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Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 79: Keep It Simple

Laura Elkaslassy & Michael Nuciforo

Profit First & Thriday

August 8, 2023
Keeping it simple. Finding your north star and creating a world with harmony between your ambition, livelihood and wellbeing. We chat through all this and more with not one but two founders this week, Laura Elkaslassy of Profit First and Michael Nuciforo of Thriday.

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Links

Profit First

Thriday

Credits

Produced by - Lucy Kippist

Edited by - Morgan Brown
‍Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
‍Guests - Laura Elkaslassy and Michael Nuciforo

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Episode 79 Transcript

Carrie Kwan (03:44.119)

Now, Laura, Michael, it's a pleasure to chat with you today. For those that haven't come across your business or don't perhaps know you, can we start by hearing a bit of an elevator pitch from both of you? Laura, would you like to go first?

Laura Elkaslassy (04:14.197)

Sure, no problem at all. Hi everyone, my name is Laura and I'm currently the CEO of ProfitFirst Australia and New Zealand. My role is to train accountants, bookkeepers and coaches in the ProfitFirst methodology so that they can work with business owners to ensure that their business is profitable and sustainable. I'm also a mum of two boys, so it keeps me very busy and I also run multiple businesses, so very excited to be here.

Carrie Kwan (04:42.095)

So you have more than two children. How many businesses is it, Laura?

Laura Elkaslassy (04:50.303)

I have four businesses and two children.

Carrie Kwan (04:54.16)

Six kids, okay, got it.

Laura Elkaslassy (04:56.289)

Hahaha

Carrie Kwan (05:03.959)

And Michael, go ahead.

Michael Nuciforo (05:05.936)

Hi, I'm Michael. I'm the CEO of Thriday. Thriday is a platform that automates accounting and tax for small to medium businesses and our goal is to eliminate the time that busy business owners waste on all the financial admin. We are really excited about the platform because we're bringing AI, artificial intelligence, to something that has been historically done by people. I also have two young kids and this is my second business. So the first business I ran was a car parking app called Parkound, which some of you may have used to book parking in the CBD or where you study. And for me, I guess running a business has been something I was always excited about doing when I was, when I was a kid, actually. And it's very much an extension of sort of some of my family and, you know, sort of entrepreneurialism in my network of family and friends.

Carrie Kwan (05:58.959)

Amazing. And I've also heard you've been referred to as something else other than a traditional CEO, Michael.

Michael Nuciforo (06:08.625)

Yes, so...

Carrie Kwan (06:08.715)

Was it Chief Elimination Officer?

Michael Nuciforo (06:12.076)

Yeah, that's correct. So we, when, it's a little obviously play on with what I mentioned about wanting to eliminate the time people spend on admin. So yeah, we decided that it wouldn't be a better way to convey that, to actually put it in my title. And it gets a funny response from people. They always ask me what it means.

Carrie Kwan (06:31.727)

Amazing. And how do you view your ambition?

Michael Nuciforo (06:45.06)

For me personally, there's a few reasons that I started the business. That's very much what motivates me. I think the first thing is that I did want to leave a legacy and I guess inspiration for my kids. And I think secondly, I have always been really passionate about giving people an opportunity to achieve their career, professional and personal aspirations. So for me, part of running a business is actually trying to create a working environment that people love, they get up every day excited to come to work and that they're learning, they're able to be creative and innovative. So I think if I could look back in 10 years time or 20 years time and the people that worked at Thriday took fondly of it and they loved it, that would be everything to me.

Laura Elkaslassy (07:37.257)

Love that Michael. I absolutely love that and I think we're pretty similar in that respect. I guess my definition of ambition, I'm actually going to steal it from my partner, he says my ambition is boundless and it's so true in terms of it's not just about me, it's about the community, it's about the impact and when you're wanting to do things that's going to better people's lives, children, generations, it knows no bounds and so I absolutely love the fact that I do the CEO role and I get to speak to so many people and that it's about multiple people and generations and wealth creation and all of that. So yeah, I love that.

Carrie Kwan (08:18.239)

I think that's a true theme around a lot of business owners, particularly in our community, where you actually have such purpose in what you're doing. You're trying to create a world where you see change and impact, but ultimately it's very purpose driven and it's about a community that you're trying to help, not just your own ambitions. So I love that.

Lucy Kippist (08:42.794)

Now, Laura and Michael, you both are parents to young children. So thinking about your beautiful legacy and your ambition and your parenting responsibilities, what's something that's really worked for you and your families in terms of providing a sense of harmony here?

