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FOUNDERS & FRIENDS PODCAST

With Scott Orn

A Startup Podcast by Kruze Consulting

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Scott Orn

Scott Orn, CFA

Sara Skowronski, president of Eos HR Consulting, discusses the services that Eos offers for startups

Posted on: 03/26/2023

Sara Skowronski

Sara Skowronski

President - Eos HR


Sara Skowronski of Eos HR - Podcast Summary

Sara Skowronski, president of Eos HR Consulting, discusses the services that Eos offers to help startups with their HR needs. Startups can outsource their HR, letting founders focus on running their businesses.

Sara Skowronski of Eos HR - Podcast Transcript

Scott: Welcome to Founders and Friends Podcast. Before we get to our guest, special shout out to Kruze Consulting.  We do all your startup accounting, startup taxes, and tons of consulting. We’re whatever comes up like financial models, budget to actuals, maybe some state registration, sales tax, VC due diligence support. Whatever comes up for your company, we’re there for you. 750 clients strong now $10 billion in capital raises by our clients, I can’t believe it. $2 billion this year. It’s been a crazy awesome year. So, check us out at kruzeconsulting.com and now onto our guest.
Singer: So when your troubles are mounting, in tax or accounting, you go to Kruze. From Founders and Friends, it’s Kruze Consulting. Founders and Friends with your host, Scotty Orn.
Scott: Welcome to Founders and Friends podcast with Scott Orn of Kruze Consulting. And today my very special guest is Sara Skowronski of Eos HR. Welcome, Sara.
Sara: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Scott: Yeah, Sara is not only a friend but someone we have worked with for many years. I think it’s like four or five years. Do you know how many years?
Sara: I think I worked and it was four years, yeah.
Scott: Four wonderful years of growth and learning, and Sara was with us the whole way.
Sara: That’s exciting.
Scott: Can’t thank you enough. So maybe you could start off just by telling everyone… By the way, Sarah is an outsourced HR professional, has a firm. Not just Sarah, a bunch of people work at Eos, they’re great. We love working with them. But today we’re talking about HR for startups and small businesses. And maybe you could just retrace your career a little bit and tell everyone how you had the idea for Eos?
Sara: Yeah. So, I had a crooked path to HR to begin with. I went through hotel management and cell phone sales and installing computer systems. And when I finally got into HR, I started working with small companies, medium sized companies. The largest company I worked with was probably about 700 employees. But the second company I worked with where I was actually managing their HR department was a boutique staffing firm. And I really got to work directly with the entrepreneurs, with the owners, see what that looked like. See how a startup or a small business owner really has to do everything. And at one point after the owners sold the business, I became the person who did everything. I was doing IT, I was doing facility management. Anything except sales, which I always said, “I don’t want to do sales.” But yeah, I did the whole thing. Marketing, finance. And everything bleeds over into each other, and if you’re not good one place it kind of reflects other places. And so ,after I left my last HR corporate job, I really wanted to do something that was different. I wanted to be my own boss for a while. And I thought there has to be a need for those small companies that can’t afford full-time HR, they don’t want to be in a PEO, they actually want to grow their culture. And so, I started Eos and I have been super excited to do that. It’s been a lot of fun growing the company, starting off with clients like you who didn’t have a structure in place or they don’t know what they don’t know. And some of my clients call me and they say it’s a therapy session because I’m just talking to them off the ledge of dealing with employees. And some of them, they’re just growing, like you guys grew rapidly. And we’re putting those systems and putting the processes in place, and that’s really exciting to see also.
Scott: I remember when we first started working together, you were like, “Well…” I was like, “How do you meet most of your clients?” And you’re like, “To be honest, a lot of people kind of put it off until they have a crisis of some point or something, some issue.” And we had an issue and that’s what led me to reach out to a friend who recommended you. And that’s totally how it was. For everyone listening to this, watching this video, don’t wait for an issue. Take action before. Sign up. Get HR. So much better to be playing from a place where you have a really strong foundation than to do what we did, which was kind of delay and not really know. I really stress that, learn from us. With Sara we were able to catch up, and also a lot of hard work from Vanessa, we were able to build a great culture and a great system and processes and everything. But so much better to get ahead of it.And it’s like I’ll talk about, but I think we laughed when we had that conversation because I said, “Most people call us at Kruze when they have some accounting or tax problems too,” unfortunately. But I’ve also seen a pretty big shift in the industry for us in that startup founders are a lot more proactive about this stuff. And I feel like the HR thing is happening too. People know. And for Eos, you guys have different packages and it’s very accessible for an early stage company or a small business to get some of your time and be able to flex up if needed, but get that expert in the door.
