Episode 52: Wize Factor Chat: Jennifer Hickey - TaxStore
“Time is so precious… Our time is something that nobody can change. Everybody gets the same amount of time, but it's what we choose to do with that every day.”
In this episode of The Wize Guys Podcast pilots its WizeFactorChat with one of the WizeTribe members, Jennifer Hickey is a successful accountant and the owner of an accounting and bookkeeping firm business, the TaxStore Mackay in Queensland, Australia.
Today, Jennifer talks about her experience with Wize Mentoring programs and how investing in herself personally was a turning point in her life and business. She highlights some of the Wize Philosophies: no-blame culture, deep and narrow teams, tech stack, and leadership training that helped her achieve success and continue to improve her business.
Tune in to this inspiring episode to learn more about Jennifer’s success story, Wize’s impact on her life, and everything she has gone through to have her business run without her!
0:00 - Intro
0:35 - Jennifer’s Wize journey
11:50 - How Wize Philosophies has helped Jennifer
15:39 - Listen to Jennifer’s Wize words
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Download the full transcript here.
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Wize Claudia: I actually wanted to talk a bit about your journey with Wize, pre-Wize, and how this has impacted your life and your business, starting from your business. I would love to hear when you started your business and why that was the reason that you started it.
Jennifer Hickey: Yeah, so I've got a story that is, you know, everyone has a story.
So, if we go right back, leave school at year 10, you know, couldn't get out of school quick enough because no one could tell me what to do. I wanted to be my own boss and was very quickly into business at 17 and had an ice cream Gelardi van that I bought, and I sold ice creams along the river, and you know, a really fun thing that I did. And got into retail from there to hospitality, traveled a bit, and found myself doing business management through a franchise system, Pizza Hut.
Then went into ski fields at Mount Hotham, Queensland, like Victoria for about 10 years there. I had my own businesses up there, restaurants and five-star restaurants, like fine dining restaurants. And just because one restaurant wasn't enough. I had two restaurants. Another cafe as well. So that was where my business acronym and my business drive came from and my passion for business.
So from then, I found my husband and children, so a little bit of time away from business life. Then time traveled on a little bit to Mackay. Then my husband went from Mackay, which is in Queensland, and he ended up in Darwin and I was left alone with two children. So, at that point, it's like, well what do you do? I'm on my own with two kids. I need to do something. And the only way out of poverty, and that's really where I was at the time, is you need to educate. Somehow, I found myself at TAFE and then at university and then did my accounting degree during that time and put myself through that training. I don't really know how I did that. I sort of look back and go, it was pretty amazing, two young children and to put yourself through full-time study and try and work. So I cleaned houses and I did what it took to have enough money to be on the table. Through that time, I met one of my cleaning clients say, ‘Why don't you do some books for me?’ So, from that, it built from, so I started from my house, I was doing people's books and turned into a bookkeeping practice and that's where accountant ready services was born. That's my bookkeeping practice.
And then that bookkeeping practice for about 10 years. I used to make a lot of accountants really rich. I used to refer all the accounting work to accountants, and I went, this is really crazy. Like I just give away so many clients to accountants. And I went and then the tax Entrepreneur brain there, I just went, this is crazy like, and a lot of them wouldn't even really say thank you for that. They just took the clients and ‘Oh thanks Jen's giving me another one.’ There's another five grand out the door.
Anyway, so the tax door franchise opportunity came up and I sort of jumped at that opportunity about six years ago. Then I ended up with two practices. But they worked in collaboration so that you didn't have to be one client or the other. I probably cried for the first two years of taking on that franchise. It was traumatic. I've gone, what was I thinking? I can't do this. So, it was a horrible experience. And then, I couldn't even go into my office. It was just a lot to take on tax as well as bookkeeping and try and keep the balance. And I was still doing all the work. And then I had to do all the tax work and by myself and then a couple of bookkeepers and then I had to employ an accountant, but I couldn't afford an accountant, so I had to sacrifice my wage for a while.
So then that fast forward sort of, I think it's about five or six years into the TaxStore, basically, it was crawling my way. And by the time the whys came around, it's interesting, my Wize story. I've known Ed Chan back 20 years ago. His company Chan and Naylor did my tax return when I was doing some business dealings with properties and stuff like that. So, his company, Ian Cito was my accountant. It's amazing. I've been to a few events, and I've been to the Pymble office and met Ed. He probably wouldn't remember me. But anyway, I met Ed and Jamie Johns. So, Jamie with Sky somehow through media marketing, whatever. I used to rip off his newsletter all the time and use all the information out of the newsletter to help feed my clients. I would take it, obviously, but I would change it around a bit. But you know, he had this great newsletter. So, I've known about Sky for a really long time. So that's two out of three and Brenton. Brenton just happens to come from Bakers Creek, which is just down the road from where I live, like less than an hour.
