FreeAgent's Fourth Birthday
As if the company were a pet, I like to think that each company-year at FreeAgent equates to about 4 human-years, which means FreeAgent became sixteen on Saturday. We're moving on from the sulky, door-slamming teenage years into late-adolescent angst and pretending to enjoy poetry.
Enjoying our increasing independence and with the joy of youth in our hearts, we've also been finding some space as a management team to think more about the big picture. Our first step was discussing how we take forward our company's vision 'Democratising Accounting'.
Since it's what we all signed up to do, our consensus on the meaning was unsurprising, but it was by having that conversation that a real path to achieving that lofty goal has become much clearer.
What we all already know for sure is that the internet relentlessly commoditises, democratises and disintermediates. That is: any pricey service that can be delivered more cheaply and simply by software will be. Then consumers of that service will be able to take on the task for themselves, and anyone previously involved in delivering that activity need to find new ways of delivering value.
When I say 'relentlessly' I really do mean that - hardly any trade or profession has remained untouched by these effects and they continue to steamroller those who attempt to resist. Ask anyone who was a high-street travel agent or bookseller 10 years ago. Progress is Inevitable, and except in rare cases such as Nescafe 3-in-1 Coffee, Progress is Good.
Importantly, it's not enough that the job is getting done over the web rather than on your desktop (or more likely, your accountant's desktop) - that's just the delivery mechanism. No, what matters is the eye-watering rate of progress, the degree to which we can be connected to our customers' needs, and the way we can make meaningful data flow like water, frictionless and sparkling.
There's so much to improve about the tools the vast majority of small businesses currently have available to manage their finances, as evidenced by the despondent groaning and eye-rolling that accompany most discussions among business owners.
That's where we come in, and we seem to be on to something. From recognition in the 2010 Software Satisfaction Awards to cementing valuable partnerships (and on that, you ain't seen nothing yet) we've been really proud of the results of our hard work so far. I owe a heartfelt personal thanks to the FreeAgent team and to all our customers.
And while I don't doubt that we'll be creating more than a few waves along the way, we'll be enjoying the journey and focussed on the astonishing impact that our small team in Edinburgh could have on the 5 million small businesses in the UK, and more elsewhere.
So Happy 4th Birthday FreeAgent, and to our investors Many Happy Returns!
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