Stephanie Breedlove, co-founder of Homepay is now an angel investor with the Central Texas Angel Network and an author of “All In: How Women Entrepreneurs Can Think Bigger, Build Sustainable Businesses, and Change the World.”

Stephanie Breedlove founded Breedlove & Associates in 1992.

She built the nanny payroll company into a multi-million-dollar business with more than 10,000 active clients.

In 2012, acquired her company for $55 million and it became Homepay, according to an article in Forbes.

Today, Breedlove is an angel investor with the Central Texas Angel Network and an author of “All In: How Women Entrepreneurs Can Think Bigger, Build Sustainable Businesses, and Change the World,” published in 2017.

In this episode of Ideas to Invoices, Breedlove recounts her entrepreneurial journey and lessons along the way. She launched her company, Breedlove & Associates, a payroll and tax business for parents to pay their nannies while working at Accenture in Denver.

“My very first entrepreneurial venture was Breedlove & Associates,” Breedlove said.

Her dad worked at a corporation for the first 20 years of his career, but in his 40s he left that world and bought a small business. He was her entrepreneurial role model.

When Breedlove started her business, the funding ecosystem didn’t look like it does now. Breedlove and her husband, Bill, didn’t have enough equity in their home to qualify for a commercial loan. They couldn’t beg their parents to invest, Breedlove said. So, they started running projections to see if they could self-fund and they found they had about two and a half years of runway to do the business.

Growth is much slower with self-funding, Breedlove said. She also didn’t quit her day job until the business had proven itself.

Breedlove tested the idea with a minimal viable product and worked to service clients in the evenings and on the weekends, she said. At about two years, the business had grown to the point where she needed to either shut it down or take it national, she said.

Once she launched, Breedlove went without a paycheck for 15 months. She then started taking $1,000 a month for the next 12 months. When money was tight and the business struggled, Breedlove persevered because she loved what she was doing and she believed in the business.

“I had absolute blind optimism in the idea,” Breedlove said.

Breedlove also had a detailed 10-page business plan that became benchmarks for the long-term success of the business.

“Planning is never overrated,” she said.

When Breedlove & Associates hit $300,000 in revenue, Bill, Breedlove’s husband joined the business full time as a co-founder. He quit his corporate job and they both worked full time on the business.

“We love being business partners,” Breedlove said. “And I think one of the main reasons it works is that his talents are opposite of mine. And I think a lot of cofounders make that mistake and they look for people who see, not only the world through the same lens as them strategically, but have the same talents because birds of feathers flock together and it feels good. But I think where you have opposite there is comfortable conflict that is created and that’s where the best ideas are born. And that’s how it was for us and that’s why it was successful for us.”

In the world of the gig economy and mobile economy and people can work anywhere, moving from the home office to a real office was essential, Breedlove said.

“We felt like having an office would allow us to come together more effectively as a team,” Breedlove said.

Culture and employee development are critical for success, said Breedlove.

In the early days, hiring employees is extremely important, Breedlove said.

“Those first employees are critical,” she said.

One of the first ten hires Breedlove made has been with the company for 13 years and she was selected as Breedlove’s successor when she left the company.

The $1 million mark in annual revenue was important but success was defined by continual growth and providing great service, Breedlove said. The company crossed the $1 million mark after five years.

“And I have to admit once we crossed the $1 million mark, the march to $5 million and then $10 million and then beyond $10 million actually became easier,” Breedlove said.

For more on Breedlove’s interview, listen to the entire podcast. And please subscribe, rate and review Ideas to Invoices on iTunes.