031: Founded in 2010, processed more than $2bn NZD in payroll for SMEs & charities, raised $500k in crowdfunding, grew 5 FTE to 18.5, huge donations to communities and just paid the 1st dividend for a social enterprise in NZ (Christina Bellis)

Presented by Troy Trewin

Troy has worked intimately with 26 businesses in 20 years. He knows their numbers, understands their growing pains and people issues and has helped with most financial aspects, as well as having coached on leadership and management.

July 26, 2020

In this episode, I interview Christina Bellis, the CEO of Thankyou Payroll. The company was founded in 2010 and to date they’ve processed over two billion pays or 3.5 million payslips to charities and small businesses in New Zealand. From NZD7,000 in year one to now NZD2.7 Million in annual sales, they are profitable and just paid their first dividend.

They are one of the first social enterprises/businesses that raised funds through equity crowdfunding in New Zealand to do so. By their separate charitable trust they have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to communities in Dunedin, Wellington, and Christchurch, and have a genius way to pick the next grant recipients. They provide these services to registered charities for free, saving them over one million dollars over the decade. And if that wasn’t socially and purpose driven enough, they are carbon positive.

The business took off in 2013 when the first CEO started, adding 192 customers that year, 3,000 the following year, then since financial year 2015, more than doubling every year. Christina started as CEO in 2015 and grew the business from 5 full-time employees to now 18.5. 

They have a board of five directors and they’re all female. Funding has been through cash flow, a small overdraft, and in 2017, an equity crowdfundraising of NZD500,000, and picking up 165 shareholders who are brand ambassadors. She believes the hardest thing in growing a small business is managing work-life balance. The advice she would give herself on day one is, “Stay true to your vision. There’s a lot of noise out there, so keep focus on your own track” Stay tuned for more on her small business growth journey.  Enjoy!

This Cast Covers:

  • Thankyou Payroll: A company that offers crowd based payroll intermediary services.
  • Running a charitable trust, an exciting innovative way to give out grants and minimizing the hoops people need to jump through.
  • Building community resilience and strengthening connections through charitable trusts.
  • Growing from a 7000 turnover in year one to 2.7 million turnover over a period of ten years.
  • Adopting a purpose driven approach to business by using a product or service to do good and make a positive impact on the world.
  • Being the first crowdfunded entity to return a dividend in New Zealand.
  • Equity crowdfunding and giving the community an opportunity to take part in a purpose driven business.
  • Using crowdfunding as a good marketing opportunity and how they raised NZD 500,000 from 165 shareholders through it.
  • What you need to know when thinking about using crowdfunding as a way to fundraise and grow.
  • Advantages of having employees with trained skills and working capacity in more than one aspect of the business. 
  • Adapting to change and having an “I Can Do It” attitude in business.
  • Managing people, making them feel valued and keeping their spirits up when running a small business.
  • Mentoring management teams, building capabilities and inspiring change.
  • Creating a to do list, breaking it into bigger tasks and smaller tasks to help you in managing your time and priorities.
  • Creating a team of people that fits perfectly into your business as they are both your biggest asset and your biggest cost.
  • Being transparent on the big picture, adapting an open door policy for your team, and showing them that their contributions are valuable.
  • The value of being open to feedback and learning how to process it.
  • Managing a team that’s spread out across different locations.
  • Constantly learning by investing in different forms of professional development.
  • Having a female only board of five directors with expertise across a number of areas.
  • The difficulties in managing work-life balance when one is a small business owner.

Additional Resources:

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Quotes:

Having a good relationship with your bank is a really good thing to have” – Christina Bellis

“You can teach skills, but attitude is really important when you’re growing a business and you have to hire enablers” – Christina Bellis

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Music from https://filmmusic.io “Cold Funk” by Kevin MacLeod (https://incompetech.com). License: CC BY (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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