Skip to content

The Pitch – supporting the future of UK small business

Starting out in business? Beginning your journey as a start-up? Then you’ll know that getting the right support and advice at this critical point in your evolution is vital to success. And that’s something that The Pitch sets out to achieve – getting the right mentoring and support to the best of the UK’s new and start-up businesses.

If your business is under three years old then your company can enter The Pitch, pitch your idea and be in with a chance of winning an awesome package of mentoring, support and advice from the best in the business. Plus the winner gets a free year using Xero, our leading cloud accounting software. Pretty pukka, eh?

Supporting UK small business

On 4 September the London heat of The Pitch took place at 15Hatfields in London. Xero was incredibly pleased to be there at the event to lend our support to this extremely worthwhile cause.

Ashley Driver and Helen Gibbons from Xero at The Pitch

Two trusty Xeros, Ashley and Helen from our Education team, were on hand to explain the benefits of cloud-based accounting, and to showcase ways that Xero’s web-based and mobile accounting software helps small businesses keep on top of their finances.

We met a lot of very inspiring new businesses who are bringing their energy, innovation and creativity to the UK marketplace. And, gratifyingly, many of these entrepreneurs are already Xero users.

We spoke to Esther Thompson from Teahuggers about the kind of entrepreneurial advice that really helps a start-up get onto the first rung on the business ladder: Continue reading ›

 

Xero updates: all about the quick processes

It’s all about efficiency

When I first spoke to accountants who adopted Xero as a platform to service their small and medium-sized business, they glowed about how efficient Xero made them. I regularly heard about accountant firms that grew their practice by 20 percent while reducing staff time spent on clients by the same 20 percent. In business, efficiency gains such as these are unheard of.

Efficiently familiar

There are many efficiencies gained from cloud accounting software. But sometimes, older processes — through their familiarity — are efficient. For example, Excel in the hands of an experienced accountant is lightning fast. A check register is a quick way to update the accountant’s view of a bank balance. With the new Xero quick tools, you can experience a workflow that is efficiently familiar.

Continue reading ›

 

Small business day2day webinars – get up to speed with Xero

When you’re running a small business, getting the most from your finance software is really going to help you drive the business forward. And at Xero we also understand the importance of training and education when your business first starts using cloud-based software for your accounting. That’s why we’ve created a series of ‘day2day webinars’ aimed specifically at small business owners.

Improving your day2day use of Xero

Getting into the detail and functionality of Xero is really going to help you get more from your numbers, reporting and day-to-day bookkeeping. So our brilliant Education team are running a series of webinars where you can learn first-hand how to get more from your day2day accounting.

Basic bookkeeping - keep it simple

The webinars will run you through a variety of key features and functions to help you with your everyday accounting, from entering sales invoices, setting up payment services, using the bank reconciliation and understanding your numbers.

Sign up for our webinars

The first one in the series is ‘Basic bookkeeping’ which helps you get to grips with the basics of accounting so you can understand a little more about how your accounts are put together. The other two webinars are ‘Using Xero’, where we run you through the basic functionality of the Xero software, and ‘Reconciling and reporting’ which takes an in depth look at the bank reconciliation and also drills down into some of the reports that are vital for running your business.

You can register for the webinars here:

Bookkeeping

Using Xero

Reconciling and reporting

If you’re brand new to Xero, these webinars will really help you to hit the ground running, so please do sign up and start expanding your Xero experience.

 

Heavy hitters – it’s a new Profit and Loss

We recently released new reports as well as newer versions of reports that did, offering features that previously didn’t exist. We’ve already gotten feedback that these reports are making a difference to people. However it’s the heavy hitters, the core financial reports, which really shine – welcome to the new Profit & Loss.

The Profit & Loss is our next big step towards making the core financial reports in Xero the best in the world. There are lots of great aspects to this release, I’ll go over the headlines and look at some of the hot button topics we know you care about. This video provides a good overview of what our new reports have to offer.

As with all new reports, the Profit & Loss uses convenience dates to quickly select from a number of commonly used date ranges. Under Report Settings there is a selector for cash or accrual basis, as well as the number of columns you want to show on the report. Like all new reports, if you save a template, the next time you run the report it will remember the last settings. The on-screen version of the report and the PDF are better spaced with a huge focus on improving the readability.

Most importantly, behind that innocuous grey Edit link, there is a new layout editor. It does exactly what it says on the tin and lets you lay out the order of groups and accounts on your report in just the way you want. It uses an intuitive drag and drop interface, and allows you to do some things which haven’t been possible in Xero before.

 

Header groups

First, you can now create top level groups/header groups. Previously you had to Continue reading ›

 

New Xero features out today

Last month I was at Xerocon Sydney where we announced some of the new Xero features being launched over the next three months. Well, it’s only a few weeks later and the first of these features are live – it’s how we roll.

Batch deposits

For those of you dealing with customers paying by check/cheque or paying multiple invoices at once, this feature will be a huge time saver. Hopefully it will also put a smile on the faces of those waiting for this feature on Community.

