So, You Want to Pay People

By Anwuli Chukwurah

You finally have enough money to pay people.

Your business is growing, and you want to streamline your vendor and payroll operations. There are two types of people expenses: 1099 contractors and W2 employees. 1099 contractors are people or vendors you hire to help with a business problem. You can’t control how and when they do their job. You sign a contract with the contractor with an expected deliverable and hope to get the agreed-upon deliverable. A W2 employee is someone that you can control how and when they do their job. You pay their payroll taxes via your payroll system. They would also receive company benefits such as health care insurance and paid time off.

4 tools you can use to pay your contractors/vendors and employees:¹

  1. W2 Employees & Contractors: Gusto and Justworks
  2. Contractors/Vendors Only: Ramp and Melio

Gusto

Gusto is a payroll and HR platform for small to medium-sized businesses. It’s not free. Most payroll platforms are not free and have a monthly base cost plus a per-employee fee. I do not like dealing with the headaches that come with payroll, as there are many different rules and regulations based on where your employees live. Instead, I would outsource this to a system that will ensure all correct forms and taxes are paid and filed. Yes, you can do this yourself, but it’s best to focus your energy on what will grow the company rather than being bogged down by payroll and HR paperwork.

You can also get healthcare benefits through Gusto for your company. Gusto takes a week to implement if you’ve never had an employee before. It’ll take longer if you have historical payroll and employee information that needs to be entered to make sure everything looks right and the proper payroll taxes are being paid. It can also pay contractors, but I suggest using Ramp or Melio for better details and controls.

Justworks

Justworks Payroll is another payroll platform for small to medium-sized businesses. It’s not free, but it provides the same capabilities as Gusto and allows you to be set up within a week. The only downside is that it operates in fewer states than Gusto. Again, the system will ensure all correct forms and taxes are filed and paid. The difference between Justworks and Gusto is that Justworks has a more extensive payroll product, Justworks PEO, that will allow you access to better healthcare benefits for your team. So, if you want to transition to this product, you can start with Justworks. If you’re looking at costs, go with Gusto, as it’s less expensive on a monthly basis.

Ramp

I’ve discussed Ramp several times as my top option for paying your vendors and contractors. It’s a free system that allows you to pay your vendors via ACH, check, or card and create virtual/physical credit cards for your team. It also allows you to implement controls such as not allowing any bills to be paid unless a second person in the team approves the expense. It’s very easy to set up and can be used within three days. It takes three days because your account has to be approved to be on the system. As a business, you need at least $75K in your bank, as that’s how they calculate your card limit without requiring your personal credit score. If you don’t have this amount yet, you can use Melio to pay your vendors until you need business credit cards for your team.

Melio

Melio is a free system that allows you to pay your bills and contractors via ACH, card, or check. It also allows you to pay your international contractors with a transaction fee as well. It’s straightforward to set up and use from the first day. It syncs with Quickbooks Online, so all bills paid via Melio are already recorded in your financials. Before Quickbooks Online rolled out its native bill pay option, it partnered with Melio. It also allows you to implement approval workflows — making sure the right bills are getting paid and no bills are paid without the approval of a designated manager.


Choosing one tool from each category will solve all your operation needs when paying people. The great thing about these tools is that they integrate with your accounting system, such as Quickbooks Online. So, there will be no double work to ensure all payment transactions are recorded. They will also guarantee you collect the right forms from your vendors/contractors and employees. Nothing is more annoying than finding out you need a form from a vendor you stopped paying eight months ago. Now you must send the awkward email, hoping they respond with the requested form.

About the author:

Anwuli Chukwurah is a versatile finance professional with a track record of starting new finance organizations and scaling them for growth in fast-paced entrepreneurial environments. She has over 6+ years of experience working with small business owners, startups, and nonprofit organizations to help connect finance with their business goals. She aims to ensure her clients become comfortable and adept at navigating their numbers. She works with clients at Woolichooks and writes a newsletter for non-finance folks.

Find the Spanish version here.

