David Worrell, entrepreneur and author of The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Financial Statements, is dedicated to helping small businesses grow through powerful financial and business development strategies. Today he shares his tips for moving to a paperless office.
It seems like we’ve been dreaming of a “paperless office” forever. Now, 44 years later, I can say with confidence that the paperless office is finally possible. In fact, going paperless is now so easy, so prevalent and so powerful, that it’s impossible to ignore.
The paperless office is everywhere
This is not science fiction. More and more industries are going paperless – it will eventually reach your industry too, if it hasn’t already. Consider healthcare – with a US government mandate to implement Electronic Medical Records, even old-school doctor’s offices are going paperless… and realizing the cost savings of automation too. If a doctor can do it, any small business owner can make this work.
How paperless is your industry? If it lags behind, now is your chance to leap-frog your competitors, slash costs and build new digital capabilities. If your competitors are already heading that way, don’t be left behind.
Paperless = powerful
Going paperless is not just about saving trees – it’s about grabbing power. When you go paperless, you’re transforming business documents from pieces of paper to actual data points, which in turn means you can get all kinds of meaning from that data.
Here’s a great recent example: Xero just released Smart Lists. Smart Lists allows you to use the data you already have on your customers to build targeted marketing campaigns, track down debtors, and search your customers by city, region, last buy date and more. Smart Lists works by analyzing information like invoices, purchasing history and more. If that information was on paper and stored in a file cabinet, creating segmented lists would be too time-consuming to be worthwhile. But with that information stored in the cloud, you can quickly segment it in a meaningful, valuable way.
Start with paperless finances
The simplest way to move toward a truly paperless workplace is to start with the accounting function. Since accounting touches every other aspect of the company, digital accounting will introduce – and spawn – paperless systems in the rest of the organization.
Picking a place to start is simple too. Here are three key products to get you started filing away financial documents and automating payments, record keeping and more.
Sunshine in London!? Yes, it really did happen. And as Gary Turner, our UK Managing Director, put it, ‘We even ordered up the hottest day of the year for our Xero London roadshow outdoor lunch’.
Thankfully, the outdoor courtyard area at The Brewery was perfect for coffee breaks and lunchtime chats, so no-one missed out on that all important sun. When you’re a Londoner, you can’t afford to miss out on valuable tanning time.
We kicked off proceedings with a beginner’s guide to Xero for those people just starting out on their cloud accounting journeys. It’s always great to see a room full of Xero enthusiasts, but it’s even more heartening to see people who are just beginning to understand the immeasurable benefits of working in the cloud. For many, it will be the start of a long-lasting relationship with Xero and a brand new chapter in the evolution of their accounting practice. That’s great to see.
Evolution: that’s the overriding theme that came up when chatting to clients and prospective partners over the course of the day. Whether is was brand new start-ups, as yet untested in the marketplace, or more experienced practices looking to take that first step into the cloud. Both camps have realised that small business owners are getting younger, smarter and more tech-savvy. And this affinity with digital, mobile technology means that these innovative business owners choose cloud-based solutions as a matter of course. If you’re doing your marketing on Facebook and Twitter, and your admin with Google Apps, why would you not do your accounts in the cloud too? Answer: there’s no good reason not to choose the cloud. And accounting practices of all different levels of size and experience are starting to realise the implications of this shift. A new breed of cloud advocate small business needs a similarly innovative breed of accountant. And those accountants need to be using a cloud accounting platform, like Xero, to meet the needs of the new breed of SMBs.
It has been a big few months unveiling of our Farming in the Cloud solution to our New Zealand customers and partners. The farming team (banker, accountant, farmer and farm consultant) can now all work together on one true online platform.
Phase 1 included launching our farming software partner Figured on Farm to the market at Xerocon, running early adopter sessions with 60 accounting firms from around New Zealand, a national roadshow to hundreds of rural professionals, and of course a massive debut at Fieldays.
We were excited to announce our partnership with all major rural supply companies, and continued discussions with key industry bodies including Dairy Base and the Red Meat Profit Partnership to assist the industry deliver real-time benchmarking. As we build out the eco-system it feels like we are bringing an industry together.
