At Xero we are proud to sponsor Young Enterprise Trust, a non-profit organisation aiming to create entrepreneurial students with a “can do” attitude. Young Enterprise Trust is dedicated to growing a more prosperous New Zealand through enterprise. They work with schools all over the country and connect with around 50,000 students each year.
Encouraging young entrepreneurs
Programs encourage students to be business literate. By helping young people gain these skills, the Trust seeks to make a difference to the lives of the individual, their family and society.
Recently a competition through Whitcoulls bookstore tied in with the exciting launch of the publication ‘The Young New Zealander’s Guide to Entrepreneurship’. This was written by best-selling author, academic and entrepreneurship specialist Dr Ian Hunter and endorsed by the Trust.
Student wins a day at Xero
The winner of the Whitcoulls competition was Alice McFall from Tauranga. She goes to St Cuthbert’s school and was one of three lucky winners who won a day with a business leader. She won the opportunity to spend the day at Xero with CEO Rod Drury at the Xero HQ in Wellington.
There’s been a lot of activity in New Zealand and Australia lately around feeds support, and we’re pleased to report a couple of new changes to New Zealand feeds prior to Christmas.
BNZ introduces support for foreign currency accounts
Today the BNZ has introduced support for foreign currency accounts in Xero, and is now the second bank in New Zealand to offer this service. If you are using our multi-currency feature on our premium plan, support for foreign currency accounts from BNZ will allow you to manage export income or payments to overseas suppliers alongside your existing bank accounts.
BodeTree provides financial insight, access to capital and business education for small business owners.
BodeTree enables you to secure the right funding for your company by building a loan application from your company’s own financial data. This ensures you are connected with the right funding sources. Business owners gain insight into their business in order to make key decisions. You’ll see the financial health of your company, what your company is worth and how you stack up against your competition.
Who is BodeTree for?
BodeTree is for business owners seeking greater insight and guidance on how to improve their company.
At Xero we’re always challenging the status quo and thinking about the best way of doing small business accounting from a design perspective. This can occasionally leave those of us who have used other accounting software packages trying to do things “the way we’ve always done it”. Case in point – sub-accounts.
If you’re used to carefully setting up your accounts in a way which clusters similar activities together by account code, or are used to relying on sub-accounts to sort your data for reporting, the simplicity of Xero’s chart of accounts may appear daunting
Xero’s philosophy of being “beautiful” really shines here. Instead of having a bloated and clunky chart full of sub-accounts, Xero has two functions available to all users – report grouping, and tracking.
The video we’ve created takes you through just how simple it really is to get comprehensive reports without sub-accounts.
As of today, we’re also announcing feeds for two additional Australian banking partners: Greater Building Society and Investec. More details are in our Help Centre. These feeds are available from today for all Greater Building Society and Investec customers, for Australian bank accounts.
A busy year with banking partners
We’ve had a busy year with direct banking integration. In the past 12 months we’ve added:
Automatic setup of feeds via internet banking for ASB Fastnet Business and TSB customers.
Bank accounts and credit cards for Bankwest
Bank accounts and credit cards for St George Group, including Bank of Melbourne, BankSA, and St George.
Bank accounts for City National Bank, our first direct US banking partner.
Direct feeds from our partner institutions such as ASB are some of the most beloved features of Xero. Data comes in daily, you can finish your reconciliation in a few minutes, and your financial reports are all up-to-date. It’s a beautiful thing.
If there’s been a drawback to direct feeds, it’s been the requirement to complete a paper application form to get a direct feed in place. Whether you used a competitor product or Xero – this has been part of the process of getting things up and running.
Not any more. Recently ASB and other financial institutions have worked with Xero to create a new process for setting up bank accounts to deliver data to Xero.
Now, once you have set up your bank accounts in Xero, you can log into ASB’s FastNet Business online banking service, and under ‘Administration/Client/Accounting Set up’ go through a quick process where you’ll select your accounts and then be redirected to Xero to connect your chosen bank account feeds. No waiting – no fuss. Your first feeds will arrive the next morning. And if you have historical data you want to bring through, you can do that too. More information is available on ASB’s blog.
As a Product Training Manager at Xero, and an accountant/lawyer/manager type with no previous personal entrepreneurial experience, I decided to push myself by attending the Xero sponsored Auckland Startup Weekend event last weekend.
