This podcast is one of those great interviews where I get to chat with a local business owner for the first time. Cadie Gaut is someone who has circled around the business community near me, but we never quite got the chance to meet until now. From working at a CPA firm in high school to becoming a USA graduate with a finance degree, she decided to open up shop as Payroll Vault. Now, let's hear the story of how Cadie stepped out of her mom's shadow and started her own business.
Cadie: I am Cadie Gaut with Payroll Vault.
Marcus: Well, welcome to the podcast Cadie.
Cadie: Thank you for having me, very excited.
Marcus: Yeah, I'm excited about this as well. I know we've never met before today.
Cadie: No, I've just-
Marcus: But we've just circled each other in the business community, so I'm glad to get a chance to sit down with you and learn a bit more about your journey as a business owner.
Cadie: Yeah, thank you.
Marcus: Yeah. To get started, tell us the story of Cadie. Where are you from? Where did you go to high school? If you went to college, where did you go? Married? Back story.
Cadie: So, in a nutshell, born and raised in Mobile, specifically, Theodore. Then, just last year, my husband and I moved to Saraland. So I went from completely south to north, but we really like it out there. Freshman year of high school went to Saint Paul's and then transferred to Theodore High School and graduated from there. Then went straight to college, to Spring Hill, to be a teacher, secondary education, math. I wanted to teach algebra. Actually, ended up dropping out my second semester. Took a semester off and then transferred to South and ended up getting a finance degree. I graduated from South in 2014.
Marcus: Wow, very cool. So you've always kind of ... I guess, your interest in math comes into play now, because you deal with a lot of math with Payroll Vault.
Cadie: Exactly. I kind of joke to people. They ask, "What do you do?" And I say, "I talk to people and I play with numbers." Excel Spreadsheets and all of that, but I really enjoy it. I tutored a lot in high school and I really just enjoyed that, helping people understand something. You can see when the light bulb goes off and that's what I loved about it. So that's why I thought I wanted to be a teacher. Started going for my orientation in the classrooms and realized-
Marcus: Yeah, this isn't for me.
Cadie: I thought I liked kids because I had one. I had my daughter very, very young, but it's different when it's your own. That's when I actually switched to accounting. Took an accounting class, which my mom is a CPA, so I thought, "Okay, well, I'll just follow her." And took one class and realized, oh no, this is not it. I actually took a finance class from Doctor [Huntsater 00:02:24] at South, and the ah-ha moment. It clicked, all the puzzle pieces and that's one of the best feelings in life is when you have that moment.
Marcus: I'm not a math guy, but you're saying two things that I would have thought would be fairly similar, accounting and finance.
Cadie: They're different.
Marcus: But, I guess, there's some overlap, but very different.
Cadie: A lot of people think that they're the same and they're not. I compare it as accounting, you're putting together all these puzzle pieces, whereas finance, the puzzle is put together. It's your job to just come back and look at and find things that are off. Rather than building the financial statement, you're looking at it and seeing the patterns. As my mom would say, "Financials sing to her." Well, they don't exactly sing to me, but I like the numbers.
Marcus: Met your mom, but that is a very weird thing for me to hear. I'm not a financial ... One of the most difficult things about running a business, for me, has been coming to understand financials and putting together cash flow worksheets and profit-loss statements and all this stuff. It's been a real ... I firmly believe that every business owner needs to take ownership of that aspect of their business.
Cadie: Absolutely, I mean, anything in the financial categories. I love numbers, but when it comes to the financial statements, oh, that's ... I pull the mom card. I'm like, "Come, look at my QuickBooks." I process her payroll and she does my tax return.
Marcus: That's great. Well, what was ... Go back for me a little bit, what was your first job and were there any lessons that you remember from that?
Cadie: Really, I basically grew up in an accounting firm, in a CPA firm, working for my mom. Now, at the time, she was working with a larger firm, but I was probably about 12 and my first job was organizing the files in an outdoor storage units, in the middle of summer. During tax season, the accountants would be super busy so they would just throw the ... and that was before computers were heavily used and they would just throw the files out there. Then I would come in, in the summertime, and organize them alphabetically. That's when I loved the order and ABC, it was for me, I loved it. It was hot and miserable. Then, you know, the next summer I got to move inside and do the files indoors, so I thought I was on top of the world.
Marcus: Got a promotion.
Cadie: Then I got to stick labels on envelopes and I was like, "Oh ..."
