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Less Accounting Review – a 10 part series – The Signup

'Accounting Sense != Common Sense' photo (c) 2007, Paul Downey - license: recently signed up with Less Accounting and I will be publishing a Less Accounting review  and experiences with the setup process here (read the introduction).

  1. Introduction
  2. My accounting background
  3. The Signup (This post)
  4. Import Quickbooks File
  5. Wire Account
  6. Set Recurring
  7. Hook up Bank Account
  8. Hook Up American Express Account
  9. Less Accounting – One Week Later
  10. Less Accounting – One Month Later

There really isn’t much to the signup process (which is a good thing).

I’m tempted to leave it at that for this part of the review, but one thing that does bear mention is the overall look and feel of their website, and the role it plays in your decision making.  The site isn’t flashy, or terribly notable graphically, however, it is very, very well written, and designed to show off the writing, which makes it quite persuasive.

It has a good Unique Selling Proposition (see the Copy Hackers Series for more information on that) and it identifies me quickly (their novice button), and I have a clear action to take. based on those two factors.

The information presented was all useful, both to me, the end user, and my accountant (who needs to approve these sorts of things).

On the whole, it was good enough to get me to sign up and try it.  They identified my frustrations and promised me a cure with at a decent price and nominal risk.  My big concens were importing American Express data, as well as connecting to my bank without additional fees, which they put more of less on the home page.

On the whole, their signup process gets an A+.

Jun 12

Written By Steve French


How I explain Paul Graham’s Maker schedule and Manager schedule without being insulting

'Day [009]  Schedule.' photo (c) 2010, Sadie Hernandez - license: of Paul Graham’s most useful insights has been his Maker Schedule vs Manager Schedule. Go ahead and read the link if you’re not familiar with the concept.

It is

  • True
  • Useful
  • Deep
  • and very hard to explain to people without being insulting

By singleing yourself out as a “maker”, and hence on a “Maker Schedule” you run the serious risk of alienating all of your equally smart colleagues who have different interests and work responsibilities.  Coders, designers and artists will understand it immediately, but if you’re not one of those people it can sound like you’re putting yourself on a pedestal.

Remove Maker Schedule and Manager Schedule from the description

Just remove the job description, and substitute the noise that you’re making, which implies the type of work that you’re doing.

If you’re producing mouse clicks, you’re doing manager work, and you’re on a manager schedule.  If you’re producing keyboard clicks, you’re doing maker work, and you’re on a maker schedule.  The work is being labeled, not the person.  No one is categorized as “creative” or “business people”, it’s just the work you happen to be doing at the time.

I’ve found that people understand this instantly and intuitively.  No need to explain “Flow” or why interruptions cost so much time.  People can relate to the fact that (usually) work involving the keyboard just takes longer than work involving the mouse, and no one is inadvertently put down by being implicitly labeled.

That’s worked for me anyway.

May 12

Written By Steve French


I bring Blog Prophet into the world

I recently posted the staging site for my new Blog Prophet venture – see who called it with Blog Prophet.  The main thrust of the new company is that it allows bloggers to compete on merit, not longevity and not sleazy seo tactics.

Apr 12

Written By Steve French


Startups For the Rest of Us has the greatest quote ever on entrepreneurship

Via Rob Walling, the great quote ever is

Employees complain, entreupreneurs get it done.

Exactly what I needed to hear today.    The insight into a base mindset is what I like about it I suppose.

Apr 12

Written By Steve French


Southern Crafted Candles joins the internet

Southern Crafted CandlesI have been remiss in welcoming Southern Crafted Candles to the internet world.  I completed the site in December, just in time for the Christmas shopping season.  Handmade in Athens Georgia, these candles pack a powerful pop, and are a needed counterpart to the established and decayed empire of Yankee Candle.

Southern Crafted Candles consists of Candle Guru Zach Kitay and capitalist powerhouse Ben Kitay, working together to create a new and powerful candle company

We built the site in WordPress, using an existing template.  WordPress came through for us again.  One of the downsides of a smooth-running project is that the operation is just not that remarkable, which makes these blog posts difficult to write!

Their candle of the month is a lovely hand crafted  Cinnamon Apple Candle, you should get one today!  Go check it out, we’ll be here when you get back, and your house will smell great too!

