Discussing Payroll Processing
Mark Ambrose: Today, we have a special guest interview with Felix Mwania, the owner and CEO of Accupay Systems, which is a payroll processing company in Temecula and Huntington Beach, California. They do payroll processing for commercial companies and federal, state, and local government agencies across all 50 U.S. states.
We had a great discussion with lots of pointers that I’m sure that you’re going to find helpful about payroll, tax compliance, employee benefits, and more. Felix is truly a great resource for clients needing advice on accounting, taxation, and payroll. He’s got a master’s degree in taxation from Cal State Fullerton and has spent his entire career in accounting, bookkeeping, and payroll.
He’s also extremely well-read with an incredibly diverse range of interests and, really, a truly great character. I enjoyed every minute of speaking with him, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening and will pick up some valuable insights along the way. So let’s welcome, onto the show, and get right to it.
All right. So welcome to the podcast, Felix. I appreciate you coming to the show today.
Felix Mwania: Thank you for having me, Mark.
Mark Ambrose: Yes, you’re welcome. So let’s dive right in and help our listeners learn a little more about payroll processing, Felix. Tell us what you’re doing now, who your ideal customer is, and how your company helps them.
Felix Mwania: So, we process payroll, and payroll is sort of like a broad topic, but payroll processing involves HR compliance. It involves time and attendance, employee benefits, and stuff like that. And the retirement plans as well.
And our ideal clients are just about 300 employees sized companies, but we also serve the government. So any commercial client, about 300 employees, we would rather not take because usually those are self-reliant and can take care of themselves for the most part.
Mark Ambrose: I see. Larger companies do it in-house?
Felix Mwania: Yes. For the most part, yes. And then–besides the commercial companies, one to 300–we serve government agencies. That is, federal, state, counties, and then cities. And for those ones, we can take up to even a few thousand employees, our agency, because their payroll is usually a lot more streamlined.
Mark Ambrose: Nice, that’s great diversification there. That’s nice. Let’s talk about compliance laws, right? There are lots of compliance laws in your industry. What must compliance laws, like, a home service company, follow in payroll processing?
Felix Mwania: Compliance is also a pretty wide topic too. But for the most part, when it comes to payroll, usually it’s labor laws.
Most of the time, it’s just labor laws. And labor laws could span through stuff, like, overtime rules, independent commissions, and equal employment and safety. So, for the most part, those would be the main topics that I discuss when you talk about compliance and payroll.
Mark Ambrose: I see. So you warn companies if they’re working their employees too many hours and things like that?
Felix Mwania: Yes, absolutely. Beyond 8 hours, it’s time and a half. And then, actually, beyond 12 hours, it is two times. So, if an employee gets paid $20 an hour beyond 12 hours, they get paid $40 an hour.
Mark Ambrose: I see.
Felix Mwania: Yeah. And we help contractors and other regular businesses to comply with those. So, if they don’t know–and for the most part, new employers really don’t know all those rules–we help them comply and do the right thing.
Mark Ambrose: I see. Excellent.
Felix Mwania: Yes.
Mark Ambrose: How do these companies send you their payroll data?
Felix Mwania: We are a modern company. So we try to be on the cutting edge of technology. And one of the ways is actually through email, which is pretty simple. We can also start calling it “old-school” because email has become of age.
Mark Ambrose: Yes, it has.
Felix Mwania: They can send by email. They can also send it through a secure portal on our website that they would have to put in their email address. They get a security code before they can submit anything, and that portal is encrypted. So, anytime they send data through that portal, the data is encrypted, and then we get a notification. We have to go in and download it through the same secure portal.
Mark Ambrose: I see. Do they use Excel or something like that to send you their data?
Felix Mwania: Yes, they can use any sort of word processor or data processor application. They put in those hours and the time logs and all that good stuff–summaries, for the most part. And then they submit, and we take it, and we process the payroll.
If the employer is capable or they have representatives that are able to use a computer, then we can give them access to their payroll account. They can put in those hours in the system and notify us, and then we finalize it, or they can even finalize it themselves and get to review their payroll before submitting it. And it just makes everything easier for everybody involved.
Mark Ambrose: Nice. Very nice. So choices, lots of choices, depending on their level of technological competence.
