Anne Reilly, founder of Paycheck Plus, is no stranger to awards but a high accolade at this year's Global Payroll Awards has put her Co Louth business firmly on the map.
“Winning the industry provider of the year was the absolute icing on the cake. Representing Ireland and receiving the global payroll award for being the best in the world was just amazing. I never thought that we could aspire to being one of, or the best payroll company in the world.”
What distinguishes your business from your competitors?
Well, I think very simply it’s the expertise. Our team are really highly qualified experienced payroll specialists and we built the business around four key pillars – expertise, data protection and confidentiality, documented processes and business continuity. They’re the things that are important to our clients.
What has been your biggest challenge in business?
One that stands out was that, at the time of the banking crisis, we had lots of international companies which didn’t have an international bank account, so the banking crisis led to a huge challenge for us.
We devised a new fund-transfer process to manage the international fund transfers from those international clients to ensure that their Irish payroll employees got paid.
What is your major success to date?
We developed Ireland’s first clean-room processing facility. We feel the nature of the data that we’re processing is so sensitive, private and confidential that it needs to be protected in a suitable environment. We came up with the idea of having a clean-room facility, which is more usually considered with science and medical areas. We feel the importance of the data that we have warrants creating something like that.
What more do you think the Government could do to help SMEs?
I am a lead entrepreneur with Acorns [Accelerating the Creation Of Rural Nascent Start-ups]. I agreed to become part of Acorns following my experience with the Going for Growth programme, which proved invaluable to me.
I really feel that if our Government could invest further in that type of support, that would make a real difference. Having somebody to discuss their challenges with and somebody who has been there, worn the T-shirt and has the experience.
Do you think that the banks are open for business?
Yes, they are certainly open for business. It’s probably more difficult for SMEs than when I started out 12 years ago with all the security on the paperwork. I see our relationship with our banks as a partnership and we have to work together on it.
We believe in keeping them informed of our plans and progress and we really have a good personal relationship with them, which helps us all.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?
I suppose if I look back to when I started in 2005, I think at that stage I didn’t have the aspirations that I should have had. I recognise now, I didn’t see it then, but asking for help is actually a sign of strength and not weakness. All I had to do thereafter was ask for help and when I asked for it I got it.
Whom do you admire in business and why?
My cousin Dr Anita Sands. She says she pivoted her career a number of times. From physics into public policy then from academia into financial services and now from technology to the boardroom. What I admire about her is she continually develops herself and shares her learning with others. She believes that we all have an obligation to lift as we climb so that as we grow and learn we help others do the same thing.
What’s the best business advice you have ever received?
I have a great business mentor, Peter Donnelly. Several years ago he stressed to me the value of surrounding yourself with the best people and that's something I've really taken on board. I ensure that our team consists of the very best because it's only by working together that we've got the company to where it is now.
How do you see the short-term future of your business?
Well there is a lot of things going on at the moment that we see as opportunity. The introduction of the new General Data Protection Regulations next year is huge. We also have the future of PAYE real-time modernisation coming and, of course, we have Brexit. Our business model and our operational infrastructure have us well placed to deal with a lot of these changes but also give us an opportunity to bolt on new services as we meet the briefing needs of our clients.
What is your business worth and would you sell it?
Well, I suppose, like any business, ours is only worth whatever the buyer is willing to pay for it. At this time to be honest, I love doing what I do, we are not up for sale. I’m not interested in selling but who knows in 10 or 15 years’ time what will happen.