Friday, February 03, 2012

Has LiquidAccounts got the X-Factor?

The strap-line for this site expresses a desire to cover more news. This is not as easy an undertaking as I would hope. I guess if it was, there would be even less justification for teams of journo's than there is presently (bearing in mind the disruptive pressure of the web and all that).

With that in mind I wanted to share what I'd heard of the latest comings and goings at LiquidAccounts as quickly as possible and chew on the fat a little. Having navigated today's scheduled meetings et al, I got down to getting out what was to be a short update. Including:-

"After a relatively quiet first month of 2012, some news! At the same time as Xero sharing the highlights of what to expect in the annual summary at the end of March - including acquiring the excellent WorkFlowmax (congratulations to Gavin and the team - well deserved). Both Diversity & AccMan commentate on this story comprehensively so I'll concentrate my focus on...'s all change at LiquidAccounts! Matt Holmes & Lisa Kendrick (CEO & Marketing Director respectively) have been ousted amid rumours that the Board were less than enamoured with how they were keeping the company's books." <<~~ Diplomatic description!

I was then made aware that AccMan had got in their first!! Hey-ho. But seriously, it's not about who's first with the gossip; this isn't Facebook after all. What about the why's and where now? 

TBH - it's always sad to hear about the sort of thing that has happened at Liquid (and they're not the only ones in some form of hell!). So much blood, sweat and tears gets poured into these ventures. It's easy for judgement to get clouded. 

mentioned LiquidAccounts (be warned this link is to an epic post!) previously when I suggested that building their own payroll module was a bad move. This is indicative of a strategy likely to fail. 

Amid all the hype of cloud and the sexing-up of SaaS, it's easy to ignore the fact that it's an incredibly tough business model for a vendor early on. Especially at the entry-level, where every customer - that costs the vendor money to acquire - is giving you just a few quid a month.

It requires a real single-mindedness not to be distracted from the long-game, while making things viable in the short-term. Witness the extreme funding route of Xero.  

SaaS with longevity requires focus on a narrow remit by a team on a mission, continually reiterating and revealing more depth. It takes real discipline not to be distracted by the quick money of bespoke development work, for example! But it's worth it, in the long run.

I've said before that all the elements of a SaaS business must be given equal priority. Because it's so true! Sometimes it must feel like the competition have divine intervention as you bust a gut with a product that they honestly can't see to be inferior in any way. No wonder that some decide the only option is to build more stuff; to throw more tech at the problem. But that way is folly.

Dennis Howlett wonders as to whether others will be tempted to pick up the IP and the existing customer base et al. Like him, I doubt it. Doubtless plenty will sniff around, like they have plenty of others. But in reality there's still not enough for the big guys to get their teeth into at this stage.

I could be wrong of course. It only takes one after all. Though I'm sure what's left of LiquidAccounts would prefer at least two!

There is another option. Go all in! You've come this far after all. Find someone to give the organisation direction.  Make some tough decisions. Cut out all the fat, the techie bloat that undermines all the advantages that you have. Keep the existing customers on board. That's your fan-base after all. And ongoing revenue of course, while you turn this ship around.

Place bets on optimising an essentially powerful product to play with the big boys in the SaaS market place. 90% of the hard work has already been done. Put in play the likes of integration and creative channel partnerships. Optimise the zero-touch side of the business. Get all parts of the organisation  performing and performing together. I outlined the size of the market up for grabs just a month ago. A massive opportunity for LiquidAccounts. 

And we've still a long way to go before this particular X-Factor final. 

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