Felix Mwania: Absolutely. We actually have a couple of clients that send their payroll hours by fax. We don’t like it, but that’s what they like to do, and we accommodate them.
Mark Ambrose: I see. I didn’t know, fax machines still exist.
Felix Mwania: Oh, they do. We don’t have that fax machine. We use scanners, and when they fax anything, it comes to our email. So we’re able to accommodate them that way.
Mark Ambrose: Yeah. Diversity and acceptance. I like that.
Felix Mwania: Absolutely.
Mark Ambrose: Are you integrated with their accounting systems? Like QuickBooks?
Felix Mwania: Yeah, our system is more than like I mentioned a moment ago. So we are integrated with QuickBooks online, and we also integrated with Zero. Zero is another accounting platform that has become popular. It’s growing tremendously. So we integrated into both. And QuickBooks Desktop, which is also kind of, sort of, phasing out, but a lot of big companies still use QuickBooks Desktop.
What we do is we generate a general ledger that, once it’s exported out of our system, can be imported into their system because we don’t have a live integration with that particular platform. And that’s the limitation of QuickBooks.
Mark Ambrose: I see. Most are using QuickBooks online then, in the cloud?
Felix Mwania: Absolutely. Yeah. Most companies use QuickBooks online, and it’s been a trend over the last decade, actually, companies moving from desktop to the online platform.
Mark Ambrose: Yeah. It’s more secure, and your data is in the cloud in case your desktop crashes or whatever.
Felix Mwania: Yeah. And it’s a lot more flexible too because companies are able to collaborate with the accountants and bookkeepers that are not in their office.
Mark Ambrose: Exactly. Yeah. And that’s what we do here. How do you handle new employees? Like if, you know, a home service company hires a few people, how does that get handled?
Felix Mwania: When we onboard new clients, contractors, and home service employers, we orient them through our system. And one of the things that we insist on is that once they collect the hiring paperwork, one of the forms basically collects all the relevant data for any employee.
What they do is they take that information, and they put it in an employee setup form that is hosted on our website, accupaysystems.com/setup. And they put in that information. Any information they do not have that is required, they actually get reminded of it on that website, on the form, because it wouldn’t submit that form without that information. Right?
Mark Ambrose: Perfect.
Felix Mwania: And therefore, it sort of forces them to make sure they collect everything because the initial collection of information saves them a lot of time and agony in the future. And then that form is secure.
Then they submit that form and attach all the other relevant information, like a voided check for direct deposit or even a direct deposit form downloaded from their bank and the W4 form or the compliance documents.
And then, once we received that information, we set up the employee within just a few minutes. And that employee is registered to be paid. For direct deposit, for example–and I don’t know, maybe I’m diverting too far–but direct deposit information, once it’s submitted, that employee is ready to be paid even within a short time. We do not wait for a full payroll cycle to activate direct deposit because we verify the information based on the banking information provided.
Mark Ambrose: Nice. Great system. How many people take direct deposit versus an actual paycheck?
Felix Mwania: We don’t force employers to set up direct deposit, but because we are a modern company, and because of the way we onboard our clients, we impress upon them that direct deposit is the most convenient way of paying their employees. And so, I want to say about 90% of all the employees that we pay through our system are direct deposit.
Mark Ambrose: That’s great.
Felix Mwania: Maybe even higher than 90%. I would have to go back and check, but it’s a pretty high percentage.
Mark Ambrose: That’s fantastic. I like to hear that. How about sick time and vacation? How did those rules apply to salaried employees?
Felix Mwania: Whether it’s hourly employees or salaried employees, there’s really not much of a difference per se. But employers tend to have a preference. They tend to give salaried employees better benefits somehow, simply because once you put somebody on salary, you’re basically telling them they are valuable to the company.
I normally see such employees getting more vacation accrual percentages compared to hourly employees. With sick time, California has a minimum of three days of sick time per year, which is 24 hours.
Mark Ambrose: I didn’t know that.
Felix Mwania: Yeah, that’s a minimum. Salaried employees, I see them getting more for sure.
Mark Ambrose: That’s great. So upfront in the taking in of a new client, you have that discussion with them–or through the documentation–of how they’re accruing sick time and vacation?
Felix Mwania: Absolutely–obviously, besides the blog post that we have on our website–when orienting new clients. And especially, we take notice of new employers. WIth new employers, we have to orient them and talk about all those labor laws. And so that they may be compliant, especially those who have been processing payroll in-house, we see them actually not being compliant.
