In Business, Perspective is Everything

March 26, 2007


Occasionally you are lucky enough to have a realization come crashing through – you learn something that you will probably never forget. Here’s one that crashed through on me – in business, perspective is everything.

One day about 3.5 years ago Levi and I were sitting with a couple VCs and they were telling us about a recent investment they had made in an email hosting company. Levi and I both looked at each other and without words said, “Email hosting? Can you believe these guys?!” We thought it was a total joke.

The light bulb did not go off until we were speaking with Pat Mathews the CEO of Webmail.us (we use Webmail.us for email and it is excellent). Pat simply pointed out that thanks to spam and sheer volume, managing email is a real pain for most businesses, and he explained how many self respecting businesses just want to pay for mission critical services instead of using popular free services that are available.

Ironically Webmail.us’s story is similar to the story of FreshBooks. Most people think online invoicing is a boring and simple kind of service – they dismiss it much like Levi and I dismissed email hosting. But we just don’t see invoicing as boring. We think invoicing and other unaccounting services are fascinating and we have a long list of ideas that will help us to continue to reinvent and redefine what invoicing can be – like our soon to be released business benchmarking service.

So what is the point of all of this? If you see a product/process/service that everyone else perceives as old and tired and you can see ways to improve it, or maybe you are just unsatisfied with the state of the art, you’ve got a perspective that is an opportunity, and if you seize it, my money’s on you.


about the author

Co-Founder & CEO, FreshBooks Mike is the co-founder and CEO of FreshBooks, the world’s #1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals. Built in 2003 after he accidentally saved over an invoice, Mike spent 3.5 years growing FreshBooks from his parents’ basement. Since then, over 10 million people have used FreshBooks to save time billing, and collect billions of dollars. A lover of the outdoors, Mike has been bitten so many times it’s rumoured he’s the first human to have developed immunity to mosquitoes.