Name: Lee murphy
Site: Upton, Wirral
Proposal: Pandle is free cloud-based accounting software designed for real people, with a focus on independent traders and small businesses.
Cut: 25 employees and more than 3,000 customers
Describe your business model:
Our model is small business friendly. We have a freemium model, which means start-ups can use our software for free and then choose to pay a small fee later for more advanced features. Our model for professional partners such as bookkeepers and accountants is quite unique. We offer a standard partner account that offers them a significant discount as well as a white label solution.
This solution is unlike any other on the market (usually a logo change and a few other minor changes) but a truly separate instance of the software accessible from a separate domain name. It’s as good as a partner developing their own software, but for a tiny fraction of the cost.
How is your business different from what already exists?
Pandle’s platform rivals the often expensive and complicated services offered by other vendors in the market; it minimizes user errors through the use of controls and algorithms to ensure that the data entered is complete and accurate. In addition to its basic cloud accounting software, Pandle also offers a white label solution that bookkeepers and accountants can benefit from.
How did you finance your business?
We took out a few small loans along the way but the financing method reinvested all of our profits, in other words the bootstrapping. It has its pros and cons, but I thought it was good for our business as we want to stay as nimble as possible and have full control over which direction we are going – rather than responding to investors.
What is the most important thing to follow in business and why?
Monitoring the most requested software features / changes is the most important thing. We tell users about it every day and have an idea of ââwhat they want. The most popular requests are processed immediately if they are small, and the most important are added to a priority list.
For example, lately we have received a lot of requests to open Pandle in places like Canada, South Africa and Singapore, so we started working on the Pandle Global account earlier than expected.
What is the biggest challenge you face on a daily basis?
Even though it’s not everyday, the biggest challenge we regularly face is recruiting. When your business is small, it is very difficult to find and hire quality staff.
There is a lot of competition when it comes to attracting and hiring the best employees, which means you have to find new ways to attract talent and then keep those employees there for the long term. This process has been the limiting factor for the growth of our business; learning to refine these practices and the packages offered to employees is essential.
What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?
We’ve spent time creating great content for potential users, along with user recommendations and a small amount of Facebook ads. Our biggest source of customer acquisition is sponsorship of existing users.
Do you think it is important for small businesses to export advice?
I think if it’s possible for a company to export their product or service, then they absolutely should. However, I would recommend small businesses to prove the concept in their home market before moving on to others, otherwise it could be a costly mistake.
What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?
I use a lot of business apps, but I guess Trello would be the most important. Trello allows me to organize my day and future tasks very efficiently, which saves me a lot of time in efficiency.
Describe the culture of your company in three words:
Jovial, hardworking, focused.
What would you like the government to do for small businesses?
I think the UK government has done and is doing great things for small businesses right now with things like the introduction of RTI and Making Tax Digital. I think we are lucky to have such a forward thinking government. Having said that, I think they really fail to get funding for small businesses.
They allocate capital to companies like Funding Circle to distribute it to small businesses, but it does not go far enough. There are a lot of big companies that cannot get the funds they need to grow just because they have few tangible assets for the loans to secure. This must change.
Who is your biggest small and medium business hero?
Although he is by no means a small or medium business owner, my favorite entrepreneur is Elon Musk. The reason is that his businesses are not about making money, but rather solving or moving us forward towards solving big problems. I think more entrepreneurs should focus on solving important issues rather than working on another social network or chat / messaging app.
Where do you want the business to be in three years?
Providing small businesses with the best accounting software around the world.
What’s your best tip for keeping it light and making a profit?
The best advice I have is to work on the business, not the business. This might not always be possible, especially at first, but I’ve always tried to follow this advice and will spend at least half of my day moving the business forward rather than working on day-to-day issues.