And once they set up with our system, we have them become compliant. And if they need to do retro pay, then we help them to do that as well. Our role is basically to do the best that we can so that we can get our clients to be compliant and do the right thing going forward.
Mark Ambrose: Yeah, there’s a lot of rules they’re probably not aware of.
Felix Mwania: Absolutely.
Mark Ambrose: How about for independent contractors? No real benefits there, sick time and vacation, right?
Felix Mwania: Independent contractor, so, for the most part, they don’t get vacation and sick time because they’re independent. An independent contractor is a business person that is working for another company. And so, for the most part, they just get flat pay based on the work that they are doing.
But I’ve actually seen some relationships with employers whereby some of those contractors actually get some benefits. Not more to do with sick time and vacation, but more to do with health insurance. I’ve seen that. It’s actually common nowadays, and they also get, like, 401k. It’s interesting to see those kinds of benefits being given to contractors, but they are good because they solidify the contractor and employer relationship.
Mark Ambrose: I like to hear that. That’s beautiful. Speaking of health insurance and 401ks–so you handle all that as well for these companies, yes?
Felix Mwania: Yes. Obviously, besides the partnerships that we have with 401k providers–let me handle something. Let me tackle a little aspect of that.
Mark Ambrose: Sure.
Felix Mwania: We have companies that are integrated with our system whereby when payroll is processed, the payroll data just flows directly into the 401k company. And that data is processed. And then the company’s–or client’s–bank account gets debited for the 401k amounts that need to be transferred. So instead of sending checks, the amount is debited directly.
Mark Ambrose: It’s seamless. Nice.
Felix Mwania: If that company is not integrated with our system, we have methods of computing all the numbers, and then we pay. It generates a file that we upload into our processing system, and the money moves from the employer’s bank account into the 401k company.
The final method is just an old-school check whereby we generate the check if the employer allows us to do that. We generate a hard copy check signed by the employer because we can sign those checks electronically with the employer’s handwritten signature.
When the check is printed, we just put it in the mail. It goes to the 401k administrator. But the employer can write that check as well. We actually have some that just write their own checks and send them to the 401k administrators.
Mark Ambrose: What if the company does not currently have a 401k or health insurance but would like to. Do you get involved in that at all, like introduce them to it?
Felix Mwania: Oh yeah. Just because we are a payroll company does not mean that we cannot help in other aspects of the business. So we have partnerships. We have 401k providers that we partner with, whether integrated or not. And so we get them in touch with our clients if they are interested, help them sign up, and then take out everything else. Once the contract is in place, we help them manage everything from that point onwards. And we deal with the administrator directly.
Mark Ambrose: That’s beautiful. Take a lot of burden off of them, looking at a ton of 401ks and health insurance plans.
Felix Mwania: Absolutely. And 401ks used to be expensive a few years ago, so now there are quite a good number of alternatives that are very, very affordable. So, it’s no longer a good excuse to say that employers can not sponsor 401k.
Mark Ambrose: Gotcha. So administration costs are minimal now?
Felix Mwania: Yes, very affordable now.
Mark Ambrose: Does your data show it all that those kinds of benefits help hold onto key employees?
Felix Mwania: Oh, like 401ks and those retirement plans and stuff like that? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It’s interesting that companies that offer those benefits have much, much higher retention than those that do not. And I’ve seen it. We have a company that we started working with when they only had three employees back in 2009, and right now, they have about 40 employees. They offer benefits.
And this is my model company. This client does manufacturing, by the way. Manufacturing companies generally have a lot of high turnovers. But this is the one company that, the entire last year, lost one employee. The previous three or four years, I don’t think they lost any.
Mark Ambrose: Wow, that’s great.
Felix Mwania: Yes. This is an amazing company. I have never seen retention power like that before. And they offer all kinds of benefits. Not superfluous, but just common sense benefits. They are generous with their sick time and vacation and 401k, and they’re just an amazing employer and amazing client as well.
Mark Ambrose: Great management.
Felix Mwania: And not only that, but we have quite a good number of examples.
Mark Ambrose: Nice. Yeah. Valuing their employees and treating them well, it’s good management.
