It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted anything on Websessive blog. Between my own client work and my life working for an accounting software startup (Flare) for nearly two years, there just hasn’t been much time to attend to writing here.
Prior to working with Flare Accounting, I had worked as an in-house webmaster for a startup tech company (and of course as a freelancer). Working as a hired gun for a startup is a bird of a different colour. When you work with a bootstrapped startup you wind up wearing a teetering stack of hats. It’s “all hands on deck” over at Flare! Those swabbing the decks: the software developers, UI/UX designers and the founder, Iftikhar Ahmed, are very talented and dedicated (read “obsessed”) people. Sometimes the seas are rough (arrgggh!) and every now and then you land a big fish. Oh, God. This bad metaphor is over…like a Pacific squall! Enough of the high seas 😉 .
Here’s what I mean. I was hired to do web marketing. A fairly broad category if there ever was one. When you work for a startup, though, “web marketing” quickly becomes “web everything”. This is both by necessity and my own choice. It wasn’t long before I found myself stepping outside the web marketing role and doing many other things, which deepened my experience and appreciation for anyone who has walked (or ran or scrambled) the startup path.
Here’s what I actually do:
- Website design and WordPress customization.
- Web content writing.
- Blog writing.
- Zendesk Help Centre creation and customizations.
- Help centre article writing (a 300 page Word doc with hundreds of screenshots…ahhhh!).
- Help centre videos with the voiceover stylings of “yours smoothly”.
- Social media marketing.
- On-page SEO.
- Competitor research and comparisons.
Set phasers to “learn”
What working for a startup has taught me is that the most important skill any person brings to the table is their willingness to dig in and learn. There is no real template for SaaS (software as a service) marketing. There are some rough outlines – what others have done, but SaaS and cloud products really haven’t been around all that long in the scheme of things. So, the rule of the day is learning. Don’t know something? Figure it out. Know a bit of something? Roll up your sleeves and learn a lot of that something. Can’t learn because there is no handbook for it? Do something…anything!
So far, the most interesting aspect of all of this was creating the Flare help guide. As someone who uses software, including online apps, I know just how important a help system is to user retention. Writing a step-by-step guide meant learning the app step-by-step, too. It also meant taking hundreds of screen captures, screen recorded video walkthroughs, and then porting the whole thing over to ZenDesk (a pretty awesome online help and support system).
I thought I’d save this for last. I won’t go into great detail here because I’d like to do some show and tell in another post. Because I do work for the company, I think a shameless plug is appropriate.
Flare is an online accounting application created for small business owners and freelancers. It is full-featured, and, in my experience, easier to use than other systems with a similar feature set. What we hope it does better than other accounting apps is provide small business owners and freelancers the financial insight they need to ensure their business’s prosper. A lofty goal? Not really. A necessary goal? Yes. Considering the failure rate of small businesses and the oft-cited reason for that failure (lack of financial planning), it is a necessary and often missing ingredient.
Flare will be in public release soon. Here are just a few of its features.
- Real-time financial dashboard.
- Electronic customer invoices (and estimates).
- Bank account reconciliation.
- Full-suite of financial statements.
- Budgeting with budget vs. actual comparison.
Here’s a video promo that will give you an idea what Flare looks like. It is pretty cool (even if I have a vested interest in saying so).
Have any questions about all things startup? I’m not an expert, but I certainly know more now than I did two years ago. Drop me a line or leave a comment if you have questions or ever answers.