Sara: Yeah.
Scott: It’s pretty helpful.
Sara: Yeah. And we’re really focusing on trying to meet people where they’re at. And I think, to your point, I think that a lot of companies they are starting to see it more. Especially California employers, it’s so crazy to be an employer in California. There’s so many rules. And then when 2020 hit and everything went virtual and everybody was in multiple states, that brings a whole ‘nother level. You have to stay on top of this stuff because… I always thought that if I knew HR for California, I could handle anything. And now that I’m seeing some of the rules and laws in other states I’m like, “Oh my God!” You have to be very specific about who you’re dealing with and it definitely needs to be handled beforehand. Being proactive is really important.And then, yeah as you said, our packages were set up so that we now have packages down to two hours a month where you just want to call and you want to strategize and you just want to have that ear that’s like, “Hey, this is going on, I need help.” All the way up to where you guys were, where we were your HR department. We did everything for you. From the point of hire through onboarding, through setting up those processes. We’re pretty system agnostic. We plug ourselves in, it’s not like you have to use our system to do something. We’ll plug into whatever system you’re in. And I think we even took you guys from one HRIS to another during our time together. So, there’s a lot of different components of HR, which is why it’s always hard for me when people are like, “Oh, what can you do for us?” It’s like well, let’s start having a conversation because there’s a lot we can do. Between me and my team, we have this resource, this amount of information that you’re not going to get if you just call into a call center or call into somebody that you’re paying.
Scott: We mentioned the PEO, and I think that is… The PEOs are very good at selling, but in my humble opinion I do not think you should rely on a PEO for HR services. The PEOs offer good systems of the tooling, but I would never, ever rely on a PEO to provide HR advisory services and stuff like that.
Sara: No.
Scott: Ever.
Sara: Yeah.
Scott: But sometimes those firms are good at selling and so they get people on that for a little while. But yeah, I mean you guys have probably, I think there was probably three people at Eos working on crews or with four crews. And it was great. And people have different backgrounds, different strengths and different projects, and everything virtual. Other thing I was going to say is about when you said everything went virtual or remote, there’s also sometimes you have different kinds of headaches when people are working remotely. Because communication is a little more difficult sometimes. So you can actually have stuff bubbling underneath the surface a little bit that you don’t know about because you’re not seeing people interact in the office environment, but there might be something brewing or something like that. And so having someone in place… It’s like, what’s the old saying? Prevention is the best medicine or something like that.
Sara: Yeah.
Scott: Having systems that work, processes for reviews, for feedback, for performance improvement, all that stuff. Super valuable to have it in place and then be able to take care of anything that comes up, versus what we did had an issue and then bring Sara in and try to help the situation as best as possible.
Sara: Yeah, try to resolve it.
Scott: But not-
Sara: Yeah. And I think one of the things that differentiates us from some of the other HR consulting firms and PEOs out there is because we act as the HR department, we’re there for the employees as well. A lot of people will only work with the management or with the CEOs. We can be that safe place that the employee can call and can ask questions. We don’t have to have that telephone chain or the email chain of, “Okay, the employee’s going to ask the manager and the manager’s going to ask us. And then we’re going to give it…” It’s going back and forth. We can get that information directly to the employee. And, as you said, it’s people aren’t always happy and sometimes they just need a place to vent and talk about what’s going on. And some of our clients, the employees directly will schedule time with me and it’s like, “Okay, what’s up? How can I help you?” And sometimes that’s just what they need.