So can employees themselves access their own payroll history and data? Like, can they get into your portal and look at stuff?
Felix Mwania: Yeah. We have a dedicated portal for employees to log into and do their pay stubs, do their W2’s at the end of the year. And they can also track their vacation, their sick time, and they can even request sick days off or even some vacation days off. That portal is kind of like an employee self-service. They’re able to do a lot of things, and all we need is an email address when setting them up.
Mark Ambrose: I see. Educated employees are good employees. What happens if mistakes are made at all. In the payroll tax mistakes, who will pay those penalties, if there are any?
Felix Mwania: While they are very rare, we will if it is Accupay’s mistake. Actually, we’ve been in a situation whereby we picked up the wrong numbers when migrating a new client. They were given to us correctly. And one of my employees combined Q1 and Q2 into one quarter. And so that created a small mistake in the payroll numbers.
We actually ended up paying some of the taxes, but we actually ended up paying another quarter because of the initial mistake. And so when a mistake like that happens, it is actually Accupay’s responsibility to pay the penalties and make all the corrections. We do not hold our clients responsible for such mistakes.
Mark Ambrose: Nice.
Felix Mwania: For whatever reason, should it end up being the client’s mistake, we still don’t look like we don’t care at all. We work with them to figure out how the mistake happened in the first place. We help them fix it. If there are any penalties, we try to work with the government to waive them. By the way, the government waives penalties if it’s reasonable or if it’s just a one-time mistake.
So we work with the government to see if they can get waived. Eventually, if they don’t get waived, obviously, we work with the client to get them paid. There are times that we give them a free month if it warrants them getting a break. Because it’s not about making money, really, honestly, it’s about serving our clients, and by doing so, we make some money. That’s always the way we do business.
Mark Ambrose: I like that, and that should be the motto of every company. Right?
Felix Mwania: Absolutely.
Mark Ambrose: Who was it, Zig Ziglar? He said you could get everything you want in life by helping other people get everything they want and what they need.
Felix Mwania: Yep. I like that.
Mark Ambrose: Imagine that. A lot of these companies send you incorrect data. Like, they’re not tracking the data correctly, or am I wrong in that assumption?
Felix Mwania: It does happen from time to time. And a lot of times, if the data is wrong, we catch it. Because if it’s calculations and we’re entering historical data, we catch it. We absolutely catch it because our system actually checks to see if the calculations are correct based on the tax rates and other prevailing payroll conditions. And if it is wrong, we correct it, and we also work with the client. If there are any short payments, then we have the client get caught up.
And like I said earlier, if they are significant, we talk with the government to see they can get waived. And a lot of times, they actually get waived.
Mark Ambrose: Nice and good to hear that.
Felix Mwania: Yeah, wrong data is not new. We get it all the time.
Mark Ambrose: Yeah. It’s number-crunching from people who are maybe not used to crunching numbers a lot, from some of these employers. So I can see that happening. How secure is outsourcing the data to you? So, you already told me you have your portal, and that’s completely secure. But they email or fax it. But does anybody snail mail you data?
Felix Mwania: Yes. I mean, not for payroll processing. We’ve seen clients, some of the old-school clients will FedEx all their payroll setup forms. A few other forms have been sent through just regular USPS mail. We’ve seen that from time to time. Some clients don’t want to upload a voided check through our system.
They don’t feel like it’s very secure, but we don’t blame them. We live in a world where hacking happens all the time. And obviously, we don’t take that kind of information by email because email is generally not secure.
We know a lot of email service providers like Gmail–which we use, actually–they do a lot of security in the backend. And so, you can even encrypt emails with some of these email service providers. But yes, we do see snail mail.
We try to accommodate such clients. But as always, we have very secure ways of submitting the payroll data and setup information like voided checks and social security numbers and all that good stuff. We try to make sure they are channeled through the secure portal.
Mark Ambrose: Once again, diversity of options to suit the client’s needs and desires. I like it. Well, how about your own data center? How secure is that? And is there a redundant offsite backup, or how does that work?
Felix Mwania: So our system is not hosted in our office. We use Microsoft Azure. I’m sure you are familiar with Microsoft Azure. It’s super redundant. I don’t know how many backups they have, but they do have those, and they are publicly audited.
And they provide even HIPAA compliance level of security. And besides that, we actually do take a backup as well. The backup is done on a weekly basis, even though we have a backup in the cloud with Microsoft.
