Thursday, July 25, 2013

Reviews of Business Tools from an Unlikely Source and More

How would you choose which tools to use for running your business? It's trivial to find product reviews, either from paid writers in a variety of media, or from seemingly random opinions listed in an app-store like fashion. It is rare to find comparisons among solutions from a group of actual customers. I found one such instance in an unlikely source: a podcast whose contributors were a group of Java, Scala and Groovy programmers who also happened to be principals in their own businesses. Here were folks openly talking about the joys and sorrows of doing stuff they really didn't like doing: expense reports, invoicing, bookkeeping, finding back-office assistants, and other administrative tasks. For example, there is a frank discussion about which general ledger products (QuickBooks, FreshBooks, Mint, Kashoo, etc.) work well with which expense tracking solutions (Epensify, Harvest, OneReceipt, etc.) and so on.

That information alone was well worth repeated listens. 

But also buried in the audio was music to an entrepreneur's ears: opportunity.

At one point Dick Wall says: " ... you guys know what the Mechanical Turk is? I hear you that you can kind-of out-source these jobs that require human intuition. It's almost like you want a service that you can trust where you can out-source a bunch of the admin stuff that goes with running .. to .. to .. some faceless thing like the Mechanical Turk, and someone, somewhere will do it."

Thereafter TaskRabbit and "virtual private assistants" are mentioned. Note well the recasting of the popular term "virtual personal assistant". It as if personal isn't sufficiently confidential. I heard the desire for confidential administrative piecework that isn't presently served. I believe there exists a gap between what Amazon Mechanical Turk, TaskRabbit, ODesk, et al. offer and traditional temporary employment concerns.