3 tools to level up your finance and accounting operations past the entry-level

By Anwuli Chukwurah

Once you have been in business for a while, and your transaction level has increased from 2 per month to over 100 monthly transactions. Business has become more complicated, and it’s become harder to continue using free/low-cost tools to track your finances. You have a better idea of what metrics you want to track, so what tools will take you to that next level without breaking the bank?

  1. QuickBooks Online
  2. Ramp
  3. Jirav

QuickBooks Online

Once you need to track transactions by locations, departments, and different fields, QuickBooks Online (QBO) is the natural next step. As long as everything is set up correctly at the beginning, you won’t need to ever move on from QBO unless you need something industry-specific, such as school finance, or you’re planning to have multiple subsidiaries and international locations, or you need to track inventory. It can spit out the basic financial reports you need — income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.

Along with the basic reports, you can see those reports split out by the fields you’ve set, allowing you to see your financials deeper. If you want to connect your Google AdSense data to QBO, you can’t. You’ll still need a spreadsheet to triage all the data to get an overall view of your business related to your financials. Your financials will show you the total cost of online Ads for that month, but it won’t show you whether paid ads or referrals were your biggest factor for revenue growth that month. You can also get a discount via TechSoup if you’re a non-profit.

Ramp

You have contractors and vendors you have to pay. So far, you’ve been paying them as they land in your inbox. Ramp allows you to keep track of all vendor bills and schedule any payment via ACH or checkIt will also help you collect all the vendor data you need to send out the 1099 forms the next year. Along with bill pay, you can also create virtual and physical cards for your employees or contractors with limits. It forces the assigned owner of the card to forward or text the receipt for the transaction. You can even create software-specific virtual cards to help you manage your subscriptions. It’s a great system that gives you control over your expenses with audit trails.

Jirav

You have QBO, and you’re using Ramp, which syncs with Quickbooks Online. What do you need Jirav for? Jirav is for the planning, budgeting, and forecasting side of your finance operations. Jirav brings all data from Quickbooks, the payroll system, and other data, such as Google AdSense, together for you to create dashboards and forecasts for the next month or year. Yes, you can continue to use spreadsheets for this, but if you’re spending too much time wrangling data together to create your management reports, this might be the solution you’re looking for. Spreadsheets are great for building your first budgets and forecasts, but over the years, you can automate some processes using software like Jirav.


Quickbooks Online becomes your base accounting software system, and other tools are synced. Ramp and Jirav can sync to or grab data from Quickbooks Online. The goal is not to have disparate systems that don’t talk to each other. Spreadsheets will never go away. There will be some times when you want to do a quick calculation or export the data into Excel to play with. That’s okay as long as you make sure you go back to your base systems. The software you implement should be nimble and advanced enough to give you the data you need without any stress. But not so advanced that you’re spending months on implementation training at this stage of the business.

About the author:

Anwuli Chukwurah is a versatile finance professional with a track record of starting new finance organizations and scaling them for growth in fast-paced entrepreneurial environments. She has over 6+ years of experience working with small business owners, startups, and nonprofit organizations to help connect finance with their business goals. She aims to ensure her clients become comfortable and adept at navigating their numbers. She works with clients at Woolichooks and writes a newsletter for non-finance folks.

Find the Spanish version here.

Honoring Frofessional for winning the committee’s Choice Award

By Rutu Ruparel

We are thrilled to extend our heartfelt congratulations to FroFessionals for being honored with the Committee’s Choice Award from the Austin Community Foundation’s Black Fund. This award is a testament to the unwavering dedication of FroFessionals in addressing the unique needs of black, brown, and biracial individuals with textured hair.

EGBI’s client,  FroFessionals, are a subscription-based platform, connecting individuals with professionals and product vendors who understand and cater to the diverse needs of kinky, coily, curly, and mixed-textured hair. Recently (on February 13th, 2024) FroFessionals was awarded the Committee’s Choice Award through the Austin Community Foundation’s Black Fund (a beacon of support for black-led nonprofit organizations) and joined the ranks of other eminent, Austin Based Nonprofit Organizations such as Black Mamas ATX and Real Queens Fix Each Other’s Crowns.  The awards ceremony, hosted by Hutson-Tillotson University, was a celebration of achievement and culture. FroFessionals’s recognition at this event underscores the impact they’ve had on their community and the importance of their mission.