Mark Ambrose: That’s great. Redundancy.
Felix Mwania: And then, internally, our own computers. If you leave your computer, we have sensors on the computer. If the computer is not being used for 15 minutes, it locks the payroll system. So there’s not a chance of anybody getting into the system unless somebody just comes in and kills you and then gets into the system.
Mark Ambrose: Thankfully, that doesn’t happen.
Felix Mwania: Yeah, that doesn’t happen. So, yeah. So we have that in place.
Mark Ambrose: Great! I didn’t know. So Azure, yeah. Excellent, redundant, and secure systems. I didn’t know HIPAA was auditing those systems, so that’s awesome. Is it better? It sounds like it is, right? It’s because you know your industry. So how many small businesses try to do this internally? It’s much better for them to outsource it, yes?
Felix Mwania: Absolutely. Absolutely. I tell clients and prospective clients that if they are trying to save a few dollars here by doing in-house, they’re not doing themselves a good service because they’re going to make a mistake. That mistake is going to cost them a few thousand dollars. And payroll processing is actually pretty affordable.
If anybody wants to know, they can go to our website and check. On the bottom right corner, there is a link that says “Payroll Pricing.” They can go and see how affordable it is to outsource payroll. Now, we are not the only payroll processor in town. So, if anybody starting out is thinking they could process payroll in-house, they should think twice because it’s not the right thing to do.
Compliance is huge when it comes to paying employees and staying on top of all the compliance labor laws and stuff like that. So they should absolutely outsource. It’s not worth it, doing it in-house, even if they’re saving $10.
Mark Ambrose: Yeah, I agree. Especially if you’re unaware as an employer that you’re not compliant and you find out way down the road. The penalties could be enormous.
Felix Mwania: Yeah. And one thing that we do when we consult with new employers and new clients, we try to figure out if they truly know what they’re doing? And we tell them, look, when you’re in doubt, talk to somebody.
And talk to us with no obligation whatsoever. If you come to us and you have questions on payroll processing compliance and this and that, we do it for no charge. We only make money once we start processing your payroll and we do the right thing.
Mark Ambrose: Nice. By the way, you mentioned going on your side, so that’s accupaysystems.com, correct?
Felix Mwania: Yes.
Mark Ambrose: So give me a ballpark; what’s a general range that payroll processing companies charge customers?
Felix Mwania: So, I don’t really know how other companies price their payroll services out there, but I know we are pretty affordable comparatively based on what I’ve seen. I know how expensive ADP, Paychex, Intuit are. And for some reason, their fees just keep on going up all the time. But for us specifically, our pricing is also on our website. We are super transparent.
For weekly payroll, and let’s say, five employees. There are five employees, weekly payroll, the base is 20 bucks, and then it’s $2 for every employee being paid. So it will be 2 times 5, that’s 10, plus the base of 20. So it will be $30 to process payroll.
Mark Ambrose: Super affordable.
Felix Mwania: What that covers is every aspect of the payroll processing, tax filing, tax payments, and everything in-between. So we don’t charge extra for filing quarterly tax returns or even making the tax payments for the client. That fee covers everything.
Mark Ambrose: I was going to ask that next. Do you make the automatic payment of payroll tax to the government entities?
Felix Mwania: Yes, absolutely. Everything is done electronically. That minimizes mistakes because when you do things manually, the chances of making mistakes are magnified. We try to avoid that. And we also run reconciliation reports every quarter–actually, every month first, and then every quarter–to make sure that all the tax payments that are supposed to be due are paid on time and to the right agencies.
Mark Ambrose: Sweet. That’s huge right there. I would say that all by itself is worth every dollar. What advice would you give, Felix, to somebody whose clients are mostly home service companies and contractors? If somebody was just starting one of those businesses, what advice would you give them as far as payroll processing and employee benefits?
Felix Mwania: You know, not many companies start off offering employee benefits, but it’s always good to consult. I mean, for us, it’s a free consultation, but I would say this: just seek some help so that you can get started off properly.
If you choose to do things in-house, a lot of mistakes can happen. And you would rather pay a little bit of money to get some help with understanding what is required of you as a new employer before you decide either to process in-house or outsourcing.
