As a fourth-generation entrepreneur, René Lacerte founded his first business (PayCycle) in 1999. His frustration with paper-driven bill payment inspired him to launch Bill.com in 2006 with a mission to simplify and automate A/P and A/R. Now, 3 of the top ten banks, more than 50 percent of the top-100 accounting firms, and 1 million entities use Bill.com. Bill.com has received awards ranging from the San Francisco Business Time’s Most Innovative Companies to PC Magazine’s Editor’s Choice Award.
In this post, we ask the Bill.com founder and CEO to share his journey – both highs and lows – as an entrepreneur.
Why did you want to run your own business?
My family has founded 15 companies over the past 107 years. My mother was processing data punch cards for the family business a few hours before I was born. You could say I was born into the world as an entrepreneur. For me, the more common question wasn’t if I would run my own business but when.
What was the biggest surprise you found when you started your business?
It takes time to change habits across an industry. When I started Bill.com, many accounting firms and businesses clung to paper-driven A/P – even though it limited efficiency and productivity. Who wants double data entry or digging through filing cabinets to find contracts? No one. But familiarity with the dated manual process was and is comforting to people. Over time, our persistence has been able to contribute to a change in perception since our launch. A . To run efficiently, they’d prefer an automated, integrated and digital A/P and A/R experience.
What was the hardest thing about getting started?
Even though I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, I didn’t start my own business until I was 32. It takes a high level of risk tolerance, dedication, passion and time to start a company. I saw that first-hand growing up and it was the reservation around risk that I had to overcome. Ultimately, my frustrations with inefficiency and my belief in technology outweighed my hesitation and I founded my first company in 1999.
What has been the most rewarding moment?
My most rewarding moments have been a compilation of quieter and consistent ones. Customers sharing how both PayCycle and Bill.com have helped them lead better businesses and happier lives are motivating. Employees sharing their gratitude for our culture and our work environment are powerful. These experiences are a reminder of what matters most – helping people live better lives. I do not take these moments for granted. They’re possible due to hard work, talented employees and great relationships with innovative partners like Xero.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone else about to start their own business?
Persistence. Roadblocks on a trip don’t cause you to turn around. They cause you to find a different path to the same destination. Business is full of roadblocks and as the founder your primary job is locate alternate paths to your ultimate destination.