Marcus: You and my wife would get along really well, because she wanted to be a math teacher. She loves finance. She just gets so deep into organizing numbers and files and stuff like that. I mean, it's just-
Cadie: Yeah, I love it.
Marcus: You guys are kind of oddly-
Cadie: The thing is, that's in my professional ... I lived two lives and they're closely intertwined, because I am very transparent. But, if you looked at my car, right now, I live out of it. Between meetings and driving across the bay and all over the place. In my professional life, very organized, keeping up with everyone's payroll, but then in my personal life, it's just organized chaos. But, you know, I've done other jobs. I worked ... Really, my first job outside of the CPA firm, Jimmy Lowe's Fruit Stand in Theodore. I worked there, probably, for about a year in high school and it was amazing. I really loved it. I loved the customers. Then I worked three months at Applebee's waitressing in college. Quickly learned that was not for me. I worked one day at a shoe store, not for me. The moment they took me to the backroom, where they keep all the shoes, I lost it.
Marcus: Too chaotic.
Cadie: Too chaotic, there was no method to the madness and I'm all about a good process, and there was no process. Then I had an internship at Ingalls Shipbuilding. That was a big learning experience. What I learned from that, a lot of people there ... I don't want to say a lot of people, but the attitude of, "Well, that's not my job. Well, I'm in this department, I'm not worried about what that department is doing." And that blew my mind. No, for this to work-
Marcus: Everybody has to be working towards a common goal.
Cadie: Exactly, so that's what I ... My team, there's myself and then we have three payroll specialists. Lindsey, Starr, and Linda, and they're so fabulous. I love my team. We work as one. People will joke, "Well, who do I need to email?" And we say, "Well, any of us, all of us." We're so close and that's so important in a team.
Marcus: We didn't mention, your mom is Karen Simmons.
Cadie: Yes. Karen Simmons, she has her own CPA firm, KCSPC.
Marcus: Yeah. You mentioned before we got started and I quickly shushed you, because I didn't want you to get into it until we started recording. Thank you for not slapping me when I did that. You grew up in an entrepreneurial home.
Cadie: I did.
Marcus: What was it like starting to go out. I mean, you mentioned getting out from underneath her umbrella, if you will, or out from behind her shadow. What was that like when you ...
Cadie: My mother is one of the most intelligent people I know. She's the definition of an alpha female, go-getter, get it done whatever you need to do. I grew up watching that and once ... Payroll Vault was really her vision. I was processing payroll through her accounting firm. She really saw the need and the opportunity. Payroll Vault is a franchise based out of Colorado. We bought the franchise together in 2015 and I'm busy learning the software. I didn't want to go out in public. I'm, by nature, just very ... I don't want to say, quiet, but I stick to myself I guess and I was happy behind the computer. Well, it got to the point where she's doing her own thing with the accounting firm, so if I want to make Payroll Vault happen I'm going to have to just get out there and do it. The thing people would say to me, "Oh, you're Karen's daughter." And that's all I was known for and that was my motivation to, okay, who am I? I've got to discover myself. I'm not just someone's daughter. I'm my own person, but who is that? And I had no idea. That's why I'm proud of myself for really discovering who I am, what I care for, what I want to do, who I want to be. Because you're always evolving and that's the important thing to realize that and really look inside yourself and understand who you want to be.
Marcus: That is a common theme for most of the people we talk to, is that there is a drive that they have to learn and grow and become the best version of themselves. This isn't Oprah, but I mean to take that to ... as far as they possibly can because we understand that by doing that, we're also impacting all those people that are around us and helping them become their best versions, as well. But that there's some value in that, as well, that is a commodity in the business place.
Cadie: I think it happens naturally. Most business owners, the word, content, is evil. It's something you're not satisfied with. I mean, that part of me happened way before the business simply because I got pregnant when I was 15 with my daughter. I had her at 16 and this statistic for teen moms, that was ... I would tell people I'm pregnant and the sadness I would see in their eyes. I didn't understand that because my mentality was, "Oh no, I'm going to ... this isn't changing anything. It may make things more difficult, but I'm going to do this."
Marcus: Even at an early age seeing some level of ... I mean, that is a setback, but at the same time, you have the drive even at 14, 15 that you knew you were going to go on to do great things.
Marcus: And nothing was going to stop you from doing that. You were going to figure out a way.