Batch deposit is the accounts receivable equivalent to batch payments. From the Sales dashboard, simply select the invoices to be paid and press the ‘Deposit’ button.

Once you’ve confirmed the batch, payments (or part payments, if you’ve adjusted the amounts) will be created for the selected invoices – no more need to drill into each individual invoice (yes!).

deposit

Deposit slips

If your batch deposit was created from a number of checks/cheques, you can choose to print a simple deposit slip to take to the bank.

Receipts (invoice payments)

Another much requested feature, receipts can be sent to thank your customers for invoice payments. These can be initiated from a batch deposit, where a separate email for each unique customer will be created, or from any single payment record.

Xero will attach a copy of the receipt to each receipt email. Receipt documents can have their layout edited – so you can easily apply your branding. You can also customise the standard text used for the email body from the email settings.

Note that we don’t yet support sending receipts on cash (Receive Money) transactions – this is something we’re considering for a future release. You can add your weight to the Community request for this.

receipt

More new reports

Head on over to the new, and growing, report centre, for all the latest reports. We’ve already talked about the new Aged, Depreciation and Account Transactions reports and today we’ve added a couple of new ones. Continue reading ›

 

We’re banking on doing even more for our SME customers

When I took on the job of Banking Relationship Manager for Australia just under a month ago, I was overwhelmed with the positive response that the introduction of this role to Xero had received. So much hard work has been put into cultivating Xero’s relationships with financial institutions to date and I am thrilled to take this on at such an exciting time.

Having worked directly with Xero customers in the past, I can appreciate the importance of digital banking data to our small business owners – manual processes associated with bank reconciliation have quickly become a thing of the past. Witnessing how the day-to-day practices of small business owners have evolved to embrace technology and how large organisations, who provide services to these businesses, have responded to accommodate this has been impressive. Our customers now expect their financial data to flow seamlessly between their banks and their accounting platform and financial institutions in Australia have started to understand this.

We were delighted to have Macquarie and Bank of Queensland join us as exhibitors at Xerocon in Sydney as it demonstrated the value that the banks place on the influence of Xero’s accounting and bookkeeping partners.

Macquarie and Bank of Queensland exhibited at Xerocon Australia 2014

Continue reading ›

 

Putting education at the heart of your business

If someone asked you to name the most important areas in a business, you’d probably think of functions like sales, customer service, finance and human resources. These are all fundamental parts of any company, but there’s another that’s equally as important – education!

The importance of education

Educating your people, training them and improving their skills and understanding is an absolutely vital part of getting your business’ people strategy right. And, here at Xero, we understand how helpful, flexible education can really make a difference to your end experience of cloud accounting.

 

Mike-Day-Pic-524x600 (1)

So, over the past year we’ve been expanding, fine-tuning and re-working the educational resources that we offer to our customers. We want to make it as easy as possible for small businesses and accounting practices to get the most from Xero. No one approach will work for everyone, so we’ve put together a suite of educational tools that offer a real variety of different solutions.

So, what’s on offer if you’re looking to learn more about Xero? Let’s take a look.

Xero U – your one-stop shop

Xero U is your starting point for all our educational tools. It’s the one-stop shop where we’ve gathered all our different learning channels together. We understand that everyone has their own preferences for how they like to learn – some may like to watch a short how-to video, some may like a series of computer-based teaching, some may like to take part in a webinar. And Xero U is there to bring all these options together. It’s about learning at your own pace, on any device from wherever is convenient to you.

And we know that Xero U works. Getting your staff trained, certified and razor sharp with Xero has a significant impact on the efficiency of your business – whether you’re a small company using Xero directly, or an accountancy practice working with Xero clients.

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.

 

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 ›

 

How to make a banker fall in love with you

Today’s guest post is written by Gene Marks, small business owner, author and columnist. He writes regularly for leading US media outlets such as The New York Times, Forbes, Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur. Learn more at genemarks.com.

I have a client named John and he runs a company near Philadelphia here in the US. And his banker has fallen in love with him. Now calm down, it’s not that kind of love. It’s a different kind. The business kind. In fact, John is quite popular with a few other bankers in the area.

Get the bank to give you a small business loan

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

John employs 80 people. He distributes cabling into the utility industry. And, as the utility industry recovers, he’s been growing. John’s company grosses about $12 million per year and nets around $700K, which is not bad. He owns the company with two other partners. He bought the company back in 1994 and has been profitable every year. He already owns two buildings, which he previously financed and now he wants to buy another down the street.

And the banks are falling over him. They all want to give him a small business loan. Why? Because John is the kind of small business owner banks in the US love.

He has assets. He has history. He has customers and contracts and enough cash flow to easily service the additional debt. He has personal collateral. He has two internal accountants. He generates monthly financial statements. He submits to a yearly review by an outside accounting firm. He pays his bills. He is growing. He is looking to hire more people. In other words, this is a guy that a bank can profit from. And why not? Banks are businesses too. They deserve to make money. Continue reading ›