FREE software with 24/7 live support – anyone?

It is not only my SIIA On-Demand Conference engagement in Amsterdam or the fact that Phil’s post has been nagging me ever since I read it, but the fact we are doing some of – or sort of – what Phil has written about already for some time – and yet the impact has been small IMO, I am talking about giving our software away for FREE. But most of our almost 200k users have been acquired by direct contract with larger businesses with a stake in the small business sector – customer churn hurts anyone, even big boys.

Bearing in mind that I already said software has little value, I would like to discuss our current thinking for the near future with my readers and would be delighted to get some feedback on the blog or by email. Here is the deal:

AccountsOffice and CashBook

We would make a plug-in available that would allow anyone who has affiliations with small business to offer both products free of charge to their small business clients, we may charge a small fee (GBP 200/ US$ 400/ € 300) as a one off for white labeling, if needed. Some customization can be done when the system is set up, at sign up. So you would just go online sign up to the deal and within 30 minutes you could be up and running.

I’m thinking business mentors/advisors, trade associations, magazines, office suppliers, telcos, ISPs – you get the idea. This would create some stickiness (or lower the customer churn) for these web-sites. The clients would be served well with a free accounting system including our famed 24/7 support (see Paul Druckmans – former President of the ICAEW – testimonial).


For OnlineOffice (a 5 – user license) we would put out this “advertisers” pricing, including ALL the OnlineOffice products included in our price-list to endusers:

  • Up to 100 licenses – GBP 100 / US$ 200 per month ( GBP 1 / US$ 2 per lic.) ;
  • Up to 1’000 licenses – GBP 500 / US$ 1’000 per month ( GBP .5 / US$ 1 per lic.);
  • Up to 10’000 licenses – GBP 4’000 / US $ 8’000 per month ( GBP .4 / US$ .8 per lic.):
  • Up to 100’000 licenses – GBP 20k / US $ 40k per month ( GBP .2 / US$ .4 per lic.).

Our partners would only sign up for the 100 licenses deal and we would allow up and down movement in the pricing groups without penalty. This means between 90 to 98 % of the revenue stays with our advertising partners.
This in itself would allow big + small businesses, home businesses, lifestyle business, self-employed etc. to create revenue each month – basically for putting some advertising on their web-site, catalogues, membership or just offer it with the current service. For example web-designers, internet cafes, blogs, Virtual Assistants, call centers, to name but a few examples.

There is little downside, no real cost – lets face it many websites offer google ads, the earning potential for these websites with our advertising partnering is, if you have the right readers group.

For the big boys the upside is even bigger, they could just absorb the OnlineOffice cost and offer the service free of charge to their clients, to reduce customer churn, the so called “Business Offering” would not only include for example more call minutes or a higher monthly subscription, but would add real value to the relationship between supplier and client.

For WinWeb the upside is enormous, we get to provide the Small Business Infrastructure, incl. the Live! services, our advertising expenditure would remain very low, we keep our cost down (fixed and variable) and still have the advertising reach of a big budget spender.

Isn’t this what you were talking about, Phil? I am looking forward discussing this in Amsterdam.

I think this could be fun as we are ready to launch the new US software within days. It will also give me chance to compare the CPAs (US) with the professional accountants (UK), should be interesting – I will make sure I report on my findings.

What do you think – any takers?

Tags: Accountants, Business Development, Business Mentoring, Business Start Up, Client Relations, CPAs, Entrepreneur, FREE Business Tool, ICAEW, Institute of Business Advisors, Lifestyle Business, LinkBack, Marketing/PR, Micro Business, Office/IT, On-demand, On-Demand Europe ’07, OnlineOffice, Outsourcing, SaaS, Sales, SBI, Selfemployed, Small Business Infrastructure, smb, sme, sme-blog, Software as a Service, SOHO, VAs, Very Small Business, Virtual Assitants, VirtualOffice, VSB, Web 2.0, Web Technology, WebOffice, WebWare, WinWeb, WinWeb AccountsOffice , WinWeb CashBook, WinWeb OnlineOffice

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