Bill Walton, who grew up on a large ranch south of Walsenburg, has always been interested in business. After attending seminary, he became a small-town youth pastor but also followed his entrepreneurial ambitions.
Walton started his first business at 23, the year he got out of college. He’s now CEO of Accelerated Wealth, a growing company in northern Colorado Springs that has offices around the country.
Faith plays a big part in the life Walton shares with his wife, Nathalie, and their three children: Mikey, 16, Alec, 12, and Juliette, 10.
He spoke with the Business Journal about his journey from the ranch to his office and how his responsibilities have changed as the company has grown.
How did Accelerated Wealth begin?
I started the company in 2007 as Walton Financial and about a year and a half later we incorporated under the name Accelerated Wealth. We started here with a local office; there were two of us and we had one staff and it’s grown now to 16 offices in six states, and about 20 employees here in the Springs office. We’re not looking to mass-produce across the country. We like to work with really good people and so our growth has been very organic and relational. Our heart is to really serve the community we’re in.
Why is there a plaque of Deuteronomy 28 in the office?
That set of verses really framed for me the mindset of how you do business. Deuteronomy 28 is the explanation of the blessing of God. … The word bless or blessing means to have power to prosper. So those verses explain God’s desire to bless us. … That plaque is in all of our offices. It’s something that’s foundational for us as a company. That plaque is very meaningful to me personally as well as the cornerstone of Accelerated Wealth.
Where are your other offices, and what is your responsibility to those?
The national office is here in Colorado Springs and we’re also in Missouri, Michigan, Florida, Kentucky and Alabama. Accelerated Wealth is the mother company, if you will, and it’s the name we market under. Accelerated Wealth Advisors is the registered investment adviser. We do have compliance and oversight that is our responsibility. They’ll sign an affiliate agreement and have access to our name — it’s very similar to a franchise — and our product line, our methodology of planning. What I really love about it is on an individual basis they own their own practice. Entrepreneurship is just a passion of mine.
Where are you from?
I was born in Walsenburg and grew up east of Aguilar — about halfway between Walsenburg and Trinidad — on a ranch that was about 100,000 acres. We ran about 10,000 cattle and grew the hay for them, so it was a ranch and a farm. I have six brothers and we were the ranch hands. I cannot say enough about my parents, Jack and Patricia Walton, and the foundation they gave us, a foundation of faith and hard work and family — the key underpinnings to help you grow up to succeed in life.
What are your day-to-day duties and how has that changed over the years?
As we’ve grown nationally, my role has definitely changed. When we started out, 99 percent of my time and efforts were individually with clients. Now my time is more focused on national growth. I’m still working day-to-day with my clients but also have a percentage of time that is spent driving the vision of the company. I’ve kind of got this dual thing and I enjoy it because it allows me to lead from the front. I’m not just in a role of telling people how to do it; I do it day-to-day. So I’m in the mix with all the advisers, and I really enjoy that. We have such a wonderful team and we have three other advisers who are just top-notch.
What leadership lessons could you provide for other businesses?
Leadership is something I’ve focused on since I graduated from college. … A leader must have a winning attitude. A leader must look at the obstacles that come at you on a day-to-day basis, making the profit and loss work, and the hiring and firing and all the things that come with business. Business leaders have so many pressures and obstacles that can come their way. Everybody has challenges; a victor will find a way to win. The cornerstone goes back to Deuteronomy 28. I start my day with speaking Deuteronomy 28 and it talks of how the Lord gives you power to win in life. And you end the day with that. As a leader, your attitude will determine the direction of your company.
What else do you want people to know about you?
My childhood being raised as a cowboy and a farmer; it’s a very important piece to me. We were back there last week when I took some of our team and we went horseback riding on the ranch. It was so neat to be out there. I love to spend my time challenging myself, working out in the gym. Part of it is if I didn’t do that I’d grow pretty large. It’s a very good stress reliever. I enjoy my time in the gym where I compete against myself.