And obviously, outsourcing is the best way to go because it saves a lot of time and is not expensive. It may look like you’re spending $30, but it’s really not spending. I mean, it’s an investment because of the many things that you avoid. And once your employees are paid on time and paid accurately, they will be happy. They’ll be content. They will not be looking to switch or to move. Happy employees are productive employees. Just start right and do the right thing.
Mark Ambrose: Yeah. Happy employees equal happy customers. You cannot have happy customers with unhappy employees. It sounds like they should look at adding some kinds of benefits as quickly as they can afford them because it’ll help them hold onto their key people.
Felix Mwania: I agree with you 100%. Like I was saying in the beginning, not many companies start off with benefits because, obviously, there’s a really fine balance between what you are paying the employees and how much is coming in. But like you say, offer benefits as soon as possible.
Vacation is a no-brainer: vacation and sick time. Sick time is compulsory anyways, but vacation is a no-brainer. Offer that as soon as you can. It’s a small benefit, but it goes a long, long way. And then, as things stabilize in the company and you’re making money, you start offering other benefits like 401k. They are called “sticky benefits” because they help you retain your employees long-term.
Mark Ambrose: Nice. I didn’t know that phrase, “sticky benefits,” to retain people. I didn’t know that. Are there any common myths in your industry that you’d like to debunk right now?
Felix Mwania: Yes, a couple of them, actually. Famous payroll bureaus like ADP and Paychex and newer ones like Intuit–Intuit is becoming a good size bureau because now they have full-service payroll, not just self-service–their reputations are that they scourge their clients. You know, for the most part, it’s true. Those big bureaus just want to milk every penny from their clients.
For the most part, they give teaser rates with introductory pricing for XYZ. First of all, if you’re going to be getting a teaser rate, stay away from that company because, in due time, they are going to raise your prices tremendously, and you’ll feel the pinch. And migrating payroll is not always something that you want to do on a whim.
So the myth is that payroll bureaus scourge their clients. Not all of them. Certainly, we do not. We don’t even have setup fees. We tell our clients, “Hey, you’re used to paying setup fees with other bureaus. It’s our way of welcoming you on board. So we will set you up free, and we’ll process your payroll.“
And then once we’ve done the right thing and everything, right, then we can get paid. So that’s one of them. The other myth is that once you outsource to smaller companies, you’re exposing yourself to fraud and the possibility of that CPA or that small bureau just going out of business and taking you down with them.
But that’s not true. Obviously, look at their history before you move your payroll to them. For example, Accupay has been in business longer than I’ve been alive, actually. Our company was started in 1978, even though it’s gone through some transitions. Back then, it was under a big company called CCH until 1992, when they decided they did not want to do payroll. They sold the company to two employees that were actually in charge of that division.
Those two employees ran it until they decided to retire in 2012. And then in 2012, I bought the company, and it’s been stable. And I had my own business, even prior to that. It was an apparel business that I actually merged into Accupay.
So look at the history of the company that you are trying to do business with. If they’ve been in business for two years or less, you have to be careful. If they’ve been in the business longer than that or the proprietor or the owner has been in related business for longer than that, then you know most likely there is stability.
If there is some history, bad history, you will find out. You should always just go online and just type up the name of the company or the name of the person in charge, and things will come up online. If it has a bad history, it will come up. So do a little bit of a background check.
But otherwise, not all bureaus are the same, and not all small businesses are the same. People should always try to go with a local company because they can always go and see them face to face.
Mark Ambrose: Yeah, I like that part. And you’re right. So with ADP and companies like them, you’re paying for their marketing and their giant offices everywhere. And I agree, today you can go on LinkedIn and look up the owners of the smaller companies that you’re looking to do business with. If I go on LinkedIn and look up you, I see you spent your entire career in accounting and payroll processing. You weren’t in 12 different industries.
So do your homework, but put your faith in a good, solid, small local company with who you can meet face to face if need be. I like it. Let’s get into some general stuff in closing, Felix. What’s your favorite part of being a business owner yourself?
Felix Mwania: When I see myself making positive impacts on small business owners, especially helping them get things right at the very beginning. And not only that but also when they come into my life after they’ve gotten started and I help them stabilize and get moving in the right direction, I’m happy.
Besides just payroll processing, I try to help my clients because my background is in accounting and tax. I have a master’s in taxation. I try to make sure that my clients know how to save money and they’re not just floundering their earnings.