We’re kicking into the next phase, which is about extending the farming eco-system. We’re inviting more farming software partners and linking on-farm software and monitoring tools into the farm financial platform to complete one end-to-end platform for rural NZ. The next phase also includes looking at how we deliver this model globally, so if you’re outside NZ, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.
Our focus on growth, productivity, and Continue reading ›
Embracing cloud technology comes easily for some. For the busy SME, it’s a natural, logical extension of the way they go about their business – on the road, travelling to meet clients, rarely in the office for longer than a few hours (and even then it’s often a cafe, restaurant or even the kitchen bench at home).
When you consider cloud technology from a different perspective – from, say, the polished shoes of a lawyer in an established and rather traditional law firm – the cloud can be seen as something of an enigma, prompting questions like:
Why should we change? How can the cloud benefit the legal industry? Why should an established firm, which has built success over a long period of time through a certain business model, move everything to the cloud?
And these are fair and reasonable questions to ask – especially when you’re part of a large law firm with a lot of stakeholders who are entrenched in a certain way of managing documents and client material.
But while the jury is still out on whether large law firms will take to cloud technology, smaller firms have embraced it with open arms, paving the way for further innovation in the legal industry.
Technology is having profound impact on retail. Retail precincts form the heart of small towns but the rise of Amazon and other retail websites are putting retail stores all over the world under threat.
Small countries like New Zealand, lacking in scale, are particularly affected. We’ve seen a push for legislation that adds sales tax to overseas purchases to level the playing field, but I’ve always thought a better approach was to change our mindset and compete globally.
It was delightful to see this TV One article over the weekend where Kathryn Wilson has blended a beautiful retail experience with technology.
Also some great advice from eCommerce NZ on capturing and measuring data to refine what works.
I’m sure many of us feel a little upset when we drive through communities and see empty retail spaces. Rethinking retail so customers are not just in your town but your country, or even the world, can flip this situation around. We can create new location-independent jobs that require great design, marketing and logistics skills.
What I loved about the story was how proactive Kathryn and her team are. There are plenty of marketing specialists and web consultants in every town ready to help retailers navigate this new world.
I hope Kathryn inspires many more retailers to start the journey.
It’s that time again. After another huge year, we’re looking forward to seeing our valued shareholders in Wellington for our 2014 Annual Meeting.
This year’s Annual Meeting is shaping up to be our biggest yet. You’ll have the chance to meet our new Board members at the new venue – Shed 6, on Queens Wharf. We’re looking forward to giving you a full update on where we’re at and plans for the next year.
We love the opportunity to meet our shareholders so we hope you can make it.
Last year’s Annual Meeting at Te Papa in Wellington
The 2014 Annual Meeting of Xero Limited will be held on Wednesday 23 July from 4pm–5.30pm at Shed 6, Queens Wharf, Jervois Quay, Wellington, New Zealand.
2014 Annual Meeting agenda
1. The Chairman’s introductions
2. Formal business and resolutions
3. CEO strategic presentation
4. Shareholder questions
Presentation slides will be viewable on the NZX, ASX and the Xero.com investor page and we plan to have a video of the key presentations on the blog the following day.
Auckland Investor Briefing
For our shareholders in the Auckland area, we will be running an Investor Briefing at the Xero Office, L1, 69 St Georges Bay Road, Parnell, Auckland on Friday 25 July from 10.30am–11.30am.
Please register for the Auckland event by clicking on the link below and following the prompts:
Please let us know in the blog comments if you have any questions that you’d like answered on the day
Xero has sponsored Young Enterprise Trust (YET) since 2011, although our involvement began much earlier – Rod Drury is an alumni having being involved back when he was a long-haired youth. And since 2010 Graham Shaw, non-exec director of Xero, has been on the judging panel.
I first became involved in 2013 as a mentor for the Enterprise in Action weekend – I’d been at Xero for six months by this stage. The previous year, while running my digital publishing business, I had also been a client of the Icehouse business incubator. I was inspired by the mentoring I received and was looking for ways to apply what I’d learned within Xero. So when requests for mentors went out, I put my hand up.
That weekend was so inspiring, and before it had even finished I was planning on how I’d do it differently the next year. I also came away more confident about my skills and talents, realising my diverse work background wasn’t the hindrance I sometimes thought, but instead a valuable tool-kit of many different skills and qualities.