Laura Elkaslassy (09:01.101)

That's a great question. I'll jump in first if you don't mind, Michael. I think it is, there's a sense that it's either or, or it has to be a certain way. And my experience has been that we interchange. So like my partner and I interchange our roles and how we look after our kids and when business needs a bit more attention then the other one can step in and that sort of stuff and so I like to see it more as an ebb and flow and that things will change over time and you know like for example my partner did more of the stepping in for parenting when I needed to do a couple of things there and then we swapped at other times and that sort of stuff and really couldn't do it without the support that I have today.

Michael Nuciforo (09:50.78)

That's so true. I think having a trusted partner in all of this is so important. I don't think anyone could run a business without that or it would be extremely hard. I think for my wife and I, we started the business at the same time as having two young kids. And there's definitely that aspect of, I feel like you are sacrificing at all ends, right? So you're sacrificing to give time to the children, you're sacrificing to give time to your partner. And as Laura said, I think you then have to sort of at certain points drop or lessen the load on the work front. And then, you know, in certain periods, things might be easier and you can sort of get back on top of the work. And I think for me personally, I ran a business before I had kids, and then this is my second business after I had kids. And to contrary to what people may think, I think it's actually been way easier running a business after I had kids for the reason that my life is more, I sort of intertwined my whole identity into the business the first time. And now that I've got kids, the business is important, but it puts it into perspective and, you know, coming home at night and the kids running to the door to see me, you know, no matter what's happened that day, it's just, I feel great, right? And I think that's a great position to be in where the business is important, but your whole identity is not wrapped up in that, and in this case, my family's such a huge part of my life now.

Lucy Kippist (11:21.442)

Those are both really beautiful answers and as you're talking, Michael, I was thinking, don't children give us that reason for a hard stop? Like as much as we're racing towards the end of the work day, we're like, oh no, no. But really, if they weren't there, you know, what kind of harmony would we really have? Because being business owners with all the ambition, as you say, like it gives you that greater purpose. So thanks, thanks children for those hard stops throughout our day. 

Now, livelihood is key to both of your businesses. Basically why you exist in the businesses that we're sharing today. And a big part of our Mums & Co mission is obviously to support our community of business owning mums to build a business that they love, but crucially also makes them money. So that little piece can sometimes be harder to accept than others, which sounds strange, but when you're building something passionately, sometimes that money piece becomes heavy. So I'm wondering, first of all, Laura, do you have any advice on this for a business owner who may not be getting the financial results they want in a business that they feel passionate about? What should they be doing to keep the focus back on making money at the same time?

Laura Elkaslassy (12:38.285)

So that's a really great question. And it's something that I work with, you know, my clients with a lot, because we often get into business because we're passionate about something. And there is a belief that if you're passionate enough, the money will come. And it isn't often that way. There needs to be, you know, structures in place and things in place that can make it easier for you to do it, but they need to be in place. And so the way that I would approach it is,

Really, what are your expectations? So the biggest barrier that I see is that we expect a multimillion dollar business or a big six figure business, whatever it is, on five hours a week when we're starting out. And realistically, what can you do in that time? You can do a lot more than what you think.

But having a realistic expectation is very important and knowing how much time you actually have to build the business and what would be a really good monetary amount that you could earn in that time based on what you can give. And then of course that can grow over time, it can change. And then secondary to that, and also as importantly, I would say that having a framework in place that you can easily reverse engineer what you need based on what you're trying to get your business to achieve.

And what I mean by that is if you're wanting to be able to pay yourself a certain dollar figure and ensure that tax is paid and that your operating expenses are covered, looking at, well all of those combined, what is the amount that I need to be earning? And having the clarity around that makes it much easier to say yes or no to opportunities.

Carrie Kwan (14:17.091)

And speaking of profit, I guess heavily linked to that is the customer side of things. Is attracting new customers, it's clearly top of mind for our community as well. And you've both seen significant growth in both your businesses over the last few years. Have you got a visibility hack or a top tip, maybe even just an example of what's actually worked for you in terms of attracting a new customer?

Michael Nuciforo (14:44.59)

For us it's been a lot of work on, we tested some things with video and what we found is compared to I guess more traditional forms of digital marketing, there is still a lot of opportunity I think in video and just because of the consumption of it and how people now watch so much of it. So we've actually doubled down a lot on video.

You can actually, especially nowadays, do video quite efficiently from a cost perspective. I think in the past you'd probably have to go and get a big agency and spend $20,000, $30,000 potentially. But I think if you're smart and you do it well, you can do some really good things really on the cheap. You can just get someone walking around talking, answering questions and things like that, or you can get a really good client testimonial. And even in some cases, we get our clients to just do a testimonial on their own video at home.