Mar 12

Written By Steve French


Stronico gets absorbed by Digital Tool Factory

I am giving up the ghost on, and I will soon be shutting down the site and moving 200+ posts from the Stronico blog over here to the Digital Tool Factory blog so they can be part of an actively updated site (thank you 301 redirects).  I expect that to happen slowly over the next two weeks.

Stronico has been a lot of fun and a magnificent learning experience, in product development, programming and business in general.  Primarily what I learned was that there is no market for a visual contact management system. Live and learn!  I with I’d done more research and found it out earlier (like everyone says) but life is one long experiment.

Feb 12

Written By Steve French


Fix the problem and move on

I recently ate breakfast with a few other local business types (one the head of the best event staffing company in Atlanta) and one of them presented an interesting problem.  He told the story of a former staff member who had made what seemed (to him)  to be an obvious mistake.  He seemed to think that this was caused by an inborn flaw that could never be fixed.  The dilemma, should he have gotten rid of the staffer or worked around the staffer?   The majority of people agreed with the inborn flaw theory, but that he should just work around the flaw.

I thought that the problem was fundamental attribution error, (attributing the problem to the person and not the situation).  He thought that the former staffer possessed no initiative.  My initial thought (from his description of the situation) was that the staffer was confronted with an unclear situation and he had no obvious way to show initiative.

Upon further thought,  in real world situations, there is no way to ever determine which one of us is right, and the best thing to do it just put the solution to the problem in a checklist or manual and move on.


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog

May 11

Written By Steve French


Quick guide to Charlie Munger

I’m not sure why, but during my extended work sessions this weekend I listened to, and read up on Warren Buffet’s secret brain, Charlie Munger.  These three links contain all you need to know about the man, and his extra wise brain:


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog

Jan 11

Written By Steve French


Suggestions for Gates, Buffett and Turner – Home Insulation Edition

Charity School, Edmontonphoto © 2006 Fin Fahey | more info (via: Wylio)On Sunday I watched Christianne Amanpour’s interview with Bill & Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett and Ted Turner on This Week on Sunday.  All three espoused some form of SpiderMan conservatism.   The only interesting thing that emerged from the interview was that the Gates Foundation funds experimental work in American public schools.

Why?  The rest of the Gates Foundation work seems to be devoted (from what I have heard anyway) to creating one-time, permanent fixes to problems that they can “just do” with no permission from regulators, which is what I have always liked about that foundation.  To attempt to make any changes to public education would seem to involve a long fight with a deeply commited vested interest and a range of lobbyists for a limited reward at best.

That got me thinking of permanent, one-time improvements the foundation could make without coming into contact with vested interests and their lobbyists.  Here is one idea:

Home insulation – The Gates Foundation could sponsor their own research and improve spray foam insulation until it

  • has double to the R-Value per inch (up to R-14) of existing spray foam
  • has half the cost of the cheapest insulating competitor per cubic foot
  • is simple enough so that the average DIYer could resinsulate in a weekend
  • could be sold at  at Home Depot or Lowes, and WalMart.

Once those goals have been met they could open source the patents and let the commoditization begin!  America is horribly under-insulated, and making an R-100 easy to do would result in a permanent, one-time fix to America’s housing stock that would dramatically reduce residential energy consumption.  It would also disproportionally help the lower-income who tend to live in under-insulated houses.

Having said all this I do realize that insulating is not that difficult, nor that expensive, but it is perceived that way by the general public, and if you could reduce the payoff period to less than a year that would surely improve matters.

What do you think, what would you do if you had 50 million to spend and the improvement had to be:

  1. Permanent
  2. One-time (no recurring maintenance or anything)
  3. Mass-Market
  4. Physical, not virtual

Thoughts anyone?  Please leave them in the comments.


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog

Nov 10

Written By Steve French


I just added a toll free number with

Stronico has reached the big time in a way by adding the toll free number of (888) 491-3066 with the help of  So far I’m pretty impressed with the service.  VoiceNDo is a bootstrapped startup, just like us, with a great price on a needed service.  The administrative and signup process was simple and direct.

My intention with this is not to spend more time talking on the phone, but a way of offering credibility to Stronico, as well as offering another avenue for people to reach us.


This post originally appeared on the Stronico blog – with the absorption of Stronico into Digital Tool Factory this post has been moved to the Digital Tool Factory blog

Nov 10

Written By Steve French


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