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Gathering Data for the Greater Good

by Mike McDerment | October 4/2006 | cost-of-goods-sold, fresh-stuff, small-business, social-software

So … Version 3.5 is out the door.

Many of you (FreshBooks active users only) will notice a special message the next time you login. It is a prompt to tell us what profession/industry you are in. It’s optional, but here is the kicker - if you tell us, we are going to deliver some real value to you and your business.

Applications that use the web as a platform have the potential to begin an era of providing new value for their users. Never has there been a better opportunity for users to learn from other users. Some may call this social software (I would), but it’s not all about creating a profile page on a web, uploading photos and hoping someone finds you online. This is a different kind of learning.

All the users that profile themselves (e.g. tell us “I am a web designer”) will begin receiving useful comparative business metrics they can use to benchmark their business. For example, a web designer might like to learn:

  • What is the average invoice size for web designers?
  • How long does the average web designer take to get paid?
  • What is the average monthly revenue of other web designers?

We’re going to tell our active users their industry average AND their own average, so they can see how they stack up. “If everyone is getting paid faster than me, why is that and what can I do about it?” Good questions.

We’re going to take things one step further too. We’re going to scour our records for the best performers for various metrics and interview them to get tips. We will then feature them as experts so other businesses can learn how to run their own businesses more effectively.

Remember when you had to pay Forrester $1200 for a report like this? It’s times like this I catch a glimpse of how our service - and services like ours - will begin to move markets.

Just so we are clear, the data collected will only be used in its anonymous aggregate form. We’re not looking into your data on an individual basis and it won’t be copied or shared outside of our organization. Also, the request to have users profile themselves, and the access to the comparative industry reporting, are only available to users who have demonstrated a commitment to using FreshBooks. Our active users.

So sign up, use FreshBooks and join the data party.

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