Streamlining processes is important for business efficiency. However, many times people find that their attempts to do so still require a little bit of this here and a little bit of that there and so on. Wouldn’t if be nice to have workflow efficiency instead of work segment time suck? That’s what Lawton Ursrey – Product Marketing Manager of Sage One and Founder of Indie Peace feels. Tune in as he discusses this concept and his solution with Brent Leary.
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Small Business Trends: Can you tell listeners exactly what SageOne is?
Lawton Ursrey: SageOne is a SaaS application. The gist of it is you have a lot of small businesses that need time tracking. They need project management, task tracking and they need to manage expenses – pretty much the usual suspects.
They are using a widget or app here and a desktop application there. Many times their mix of solutions were disconnected. So we went out into the field and the problem we found instantly was that a lot of the business owners consider what they have set up to be “workflow”….But it ends up really being work segments. These work segments are the result of disconnected applications. They require the Entrepreneur to pick up their slack by being the human transport for communication and information sharing with each other. We want to eliminate the repetitive redundant administrative tasks holding the entrepreneur captive.
This is at the heart of Sage One. The result is more time to focus on growing their business instead of the boring administrative work. We’re focused on helping the entrepreneur reclaim his/her business day.
We really believe that your projects are connected to your tasks. Your team has the assigned task, they are able to track their time associated with that task, that should all flow straight into an invoice, and we believe you should minimize the amount of time and the clicks along the pathway from landing the job to getting paid for the job.
That’s pretty much the gist of what SageOne does. Connecting the disconnected to help the Entrepreneur reclaim the business day.
Small Business Trends: You’re a serial entrepreneur yourself. Can you tell us a bit about the other role you have as the CEO and Founder of Indie Peace?
Lawton Ursrey: There are a lot of similarities in working with Sage, on SageOne.com. It really helped me analyze my processes internally at Indie. I have the same problem, but the issue for a lot of business owners is that there isn’t a real solution that’s truly connecting all of the essential business pieces together.
For instance, our invoicing process within Indie is terrible. It needs more automation.
Small Business Trends: Can you tell the folks what Indie Peace does?
Lawton Ursrey: Indie Peace is an organic clothing line. We are exclusively USA grown and USA made. Right now, we sell all online at IndiePeace.com. Everything we make uses water based prints, low impact dye, and organic cotton.
Small Business Trends: How many people are employed by Indie Peace?
Lawton Ursrey: One. Lawton Ursrey.
Small Business Trends: And you have had this business for a while?
Lawton Ursrey: Yes, we are approaching our fourth year now.
We shipped to Nordstrom the first year out of the basement. Now I have rented out an extra room at my home. It’s challenging, but I wouldn’t trade any of it. It’s fun being an entrepreneur.
Small Business Trends: How has your entrepreneurial life impacted the way you go about getting SageOne running for small businesses?
Lawton Ursrey: Immensely. I only have one approach now. The entrepreneurial one. At this point, I cannot think any other way. Being an entrepreneur changed me forever. It also gives me a sense of certainty with my decisions. It helps to mitigate risk with many decisions as I’m pulling from my experience in literally playing every role at my company. My confidence has really improved because of it, which is good when working in a large corporation or small business. The entrepreneurial experience is my education, foundation, and the source of my certainty. Sometimes it’s not about what you’ve read in books.
Small Business Trends: How has your experience working on SageOne impacted your entrepreneurial endeavors?
Lawton Ursrey: It keeps me focused on the biggest issue that we found- when we studied the work day of many entrepreneurs…”work segments”, not workflow. Making sure that related things flow into the next process.
Small Business Trends: Work segments and workflows?
Work segment being, you’ve got a project management application online. You set that up within some solution and then you’re managing personal tasks for yourself, business tasks, and then you are working with another group on a task management application. Then you have two apps at that point. This is where the problem starts if the solutions are not syncing to share information and files.
The accounting also has to be done. Now we’re going from project management task management to accounting. Three separate solutions for related things. Most of the time the solutions were not communicating. All businesses we met with had the same challenge. They were the traffic cop; sending and receiving information and files, and keeping it all organized the best they can. Keeping their team in the loop was also a huge challenge.
The business was scattered across various solutions and the entrepreneur was losing a lot of time in the business day.
Then you move onward. You have the task taken care of. But you need to track your time. This will eventually flow into an invoice so the business owner and their collaborators are tracking their time. More often than now the tracked time did not flow directly into an invoice. There was a lot of redundancy. When collaborators were added to the disconnected mix, it really amplified things.
The quickest way we had seen, with business owners right now, is they are creating the invoice. They create their invoice sequence, attach it to an email, and a lot of times they just track it in their calendar. Then if they hadn’t been paid they just resent it. But when they resend it, they are opening the invoice back up. Updating the number sequence to identify it as the second invoice. Save it down to their invoice folder, which a particular customer is associated with. Write an email to the customer, attach the new invoice, then cross their fingers for payment.
That is not a primitive process. However, we think this can be improved. Speed is part of it, but that’s not everything. It’s about taking action only when you need to and making the action you take rapid. In Sage One if you’re not paid, Sage One notifies you via email and a notification pops up in the dashboard. You click it and you hit resend. Done.
What’s the real issue? A lot of times it’s the ends of work segments not being connected. The business owner really needs awareness to resend the invoice without having to look for it and they don’t need to continuously monitor these things. This ultimately drills down to one thing – the entrepreneur is spending more time on administrative stuff. It’s getting worse and worse.
What happens when you connect these essential functions together? That is what SageOne is really about.
Small Business Trends: Where can folks learn more about SageOne?
Lawton Ursrey: SageOne.com.
This interview about the goal to improve small business efficiency is part of the One on One interview series with some of the most thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This interview has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the player above.