So it doesn't really cost us anything. So that's been really great for us, and I think there's nothing better than having essentially your clients talking about your product, and the ability to scale that. You can put it on YouTube, you can put it on your own website, you can put it everywhere essentially. So for me, that's been a great win. I think the other one is linked to that is we've done a lot of work with brand ambassadors, so actually building relationships with our customers that we know really love the product.

I guess identifying ways that they can feel empowered to talk about Thriday. So again, whether that's on video or social, whether they're posting about us, we sort of give them the tools to make that easy for them. And again, we're in a very crowded marketplace. We're sort of competing against Xero and some banks and things like that. We don't have the budgets to compete against those behemoths. So we have to be quite smart and those client testimonials just work wonders for us.

Carrie Kwan (16:40.991)

That's great and I love that you know, yeah, we use, you can use iPhone now in terms of the video quality and there's nothing better than that word of mouth that's generated when someone's talking about your product and can actually convey the excitement of using your product and how much value it's added to your life. So yeah, absolutely agree on that. And Laura, what about you? Any top tips?

Laura Elkaslassy (17:06.925)

In terms of attracting new customers, what it is being authentic, I find as well. Often we tend to go, we need to use this strategy or it has to be this particular way and you need to be on all of these platforms and all of that. And what I found is really knowing who you're talking to and being yourself about it and being really open and utilising other people's experiences really, really helps. So much to what Michael has said in terms of testimonials sort of thing but I think I know I found myself in the trap of you know having to use all of the tools and the systems and the processes and the strategies that are going to make all the difference to attracting new customers when in actual fact you can simplify.

Carrie Kwan (17:52.451)

Love that. It's a important message. The kiss, right? Keep it simple.

Laura Elkaslassy (17:58.473)

Yes!

Michael Nuciforo (17:59.458)

Hahaha

Carrie Kwan (18:02.063)

Now flipping to say, you know, we're a network of business owners and you serve a lot of business owners, small business, micro business. And I'm wondering what role has networking actually played in the success of your companies so far? Laura, maybe you can kick us off.

Laura Elkaslassy (18:21.129)

Yeah, sure. So I'm going to be completely honest and networking really, I find difficult. Surprisingly, however, what I found is networking in a way that works for you is key. And so I find that the online communities and being able to, you know, turn up in your way in a way that's comfortable and that sort of thing does a lot more than just hopping around and doing all the networking and that sort of stuff in like in person is very valuable. But we also had, you know, COVID as well, which meant that we had to pivot. And so it really did highlight that you need to network in your way, but networking is key to the growth of business.

Michael Nuciforo (19:06.28)

For me, networking has been multifaceted. So I think traditionally, when people think of networking traditionally, they might think of going to an event in person and handing out business cards. I think similar to Laura, perhaps I'm not sort of that person, but what I do try to do is when I started my first business was I very much got entrenched in the startup community by initially, because I was very new to it and I didn't know what to do essentially. So what I did initially was actually...

I reached out to some startup accelerators, programs, and offered my support and said, look, I have good knowledge in these areas, could I come and coach some of your teams and things like that? And as a result of that, I was able to build really good relationships with people because I was going in there one day a month or something and actually working with other startups and other coaches. So I think my suggestion is for people to look for creative ways as well to network. I think another thing I do, which is probably odd, most people don't do this, but I actually genuinely look at inbound requests that I get on LinkedIn. I don't just dismiss them out of hand, and I actually look up the person and I look up what they might be offering, and I do actually try to catch up with people from time to time. I know in some cases I've reached out to people and I can tell they've never even looked at it, they just assume I'm trying to sell something, but you can get, I don't know whether it's 1% or 5% of the time, you can actually get genuine people who want to connect with you about something that could be of value to your business through those channels and I'd encourage people to just spend 20 seconds, actually look up who it is that's contacting you because it could be something that ends up being meaningful. 

I know Laura and I met sort of online through that as well so I heard about Profit First, reached out to Laura and she got back to me and if that didn't happen we probably wouldn't be here and we do a lot of work together so that's an example right there of just taking the time to actually...

Laura Elkaslassy (20:44.533)

That's it.

Michael Nuciforo (20:57.392)

respond to requests that you get.

Carrie Kwan (21:00.781)

So let's just assume that someone has actually reached out. Is there a question that you wish that person, potentially a customer or the business connection would ask you about the way that your business works?

