July 8, 2021 | By Questco
My undergraduate degree was in accounting, and I was a CPA as my first job when I got out of school, but I wasn't particularly well-suited for that type of work. I was always entrepreneurial in college, so I spent the bare minimum amount of time as a CPA, which was about two years, and then I re-entered entrepreneurship. Through a series of events, I ended up buying into the pizza chain and owned and operated a gourmet pizza restaurant for a few years.
I love the nature of being a general manager in business, and the challenge of that was intoxicating. But that doesn't mean I had the skill set to do it. So I realized I was in over my head, and I needed a little more education to be really good. So I went back to school and got my MBA at Northwestern. During business school, I worked for Goldman Sachs. After business school, I worked for Boston Consulting Group.
It wasn't the greatest time to start at a consulting firm in their travel and tourism department, as I began working there three days after 9/11. That lasted about six months, but there just was no business. From there, I went to a great organization called Maritz in St. Louis to run brand marketing on a corporate level, so I had a lot of room to be innovative.
During this time, my brother started a successful ticketing e-commerce business in Austin, Texas, but he struggled to manage its huge growth. So, I came in as the CEO, helped with reorganization, and not long after we saw some impressive growth. To manage that growth, we needed help with operations, and we were not shy to outsourcing. So we immediately recognized the need for a PEO.
A professional employer organization (PEO) is an outsourced HR company that provides comprehensive HR services to businesses of all sizes. With the stroke of a pen, a PEO can handle everything from payroll to benefits, HR advice, HR technology, tax administration, workers comp, and risk and safety services. So, a PEO can help with everything that a business owner needs from a structural point of view to help take care of their people.
A PEO helps business owners stay competitive by offering them benefits that they otherwise may not be able to offer. This can help them keep their current employees happy and attract top talent in their industry. A PEO is there to support and make a business owner's life easier. This can be one of the biggest assets to a small or medium-sized business because it allows CEOs to focus on growing their business while the PEO can handle all the HR related details.
It also helps to take some of the burden off of business owners and CEOs so that they don't burn out. When business owners don't have so much on their plate, they can make better decisions for their entire team.
When we started using a PEO at the business my brother founded, we did so to manage our exponential (and unexpected) growth. We were growing so fast that it was difficult to structure the business properly and hire the right people. A PEO helped us keep our current talent happy and helped us best practices in our workspace. The full suite of PEO services instantly made the business more competitive by enhancing our talent.
I had some pretty close relationships at the PEO I was formerly a client of. So they eventually asked me to join them in an executive capacity to evangelize for the PEO industry from that side. I really enjoyed doing that, until eventually I got recruited by Questco to lead the business. I love the nature of entrepreneurship, and I love being able to make a difference by building something special at Questco.
There are a lot of things that we do very well, and our industry does very well. What makes Questco unique is our flexibility in managing through certain situations. We won't force our clients to take all of the services we offer. We work with each client to find the right fit for them. And so, we work very well with others and respect the structure that our clients already have in place.
For example, if a client already has a wonderful strategy around worker's compensation, we don't need to step in and take over. We can still offer the rest of our services and work with the providers they have in place. And that can be unusual in the PEO industry, not only that we are willing to do that, but that we are set up to do so. We are invested in our capability to stay flexible.
We also take pride in our "can-do spirit." We recruit very intentionally and look for people who have the hearts of caregivers. We want to make sure that our clients know that they aren't alone in the challenges they face. We find a way to get things done, serve our business owners, and we strive to form deep partnerships with all clients.
One thing that has become very clear is that a business is nothing without its team. Rely on the team and focus on building them up and nurturing them every step of the way because that is the sustaining factor. If you try to do everything yourself, you'll not only drive yourself to an early grave, you'll also make sub-optimal business decisions, and you'll execute suboptimally across the board. We cannot be everything to everyone at all times.
That goes double for people who are trying to run an organization. Every business must be built on a foundation of successful teamwork if they want to see growth in their future.
What we do as an industry is provide a unique resource and source of strength for small and mid-sized businesses. That is an area that provides so much opportunity and so much value creation. By helping small and mid-sized businesses grow and thrive and develop, that is adding value. It works on the macro level and the individual level.
Look at all the millions of jobs created by PEOs, but also look at how we can help individuals get access to better benefits for themselves and their families. We can help small businesses offer retirement benefits for the first time. We can offer struggling business owners the first vacation they've had in years because we can take some of the work off their plate.
These kinds of things - making a difference on both a personal level and a societal level - is something that not every company or industry can say they do. PEOs are doing just that. This is a great industry to work in because we are making a real difference out there.