They are saving and paying their employees well and keeping them. If I am making sure they have this retention longevity, then I’m happy. Also, I like the flexibility of being able to take time off to spend with my family. It’s not about work all the time. It’s about just having a great balance between work and life.
Mark Ambrose: Yeah. Same here. I have those same two driving forces to impact a business owner and their employees. The business as a whole just gives you goosebumps, and that’s a tremendous reward right there. And again, more time for your family and stuff. Plus, having employees and nurturing their lives and their careers. That’s wonderful too.
Felix Mwania: Oh, absolutely. That’s another thing I should have mentioned, and I know I talk about it all the time. Can you imagine, I mean, being a business owner and providing employment to some people? Their livelihoods are literally dependent on you as an employer. And I love that because I get to share my life with them, and they share their lives with me.
And by doing so, we make something happen in terms of taking care of our clients. They earn a living, and I earn a living as well. That’s a mutual benefit, and we actually become like a family. And it’s an amazing feeling when you have that kind of a relationship.
Mark Ambrose: It’s beautiful, those relationships. Speaking of being influential to other people, who or two people have been most influential on you and your life and your career?
Felix Mwania: I wish I could say my dad, but I grew up without one, and that’s unfortunate because I know he’s missing out. But in all truthfulness, one person that has significantly influenced my life is Elon Musk actually. Being so smart like Elon Musk drives me to do the kind of things he stands for. Like being green.
I have solar power in my house. I have a smart home. I try to be as green as possible. We don’t even buy bottled water because of pollution. There are just so many ways he inspires me that I could go on talking about.
Another person is Bill Gates. I really like what he does. Bill Gates is quite influential in my life. And not just now, but he’s always been influential from the 90s when I was still very, very young. And mostly because of his charity. I mean, he is wealthy, and a lot of wealthy people out there don’t do much for charity. But for him, the kind of investment he and his soon-to-be ex-wife have made.
They’ve done some tremendous work in helping eliminate certain diseases. And not only that but also minimizing the effects of some of those diseases. They’ve invested in a lot of research. And those are the kinds of things that really touch my heart.
And so I like what they’ve done, and I hope they continue doing that even in their separate lives. I actually really loved them, and I was really heartbroken. I was so heartbroken when I heard about them divorcing. I overlooked their faults.
Mark Ambrose: Oh, sure, sure. We all have faults, and it’s difficult for two people to grow in the same direction for decades and decades. Even two very inspiring people who take on big-picture stuff and change the world. They’re good, inspiring people. How about books? Is there a book or two you would recommend to our home contractor audience or really anybody?
Felix Mwania: I read a lot this year. I’m going to brag here. Sorry, Mark. I think I’ve read about 38 books so far. Yeah, maybe 40, but I think it’s about 38, and I haven’t checked lately.
Mark Ambrose: You’re burning through more than once a week there, Felix.
Felix Mwania: Yes. Yes, I do more than a book a week on average. And some of them are smaller, about 300 pages. Some of them are bigger. And I read wide. I don’t just specialize in books that are most centered on business. I read history, I read health, and I read inspirational books. I read all that kind of stuff.
But there are two books that I’ve actually impressed me a lot, but they’re not even centered towards contractors. If I went back to my history, maybe I could come up with some for them. But there’s a book called How Not to Die.
Mark Ambrose: I think I’ve heard of that, yes.
Felix Mwania: “How Not to Die” by Dr. Michael Greger. It’s an amazing book. It talks about how to live healthy lives, and more so towards a non-meat diet. Plant-based. That’s an amazing book.
And it’s crazy how many people live with chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney diseases, lung diseases, and all that good stuff, diabetes. And I’ve seen so much change in my life since I started going with a meatless diet. It’s amazing. That’s one book I would encourage anybody to read. Whether you are super healthy or not so healthy, young or old, I highly suggest it.
Yeah. Another book that I’ve enjoyed is “Cast” by Isabel Wilkerson. Amazing, amazing. In the last couple of years, we’ve gone through, we’ve seen a lot of racial tension. Both political and just societal issues such as Black Lives Matter and foreigners.
