Finance for a small business is often an overwhelming experience for many entrepreneurs. There are rules and regulations to learn, and it requires a lot of time. Time that could be better spent growing a business.
Bench works by pairing a business with a team of bookkeepers to do their books for them. We’ve built software for our bookkeepers to produce accurate financials, and software for our clients to communicate and easily understand their finances.
The Messaging Feed is the core of our product. It is how clients and bookkeepers communicate about the status of their books, their finances, and as an oppurtunity for clients to ask Bench general finance and business questions.
When we looked at the types of interactions taking place in the messaging feed, we identified that our bookkeepers (and clients) were sharing many links to different parts of our app. The problem was that when a client was sent to another page of the app, their context had shifted. If the bookkeeper had a couple items that a client needed to complete, they would have to keep going back to the messaging feed to read them.
From this, we developed the Service Bubble, which is an enriched message that allows a client and bookkeeper to interact and converse in a single location. If we need them to categorize some transactions, we send them a Categorization Service Bubble which opens to reveal our categorization interface, and keeps track of the client's progress. When a client completes a task, the Service Bubbles fades to a completed state.
Our new categorization UI and workflow was such an improvement over our old system that it became our first generally released service bubble. We're constantly working on developing more bubbles, bringing more context and simplicity to how a client interacts with messages, tasks, and workflows.
While messaging is a huge active component of our product, Reports is the manifestation of a client's books and finances. It's where a client goes to understand the state of their business. At the very foundation of our offering, we need to provide accurate, readable financial statements. When we started, that consisted of an Income Statement and Balance sheet, the basics every business needs. However, a tabular view of transactions isn't always that useful to a client, they need more.
We started to develop a set of visual reports, starting with better representations of a client's revenue and expenses. Our visual reports are useful tool for clients to look at their business financials over different scales of time, comparing and contrasting to provide an improved grasp of their financial state.
A well designed report will let you understand the state of your business, a great report will help you with valuable insight into how you can improve your business. We're exploring the ways that we can provide actionable insight for our clients, checking for issues, providing feedback and advice.
As we collect more data we'll be able to provide more useful insights for small businesses — not only taking away bookkeeping, but providing them the valuable information to grow their passions. With messaging, we're focusing on creating strong relationships with our clients, providing them a simple, intuitive place to talk about their finances.