Moreover, FroFessional intends to use their award to advance their mission of increasing access to quality, consistent, and culturally relevant mental health care for historically underserved members of BIPOC communities in the greater Austin area. A commendable mission that is guaranteed to create a further positive impact on their community.

We are proud to celebrate FroFessionals’ success and commitment to making a difference. Additionally, we look forward to seeing the continued positive impact FroFessionals will have on the community.

Congratulations, FroFessionals, on this well-deserved recognition, and we applaud your ongoing efforts to create positive change in our community!

Find the Spanish version here.

Meet EGBI Client – Debra Wissman

By Josephine Sun

A native Austinite, Debra Wissman first found St. Mark CDO as a parent when looking for a two-day program for her now college aged son! Debra later joined the staff as a teacher, and finally as director in January 2009. Debra earned a BA in Theology from Texas Lutheran University and began master’s level coursework in Counseling and Guidance at Texas State University. Prior to working at St. Mark CDO, Debra was the Director of Youth Ministry at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church and then a full-time mom! Debra enjoys serving in ministry to the children and families of the preschool. Her greatest joy is serving the CDO in this capacity and looking forward to coming to “work” each day! Debra is married to Marc, and they have three sons aged 16, 18, and 20, and two dogs, Rocky and Willamena, aka Pebbles.

St. Mark Children’s Day Out has been a licensed childcare since 1993 and before that, it was a 1/2 day preschool open only 2 days a week. It is now open Monday-Thursday from 9 am to 1:30 pm September through May and then Tuesday and Thursday in June and July. It is closed in August.

Debra shares her experience as a client at EGBI.

Tell us a fun fact about yourself.

I toured St. Mark CDO with my son 19 years ago and I haven’t left! He will graduate from college in May 2024.

“We were assigned a business coach who helped us with everything from marketing to spreadsheets and was super supportive during the rebuilding after COVID.” Debra Wissman

How did you first find out about EGBI?

I was introduced to EGBI post COVID through Texas Workforce as we tried to re-build the school following COVID.

How did EGBI help your business? What service did you benefit from?

We were assigned a business coach who helped us with everything from marketing to spreadsheets and was super supportive during the rebuilding after COVID.

Why should people consider supporting an organization like EGBI?

It’s a new age of running a business post COVID and getting help in all areas of running a business is crucial! Support EGBI so that they can support businesses!

EGBI provides training, coaching, and support to aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business. If you would like to support our efforts, please visit our website https://egbi.org/donate/.

Meet EGBI’s Volunteer- Ken Falk

By Alison Flangel

A native of Pittsburgh, graphic designer expert Ken Falk has over 50 years of experience working with unique clients from all different realms. Through creating thousands of logos, brochures, campaigns, and more, Ken’s unique perspective on graphic design is valued by many. Starting off as an Art Publisher for Penton Publishing, Ken has grown his professional career all the way to building his own Marketing and Communications company out of Potomac, Maryland. Currently residing in Rockville, Maryland, Ken is still passionate about the importance of good design in our everyday lives.

Ken Falk shares his experience as an EGBI volunteer.

To get started, do you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?
In my free time, I enjoy doing calligraphy.

How did you first get involved with EGBI?
So, I recently retired. A former client of mine mentioned that they use Catchafire, a skills-based volunteer match program, to get volunteer design work. I thought this would be perfect as I was looking for short duration volunteer work where my skills could be used. This is actually my first job with Catchafire, so it is an initial experience. It’s nice because I am planning to travel more now that the pandemic is controllable, and I don’t want to take on large long-term commitments, so short-term ones work pretty well.