Cadie: Yes. No other choice. Parenthood is the number one reason teenage girls drop out of high school. 50% of teen moms don't get their high school diploma and that breaks my heart. I was blessed with family support, that I know a lot of girls don't have, but that's my initial ... not initial, but my longterm goal, is to develop some sort of program to help find a solution for girls to be able to stay in school. That is my ultimate longterm goal.
Marcus: Yeah. That's amazing. Do you remember the first sale, or client, or whatever account with Payroll Vault that made you think that there might be something to this?
Cadie: There's so many. I love all my clients so dearly and it's pretty ... I love their industries, because I wanted to do a lot of different things. I never knew what I wanted to do, so I wanted to do everything. Now, I get to explore all these different industries, but there's my favorite are the new businesses. When someone approaches me, "Hey, I'm starting a business, let's talk about employees and what I should do." Those are my favorite because I'm there ... that's my making a difference. A lot of them, "Well, I was just going to do it myself." I tell them, "No, let me take that off of your plate, so that you can focus on your business." That's how I'm here to help.
Marcus: We don't track time in the normal way that you track time, but I have other business owner friends that I have, literally for years, told them that this is one area of their business that they should not be doing, because it's such a simple thing to offload yourself. And then, just at the end of the payroll, that information just gets processed. I'm assuming that you can do some level of processing the actual payment to the employees, as well.
Cadie: Exactly. The options are endless. I don't want to get into the nitty-gritty, but in all the solutions that we offer, for example, let's say that a company does track time. Well, we have the timekeeping system that integrates with the payroll software, so all that the owner, or manager, has to do is approve time. We get it processed, pay the tax payments, the deductions, issue the payments, whatever they want. We're really just there to help, so if something does go wrong, or let's say someone was shorted an hour or so, we're there to help and what can we do?
Marcus: Yeah. It's such an easy thing to handoff. Anyway, if you're out there, give here a holler. I know she's-
Cadie: Thanks for the plug.
Marcus: Yeah. If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started running their own business and also, in this instance, maybe even channel that 15, 16, 17 year-old girl that maybe pregnant and thinking, "What am I going to do?" What's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?
Cadie: Breath, it's going to be okay. Listen to all the cliches, because every single one of them is true. Some of the ones I've ... I remember the exact moments when I realized fake it until you make it. It was my first time ever going to a chamber meeting and I was just a nervous wreck. I walked in and there were six people there and they were all just so nice. I was like, "It's going to be okay." There's times, as a business owner, there's those long nights where you just breakdown and you think, "What am I doing? Am I doing the right thing? Man, I should have done that." Then the next day, something just magical happens, and it just confirms, "Okay, I was being silly. It's going to be okay."
Marcus: I'll let you in on a little secret. I still get nervous when we go to chamber meetings.
Cadie: Networking is so intimidating. Once I'm in a conversation, I'm fine.
Marcus: What do you mean I have to talk to people? Which seems really odd to say, considering what we're going here, but it's just to walk into an environment where you don't know anything. So part of the reason why I love this podcast so much is because I've met so many people through this that often times there's, at least, one or two people-
Cadie: Now, when you go, exactly.
Marcus: That you know, so it's my little secret. If you get nervous at chamber events, start a podcast because it's a great way to meet people.
Cadie: Someone told me yesterday, they said, "Just go up and compliment somebody." I was like, "Make sure it's genuine, at least."
Marcus: Yeah, yeah. What are you currently working on in your business?
Cadie: Growing, I mean, just like everyone else, we really want to grow. We got to a point where I was out and about a lot, meeting people, because that's absolutely crucial. I don't tell people that I do sales, I just go network and make connections and meet people and see where I can help. There were some processes that we needed to, not correct, but that we could improve because I'm big on processes. So I came back more in-house just to streamline things. I love being efficient and talking to the team, "What's working for you? What's not working for you?" And then meeting on a weekly basis to talk about that. How can we ... You can always be better. Things just being okay is not okay. We definitely want to grow. We specialize in the small to medium sized businesses. We have clients that it's just one employee, it's just the owner on payroll. Then we've got one company that's over 500 employees. It's really the range, but I really, I love the small businesses, because that's who I feel like we benefit the most.
Marcus: Very cool. You mentioned growing, that there's always room for improvement, and I'm reminded, I just recently finished the biography for Elon Musk. Whenever I think about, "Hey, maybe we've got our act together," I just remember Homeslice just sent a car into space to go to Mars. I mean, there's just so much. When you look at people like that, that are truly efficient with their processes, it just blows my mind.
