Phil Usher is the Founder of Cheeky Investor, an online financial education site targeted for millennials. He is also a successful business advisor, mentor and professional speaker who promises to share the secrets and strategies of the most successful people from across the globe with clients, so they too can build wealth.
He has a vision to improve half the world’s wealth and generate 100,000 millionaires through business and finance education, knowing that people who are financially stable can afford to give back to those less fortunate.
Phil lives by the motto of always be curious, which has led to him to undertake professional wrestling training, run for a state election seat for the Labor party and become one of the only Indigenous treasurers for a national charity in Australia.
- Tell us about the journey that lead you to start your own business.
My first business I started was in the wedding industry. It was just a frustration I had when I was getting married – every weekend we were meeting up with the photographer or cake maker and during that time I was like ah, can’t this be done online? Can’t I talk to someone on social media or something? And then after my wedding, I pitched the idea to my brother-in-law. Essentially, it’s Expedia but for weddings, so you go on there and pay and book for your wedding online.
The funny thing was that he’d been married five years before and had a similar thought. He was a programmer, we coded up a website, and that’s how I first got into entrepreneurship.
Probably just out of frustration. Then we ended up acquiring other businesses and sold that business out, and I moved on to something I’m probably much better at.
Now I do financial education, and the target is mainly people under 40.
- Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Absolutely not. I came from an Aboriginal family and we grew up in the Aboriginal housing commission area. The idea of entrepreneurship or running a business or anything was so far from what we grew up with. That’s something that other people did and you just had no exposure to that area, so entrepreneurship was completely foreign.
I’ve just learned about it in the last 10 years and, to give you an idea of how naïve I was, I remember the first time – it was probably 8 years ago – that I actually learned about the process of raising capital and angel investors. I was just like, people are going to give you money for your business ideas; strangers hand over money for that! It just blew my mind completely.
So not at all; it wasn’t even in my vocabulary growing up. I just fell into it.
- What is one action or task you ensure you incorporate into your diary each week?
What I always do on a weekly basis is I get some guitar time in. I enjoy playing the guitar, for me it’s like a meditation type of process. You just block out the world and you are just there trying to learn that riff in that song, and you kind of get carried away performing that music.
The rhythm part of it is really structured, so it’s kind of like a meditation for me. It’s one of those things that uses both sides of the brain – there’s that structured part in your brain where you’re learning the song, you’re learning how the notes are put together, you’ve got the structures of the key and the solo and you understand how the artist has put it together. And then you can use the creative side which is really fun. You can do your own cover of that song in a different key, you might speed up the melody or slow it down and just change up a few different links as well. It’s one of those rare things – it’s got structure and you can also have some creativity and fun with it as well. So I definitely play the guitar at least once a week.
- What do you attribute your success to?
For me success is always a sort of a snapshot in time. I don’t think success is a definitive and end game. You could be a success this week and you could be investing in the stock market and it crashes that week. But I think success, from what I’ve gathered so far, is just from reading. Being a relentless reader. I wasn’t much of a reader in high school because we were into those fiction books and I just couldn’t get into that type of stuff. It wasn’t until I was living on the Central Coast, I was travelling to Sydney every day and had two to three hours of train time to kill. I started reading all these various non-fiction books.
I started reading because of my background; when I was 16, I just had that natural curiosity. I’m like, what other people have wealth and money and that type of stuff. It was just something I was interested in. I started reading and that’s the key thing for success – it’s just knowledge and knowing how to implement it, and just knowing what’s out there.
Like I said before, I had no idea that venture capital or angel investing existed until I started reading books and understanding it. I try and read some sort of a book regularly in less than a fortnight.
- Which local entrepreneur do you find inspiring?
There are probably about two people who I find inspiring. One’s relatively new, and that’s Jess Koncz, the Founder of Crave. It is the Tinder for food; it’s like a really cool idea. She’s just gets the business and understands the marketing and social media. She’s also really humble and I think she’s like 22 or something, which is also super inspiring.
The other one is – his name is Alfonso Muras. He runs the Napoli Central, the pizza place in Kings Street. His story is really inspiring. He came over here from Italy and just couldn’t find the pizza he grew up with, so he went back home, he learned from some of the best guys over there and then he came and brought that back to Newcastle. I was fortunate enough to travel to Italy last year and I could see that he really managed to capture that. I think that’s what entrepreneurship is, it’s just an extension of yourself and who you are personally, and he manages to capture that every single night of the week and creates this really good experience. His ability to do that is something that’s really inspiring.