And it’s crazy. I love being informed. You cannot imagine what you think is the right thing. Get informed. And I encourage people to read widely. This book talks about the differences that exist between different races, different ages, different genders, and different political classes. It’s an amazing, amazing read. I would highly encourage it.
And my final book, I know you asked for two, but my final book is Man’s Search for Meaning. It is an amazing little book. I can’t remember how big it was, but it would probably take just a couple of days.
Mark Ambrose: Viktor Frankl?
Felix Mwania: Absolutely. Yeah. You know it?
Mark Ambrose: Beautiful book. Unbelievable. I got goosebumps now that you just mentioned that book.
Felix Mwania: That’s an amazing read. So anybody, oh yeah, please read it.
Mark Ambrose: Those are three great suggestions right there. I have to agree. Yeah. Diet alone can totally change your life. And your mindset, your business, and your relationships. It’ll just trickle into your entire life.
So yeah, I’d have to agree with that. And Viktor Frankl’s book is amazing. I’ll have to go get Cast. We’re a strange society. Most societies are strange societies, I guess. We need to embrace the diversity and beauty of all people, all cultures.
It’s funny how we say we’d love Greek food, Italian food, Cuban food, whatever with diet. But somehow, many of us close that door when it comes to people. It’s very strange. To grow your own self, grow your own mind, grow your relationship with the human race. If you were in my shoes, Felix, is there a question that I should’ve asked you that I did not?
Felix Mwania: If I was in your shoes and I was interviewing myself, I would probably ask, what or two things you wish you knew when you started off in business?
As we mature in business–and, Mark, I’m sure you know this–you learn so much from experience, from other people, and from people who’ve gone before you.
Whether it’s the same kind of business you’re in or other kinds of businesses, there’s just so much to learn from other people. And that’s why I always say we should all be open to learning new things.
Over the years, I’ve learned so many things, and I think, “Hmm, I wish I knew that when I was starting off.” For example, I wish I could have delegated more when I was younger when I was just getting off. I was so overwhelmed that I was making mistakes, and I remember initially making quite gross mistakes that tainted my business for a while.
And if I knew, I would have just delegated it more. You don’t have to have the people that you’re delegating to in your office. They could be remote. I’ve been able to outsource my work to people in other places like in India and in the Philippines.
And they do a great job because guess what? They’re looking for some money because they want to do a really good job so that they can get hired more and more. They do a really good job, and they follow instructions. Sometimes there are communication challenges, but you just choose somebody you feel like you’re going to get along with and understand what you’re looking for.
Mark Ambrose: 100%. That probably should have been the first question. Actually, I have to say, it’s the same for me. So my team is all over the world, Philippines, India, Pakistan, here in the U.S., and all over. And I have the same exact feeling. Man, I wish I had delegated out. I’ve run three or four businesses in my life with the same problem.
And all of our clients have the same problem. They do too much themselves. They need to train and then trust that those people can get the job done. I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but that is very valuable information. So, Felix, where can our listeners find and connect with you online?
Felix Mwania: I don’t do a lot of social media. I tend to be social media shy, while I still post on Twitter sometimes. I have LinkedIn and Facebook. I rarely get on Facebook. I do have some Facebook groups that I follow, but I’m rarely on social media. But LinkedIn surely is the place to go for me. I message people back-and-forth there.
And then the other place would be my website or company website, really, accupaysystems.com. There’s a phone number there. There’s also a form that you can fill out. And it comes to me first before I distribute the messages to the relevant people in our company.
So, if anybody wants to get in touch with us, that’s where we are. That’s where I am. And also, if anybody wants to check out our services, accupaysystems.com once again, we have everything that we do on that website, but again, our pricing is also there.
So in the bottom right corner, you see payroll pricing, and you can always go and price our services there. It depends on whatever you need, but for the basic services, the pricing is there.
Timekeeping prices are not there because they are so dependent on the frequency, and we would rather give that quote one-to-one instead of just putting it out.
Mark Ambrose: Fantastic. Great conversation. Really enjoyed this, Felix. Thank you so much for spending your time with us today. I really appreciate it.
Felix Mwania: Thank you, Mark. This was great. I appreciate your time, and thank you for bringing me to your podcast.
Mark Ambrose: Thanks for coming on board. I really enjoyed it. So we hope our listeners got some helpful value from this interview. I really enjoyed it myself. Thanks for sharing your time with us today.