When I started at Xero just over three years ago, one of the first Xero Add-ons I assisted with certifying was from a small little UK startup app called Receipt Bank. Well, three years on and Receipt Bank are now the most popular add-on for Xero, and recipients of a number of Xero awards.
As much as I love the original blog post (the cheesy background music on the video!), I thought it might be time to do a quick refresher, and cover some of the less obvious, and new features that Receipt Bank provides:
- More than just receipts. In the UK the term ‘receipts’ covers everything – expense receipts, accounts payable invoices etc, but in other parts of the world, it might not be quite as obvious that Receipt Bank supports receipts on expense claims but also accounts payable invoices and spend money transactions.
- Line item extraction. It was a huge leap forward when Receipt Bank recently announced they can now populate Xero with invoice line item details. Receipt Bank automatically splits line item details for original .pdf files – perfect for purchase invoices that need to be split across different accounts.
- Attachments. Receipt Bank creates attachments on all the documents it can in Xero – receipts, bills (accounts payable invoices) and spend money transactions (bank transactions), so you have a complete audit trail.
- Reimbursable and re-billing expenses. Receipt Bank’s integration with Xero enables you to create both an expense report for staff reimbursements and also a draft sales invoice for oncharged costs.
The most impressive development at Receipt Bank over the past three years however, is the unique way they have worked with Xero accounting and bookkeeping partners. Check out just one story here:
Did you know you can claim for cleaning costs and wear-and-tear on your furniture at your home business? Xero Australia Managing Director Chris Ridd explains what you can and can’t deduct.
As the name suggests, a home-based business is one where you operate the business at the home or from the home.
That said, you don’t have to do your work at home to be a home-based business. For instance, a house painter would do most of their work elsewhere, but if they didn’t rent or own other premises other than the home, then that would count as a home-based business as well.
Generally speaking, a home-based business can claim all of the deductions that any other SME can; yet there are also some specific deductions you should be aware of.
There are broadly two types of expenses you can claim related to your home business area: occupancy expenses and operating expenses.
Parts of the home you use for business
Occupancy expenses include rent or mortgage interest, council rates, land taxes and home insurance premiums.
Before you can claim occupancy expenses, you have to pass the Australian Tax Office’s interest deductibility test. This means you must have an area of your home set aside exclusively for your business activities, such as an office or workshop. When assessing this test, the ATO will consider factors including whether you have a sign identifying your business at the front of your house; whether or not the business area is also suitable for domestic purposes; and whether it is used regularly for client visits.
If you pass the test you can claim the proportion of your home mortgage or rent which corresponds to the amount of space you use for your business.
For instance, if the floor area of your home office or workshop is 15 percent of the total area of your home, you could claim 15 percent of your rent or mortgage interest, council rates and insurance.
Deducting part of the home mortgage sounds great, however there’s a potential sting in the tail you need to be aware of. You might have to pay capital gains tax on the sale of your home if you pass the interest deductibility test. This can apply if you ran a small business from home, even if you never claimed – the issue is how much you transformed your home into a place of business.
Operating expenses: The costs of doing business
Earlier this month, New Zealand’s National Advisory Council on the Employment of Women (NACEW) held a Women in Innovation Summit. Our fearless leader Rod spoke about some of the barriers and opportunities women in tech face these days. A group of us tagged along to watch and came away with some pretty interesting food for thought.
How gender bias affects women in innovation
One of Rod’s key points was that ideally the gender balance of a company should reflect its customer base. While Xero’s stats put us ahead of many other companies in terms of gender balance – Google, for example – there is still room for improvement. For example, while 40 percent of Xero employees are women, only half of these positions are considered to be “hard core tech” roles.
Bias was a central theme of the day. We need more women leaders to speak out with confidence about their success, in order to provide girls and women of all ages with much-needed role models. Both men and women need to remove bias against other women and celebrate their success. Women need to be supported in their success and not be accused of “trying to act like a man”, or fall victim to tall poppy syndrome.
Rod also stressed the importance of encouraging girls in their final year/s of high school to consider tech careers. One attendee mentioned that at a recent visit to a Wellington girls’ high school, students had the overwhelming impression that “tech careers” were for sweaty, overweight, introverted men. It’s imperative kids learn that tech can be so much more than that – glamorous, challenging, exciting, innovative, a great way to earn money, and a means to contribute to the future of the county.
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