Interview with Simon Bedard, CEO of the Exit Advisory Group on Exit Planning, Financial Freedom and His Troubled Youth

On this week’s episode, I interview Simon Bedard, CEO & Founder of Exit Advisory Group. Simon has had over two decades of experience in finance, investment, energy and technology sectors. Being an avid entrepreneur himself, he spends his time helping business owners build value and achieve their exit goals through his advisory service. In this podcast, we talk about definitions of financial freedom, Simon’s childhood and his relationship with money from an early age right through to his current situation.

Connect with Simon:
00:00 – Introduction to the Show
01:22 – Simon’s Background and Mission
04:26 – Discussion on ROI (Return of Investment)
05:58 – How Simon got where he is today
10:14 – Where to look and how to make money
13:53 – The struggles and hardships as an entrepreneur
17:00 – Definition of financial freedom
20:57 – Outro

What is Return on Investment (ROI)?

Simon talks about a concept called the “triple bottom line” – something he learnt while working in the green energy sector, which encompasses not only the financial impact of your business but also the social and environmental impact that should be measured. Also, he mentions that you also need to consider the total cost of ownership when in business – this would involve the cost of both holding it and the potential opportunity costs associated with it.

Most importantly, the point of the triple bottom line is to ensure you take a holistic approach to business and understand what it means to you and the people around you to generate wealth and be in business.

How did money show up for you in your youth?

Simon came from a working-class family of low-to-middle income bracket and had a troubled youth. He cheekily mentioned that he was the kid that had his peers been surveyed about “who would most likely end up in jail?”, that his name would likely pop up!

Fortunately, he was plucked from his troubled youth by an excellent family friend who recognised that he wasn’t a bad person but just in a bad situation. He had the fortuitous opportunity to enrol in one of Sydney’s best high schools, and this was his first exposure into wealth in a different way and the power of having someone willing to invest in him.

Since then, he’s learnt and understood that wealth, investment and the relationship with money should be about what money allows you to do and the doors it opens.

Was there a time in your life that you felt money was easy to make?

His first business was as a seven-year-old living in the Concord area picking up golf balls around Canada Bay, washing them and then selling them to people.

By high school, he was buying things from the shops and selling them to homes.

He also used to wash cars to make money, and his elder sisters called him “The Capitalist”.

So it wasn’t so much that he felt money was easy to make but that he inherently could identify problems that needed to be solved and finding people who would be willing to pay for the help.

Here’s the critical learning – the theme around spot where there was a need or a problem isn’t limited to an entrepreneur. Anybody can do it.

Too often, people go out and start businesses they’re passionate about without any thought on whether there’s a desire or a market for it.

If you find that you need to create a market for your business product or service, think again.

Based on what you’ve been saying, people can easily misinterpret it as you saying money can be easy to make, and you can make it appear that you’ve never been through financial stress. What would you say to that?

Simon talks about how magazines and the media always talk about success as if it were “overnight” success, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. With every “overnight” success, there are about 20 or 30 years of hard work before the “overnight” success came about.

After he first stepped out of the corporate world and left his job, with a pregnant wife and borrowing a significant amount of money, he started his own company. It wasn’t fool-hardy, but instead, it was calculated risk – risk nonetheless.

Simon makes a critical point that every single business owner has been through this – if you haven’t had a few nights lying in bed because you’re unable to sleep because you’re not sure if your business is going to make it, then you probably haven’t been in business. And he’s had plenty of those nights.

What makes it worthwhile and successful is the amount of planning, thinking, flexibility and adaptability. Most importantly, don’t do it alone.

What does financial freedom look like to you?

Simon: having enough money to do whatever you want whenever you want.

The numbers and answers to this question will be different for every single person.

But for him, he’s never felt the need to drive a Ferrari to feel successful nor stay in the fanciest hotel when travelling. He’s not aiming to be the wealthiest people in the graveyard but have the most experiences, which money is needed to achieve this.

He often asks his clients – what do you want for your life? What’s important to you? Because no one is born to do business or to make money, you’re born to live.

Therefore, your business and investment strategies should be a vehicle for delivering you the life that you want.

Salena: To add to this, achieving financial freedom should be formulaic with a well-thought plan designed around crucial conditions that need to be met so that you know where the goalposts are. If not, then you find yourself continually moving the goalposts and trying to achieve nirvana which can never be reached.

Simon finally finished off by adding that you should know your “number” – a dollar value that you assign to different aspects of your goal and then have a plan to measure it.

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