Scott: I totally agree. That’s a really great point. The PEO is, I don’t think they’re super employee oriented-
Sara: No.
Scott: They’re more just about keeping the payroll system and the payroll fees and…
Sara: And the benefits, and yep.
Scott: Yeah, let’s not let them churn kind of mentality. Versus making sure that people have a resource and are heard and have improvement and things like that. So, you’re totally, totally right. Hey, it’s Scott Orn of Kruze Consulting, taking a quick pit stop to give some of the groups at Kruze a big shout-out. First up is our tax team, amazing. They can do your federal and state income tax returns, R&D tax credits, sales tax help. Anything you need for state registrations, they do it all.They do it all and we’re so grateful for all their awesome work. Also, our finance team is doing amazing work now. They build financial models, budget actuals and help your company navigate the VC due diligence process. I guess our tax team does that too on the tax side, but the finance team is doing great work. And then, I think everyone knows our accounting team is pretty awesome, but want to give them a shout-out to. Thanks, and back to the guest. I’m thinking about us, we had a rudimentary performance review thing, but you helped us, really helped iron that out. You helped us. We moved information systems. I think we went from Gusto to Rippling-
Yep.  
Scott: During that time. We also started working with the independent benefits broker because we were remote and we could take advantage of… We were paying exorbitant health benefits in certain states because our thing was oriented towards California instead of all the other states we were in. I’m trying to think what else? We developed the whole onboarding process, which was really helpful and…
Sara: We did the harassment prevention training for you.
Scott: Yeah, that’s important too. That was really good. The onboarding thing, by the way, for folks that are listening, if you can develop a really tight onboarding process, it actually is a really strong signal to the employees that you’re bringing in.
Sara: Yes.
Scott: That you’re organized, you care, you want them to be successful.
Sara: Yeah.
Scott: Actually if I look back on it, that’s one of the things I’m most proud of, that we really worked on that. Because it just sends a really strong signal that you matter to us and we want you to have a good career here and do great work.
Sara: We believe that, obviously as well. And having that process and being able to have a new employee come in and know where their computer is… And especially in a remote employment where you already feel disconnected and a lot of people are not used to starting a new job. They may have moved to working remotely, but starting a new job as a remote person, having some sort of camaraderie and feeling like, “I’m not just sitting here at my desk alone but I’m actually, I’m going to get to meet people and I’m going to get on the team. I’m going to be introduced.” And that’s another thing that we took away from working with you is how important that is. And we’ve actually set up a package specifically for people who maybe they don’t need full-time HR, but they’re in a growth mode and they want us to come in and build out that workflow for them or just do onboarding for them. We can come in, build out the workflow into the specifics of, “Okay, what systems do they need to have logins for? Who’s responsible for that? Who is meeting with them on their first day?” All of those things to build out so that whether we end up doing the onboarding or they just have a workflow that they can follow, they now have something that is just step by step of, “Okay, on the first day, three days before they start we have to do this. And two days before the start that we have to do this.” And that experience for the employees is so much more welcoming than, “Oh, I’m not sure. I don’t know where your login, I’m not sure who you’re supposed to meet with today. I don’t know how you get into your email. I’m not sure how you get paid.” So, you want to make sure that you’re getting all of that information to them beforehand and having a resource for them, so…
Scott: That’s a great product line for Eos. That’s awesome. Also, that’s really smart because it’s probably like… I don’t know if this has happened, but I could see a lot of people signing up for that and then testing it out and then being like, “Oh wait, I need help in five other areas-“
Sara: Yeah.
Scott: “Let me increase my time with you.” What are some of the other things you’ve seen across your other clients that you’ve been successful implementing for them?
Sara: We’ve done compensation analysis, that’s another thing that we did for you.
Scott: Oh yeah.