Why do you volunteer for EGBI?
What intrigues me about EGBI is that it helps people learn to help themselves in a sense. People that have skills in one area, like carpentry, need help in learning how to start a business and all those things, which can be somewhat daunting. I like the idea of being able to help people become more self-sufficient and successful.

How has your involvement with EGBI helped you grow professionally and personally?
One reason why I chose this project with EGBI is because I like working on annual reports as a graphic designer. I think annual reports are interesting because they encapsulate telling a story about an organization, through highlighting accomplishments at a certain period of time. Annual reports can show transition and transformation of organizations. Additionally, Monica is really easy to work with, and I was able to make suggestions on the project which created a collaborative workspace. I really value working on projects where my input is heard and taken into consideration.

In 2021, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Ken make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can volunteer or donate.

Meet EGBI’s Volunteer- Leslie Montoya

By Diana Garcia

Meet Leslie Montoya. She was born and raised in Reynosa Tamaulipas, México, where at the age of 15, she began her career in the communications field as a Radio Disc Jockey, and soon became a producer at ExaFM- one of the best Mexican Radio Stations. Leslie got her bachelor’s degree with Honors in marketing at Eastern Michigan University. She worked at Univision for 14 years as TV and radio personality and producer. Leslie was nominated several times as the best Austin TV personality by the Austin Women in Media, AWM. In 2013, Leslie was nominated and the recipient of an Emmy from the National Academy of Television & Sciences Lone Star Emmy Awards. Leslie is also a certified life coach from the Robbins Madanes Institute, founded by the great motivational speaker Anthony Robbins. She is also a NLP practitioner certified by NLP Seminars Group International, founded by Dr. Richard Bandler. Her purpose is to continue self- improvement and to better help her community. This allows her to positively motivate and inform the Hispanic community with the use of communication platforms. For five consecutive years, Leslie contributed as an editor/life coach with monthly positive bilingual capsules to the local magazine Austin Family Magazine. In her podcast, Leslie Contigo, Leslie talks about emotional intelligence and topics related to personal growth such as anxiety, how to handle stress, relationships among other topics. The purpose of the show is to share emotional health concepts and practical emotional skills that the person can easily understand and use in his life. She is a well representative personality in our Hispanic community in Austin.  

Leslie shares her experience as a volunteer of EGBI and how you can get involved too.

Hi Leslie! To get started, would you mind telling us a fun fact about yourself?

My weakness is craving Tamarindo: A Mexican candy. I can’t say no to any offers.

How have you volunteered for EGBI?

I have had the opportunity and pleasure to collaborate with EGBI as a master of ceremonies for different events and workshops.

Why do you think it is important to volunteer?

There are many professional and physical health benefits when a person decides to volunteer. Research shows that people who volunteer feel happier and improve their mental health, which helps ensure you don’t get burned out in your “real” job. Professionally, it helps you meet new people, learn new skills, and more. It is a wonderful way to contribute to your community and support organizations such as EGBI.

“Consider volunteering at EGBI. It will be a win-win experience.” – Leslie Montoya

Why is it important to volunteer at EGBI?

EGBI is a great and solid organization that supports established entrepreneurs grow their business, or starters who are thinking about launching a business but don’t have a clue where to start. EGBI has a great, knowledgeable, and heartfelt team whose mission is to always provide valuable information to local small business owners and entrepreneurs.

What would you say to someone thinking of volunteering with EGBI? 

I would say that they would have a win-win experience. They will be supporting a great organization while also gaining a great experience and meeting wonderful people, who will help enrich their professional life.

Leslie Montoya will be sharing her knowledge to Present yourself confidently online and offline at EGBI’s Summer Marketing Series on June 7th in Spanish and June 9th in English.

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In 2020, EGBI volunteers put in more than 130 hours to help EGBI support and serve over 400 small businesses. Volunteers like Leslie make this possible and continue to help EGBI pursue their mission of training, coaching, and supporting aspiring and existing business owners who face barriers to growing a successful business.

Want to get involved too? Contact us to find out how you can volunteer or donate.