Catch up with our CEO, Aaron Knox, to find out what motivated him to set up Yourbill. Here he discusses why experience is so important to him, reasons you should make the switch to Yourbill, and what the future holds.
What does your day job involve?
I handle Yourbill’s business strategy and day-to-day operations. I also assist in product development and strategic partnerships, to broaden the reach of Yourbill into existing and emerging markets.
How do you balance running a business, building a start-up and having a home life?
This is extremely difficult for any business owner, especially a founder of a new startup! I often get the balance wrong and find myself burning the midnight oil to keep on top of everything. I have a very supporting family that allows me the freedom to invest my time in building businesses and products, which is what I do best.
What’s been the most challenging thing about building a startup?
Knowing when and what you should launch with. Quite often it’s easy to get caught up in too much detail and focus on trying to do too many things, rather than getting a product or feature launched. In my experience, I’ve found that it’s always better to launch and then listen to your users. They often tell you exactly how it is and what they want, and you can then interpret that and develop the features your users actually want to see and use.
Spending too much time worrying about things you have no control over is often a sticking point. You learn to focus your efforts and time into things that you can directly influence, but it doesn’t stop you worrying.
Another challenge has been finding the right team. It’s difficult to find talented individuals who also share your vision and truly believe in the collective endeavour of what you’re trying to achieve.
What was the main driver behind setting up Yourbill?
Many years of pure frustration. Having started and run many businesses over the years, I found myself time and time again getting to the point of needing a bookkeeping solution, and being utterly flabbergasted at the poor solutions available to small business and startups. So many of the existing solutions seemed to require a degree just to use them. I like to keep things simple and often hit sticking points in my personal and business life when I experience something that I know could, and should be better.
Do you think that not having an accounting background helps or hinders Yourbill?
I definitely think this is a positive. From day one we’ve approached Yourbill with the users at the forefront of our minds because we want to ensure that everything we do is driven by experience, first and foremost.
As freelancers and small business owners, we generally all understand the processes and stages associated with running our day-to-day accounts, and for anything more than that we tend to rely on our accountants. With this in mind, and understanding the rigidity of the world of accounting, there is very little Yourbill can change with regards to the rules and regulations governing the industry, however the way we interact with our day-to-day bookkeeping solution and how we run our businesses can be heavily influenced by experience.
We often remember when we’ve had a bad experience, we’re a nation of whingers and often turn to social media or friends and colleagues to complain and share our frustrations. Try to remember the last time you had a really great experience, and now try to remember the last time you shared an experience like this with a friend or colleague.
The fact is, we expect a great experience so much, and quite often reality falls short of our expectations, but despite this, we often ignore and even accept poor experiences, but why? Great experiences are often why we do what we do, why we shop where we shop, and why we use the brands that we use. Apple is a great example of this, they don’t always have superior technology, they don’t provide the cheapest products out there, so why do millions of us choose Apple over sometimes superior and often cheaper alternatives? In my opinion, it’s down to experience. From the buying experience of being in-store to the experience of purchasing the item(s), the customer service and even down to the unboxing when you get home, everything Apple do is simple and intuitive – it’s all about the usability of the product, the aftercare and above all, the experience.
Apple don’t sell products, they sell experiences and Yourbill is looking to do the same with bookkeeping. Why over complicate something, when the rules and regulations can be handled seamlessly behind the scenes, allowing you to interact with your accounts with a simple and great user experience, whilst you let the solution and your accountant do what they do best.
Whilst we are creatives and technologists, we’re mindful that having accountants to hand is important to ensure that Yourbill remains useful and up-to-date with any industry changes, and ultimately to ensure that we deliver an accurate, hassle-free service to our users.
Was it important for you to create a solution that you would want to see and use as a business owner?
Definitely. I am the type of guy that would buy the washing machine with a single button and one function if it was available.
I love to think that one day the simple, user experience first approach will be widely adopted in everything we interact with daily. Why would any of us want anything else, when business and life is complicated enough?
What was the pivotal moment when you realised that this was a viable business opportunity and not just an internal invoicing platform?
Honestly, the first time I setup a business and grew to a size that needed to move on from creating Excel-based invoices and keeping paper-based receipts in a plastic bag for my accountant to sift through. Simply entering the world of available accounting and bookkeeping solutions is enough to give anyone a headache.
I’ve found that reading most of the available provider’s websites, features and promises make you more confused, and often relies on you trying out their free periods to find the best one to suit your needs. The fact being, I never actually found an existing solution that I felt met my needs of wanting hassle-free simplicity.
As I have spent most of my working life in the technology and creative industries, I’ve kept up-to-date with the latest news and trends around the world, and it amazes me at the speed at which we are achieving great things – from affordable electric cars for the mass, to AI being used to help the early detection of diseases for life-saving treatments. Yet we aren’t harnessing the powers of technology and design to fix what we already have. I feel that bookkeeping and accounting is one of those problems that can be solved using the right technology, approach and drive, and I believe we have all of those things at Yourbill, along with a want to make things better.
Describe Yourbill in 3 words?
Simple, Intuitive & Intelligent.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt while creating Yourbill?
As with any startup, the initial stages are always stressful. Entering into an unknown market and having to skill-up, and essentially become an expert and pioneer all at once, can become overwhelming. However, when trying to strive for simplicity, it’s often easy to overstep the mark and start to design and develop complicated experiences. Over the years I’ve learnt to step back and often stop what we’re doing and to go back to the initial ideas and vision. Re-approaching a business problem in this way can often help you to achieve great things.
If you started again, would you do anything differently?
I don’t believe I would do anything differently, other than not sitting on the idea for almost 10 years before bringing Yourbill to market! There was a need for it back then and there’s even more of a need for it now.
Can you list 5 reasons why you think freelancers and small businesses should make the switch to Yourbill?
- We’ve taken a creative approach to delivering a great overall experience.
- Yourbill is a solution that is as easy and intuitive to use as email.
- It’s a solution which has been produced by creatives and small business owners for the business leaders of tomorrow.
- & 5. We’ve created all of this with a continuing appetite to drive technical innovation in the industry and to deliver even better, more intuitive experiences, at a cost effective price.
What does the future hold for Yourbill?
As a FinTech startup, I believe that we can lead innovation in the industry. We’ll continue with further integrations into our day-to-day use of other technologies and business applications, to deliver seamless experiences, improve efficiency and save money. We aim to remove the hassles and complications of accounting and other business related tasks from freelancers and small business owner.