“Nobody wants to mess up their payroll,” says Pincus Schiff, Co-Founder of Friday, “If you do, you’ll hardly get out of it.” Friday is a team management software that allows small businesses to conduct their payroll with the added benefit of helping their teams communicate and connect. Known as “The Payroll Guy,” Pincus recognized that many people seek the service of payroll agents because the process is completely foreign to them, and the software that allows a company to do their processing internally is incredibly complex and time-consuming. 

Dax recalls a time he met a product manager at QuickBooks and happened to mention that it wasn’t his favorite software to use.. The answer Dax received was that he wasn’t QuickBooks’ customer and that if the product were too easy to use, then countless HR managers, CPAs, and payroll managers would be out of a job! The disappointing realization was that these software platforms are intentionally made complicated so that the business owners will be forced to reach out for payroll help externally. 

Friday offers a fine balance between being user-friendly and still providing plenty of desirable features. Pincus understands what users want because he welcomes outside feedback, both from his earliest customers to whom he first presented a beta model and from Friday’s third co-founder, Martin, who brings in a tech-focused perspective to balance the HR and marketing focus within the company. Martin was the one to recognize that most users wouldn’t know what “run payroll” meant and to label that particular function something more user-friendly such as “pay team.”

This approach is part of Pincus’s leading philosophy of providing value first. He focuses on branding himself first and foremost as an asset who provides quality rather than any of his products. This is a sound long-term approach, as there is never a guarantee of where your ventures will be in ten years. Currently, Friday offers a feature that connects users directly to Pincus or a team member. One day, as the company continues to grow, he recognizes this won’t be an option, and he will make himself available in a way that is commensurate to that scale. 

Every company has specific needs, as does each individual within that company. The conversation about returning to the office post-pandemic fails to recognize that everyone will view it differently. In a previous episode of The Achievers, Andrea Hoffer explained that many people confuse working from home with work-life balance, but as Dax points out, that balance very much depends on the person’s home life. By continuing to recognize that at the heart of all business is the individual person and by continuing to focus on meeting their needs and goals, Pincus is guaranteed continued success.

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Episode Quotes

  • “That was the ‘aha’ moment for me. Let me create a product that’s really simple while solving other problems like connecting a team.” (3:53-4:01 | Pincus)
  • “I once met, six or seven years ago, the product manager for QuickBooks at an informal work lunch. I was ribbing him that QuickBooks is not my favorite software to use. He looked me dead in the eye and said, ‘You’re not my customer. My customers are the CPAs, the bookkeepers, the payroll managers, the HR people. If we made that tool too easy for you to use, you wouldn’t employ our customers.’ That was such a shocking thing to hear that they are (allegedly) purposefully making the software more difficult because they want to keep these other people in business.” This of course, was the view of just one employee at QuickBooks. (4:41-5:24 | Dax)
  • “The problem with easy-to-use software is you want function, too. You want features. And the more features you add, typically, the more complicated it gets. When you build for small businesses for end users that are not CPAs or bookkeepers, you have to have a fine balance between having enough features and having a user-friendly, easy-to-use platform.” (5:31-5:55 | Pincus)
  • “I decided Friday is going to be a game for me. I can’t operate out of fear and being desperate. So, I take the journey one day at a time. When you look at it from that perspective, it’s pretty easy.” (7:06-7:19 | Pincus)
  • “There’s a lot when it comes to payroll, and people want clarity. It’s also a topic that everyone wants to stay safe with. No one wants to mess up their payroll. If you do, you will hardly get out of it.” (10:55-11:08 | Pincus) 
  • “At a certain point your business has to grow. As of now, at the stage where I am, I will do whatever I can. And then at the next stage I’ll do whatever I can then. We try to be the best, always.” (11:51-12:01 | Pincus)
  • “Elon Musk is one of the great examples. I think he is more of a marketer than an inventor. And Steve Jobs was a much better inventor than a marketer. Elon Musk is much stronger in branding and marketing. He built himself up. He’s king on Twitter. He’s one of the most respected people.” (17:33-17:51 | Pincus)
  • “Personal branding is important, especially if you’re in sales. You don’t know whether the company you work for is going to close, if the product is still going to be around in ten years. When you build your personal brand, people realize that you provide value to people, and you’re an expert at whatever you do. It stays with you.” (18:02-18:20 | Pincus)
  • “I never talk about my products or my services. All I say is, ‘This is what I did. This is what works and doesn’t work for me,’ or sales tips in general. I think people appreciate it, rather than just getting bored seeing people promote themselves every single day saying, ‘I do this, I do this, I do this.’ At some point you think, ‘I know. Unfollow.’ (18:28-18:55 | Pincus)
  • “You not seeing yourself as a salesperson originally is probably why this has worked for you so well. It means you weren’t out there shouting about the product all the time, and you were just providing value. If you provide value as an individual, people are more likely to sign up for what you have because you’ve built up a lot of that trust that is part of the natural sales process anyway.” (18:58-19:23 | Dax)
  • “When it comes to sales in general, you realize there’s one thing before business, and that’s people. Everything you do in business, boils down to people. The more value you provide to people, the more of an asset you are to people, the more you are going to get business.” (19:40-19:53 | Pincus) 
  • “The more you give the more you get. It just works.” (22:02-22:05 | Pincus)

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