6 Questions with Shrad Rao, Founder of Wagepoint

Shrad Rao is the Founder and CEO of Wagepoint, an online payroll software solution for small businesses across North America.

1. First of all, can you tell us a little about your role and what you do at Wagepoint?

Wagepoint is cloud-based payroll software built just for small business in the US & Canada and backed by the world’s friendliest support.

I run the company, as CEO – which means that I am basically the keeper of all the headaches. JK  – though only partially!

The job of the CEO is to help everyone else in the company succeed at their jobs. This starts from making sure that you have the right people in the right jobs all the way to setting the tone for the culture of the company.

While employees of the company are the ultimate curators of culture, for e.g. it really is intrinsic to every employee as to whether they decide to participate – it is your job to make sure that you are guiding and rewarding the behaviours that promote a positive experience of the company’s culture.

In our case, giving customers fast and friendly support experience is something we ‘hang our hat’ on so, we make sure our team is in a good place to deliver on that promise is a big part of my job.

Also, I always stay connected to the customer by making it a point to sell or talk to prospects/ customers as often as possible. The biggest mistakes people make is when they forget to put the customers needs ahead of the business.

2.What is the biggest problem you see early stage startups make with their payroll management, and have you got any tips you can share?

The biggest problem with payroll tends to be that many startups don’t anticipate that they need to have a fair bit of information before they are fully complaint.

For example, you have to register with your state to get a State ID so that we are able to send them the company’s taxes. However, a lot of people forget to do that and end up playing catchup.

So it’s just about taking the time to understand what needs to be done to manage your payroll successfully. We are here to help with exactly that.

3. What are some of the mistakes you have made with Wagepoint that other founders can hopefully learn from?

How much time do you have to read this? Haha! Just like most people, I didn’t have a lot of experience in starting and building companies so I’ve had to learn on the job. That means, two steps forward and one step back.

Here are a few experiences I have learned from:

Funding – It’s really important to know exactly where you intend to get with your first round of funding. The size of the cheque itself doesn’t matter as much as the story you are going to tell after you exhaust it.

The second round is a lot harder if you didn’t set clear expectations with the first round. Example: Our hypotheses is that we will use $200K to build 5 features and get at least 10 customers.

Marketing – No matter what anyone outside agency or expert tells you, you have to learn Marketing. Or at the very least, you have to have a very good understanding of it. We have wasted over $40K hiring outsiders to help guide us through the process.

In the end, we realized that we had to understand it ourselves to even begin to resource the marketing tasks at hand. Nobody from the outside will ever know, understand or care about your business like you and marketing is the communication of everything that makes you (your company) who you are. So, how can anyone else really do the job?

Process – Figuring out which jobs to keep in-house and which ones to outsource is crucial. E.g., you might want to outsource illustrations for marketing purposes but keep product design in-house.

For startups, breaking up tasks so that they can be done simultaneously as opposed to in a linear format might make the difference between life or death.

4. Let’s talk you – what apps, software, and tools can’t you live without?

I love metrics and data. So the usual suspects like Google Analytics and Hubspot make the list. We use Groove for our support ticketing software and since exceptional support is a huge part of our life, we track reporting on it like nobody’s business.

We love Slack because, as a remote team, it allows us to stay plugged into each other.

5. What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?

Waking up early. Maybe it’s very obvious to people but most millennials I know have a hard time with it. The couple of hours that I get in the morning help me frame the rest of the day.

When I sleep in, that’s usually when I find that I am a bit more distracted. Also, I never work on a Saturday. I don’t even think about work. If I have to put in weekend hours, it’s on a Sunday morning. Downtime is essential and entrepreneurs who don’t get that will burn out real quick.

6. What resource have you watched/read/listened to that’s had the biggest impact on your business/life so far this year, and why?

I would say my all-time favourite are Mixergy interviews and courses by Andrew Warner. Startups can be a lonely, all-consuming love affair. It helps to get perspective by hearing other entrepreneurs tell their story, including both the ups and downs.

The best conversation I had this year was with Steve Bristol, one of the founders of LessAccounting. It was an honest chat about what it really means to be successful and he put it best when he said: The business (marketing) problem is the problem of business.

As in, that’s the only thing you, as a businessperson, is trying to solve for – all the other stuff is just the noise in getting there.

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