Wize Claudia: I immediately thought, I know she's from Brisbane as well. I know they're from Queensland. But maybe it's like, it's a huge state. I mean there's no relation, but look at That, the three Wize men, somehow, they all connected to you in different times.
Jennifer Hickey: It's the universe bringing us together. This is my dream. So, let's see what my motivation is. I don't even feel like it's a motivation. I don't feel like it's work. I feel like it's destiny, which is, it seems bizarre. That's why I'm so into it because look at my whole life has come, it's like almost my whole life has come to this. I've had the journey.
So, the Wize journey, I think I mean I don't even really know, I think it's about a year now I've been in the program. But what happened was, so financially for me to be able to afford the program, the WizeGrowth, to jump from WizePulse. So I was in WizePulse to go from WizePulse to WizeGrowth, that investment of a couple of thousand dollars a month. I thought it was, that's outta my reach like that.
Wize Claudia: Yeah. Far away.
Jennifer Hickey: It's too far away. But I was lucky enough to get a grant opportunity through CoVid Grant. So, I received a grant of $15,000. I haven't got the money yet. I've been doing the course. The grant money's coming for the first year. Well, that's gonna offset more than half of the investment. And I go, even if I just do one year. But I was thinking that if I did, I know I wanted to be committed for two because you can see, see this program, it's not McDonald's. It's not instant. It's work. It's every day. It's like you need to be on point. If you're not in, forget it. If you're not gonna do the work every day, don't bother. Don't waste everybody's time. Don't waste the mentor's time. Don't waste time. Like if you really want change and I was going to die if I didn't do something like that, and I don't mean that flippant way, I mean that literally my health would have been completely shot.
Wize Claudia: Okay.
Jennifer Hickey: Or I would've quit my business completely because I was right at that shitty point of that 500, 400, 600,000 where it's just like I cannot do it brute force anymore. I just can't. So Wize came and took that load from me and has shown me a path that I can now grow and learn through. And I am growing and learning through and I'm gonna get a bit emotional.
Wize Claudia: Go ahead. You're sharing amazing stuff.
Jennifer Hickey: It's something that it's not easy and I'm just listening to one of the ladies in the other group and I can just see I feel her pain and you know what? Time is so precious. I wanna bring the time in here. Our time is something that nobody can change. Everybody gets the same amount of time, but it's what we choose to do with that every day. And so now I do not wanna see how cool it would be.
I have a take on Ed's vision of if you just change one accountant at a time if you show one accountant at a time that there's a better way and a better life. That ripple effect is that we can be change agents in the world. The work that we are doing, the work that Wize is doing is work for the world. It's not just working for accountants. The ripple effect is because we as accountants in our practices affect so many lives. Our team's lives, our families, our team's families, our clients’ lives, and oh my goodness, their families. Like I'm getting goosebumps just talking about it. That is what our beautiful memories to leave. And it's a beautiful legacy that I can be a part of because that's what brings me joy. the money doesn't matter so much to me. That's not my driver. And that's a mindset thing.
Money is definitely important. And I never thought that I would be taking or looking at taking my business to a higher level. It's funny, they have the rooms and they go, ‘Are you under a million or over a million?’ I go, ‘Oh, I just wanna go to that over 1,000,001. What are they doing there? What's different in there? ‘ It's like sometimes I sneak in there, sometimes pretend I go, well I'm just doing that. The rule of 33, I'm just going up upper level so I wanna be up there.
Wize Claudia: You know, too much. Jennifer, you've hacked yourself into the Wize program really nice. You're getting more than anyone's getting out of this program.
Jennifer Hickey: I'm percent Sure. Seriously, it is like the value to me. And I can literally save my life. Like my husband will tell you the same, my children will tell you the same. Even though this morning I still got up at three 30 this morning. I don't do that every morning. I'd probably do that a few too many mornings. But I know that I have more time for myself and my family and that's what wise has given me. And that's what's most important.
I know that the deeper narrow teams that I'm building, the leadership training that we are doing within our group and all that every day, step by step, one thing at a time, and it's not even really one percenters. Like there's lots of things going on. It is a hundred percent guarantees that you will have success. Like there is no way you can fail none. Do the work, do the one percenters and you guaranteed success. So who wouldn't want a program like that? Like it doesn't matter what it costs, nobody cannot afford to do it if you are a sole practitioner. Because if you don't learn that there is another way that there is the deeper narrow teams there is putting the right piece and people in the bus. Like it's just like, it's so cool that you just listen to the same messages over and over again because then they become within you and then that is who you become.
Jennifer Hickey: And what we wanna become is we wanna be free from our business.
So, my plan is that’s my hope. I'm gonna turn 59 in October, I'm gonna have a year of celebration.
