Start-ups need to recognise no matter what product or service they offer, they’re technology companies and the key to growth is automation, says Marc Lehmann, chief executive of Australian accounting platform Saasu.
The advice comes on the back of Saasu topping an independent review by the Institute of Certified Bookkeepers (ICB) of desktop and cloud accounting programs available in Australia.
The review is carried out by four bookkeepers who review 10 features including bank feeds, payroll management and customer support.
Xero came second by 1.5 points with a total score of 81.5, with the current MYOB program coming in third with 73 points.
Lehmann told StartupSmart his advice for start-ups is to take automation seriously and make sure they choose the right system for their needs.
“Small business need to realise they’re a technology company first and foremost. If you’re a retailer, you need to be focused on how you automate everything you sell. It can make a big difference to how the business is built and how it lasts,” Lehmann says, adding this approach has worked for Saasu since it launched 13 years ago.
Lehmann describes Saasu as a quiet achiever, adding it still has a team of only 20 while looking after 12,000 companies.
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“The single best bit of advice I can give people is change your mind-set about your business. You are what you haven’t yet automated, so automate as much as you can,” Lehmann says.
While cloud accounting services are one part of automation, Lehmann says you no longer need a program to build a system that will talk to all the different automation services you use.
“Technology can be intimidating for business owners, so we try to remove the mystery and unfounded fear to automate things. You don’t need a programmer to automate anymore. Our challenge is showing people that all they need to know is what they need, and we can help them with that rest,” Lehmann says.
Lehmann adds that start-ups should trial a range of cloud accounting services to find the best fit for them.
“My advice is not necessarily to go for our product. Sign up for trials for the products you like, and put a sample workflow into each product to see how it works,” Lehmann says. “I often recommend people away from Saasu. There’s no point forcing people into your system if it’s not a good fit.”
Describing the drive to be the biggest company as a “vanity-style approach”, Lehmann says he’s more interested in being the best fit for his target clients.
“We don’t care about being bigger. We’re trying to be better. We’re focused on building the best product and the natural consequence of that is we may end up being bigger and better, but that’s because we’ve had the right focus,” Lehmann says.