Interview with 1st Payroll Owner, Eric Fournier

by | Oct 12, 2023 | Payroll Service Provider

  • Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities. 1st Payroll, Inc. is located in Amesbury, Massachusetts and provides Payroll, Timekeeping and HR services to small and mid-sized businesses. Our goal is to provide as much automation and efficiency as possible through customized technology and personalized service. Often it starts with payroll and tax compliance, but as you grow, between managing your workforce, accurate timekeeping, job costing, tracking paid-time-off, job-board recruiting, onboarding new hires, benefit administration, performance reviews, employee engagement, retirement reporting, etc…before you know it, there are too many places to do too many things. 1st Payroll helps you consolidate. With real-life, human support our team puts it all in one place by customizing a solution that solves the issues unique to your business and your people.
  • Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements). I was born, raised and educated on the North Shore of Massachusetts. After earning my Undergrad Degree from Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts, I decided to return to school to earn a post-grad degree, an MBA, as I was still searching for a passion. Part of my Masters’ program included some entrepreneurial course work. It was in these classes where I first realized my desire to create, nurture, grow and cultivate. Shortly after completing my MBA, I took the opportunity to work in the family business and study accounting. However, the only caveat to me joining the family business, was the simple fact that I needed to find new revenue in order to afford myself. At the time, the payroll side of the business was largely an afterthought at the family accounting firm, but there was a lot of potential. As the planning and initial action was successful, I had at least accomplished what I had set out to do – demonstrate the company could afford to keep me. However, starting and growing what eventually became 1st Payroll, Inc. dominated the landscape in the coming years. Since that time, the accounting practice has been sold, and Payroll, Timekeeping & HR are the sole areas of focus for us now.
  • What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about? See above
  • What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs? 1 – Be tenacious. Always ask questions. Never give up. 2. Don’t focus on the problem, focus on the solutions. Few times in life, the road blocks we run up against are immovable mountains. More often than not they are temporary hurdles. Rarely is a problem unsolvable. 3. Surround yourself with the right people. Entrepreneurs are often many things, but never can you be all of the things. Seek out others who have a complimentary skill set to yours. Find and empower those people who excel at your weaknesses. Someone who thinks differently or approaches problems from a different angle than you do allows you to gain insight from a perspective in which you were previously limited.
  • What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Creativity, Sales and Problem-Solving
  • How many hours do you work a day on average? 10
  • To what do you most attribute your success? Tenacity
  • How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing? In the early years, we did a lot of post card and mailer marketing. We had mailing lists in the thousands. At first we would design, print, fold, stuff, seal, label and postmark everything ourselves. As business grew, we started using mailing houses and varying our content. We did that for many years with a great amount of success. In addition to our mailers we have traditionally done a lot of network marketing. We’re members of our local chambers, Rotary Clubs, BNI and other referral networking groups. All of this has allowed us to build a good referral base of clients, bookkeepers, CPAs, financial advisors, insurance brokers, HR consultants and business attorneys who use us as their go-to referral.
  • Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture? We benefitted from starting 1st Payroll on the previously built foundation of our sister accounting firm. The core of the operation – labor, hardware, software, brick and mortar, utilities, etc. were already covered or being shared by the accounting business. Regardless, everything was very bootstrap in the first couple of years as we built up our payroll clientele base.
  • What is the best way to achieve long-term success? Continuity and diversification
  • Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years? In 10 years, 1st Payroll will still be here. As it did in the preceding 10 years, I think the next 10 years will bring a lot of change to the landscape of payroll, payroll tax compliance, HR Regulations, etc. With those changes, 1st Payroll will continue to invest, grow and empower our clients with the best technology and consultation they’ve come to expect from us over the last 2 decades. The only thing that won’t change is the expectation of our team providing personalized service to our clients when they need a real-life, human being solving their real-life problem.
  • How important have good employees been to your success? Good people are the only reason for success. You can have the best service or item in the world, but if you don’t have the right people in the right places to sell it, build it, embrace it, support it or develop it, it’s completely worthless. We were blessed with good people to start with, we focus on identifying them when adding new ones to our team, and we have the same mentality with our employees as we do with our clients; we do everything we possibly can for them and then some.
  • What motivates you? I really enjoy the feeling of growth and accomplishment and I also really enjoy problem solving. I think both can go hand in hand, and often times the desire to grow as well as growth itself can present many problems that need solving. Your business, your project, your sales goals, or whatever it may be is constantly growing, shifting and evolving and the challenge is to anticipate, prepare for and solve the accompanying problems as efficiently and effectively as possible.
  • How do you generate new ideas? In the early days, we relied heavily on post card and direct mail marketing. As years passed, our efforts in network referral marketing paid off as we have built a base of referral partners. We’re now putting a lot of investment and focus into our website and SEO marketing.
  • How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life? Balance is important. For an entrepreneur who can find it challenging to remove the blinders, it can be tough to realize when to divert attention from the task at hand and reprioritize the order of importance. I think the sooner you can realize the necessity of balance and prioritization, the healthier life you’ll lead – at work and at home.

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