It’s been a few months since we sold LessAccounting so we’ve had time to reflect on the 20,000 small decisions which created LessAccounting. These decisions ranged from quick choices like “What color should the button be on this form?” to decisions Steve and I agonized over for months like “Should we raise our pricing?”
There’s a couple choices we made mostly unconsciously I wish I could go back and undo.
Let me first say LessAccounting is a great app, we still use it today. I’m proud of the product, loving the new features the new owners are releasing and so proud of what our tiny team accomplished during those years.
Things I wish I could change…
Even though we were fully aware of what feature creep is, it still happened to us. It’s hard to realize what feature creep is until you’re already doing it. We were our own worst enemy, customers would be asking for a new feature and we’d say “It’s just a few days of work”. When you have dev time available it feels like you must continue to build, “improve”, “enhance” features.
I wish we had to actually pay for features it would have made us more conservative on choosing features. Each feature is a pandora’s box of more requests. For us, additional features meant we were called “an accounting app”, instead of Harvest/Freshbooks/Blinksale who were invoices, proposals and expenses. This took our comparison to bigger more well funded companies like Xero and Quickbooks.
“When you only have a hammer everything looks like a nail”…when you’re a software person, you think all problems are solved with software and this is not true. Some people think they want an accounting app but they really want the problem to just go away. They wanted a service component.
We launched a service component, a bookkeeping service, for LessAccounting in 2011 and it did well. The problem was neither Steve nor I took the time to figure out that new business. As that service grew it was clear we had not set up processes to scale the service. Eventually we shut down the service in 2012.
The lesson: it’s hard to create a service without running it yourself first. You have to figure out the business before you delegate tasks and setup processes. It’s hard/impossible to hire someone to do the work and also make the company run efficiently.
When we relaunched the service in 2015 Steve and I both were involved in the day-to-day running of the bookkeeping service. We spent time figuring out the workflow, communication and onboarding, the service grew very well because of the time we spent getting involved in it. Duh right?
We love small businesses and we knew they were our target market. We soon came to realize CPAs/accountants were the gatekeepers of this small business accounting. In 2011 we realized neither Steve nor I wanted to attend accounting conferences and work with accountants to showcase LessAccounting as a solution they should promote to their customers.
The vast major of accountants do not want to change software. Most bookkeepers are taught quickbooks at their local college or job training center.
Side note: most accountants dislike their job because…
So if neither founder wants to be the person who gladhands the target market or the gatekeepers, the company can only grow so much.
These are just three of the many things I wish we had done or had not done. I’ll write more about about other thing in future posts.
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