseverance, and if you don't have that, you should rethink y-your choice.
The second one I'd say to them is, when they deal with people, whether it be their staff, or partners or whatever. That, that assume that everyone has something to offer. And it's your job as a leader to get that something out of them. And if you don't get something out of them, they're not contributing or growing to your business, maybe they've failed. But maybe you've failed as a leader as well. And of course, not everyone's worked in our business. Not everyone's with us, that's joined us. I-It's just a fact of life, a-and I take that as, as a personal failure as well. I-I haven't got the best out of that person that's maybe possible.
And I think the third one, is, maybe obvious, but it's often overlooked by the, by the kind of starry eyed and, and glitter and the dreams. Is you gotta have a financial plan, and that financial plan needs to be very, very conservative. Because things always cost a lot more, they take a lot longer, and your revenue growth, and your customer growth is, you know, is just slower than you hoped, and you think. So you can see some real great signs of life but, but your revenue and whatever may be lower.
And so, you need to have a financial plan to deal with that. And that could be, perhaps you, you and your wife, your husband, are doing the business, and one of them's gonna stay at work. And the other ones gonna run the business and, and it's that salary that's gonna drive the household financials and, and there's gotta be a plan or you're gonna raise some money from angels. Whatever it is. But you can't deny the financial, d-don't put your head in the han-sand with the financial plan. You gotta have a very, very conservative financial plan because a lot of good ideas just die by withering on the vine through, through lack of financial nutrition.
Jonathan Doyle: My friend, I want to thank you for making the time for us. You know, you've been with family and you've had a very busy day. I love what're you doing. I-I just think the way y-you've articulated just the simple idea, t-that vast numbers of people can improve performance through using technology. Using the Today's Plan platform in new ways. I'll take 23% improvement, right, I don't care, I don't know what [inaudible 00:54:32] is, I'm going. I-I'll be straight on the internet after this.
Mate, thanks for, thanks for building business, I'll say that for the people. Thanks for, you know, growing a business, providing salaries, helping, you know, allowing other people to pay mortgages and school fees, and growing the Commonwealth and the nation, just by entrepreneurship and your leadership in business.
I'm gonna give people plenty directions of where to find Today's Plan, and to get in touch with a little bit of your story. But, very best of luck to you guys, to your whole team, you deserve every success. It's a necessary, useful and excellent product, and I wish you every success.
Ben Bowley: Thank you very much Jonathon. Thanks for having me on your show. I-It's, uh, been a real pleasure.
Jonathan Doyle: Thanks mate.
Hey everybody, Jonathon with you again. How good was that, huh? Uh, another great interview with a great business person creating such good results in the national capital. Another Canberra business success story, there was so much in that. I loved his attention to data, to his decision making processes, to how relates to his own people, to his thoughts on the tech space in general, how technology is a real game changer.
There's just so much this company is gonna do, so I hope that you extracted some value there. Please make sure you subscribe. I mentioned that at the start, please make sure you hit the subscribe buttons. Do me favor, and just share this episode with a few people. Would you grab the link, and just share it with people who need to be encouraged in their business journey, who may, you know, [inaudible 00:55:56] derive some benefit from Ben's wisdom.
Look, check out Today's Plan. Go to their website, and look at what they're doing. If you're into any kind of sport, if you're into fitness and wellbeing, they're really worth, it's really worth knowing what Today's Plan is really doing. It's a great website, very simple, very intuitive. So go and check out Today's Plan, check out the other links in the show notes. Check out the Canberra Executive Coaching website, that's my company there. We like to, uh, talk about tailored seminars. Some, uh, motivational speaking, anything that would really help your staff push through their issues, and prove their own level of performance.
Make sure to get in touch with me. So, that's it for this week. Thanks to Ben Bowley. Thanks to Today's Plan. We're gonna have another great guest for you next week. I'm Jonathon Doyle. This has been the Canberra Business podcast. I'll speak to you again next week.