Michael Nuciforo (21:17.784)

I think it's important to know what the North Star or the mission of that business is for sure because, and it's something I want to know too, so often when I meet somebody for the first time I go, what is your business trying to achieve? And that can help you determine if there's something there that you can support or add value to. Obviously, with any business connection, you want to approach it from the perspective of how can I help you?

So tell me what your problem or tell me what you're trying to achieve. And I think when people do that to me, it puts me in a position where I can be sort of vulnerable and tell them about the things I'm having an issue with or need help with. And invariably, you know, if they're offering something of value, that's really easy to decipher that through that conversation.

Laura Elkaslassy (22:07.273)

Yeah, I tend to agree with what Michael is saying. It's very true. And I guess just one point that I find when I'm receiving sort of questions, especially online, is that a person knows to ask in that way, but it's not necessarily authentic. And so I actually really quite like an introduction as to who the person is, like who they are first, and then the question works really well. And the question, I agree with everything that Michael has said in terms of what do you stand for help you and all of that as well but I do find that connection really is key versus what question works best.

Lucy Kippist (22:48.19)

Now let's switch the conversation now and talk about risk. So business finance is fraught with decisions and considerations in regard to risk. I'm hoping that you can both share some of the processes that have worked to protect both Thriday and Profit First from the idea of risk. Michael, did you want to start?

Michael Nuciforo (23:09.336)

Yes, so for me, risk is a way to ensure consistency of positive outcome. So I often talk to the team where people think of risk as like, I'm trying to prevent something or whatever. I actually find people that are effective at risk management, they're able to deliver their goal or project consistently. And the reason is that they're able to think two steps ahead and identify things that maybe come up with other people. And it literally stops that initiative. But someone who's actually proactively managing risks is able to see those things put in place, and mitigate, and eventually those things don't become showstoppers. For us, what that looks like is, from the top down, culturally, we talk about risk. We have tools in place. We actually use a local tool called Six Clicks, which is an online risk management tool where you can add your risks, and it sort of invites you to tag other team members, have conversations about those risks. So I think at the top you need to have a culture of risk management and then actually set up the teams and the processes to do it. Often in a startup a lot of the people haven't had exposure to risk. I was sort of lucky that I, initial part of my career was more corporate, so risk management, especially because I worked in banking, was always top of mind.

And then looking back, I probably didn't appreciate the grounding I got in it, but now I really do and it's something that I encourage all people to do because yeah, I think people who do it well, you just notice a lot of their projects and initiatives go smoothly because they've been able to put mitigants in place before things become showstoppers for them.

Laura Elkaslassy (24:47.977)

Yeah, I love that Michael. I find, well, when I first came across the words risk management and that sort of thing, they're kind of fear-based and scary. And especially as a startup in business, it can be like, Oh, I don't want to touch that. I don't want to go there. It's something that, you know, you know, as Michael said, that you don't realize that actually having an open conversation about it and knowing what it is, is actually a beautiful thing so that it doesn't actually happen. Um, and so I like to refer to it as beautiful boundary.

Just like we have boundaries in place with you know relationships and that sort of thing and if it's not your thing have the support and that was something that I did so it's not my area of expertise I know it's really important and so instead of trying to be the person to wear all of the hats I knew it was important and I knew that as a company the culture had to be that of risk management but I'm not the best person for that so getting the support from you know not just lawyers but system for systems and processes and even feedback from community and that sort of stuff gives you such an insight to what they see as well and then it helps you do even better when it comes to managing risk as well.

Carrie Kwan (26:11.095)

It's an intriguing question because you're right, you can either see it from a fear approach or you can see it from this is just going to be useful because everyone's going to crowdsource ideas for me and you know, ways that I can, things that other people have thought of that I haven't thought of and then you can figure out plans to mitigate them like you said and control that or contain the risk so it doesn't become a risk. So it's a great question. And like you, I think Michael, I had a had a corporate career that I had my first bootstrap startup in 2016. Sorry, that's Mums & Co. 2016. That's my second startup. 2007 was my first startup. And then now I've kind of bridged it again, being a corporate backed startup that Mums & Co. is by our friends at IAG and NRMA insurance. So, you know, you do actually think back and go that grounding was really great because they are actually looking at so many different areas where you need to think about in terms of the world of risk. So we dip in and we dip out, right? As founders.

Laura Elkaslassy (27:21.247)

Yes.

Lucy Kippist (27:25.006)

Now talking about the concept of business, probably more holistically now, harmony is a word that we use here at Mums & Co. To describe our circle of ambition and livelihood and our wellbeing, so all those things that come together. Inviting you guys both to describe what a good shape of, sorry, the shape of a good life would be for you.

