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How to be motivated by passion to drive productivity in business

At first glance, René Lacerte, founder and CEO of Bill.comOne of the nation’s top business payments networks, looks like many other successful serial entrepreneurs. He comes from a business family (he is 4th generation) and has over 20 years of experience in finance, software and payments, making him one of the most experienced players. most in the fintech space.

With all that experience, René realized that business owners needed a way to simplify the checkout process, so they could focus better on growing their business. So he began to redefine how business payments are made and founded Bill.com in 2006. And for seven consecutive years, René has been honored as one of 100 Most in accounting by Accounting Today.

But if you dig deeper, you will find more than just being a successful entrepreneur. You will find that René Lacerte is driven by passion. He wants – he needs – to help small and medium business owners work more efficiently. René is determined to help SMEs overcome the COVID-10 pandemic – and beyond.

Recent research shows that 90% of the US businesses surveyed still rely on paper checks and other manual processes. Problems like long approval cycles and lack of information on invoices are the leading causes of payment delays and missed discounts. It’s a time-consuming, inefficient, and costly way of working.

I recently talked to René about how Bill.com not only helps small business owners get paid faster and pay their bills on time, but also frees them up to focus on the generating aspects. turnover of the business.

You’ve been serving the small business space for a long time. What do you think businesses will do this year?

René Lacerte: SMB is resilient. They do everything they can to make their business last. And from what we’ve seen, more people survived than people thought. Of course, there was the attrition that we could see on the main streets [across the country] where there are rental buildings that were not available before. Some won’t, but overall, the SMBs are quite persistent.

Resilience and endurance – I learned that from my parents and grandparents. They’ve got a lot of business already, and I see they’ve gone through tough times, push through with their customers, and give them more credit when they need it.

COVID-19 has made it difficult for many small businesses, pushing them to places they are not ready to go.

René: One of the things we’ve seen is that the pandemic is, in a way, an inflection point that highlights the need for digital tools. If you continue, you need tools to help you do it better and more efficiently, while working remotely. Streamlining your business processes will keep them together.

And that’s what we at Bill.com do well – we help our customers by making it possible for you to run your business from anywhere. We put the following office in your back pocket. And it’s all right on your phone.

For example, I can see every bill, every payment I’ve ever made to Bill.com on my phone. And even though I’ve changed my phone four times since I started the company, here is everything. I couldn’t have had it 10 years or 15 years ago.

In addition to being able to do business anywhere, I can be very efficient at it. When deciding to pay or collect money from clients, I have all the necessary information. I don’t waste time walking around the office, searching files, looking for employees, searching for historical data that can help me make a decision. All that time is saved. And that’s why our customers tell us they save 50% to 75% of their time managing that office.

Using a program like Bill.com allows business owners to run businesses more neatly – and smarter. For example, you don’t need to have a lot of people in your accounting department.

René: And you are also more strategic. What I hear from my parents and grandparents is “Cash is King”. And, what I’ve heard from them is stretching accounts, pulling accounts receivable. Intuitively, we all pay our biggest bill by the latest possible date. And we all ask the people who owe us to pay us.

However, if you have a tool that does that, then you can have a more billing cycle strategy, your customers, your suppliers, how you pay them and manage that cash flow. So it doesn’t just do it with fewer people; it’s doing better, too. Our technology enables collaboration and allows business owners to be more strategic.

Let us know about the process.

René: Take a look at a typical billing cycle if your billing process isn’t digitized. Documents arrive, and they must be submitted and entered into the accounting system.

Then you have to find out, should you pay this bill or not? Did you get what you asked for? Are you satisfied with the service? Would you like to work more with that supplier? Is this customer using more of your products? [To get answers] You have to go around the office, look for people, leave notes, ask people what they think. You leave a message on someone’s desk, and then it can be lost. Or you want to see what the actual terms of a contract are and have to look for it in the filing cabinet where possible – or maybe not.

This is what I went through. And so let’s move on quickly to Bill.com’s process. When you receive a paper document, you’ll take a picture with your phone or scan it with the scanner digitizing it. If you have 10 documents sent through paper, you can throw all 10 documents into the scanner and scan them all at once. If you receive an incoming electronic document via email or PDF, simply send it to your bill.com account email address. And now you have one place for all your files. And now we do data entry around it, using AI machine learning to show which supplier the document is for, how much is it, and when it’s due.

We have taken care of all the steps that go around and eliminate all the steps that a traditional business must take. Once it was approved and ready for payment, we now eliminated the printing and signing of the check, stuffed it in the envelope, mailed it, and then got the reconciliation after. All of that is gone for small business owners because we took care of the payments.

Also, since we manage all payments, the risk of check fraud disappears. No one knows your bank account number. We can help businesses have a safer process.

When you eliminate filing, entering data, workflow, printing checks and adjusting payments – that’s how you save clients 50% or more of their time.

We have over 100,000 businesses that use us to automate their payables and receivables, but they interact electronically with 2.5 million network members. That’s another example of how we got rid of steps. That’s my focus – I like efficiency and the elimination of unnecessary steps. And that’s what we do.

Bill.com is regulated by the states as a licensed money transfer company.

What do you see ahead?

René: What I see in our customer base is the hybrid model that is now part of the DNA. In the past, business owners thought about how technology allows them to go anywhere, but it’s not part of our DNA. And, and now it is. I can speak personally – it doesn’t matter where I am; I can still lead and manage the company from anywhere. I used to think I should be in the office. We have employees who have started and have never met the employees they are managing. And so our ability to digitize and transform business and have this combined live and online experience is a delight.

The online world is now a part of our DNA too – not just for millennials, but for society as a whole. According to our latest Bill.com Small Business Owners Survey, during a pandemic nearly 80% of SMEs have or plan to start. their business digital transformation.

Ultimately that will lead to increased productivity. Flexibility means more productivity, more time to exercise, more time to spend with your kids, more time to work.

One bright spot is that the pandemic has led to rising communities to support local businesses.

René: At the start of the pandemic, we, as an organization and myself, gave money to charities and to help businesses get through. We are the main sponsor of the African Diaspora Community Network (ADN). new pilot program is designed to open economic pathways and drive the business efforts of the African-American community and black business leaders in the United States. The Builders of America ‘s Future, providing online and in-person training and mentoring.

All of this makes a difference. Companies need a way out to help them stay and adapt. Adapted ones are still in business. When things open this summer, they’ll hire staff and everyone will get back to work. Businesses didn’t disappear because the business owners were able to make that change. And technology has made that easier.

It’s another example of endurance and resilience. An enterprise is a community. You work with your friends and your customers become your friends. Everything you care about these people. So you work hard to make sure that community lasts for the long haul. And that endurance becomes the fuel. That’s why SMBs are so important. They are our economy’s passion.



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