Sara: Yeah. We’ve actually done some pretty hairy HRIS implementations. But we also work with benefit brokers, we work closely with them. And at one point I finally decided to get my broker’s license just so I could have the same conversations back and forth and not feel like I was going outside of the bounds. But because of all of our experience… One of my specialties is in benefits, and so I was able to translate benefit information from brokers sometimes… And specialists, sometimes they get into acronyms and they get into all of these things. It’s like, “Okay, let me break it down. This is what they’re saying, this is what they’re talking about. This is why this is important for you to know. This is why if you don’t do this, you’re going to end up with a fine or you’re going to end up in trouble.”So being able to make sure, because I think all of the vendors can get stuck in our own heads about, “This is important-“
Scott: Oh yeah.
Sara: “How do you convey that to your client and to the employer in this case of, ‘Hey, if you don’t pay attention to this, this is what’s going to happen.”
Scott: Totally agree. That was actually something I always really appreciated was the nuts and bolts explanation in what we need to do. I think most people, they just want to do the right thing and they want to have a great work environment for the team and avoid headaches. And so having that recommendation and that guidance is hugely valuable. For those also listening who haven’t put something in place on the HR front, that’s one of the really nice things is there’s a lot of uncertainty in that you don’t exactly know, if you’re someone outside of HR like us, you don’t really know exactly what you’re supposed to be doing or not supposed to be doing. So having that guide along the way, it allows you to sleep better at night and just not second guess yourself. Because otherwise you don’t have an expert to talk to, and you might have the best intentions but do something wrong and not realize it for months until it comes back and bites you.
Sara: Yeah. And sometimes even when you have the best intentions, as long as you can document that you had the best intentions… Unless you get somebody who’s, and there’s people out there they just look for a way, employees that look for a way to undermine an employer. But most people, they just want to be treated fairly. They just want to know that you have their best interest at heart. And as long as that’s what you’re representing to them, then I think that they’re going to do their best work for you.
Scott: Totally agree. It is. I mean I’ve interacted with over a couple thousand startups and tons of amazing people at Kruze, and by far people want to do the right thing and have a great career or have built a successful company. And oftentimes if there’s something happening, it’s usually a miscommunication or something’s going wrong. But it’s not ill intentioned. And also, I kind of find that working from the giving people the benefit of the doubt or assuming they’re coming from a positive place is so helpful. It really helps. And with HR, when you have a good HR system and program and advisor in place, that’s coming across. Even subconsciously it’s coming across. Because there’s all these little signals that you’re carrying or setting this up or setting this up.I mean, I remember we put in all the disability insurance and life insurance and things like that. And it wasn’t like a huge thing, but it made me feel good knowing that, knock on wood, if someone has an emergency or a life-changing accident or something like that, they don’t have to worry… I mean eventually this stuff’s going to have to happen, but right away when they’re in shock or… It’s not going to destroy their life and… Stuff like that, where no one really thinks about it but it’s there as a safety net for people if something goes wrong.
Sara: Yeah. And it’s important because something like that, a lot of people who may come from a larger employer, those things are just given. You don’t even think about them, that there’s a short-term disability or any kind of disability insurance or there’s all these benefits. And that’s another area that we talk to a lot of our clients and sometimes their employees about is, “Hey, you’re not dealing with a Google or a Facebook or a huge employer. You’re dealing with a small company that may have funding.” Probably a half of our employee or half of our clients are in the startup world. The other half are just brick and mortar or professional services. And they don’t necessarily have seed money, they’re bootstrapping it. They’re making it work. And-
Scott: We bootstrapped it. Yeah. [inaudible 00:19:16] know.
Sara: So helping the employees to understand, “hey, you may not get that benefit, but look at all the things that this small company is providing to you.” And it may be more of the flexibility and the camaraderie and the culture that you’re not going to get at a large company, so…