Cadie: One of my goals is to read more, to really devote that time. One of the books that I started and I didn't finish, but Black Box Thinking. It's really looking ... It was comparing airline industry to hospitals and when mistakes happen. You know, the airline industries, they're really looking into analyzing the situation. How did the, let's say, the wheels don't go down when it's time to land? Why did this happen? How can we fix it? And then the process is corrected. In our office, let's say, someone ... you forgot to call someone back. Okay, well, it's not just, "Oops, let me call them," it's why did I forget to call them back? That was a big book of mine.
Marcus: Almost like looking at the ... finding a cure for what happened versus just covering up the symptom.
Marcus: Just to use doctor vernacular.
Marcus: What does a typical day look like for you?
Cadie: Well, I take my kids to school, first of all. That really sets the tone for the day. Put on my makeup as I'm driving to the office. No, first thing I do in the morning is check my emails and take my kids to school. Get to the office, check on everybody in the team. I might go to a chamber function or another organization that I'm a part of. Then just really being there for my team. I'm not actually really processing payrolls anymore, however I handle all the on-boarding for new clients. So I make sure that everything is good to go. Then I assign that client to whoever I think is going to be a best fit for them, based on relationship and personality. Yeah.
Marcus: Then the day just flies by.
Cadie: The day just happens. And that was a big thing. I did business coaching for a while, where I had a coach. One of the biggest things he taught me was managing my time, which, I think, everybody needs to evaluate that. He had me look at my calendar, because one day I was complaining that I didn't have any time. And he said, "Send me a screenshot of your calendar." I did and he said, "Well, it looks like Swiss cheese." What are you talking about? He said, "There's holes of time all in your calendar." He said, "Look at this hour from Monday. What did you do?" I said, "I have no idea." And he said, "Well, there's that hour that you said you didn't have time for." That's the biggest thing that I tell people when I hear, "I don't have time of that." Well, let's evaluate where you're spending your time, because before you can move forward you've got to know where you're at. I try, my best, to track every single thing that I do, just so that, let's say, I have a bad week. Okay, well, let me look back and see what I was doing. Was I being lazy and not being as productive as I could have been? It's just be honest with yourself.
Marcus: Right. Yeah, that's good stuff. I think that kind of management of self-discipline is what takes somebody from just an okay entrepreneur to somebody that's really achieving what they're set out to achieve. I know we've recently had some discussions internally where people have to schedule time with me because, if they don't, it just won't happen because my calendar is so full. I have to leave some time available because we do have clients where they may just email me and say, "Hey, I need to talk to you about something. Can we schedule some time over the next 24 or 48 hours?" But, at the same time, I usually try to book myself out a week in advance because I just ... if I don't, I won't get anything done. As a matter of fact, I still have difficult ... I'm sure you have the same thing, it's just there's so many things that demand your time that you still have difficulty getting it done, so I'm trying to get better about delegating that stuff too.
Cadie: That's a transition that you go to when moving from employee to manager, or business owner, is they all have those different ways of thinking, so the business owner really it will never be done. Nothing is ever completed, but it's accepting that, "Okay, this isn't going to be done today. It doesn't need to be done today and that's okay." Busy work is different from things that need to get done.
Marcus: Who is the one person that motivates you from the business world?
Cadie: There's so many. At the top of the list is, of course, my mother. Which it's really funny, we, together, in business is completely different from our personal life. We are great business partners simply because we're so opposite. She is go, go, go, let's do this, let's do that, head in the clouds. And I'm really on the ground, pulling her back down, well, let's be realistic, let's figure out how we can do this. But at the same time, she's building me up to see more, dream more, I guess. But there's just, the Mobile community, is so inspiring. I really don't have any celebrities or big names that I look up to, simply because I'm big on connection. I love connecting with people. I'll name drop people that I just admire. Todd Greer and Josh Woods and there's Jeff with Yellow Hammer Coffee. You meet these people and there's just something about them.
Cadie: There's this spark, whether their passion, the amount of care that they show towards people and just how genuine they are in their spirit. It just glows and I love it.
Marcus: That's cool, very cool. Are there any ... so books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward? You've already mentioned your mom, so you can't say that.
