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Doing business in the cloud or halfway up a mountain – tomorrow’s entrepreneurs confirm the desktop is dead

Spend a few moments chatting to anyone under the age of 25 about technology and you might find yourself struggling to keep up. Digital-native teens and twenty-somethings are lightning-quick when navigating their way around new software and devices. They know all about the latest and coolest apps well before the media and – excitingly – aren’t afraid to use them.

Like the rest of us, they will no doubt make mistakes in their careers, as well as face financial challenges. Yet, in an age where cloud technology and super-smart devices are evolving at an unstoppable pace, there are a world of opportunities for tomorrow’s tycoons.

Gary Turner, MD of Xero UK

Picking up the technology mantle, they can do business in new ways, or take a chance and follow in the footsteps of the current generation of entrepreneurs and venture into untapped markets and sectors.

Recently, we commissioned a poll of around 500 people aged 16-24, which revealed some interesting insights about how they think – and where the future of business technology is headed.

What came across loud and clear is that the desktop is dead. The new generation of digital natives also want and, in most cases, will expect to access all files and documents, speak to customers and associates and run an enterprise from anywhere – whether it is in the street or half way up a mountain. Continue reading ›

 

Rocking the night away at Xerocon

As MD of Xero Australia, I find myself taking to the stage quite a bit – especially at events like Xerocon.

Chris Ridd on stage at Xerocon Australia 2014

And while I do enjoy getting up there to share news, views and ideas about Xero and the customers we work with, nothing quite beats the feeling of taking to the stage in a different guise: with a guitar, a mic and my fellow musos who make up the Xero band.

Chris Ridd and Tom Lee Richards perform as part of the Xerocon band

An event like Xerocon deserves a big performance, and judging by the buzz of the crowd – and the frenetic activity on the dance floor – our humble band did an awesome job of bringing Xerocon to a close in a big way.

We played a solid mix of classics spanning a range of tempos and genres, giving our audience of over 1,000 lots to choose from. Check out some highlights from our performance over on Xero’s Vimeo channel. Continue reading ›

 

MarketInvoice: getting the money you need to grow

Businesses that sell to other businesses often see cashflow issues when they’re waiting for invoices to be paid. With MarketInvoice, a recent addition to our Add-on Marketplace, you can draw down a large percentage of an invoice on day one, rather than having to wait for payment from your customer.

That’s money that can be ploughed back into your business, so you can focus on growth rather than cashflow management.

Applying to use MarketInvoice is quick and hassle-free; it takes 15 minutes to apply online and only minutes to upload invoices to trade. And because MarketInvoice is now integrated with Xero, this process is even faster. It’s a pay-as-you-go service, so you only need to pay when you need help with your cashflow. You can see all fees upfront, and there are no debentures or personal guarantees.

Who’s MarketInvoice for?

MarketInvoice is aimed at UK businesses that sell goods or services to large corporates (revenues of over £50m) or the public sector. Clients normally have at least six months trading history and at least £100,000 in turnover, but MarketInvoice also serves businesses with over £100m in turnover.

Businesses that use MarketInvoice come from across the UK and operate in a range of sectors. Around 30% of these businesses do so to fund their export contracts. The service suits high-growth businesses, as well as those without fixed assets (mainly service and software businesses).

How does it work with Xero?

MarketInvoice integrates with Xero to streamline both the application process and the uploading of invoices for sale.

You connect to the MarketInvoice Xero portal and click ‘apply through Xero’. Then you log in (if not already logged in) to your Xero account and an application form is pre-populated with data from Xero. Set up a password and contact number and click apply. MarketInvoice will get back to you within 24 hours (usually 20 minutes) to let you know if you’ve been approved.

Once approved, businesses can access the MarketInvoice platform directly from Xero and sell selected invoices in just three clicks. Funding will be advanced within a couple of hours.

How do I sign up?

At the moment, only UK businesses can use MarketInvoice, although you can use the service to fund your overseas business.

You can sign up for MarketInvoice by clicking ‘Apply through Xero’ on their website. Signing up is fast and risk free. If you decide you don’t want to use the service, that’s fine. You’re never charged a penny. There’s even a handy cost calculator where you can work out what size funds can be transferred, based on the size of your invoice. It’s simple, fast and effective.

To find out more, just visit the MarketInvoice website here.

 

Xerocon Australia Partner Awards winners

This year’s Xerocon conference in Sydney attracted over 1300 attendees from the accounting, bookkeeping and financial advisor industries. The conference closed on a high as we celebrated the contribution of some of Australia’s leading partners at the Xero Partner Awards dinner on Friday evening.

Xero Australia MD Chris Ridd says “These prestigious awards honor the top performing add-on developers, accounting practices and bookkeeping professionals that our partner ecosystem has to offer.”