Scott: Totally agree. And self-determination and a lot of other great things. I mean again, we’ve really thoroughly enjoyed working with you. It’s been a huge for us. I mean coming back to that whole, I just want to really emphasize for the audience, put something in place.
Sara: Yes.
Scott: And the fact that you have a two-hour thing is amazing. Actually, it’s so smart, just to get a… Is that a couple hundred bucks? I know pricing’s always going to iterate and all this kind of stuff, but-
Sara: Yeah.
Scott: We don’t need to go over pricing, but if you’re a small business owner or someone ops manager or maybe you’re a startup founder, what’s the best way of rationalizing this that you’ve heard? Or how do you tell people about this?
Sara: Any of our services, we try to make them as accessible as possible. So, we have the two hour a month plan that is kind of an ongoing access to us. But we also have, you can go on our website and just purchase 50 minutes of our time. And I’ve had somebody who they purchased it and they had a list of questions and they’re like, “I just need to bang through these questions and I got you for 45 more minutes, I’m going through these.” And I’m like, “Okay, let’s go. We got this.” So just having that and understanding and that there is that safety net, there is somebody who you can schedule some time and just get on a call with. Or like I said, we do on the onboarding where it’s like, “Take that off of your plate.” I mean if you’re trying to build your company, the last thing you need is to be spending time trying to figure out who’s responsible for this and making sure it’s happening for all your new employees. And so we’re just trying to fit in to that space. Wherever the clients need us, wherever the new businesses, the new employers need us. We even have a package specific-
Scott: I love it.
Sara: For people who are ready to hire their first employee. Well let’s go through, make sure you know… Are you registered? Do you have workers’ comp? All of the things you need to do, do you know how you want to manage this person? Have you ever managed a person before? So, let’s go through all those things so you can think about them before you actually bring them on and have this horrible experience and then you have to part ways on not so pleasant terms.
Scott: Yeah. And I ask that question because I want, for anyone listening, to try to challenge you to get rid of any objections you might… Just get going.
Sara: Yeah.
Scott: It’s almost like going to the gym the first day after New Year’s. Like this is a habit and a service that will really help you in so many different ways, very holistically, and even… Because a lot of times people will use a dollar amount as an excuse or things like that. But the fact that you’re just there. And then I think also, I’m pretty confident that if you work with Sara a little bit, you’ll probably want to work with Sara a lot. So just for those out there who haven’t engaged, just give it a shot. Just try it. I think you’ll find that having an expert, having someone to guide you through the process is so valuable. And again, helps you sleep at night. And it pays for itself in not making errors and things like that and employee retention and all these kind of things. So it’s a really, really amazing service.
Sara: Yeah. If we really wanted to scare people we could go through all of the different fines you can get for not having all of the right information on a [inaudible 00:23:10].
Scott: Oh God.
Sara: It’s like on a pay stub.
Scott: I know.
Sara: You think that your payroll company is responsible for that. And nope, you are.
Scott: Even in California, we could probably hold a seminar about working in California.
Sara: Oh yeah, definitely.
Scott: This has been awesome. Thank you for all the many, many, many years of working together. And maybe you could tell everyone how to find you, how to reach out if they’re interested in working with you?
Sara: Yeah, definitely. You can reach out to me directly. I’m sara@eoshr.com. And it’s S-A-R-A at E-O-S hr.com. Our website is eoshr.com. And we do have a 15 minute complimentary strategy session that you can sign up for as well. One question is about all I can answer, but we can do that. And then we’re also on LinkedIn and Facebook. And we try to post some of our information regularly on there.
Scott: Awesome. All right Sara, thank you so much. Been a pleasure. And I really highly recommend you. And no excuses if you’re listening to this and you don’t have HR help, like no excuses. So, all right. Take care. Thank you, goodbye.
Sara: Thank you.
Singer: So when your troubles are mounting, in tax or accounting, you go to Kruze. From Founders and Friends. It’s Kruze Consulting. Founders and Friends with your host, Scotty Orn.

Kruze Consulting is a leader in Startup Tax Filings, Payroll Tax Savings from R&D Tax Credits, professional advice and more! Find out why hundreds of seed and venture funded startups trust Kruze Consulting’s tax experts, software and process to save them time and hassle.

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