Cadie: I am huge on organizations. We're a member of the Southwest Mobile Chamber of Commerce, the Saraland Chamber, the Mobile Chamber. We recently joined the Eastern Shore Chamber. I'm in Saraland Lion's Club and those are instrumental. The chamber is really what ... They provide the tools for you to be successful. They host the events. They host the workshops. They host the ribbon cuttings and the grand openings. One of them just nominated me for an award and it's just, they truly are there to help you succeed. And the fact that people don't take advantage of that, but yet they're complaining about their business being at a standstill. Use the tools, they're there.
Marcus: Yeah, it's a difficult thing because I see so many people just focused on working in the business and I often times gift people the E Myth book, because the E Myth is all about working on the business.
Marcus: What you're describing is ... everything you're describing, from setting up the processes and doing the analysis of what is going right and wrong in the business, and also making sure that you're working on the business, in the sense of getting out and meeting people and creating the network and all the leads and stuff like that.
Marcus: That are going to be necessary to drive the business forward and so many people just don't ... they don't address that.
Cadie: That was a big, honestly, a big transition in my marriage because he didn't understand the working outside of the business. So all the after hours events or if a client needs a meeting at 6 o'clock, you do that. While the events are a blast, and you have fun, you are working.
Marcus: Working, yeah.
Cadie: It's not your traditional sitting at your desk designing a spreadsheet, but you are working. And it's exhausting, but it's energizing at the same time.
Marcus: What is the most important thing that you've learned about running a business?
Cadie: Care for people, that's really it. Anyone can process payroll. Anyone can ... I don't want to discredit your work, but-
Marcus: Anyone can build a website.
Cadie: There's apps to design websites, but it's that personal care of communicating, you know, "I know your daughter just had a baby. I know your mom is sick." And if you care for people and care about them, and their business, that is what rewards me, at least. That's what circles back around.
Marcus: Yeah, absolutely. Now, I stopped asking what people like to do in their free time because nobody could come up with any reasonable answers, but what do you like to do to unwind?
Cadie: I am a big fitness person. I enjoy weightlifting. I've picked things up and put them down.
Marcus: Put them down. I love it. I use that all the time.
Cadie: Shout out to Planet Fitness.
Marcus: I can't go there because I'm a lunk-head, or meathead, as we like to refer to ourselves. No, that is so cool.
Cadie: No, I love the gym. My husband and I, we have a boat, so we enjoy fishing. My daughter plays softball, so that just started back up. My son is a lunatic, but in a great way, so I chase him around. But I really, I enjoy working. I do. I built my ... Well, not built, but I just got a computer for my home office and it's so exciting.
Marcus: So work follows you wherever you go.
Cadie: I am a workaholic by choice.
Marcus: Yeah. No, that is cool. What does the perfect day look like to you?
Cadie: Oh goodness, that's a tough one. The perfect day, going to the office, team is in a good place, kids didn't have meltdowns that morning. But my perfect day does involve going to work, just because if I'm not at work, I'm wondering about work, or feeling like I should be doing something. I know you probably understand this, in your free time, you get almost antsy, like I need to be doing something. Like last week was a pretty slow week, which is nice. It was pretty mellow, but at the same time I'm wondering what am I not doing? I need to be doing something. Then this week, four new businesses call us asking for services and it's just, again, that roller coaster of owning a business. But buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Marcus: Exactly. Tell people where they can find out more about you and your services.
Cadie: Our website, www ... Does people still say that?
Marcus: You don't have to, no. Okay, so here's your public service announcement.
Cadie: I sound so old school.
Marcus: Your public service announcement is that you no longer have to put dub-dub-dub, or www, in front of a domain name. If your website provider is doing their job, then it should automatically rectify itself.
Cadie: So there's the test. So if you don't type, www, and the website doesn't work, you need to call Marcus.
Marcus: You call Marcus, yes. We'll fix it for you.
Cadie: Payrollvault.com and we are a franchise, so there are multiple offices, but if you go to find the location Alabama, that'll take ... We're the only one in Alabama, so that will take you to our personal page. You can read our bios and all that fun stuff. Our phone number is 2-4-3-0-9-0-2, area code 2-5-1. Yeah, LinkedIn, Facebook-
Marcus: Facebook, still Payroll Vault, Mobile.
Cadie: Yep. That's it. We service Mobile and Baldwin County, or anywhere else.
Marcus: Well, I want to thank you again for coming on the podcast. To wrap up any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share.
Cadie: No, just thank you for having me. It was really fun.
Marcus: Yeah, no, I really enjoyed this. Well, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur. It's been great talking with you.
Cadie: Thank you.