“We are delighted to see the huge efforts of our many partners in what was hotly contested awards ceremony that celebrated some amazing innovations and best practices. Our partners are absolutely critical to our success and these awards shine a spotlight on their successes.

Congratulations to each winner on this incredible achievement.

Winners of the Xero Partner Awards

Accounting Partner of the Year –
Mulcahy & Co.

Mulcahy & Co

Bookkeeping Partner of the Year –
CFM Bookkeeping

CFM Bookkeeping Continue reading ›

 

It’s a Workpapers world

We’re making changes on a few fronts in Xero Workpapers today: we’ve made a number of enhancements for our existing users and we’re pleased to announce Workpapers is now available globally.

Global availability

Today we’re launching a global edition of Xero Workpapers. Our accounting and bookkeeping partners anywhere in the world can now manage their workpapers, letters and client queries. Compiling management and year-end accounts has never been easier – head on over to the new global help centre to see what we have in store for you, then set up a free trial.

New and improved workpapers

The Home Office workpaper has had a major update – we’ve added a new tabbed design for those times when there’s a change of address or there are multiple claims to be made. It also uses the smarts behind our Permanent workpaper to remember key details from period to period.

Laurie's Hairdos Co – Home Office

We’ve also built a brand new workpaper for operating leases: this helps you keep track of your clients’ lease documentation and calculate their future commitment. To save you even more time, this is also remembered across periods.

Laurie's Hairdos Co – Operating Lease Commitments

Workflow improvements

When you send bulk queries, Xero Workpapers has some new smarts to decide how the packs are assigned, based on your most recent staff allocations. This makes it much easier to ensure your staff know what they should be working on.

Going green!

The Xero Workpapers and Practice Manager teams are working together closely to combine our powers. It’s going to take a while but work is already under way to bring two major parts of Practice Studio closer together and take advantage of each other’s strengths.
In the coming months, Xero Workpapers will have a new look and will be much more tightly integrated with Xero Practice Manager. This is pretty exciting for all of us – more news as this work progresses.

 

Introducing Australia’s new Head of Accounting – James Solomons

Many exciting announcements were made at Xerocon 2014. The one that had the most impact for me came on day two when Chris Ridd welcomed me to the main stage with the news that I had been appointed to the role of Head of Accounting of Xero Australia.

It’s a unique role that has been strategically designed to enable me to keep a foot in both camps, so to speak. So while I will be the Head of Accounting for Xero Australia, I’ll be performing this role alongside my position as director of EFS Strategic. This means I will continue to be hands on with my practice and clients. You could say I am on both sides of the ledger now!

The response from Xero Partners and the Xero Team has been amazing and proves that the industry is ready to embrace change. Thank you to everyone for their words of support.

Head of Accounting James Solomons – retweet

One thing I would like to make clear is that while I have strong opinions and beliefs on how a financial services firm can operate successfully, I’m very aware that businesses do things a little differently. We each have our own unique selling points and personalities. That’s why our clients choose one firm over another to build a relationship with as part of their own business advisory support network.

So, this role is not about coaching or training the Xero Partners. It’s about listening to you and collating your feedback and finding out what is frustrating you and holding you back from operating your own best practice firm. I will offer support and guidance and share my experiences with you, however my overriding goal is to be a sounding board for all things relating to our industry.

There is no doubt that there are a number of practitioners in the industry worried about what the future may hold. The key to prospering from this disruption is to embrace change and to start building your practice so that it can adapt to the ever-changing digital world. The compliance-only model will not survive as our industry becomes more automated and the government continues with its mandate to reduce red tape. If I am starting to sound like a broken record on this point then I make no apologies.

I said that I am committed to ensuring that Xero delivers market leading solutions to partners to help them run a modern practice. Taking the partner’s wants and desires direct to the product and development teams will ensure that your voices are heard at the table.

It is obvious that the missing piece to the puzzle remains a full tax suite for accounting practitioners. The Activity Statement and Company Forms now in Xero Practice Manager have worked well, but there is no doubt practitioners need to see the entire suite and they need to see it soon. That was the key piece of feedback I received as I walked the floor during the event. And this was not just feedback from partners, it came from the Xero Team themselves who all spoke with me about their goals to deliver what the partners want!

The other important aspect of my role is to be the voice of Xero and its partners direct into the accounting industry. What Xero has been doing has captured the attention of the ATO and Government (as highlighted by Chris Ridd) and Xero now not only sits at the round table when it comes to industry focus groups but leads the discussion. My task is to leverage this hard work and elevate it to the next level in all parts of the industry. I’ll ensure our voice is heard by the ATO, our professional bodies, the media and most importantly by businesses across Australia and the world.