Wize Claudia: I love that!
Jennifer Hickey: Because it's my 60th year. So, in that year I am going to be able to travel to the outback and help some farmers in Australia. And I am still gonna have my business and my business is still going to run without me because I'm still gonna be able to check in and do my huddles in the morning, do my things, do a client call here there or whatever. Or at that point I might even be a Wize mentor. And so I go, that's my dream now.
So that I have freed myself up enough that I've got the right people in the right place on the bus. The teams are working together. And what's really important, our no-blame culture, that has been one of the biggest inputs that we've had. I'm blessed that my practice is youthful. So, I don't have a lot of legacy accountants. My heart goes out to accounting firms that are like 20 years old and 30 years old because the culture in those firms can be very toxic. And that would be like an almost insurmountable challenge to change. So that's where I'm lucky my practice is young enough that we've just developed and grown over the last three or four years. Now we have a team of 11 that we have really, we've workshopped a no blame culture. We all know what that is. I live it, I breathe it. And now what we are working on is our leadership to make sure our people that are in the leadership, people that they learn and build on those skills.
Wize Claudia: From what you were saying, I loved something that you said that really stuck with me when you said, because we are agents of change and you mentioned ‘we,’ you put yourself in that group. And I do agree.
Jennifer Hickey: Yeah.
Wize Claudia: You know that if you are living by the rule of 33%, there are many people that you might not look around and you don't see them looking at you, but they might look up to you, Jennifer, they might see your trail and say, ‘Wow, this woman has accomplished so much.’ And maybe you don't even know it, but you are also in the Wize spirit somehow helping others. So it's truly very powerful. I feel like you've gotten every single stage, what you were saying, the deep and narrow teams, the mindset shift, what you were saying with firms that have 30 years going on, they will hardly get or will be more resistant to the change that it takes to think differently. To no blame, to no-blame others to then no bypassing everything that it takes.
Jennifer Hickey: It's the tech stack. So that's the other biggest thing for me that's the other biggest shift is building the right tech stack that wise can give you those tools of here is what we use, this is what we do. And I'm very blessed that I've got Zach now in the quality division. Division four, that he's helping build out that tech stack and he loves Zapier, and we are doing some amazing stuff to keep our client communication whenever we win a new client. Now one of the questions we ask, and we go, ‘Well, what happened with your last account and why are you leaving?’ One thing that doesn't communicate with us is they don't return my calls. So I go, why is if you don't return a client's call, I'm gonna sack. No, but it's, you know, it's a warning. It is serious. So, in orientation we talk, it's like everybody knows and I'm looking, is that being returned because I want that in their DNA.
That has to be in your DNA. TaxStore has a tagline, simple smart solutions. Why is that? It's a simple smart solution. They have simple applications, simple, it's easy. No blame culture, build your tech stack, right? You know, it's those 1, 2, 3. Just do one thing at a time. That's it. And then you can't not be successful, and the investment is an underinvestment because of like the value really. Like if you look at the people will go, ‘Oh, I can't you know,’ ‘Nah, that's just outta my league.’ Some people would, or they've got a lot of money and they don't value the course enough to actually do the work. And I guess that's sort of the difference, that's what I see as being the difference between being a successful Wize member or not or as sort of like where are you on the spectrum here, here or here? ‘Ah, you know, I'm sort of half in, I want my staff to do it ‘cause I want to abdicate it, I wanna delegate it.’ Do you know what I mean? I'll just give it to them. They can do that for me. I can sit back and I can reap the benefit. No, that's a slow grind.
So, the grant for me was the tipping factor. May be actually no. I'm gonna rewind that. The grant was an important part of sometimes I don't give myself enough credit.
Wize Claudia: Yeah.
Jennifer Hickey: I remember now because it's funny you forget about the small decisions and the small turning point. I went, I'm gonna pay for this personally out of my own money for a year and not through the business because I didn't think the business could sustain the amount that's, I remember now that I had already made the decision that I was gonna do. I just had to tell my husband exactly what I was gonna do and he would not have said, don't invest in yourself because I was saying this is an investment in me because otherwise, I can't do this anymore. I need the experts to hold my hand and walk with me through the journey. And that's what we do. We walk together.
Wize Claudia: But before you go, I would like to get a wisdom word from you, something that really inspires you and that you would like to share with someone who sees you and who sees your journey.
Jennifer Hickey: It's all about knowledge is power. That's been my tagline. Knowledge is power and determination. So, there's another saying that discipline equals freedom. That is my other really wisdom stuff. The words that I use. So, knowledge is power. You must be educated to find your way out and that's what Wize brings education and discipline equal freedom. So, it's getting up every day and doing the work. Yeah. Because it's not gonna happen if you don't do the work.
Wize Claudia: Absolutely. I agree with you. Thank you so much.