Startup Weekend is all about learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It has been undertaken in over 200 cities around the world. The weekend starts with any attendee welcome to pitch their startup idea. Teams then form organically around the most popular ideas. What follows is a 54 hour frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation.
The weekend culminates with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders, with another opportunity for critical feedback. I found it to be a fantastic experience and if you have even just an inkling of entrepreneurial spirit in you, then read on.
Our idea and team
Not having an idea prior to the event didn’t deter me from giving an initial pitch, as one popped into my head very soon after soaking up the entrepreneurial buzz on arrival. I didn’t expect my ‘throwaway’ idea to get traction, but for whatever reason it became one of the 12 ideas (from 35 pitched) which people clustered around to form teams. And then the fun and madness started…
Luckily for me, our team was a diverse bunch, including a developer, as well as business and design minded people. So when the team’s enthusiasm (including my own) for my initial idea quickly faltered, we were able and willing to shift to something new. Our idea changed massively and frequently. So, it wasn’t until Saturday evening that we drew a line under what we all agreed was something we could take forward, which turned out to look nothing like the original idea:
“A self installation wireless sensor-based system for elderly/vulnerable people living alone, which monitored and interpreted unusual activity and then relayed suspected medical trends/emergencies back to a mobile application (held by friends, family, other relevant/concerned parties etc).”
Being an unproven entrepreneur, as with most/all of the attendees I suspect, I had a lot to learn going into the weekend. While some things like identifying your target market/s and size, creating a business model etc came more naturally for me – other things felt far more foreign.
What did I learn?
I learnt that while it is easy to obsess over how great a solution/idea looks/feels (i.e. the sexy part), the real grunt work and focus first needs to be on identifying whether there is even a real underlying problem. No existing problem – then your solution would be lost on people, regardless of how many bells and whistles you wrapped around it.
Read more about Business
I have the privilege of talking with loads of people around New Zealand and overseas around what makes a great accountant. Quite simply when you find one they’ll revolutionize the performance of your business and give you a massive leg up against your competition.
Back when I was CFO of Nike Australia I remember my CEO saying something that fundamentally shifted my perception of what the accountant is there to do. “Greg your job is not just about managing the numbers, it’s about helping me manage the entire performance of the company.” Game shifter!
So given I get asked the question about the great accountant constantly, here’s my cheat sheet of what to look for:
Read more about Accountants
LinkedIn has been the winner in the business social network for many years. But over the last few years it’s gone from an asset to a major pain. I have to spend more and more time every few days dealing with LinkedIn messages and requests to connect.
LinkedIn is still the first place I go to see who people are, and because of its dominance most professionals seek to maintain a profile there.
I know that ‘if you’re not paying for it, you’re the product being sold’, but if I am the product being mined I think LinkedIn could create more value for its shareholders by looking after its users as well. To be blunt, its network management tools suck.
Rather that dwell on the problems, here is a list of improvements I’d love LinkedIn to make. In order that the right people see this list I’m going to mention Deep Nishar, Senior Vice President, Products and User Experience at LinkedIn. Hopefully this will pop up in his Google alerts and maybe he’ll even respond. Hi Deep *waves*.
Establish a new circle of ‘People I don’t know, but should meet some day’
I get a lot of people wanting to connect to me. If I connect then people assume I do actually know them and the referral network is broken. There should be a circle of people I actually know, and a circle of people I should know but haven’t actually met yet.
If I can protect the circle of people I actually know then my referral is much more powerful.
Read more about Business
Allowing business to work smarter and faster has been a key goal of Xero from the very start. An exciting and valuable part of this has been the Xero API launched in 2008, which lets other applications (Add-ons) connect to our platform. This new way of procuring and plugging together software means that integration is done vendor-to-vendor, eliminating integration headaches for the customer. This opens up huge opportunities for efficiencies in how businesses work and how they manage their core business and IT functions.
Last week Chris Ridd, Managing Director of Xero Australia joined Jackson Hewett, Editor of Business Spectator on a webcast where they discussed what apps can work for you and took questions on how to use them effectively.
Find out the top business apps and categories that Chris rated as the most compelling for small business. He also talks about views about how Add-on partners are not just changing the software landscape in Australia, but taking the world stage as Xero’s business goes global.
There are over 300 applications that can be integrated with Xero through Add-ons. There are over 21,000 Add-on installs – with 15% of all Australian orgs using at least one Xero add-on.