And I got off to a good start judging by this tweet…

Rod tweets about Xero's new Head of Accounting

As for my vision… Well, I want to work towards seeing an industry filled with professionals who get technology; who challenge the status quo and who equip themselves and their clients with the market-leading accounting solution to ensure that maximum value is added to their business and their clients’ businesses at every single opportunity.

I encourage you to contact me whenever you feel the need; I’m here to listen and help you any way I can. Drop me an email james.solomons@xero.com or jamessolomons.com.

Don’t forget to check out the short video we put together while I was at Xerocon:

 

Xerocon 2014: that’s a wrap on the largest tech event of its kind in Australasia

After months of planning, preparation and brainstorming, the curtains have been drawn on Xerocon 2014. And what an event it was. From the number of attendees and the scope of ideas and content to the sheer size of the venue, everything about Xerocon was big. We were thrilled to welcome 1,300 delegates (a record for us) to two days packed with sessions spanning consumer psychology, branding and culture, digital disruption and more.

Attendees gathered in The Dome in Sydney for Xerocon 2014

Continue reading ›

 

The Xero Add-on Marketplace

This morning the Xero team released our new Add-on Marketplace.

It has been clear that we needed to solve some new problems as a result of the size of our add-on ecosystem: with over 350 integrated applications, it was difficult for customers and partners to find the specific add-on application they or their client needed.

The new marketplace allows users to search by keyword, category or for industry specific solutions, helping everyone find the right tools for the job. Whether you need a niche application for wineries or you are after a general small business CRM, the new add-on marketplace helps you find what you need.

Continue reading ›

 

When the bank says no: alternative ways to fund your business

Today’s guest post comes from Gene Marks, author, columnist and small business owner. He regularly contributes to top US media outlets such as The New York Times, Forbes and Inc. Magazine. 

To learn more about how to finance your business in the US, sign up for Xero’s webinar on Sept. 4 at 1 pm Pacific Time  in which Gene moderates a discussion with representatives from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Kabbage. 

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s one thing that many of us forget about bankers: They’re businesses, too.

Banks have shareholders and owners — and they have a responsibility to make money. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this. But ultimately it can impact your small business funding. Because when you take a step back and think about it, are you worth it? Is that $10K or $100K that you need worth the trouble to a bank? Will the earnings from your interest payments be substantial enough to justify the risk? Is it worth the banker’s time to monitor you, review your financials, look at your ratios? Do you really have enough liquid assets to collateralize that debt? Will you ever lose that extra ten pounds you put on since college?

Unfortunately, the answer is no (and not even if you work out a lot). A bank doesn’t want to lend me money unless it’s going to be a profitable deal for them. My company is too small. Being in the service business, we have no assets. Sure, I can get a car loan or a second mortgage — but those are personal. And I’ve been offered a small ($25K) line of credit but my cash (which would be used as collateral) has always well exceeded that amount.

For most of us — at least until we reach a certain stage of maturity — trying to get bank financing, just like losing weight, isn’t going to work. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try something else. In fact, there are ways — good ways — to lose those extra ten pounds. It’s all a matter of eating better. Oh, and there’s a few good ways other than banks to get financing this year, too. Here are three. Continue reading ›

 

Xerocon Australia 2014 – Day 2

We’re back at Xerocon Australia 2014 for day two! Xero Australia MD Chris Ridd kicks off the day by telling the crowd about how Xero is investing in its partnerships.

Beautiful stage at Xerocon Australia 2014

Chris revealed Xero’s new Head of Accounting: James Solomons, a director of Sydney-based EFS Strategic, who said he was humbled by the appointment.

Chris also announced a new Partner Advisory Council, made up of accountants and bookkeepers from different states. They will be tasked with giving Xero input and feedback to make sure we make the right decisions on issues that affect partners.

Chris Ridd addresses our accounting Partners

“Partners – you guys – are absolutely baked onto our business model.” Chris Ridd, Managing Director, Xero Australia

Chris finished by outlining Xero’s inspiring work with the Foundation of Young Australians. The groups helps demystify the world of work for young people and supports them to become ‘work-ready’ by spending a week at the Xero head office.

Attendees take in the sights at Xerocon in Syndey

Adam Ferrier – Understanding consumers: Don’t listen to a word they say

Adam Ferrier, Chief Strategy Officer at advertising agency cummins&partners, explained how to change people’s behaviour.

He said there are two factors that will allow their behaviour to change – their motivation to change and the ease with which they can change. So getting people to do what you want them to do involves two things – increasing their motivation or making it easier.

The best way to get someone to like you is to get them to do something for you and businesses should use that strategy, Adam said. Continue reading ›