Michael Nuciforo (27:53.38)

Yes, so with me, I've actually been spending a little bit of time on this topic. I've got a coach that I work with because I think for me, for a long time, I skewed very much to not having a good shape, so to speak, where I was very much skewed to work. And I think it was really interesting because he asked a lot of questions, non-advice, non-judgmental questions, but basically allowing me to explore.

Lucy Kippist (27:53.674)

Either one.

Michael Nuciforo (28:21.564)

You know, what's important to me. And I sort of came to the conclusion through that process, which was very different to what I would have said if you asked me just straight out what's your sort of goal in this area. And I think what I came to is that I actually just wanted to be able to work on the things that I love, be able to leave the legacy that I wanna leave, as I mentioned at the start, and just have enough financial security that I can afford, have a level of affordability to like go on a couple trips a year or you know, live in a decent place versus I think the more like male version so to speak of what I want to answer at the start is, oh I want to have this big mansion, I want to have all these things. And it was really interesting because when it came down to it, you know, you just want a healthy family, you want to be able to go to work and enjoy what you're doing and hopefully deliver value to your customers and so on. And then just be able to afford like to live a decent life and that's where I'm at now. So it's really great to come to that conclusion because it also changes how you think about your own ambitions and what you're trying to achieve as a business.

Laura Elkaslassy (29:26.269)

Absolutely. And that's definitely something that I've been considering to Michael in terms of just experience in the last year. So I guess if I'm going to go for an actual shape, I'd say it's a triangle because if you get rid of one side it all collapses. And I've learned that the hard way because I tend to do it the hard way when it comes to a holistic view. And you know, if you're not keeping an eye on all areas of your life, so your ambition, your wellbeing and your livelihood, then, and you're only concentrating in ambition and livelihood, then the wellbeing generally suffers. And that was my own experience. And so having, I guess, a clear idea of the interconnectedness of it as well, is something that we tend to, well, I'll speak for myself. I tend to not think about until I'm not doing one of them.

The effects. So I really do think that you can't have any of them without the others that are there.

Lucy Kippist (30:27.062)

Great answers. Thank you so much both for sharing. And the final question is, who among your combined networks are the mumbitious? That's the word we use to describe the women in our community who are running businesses and raising families that you'd like to say hello to today.

Laura Elkaslassy (30:45.369)

Oh, what a question. Um, I have got an amazing group within my community of Profit First professionals who are women running businesses, juggling kids and all of that, and so I want to say a big shout out to them because they're doing amazingly.

Lucy Kippist (31:03.694)

Thank you and over to you Michael.

Michael Nuciforo (31:06.372)

I have to give a huge shout out to Laura actually because I've known Laura for a little while now and I know that she, as she mentioned, she's running multiple businesses, two kids, lot going on and the way that she handles it is amazing to me and you know she's doing great things out in the community as well so I'll give my hats off to Laura.

Laura Elkaslassy (31:27.809)

Oh my goodness Michael, thank you! I was not expecting that!

Michael Nuciforo (31:30.244)

Hahaha.

Lucy Kippist (31:33.7)

That's lovely. What a nice way to end the interview. So the last question that's coming from one of our kids is, what's your favorite way to spend your free time? Well, we've saved all this time using both of your businesses. What would you be doing in the spare bits?

Laura Elkaslassy (31:52.265)

I’ll jump in with that one. I absolutely love to dance by myself and with my kids so that's what I'd be doing in my free time.

Michael Nuciforo (32:04.292)

Yeah, so I think there's no, I don't have a concept of free time at the moment. I think it's always with the kids. So I'd say I love going out for a nice meal. I'm a big foodie with my wife. And if we can do that once a month, absolutely love it. And with the kids, I just love having a cuddle with them on the couch at night. And if any of your viewers haven't heard of this show, I'm very jealous, but they love, um, Flood and Nikki, which is this YouTube show. I have to watch it every night before they go to bed.

Laura Elkaslassy (32:32.429)

So do my kids.

Michael Nuciforo (32:32.488)

So I do love it even though I hate the show.

Lucy Kippist (32:36.874)

Great, we'll have to make sure we plug that show in the show notes then. Laura and Michael, thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition today. And if you'd like to find out more about Michael and Thriday or Laura and Profit First Australia, you'll find them both on our Mums & Co membership directory. And from August 2023, you can also book a one-to-one expert chat with Laura. 

Thank you.