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Going all out: Brisbane accounting firm Adrians gets to Gold in 12 months

Raewyn Baldwin is the Territory Manager of Xero in Queensland. Kimberley Middlemis is a partner at Adrians.

In my role as Xero Territory Manager for Queensland, I get to meet a lot of smart, inspiring and interesting people who bring a lot of passion to the accounting industry and the small business clients they work with. I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with a group of great people at Adrians, a chartered accounting firm in Brisbane, since June of last year. Their story of getting to Xero Gold Partner in 12 months is one I’m sure you’ll glean some inspiration and insights from. So, I’ll hand over to Kimberley Middlemis, one of three partners at Adrians, to tell it her own words…

Like any good love story, there comes that pivotal moment when two parties meet and the chemistry takes over. For me and my fellow accountants at Adrians, that moment (albeit in a slighty different guise) happened at Xerocon last year. I was sitting there with a colleague and good friend of mine, Angeline (who was running her own bookkeeping firm at the time), and we were both in awe of what the future of the accounting industry was starting to look like.

We were blown away by what we saw, and we still are: how Xero is changing the entire way SMEs, accountants and advisors are accessing data and doing business. Xero has created massive leaps in efficiency and time saving for all parties. Before Xero, we were a traditional accounting practice with traditional accounting software, and I remember sitting with Angeline in Chur Burger (a trendy little burger place in Sydney) after the event, not only marvelling at what I saw, but also knowing that this change had to happen for our business.

So, change to Xero we did. And now, 12 months later, on the eve of Xerocon 2014 (and yes, we’ll be there with bells on), I’m pleased to say we got to our goal of becoming a Xero Gold Partner in 12 months (celebratory drinks at Xerocon 2014, anyone?).

Clear communication was the cornerstone of our process for getting there. I know that might sound rather simplistic, but you’d be amazed at how much can be accomplished when communication lines are clear and open, and you have an honest dialogue with all your stakeholders.

So, we started talking with our current clients about Xero. We released a bi-monthly e-newsletter providing updates on the latest cloud accounting solutions. We also used the great pool of Xero videos in our e-newsletter to help clients understand what the product was all about. Creating our own video content has also been a really effective medium for us to connect with clients and prospects.

I believe all good businesses owners are looking for ways to make their businesses better, and once you provide them with clear information on how Xero works and how easy it is to use, it resonates with them and prompts them to act. These business-owners started calling us and wanting to know when they could convert. To put it simply, Angeline is our cloud implementation Partner and she has had a VERY busy year!

Changing the way you do things does, of course, come with some challenges. For us, the biggest challenge were the number of new things we required our team members to embrace. We have completely changed just about all of our internal processes and software – that means a significant investment in training. And with new systems in place, you have to feel your way around the program and work out how it is going to work best for you. Our team members have invested a massive amount of time doing this. We also had over 90 percent of our staff get Xero certified in that time as well. Our team really put in the hard yards and got their heads around what they needed to, and we’re so proud of each and every one of them.

I use Xero everyday – if I am not talking to clients and working on their files, I am working on Adrians’ accounts or even my personal files. Usually I access Xero on my work laptop but when I am running around, I use my Surface so I don’t have to lug around heavy computers. If I need something quickly on the run, I will use the Xero iPhone app.

We’d also like to give credit to Raewyn Baldwin from Xero. She’s been our Senior Account Manager for the last 12 months and she’s been fabulous, providing us with feedback and timely information on marketing and updates to the software. She was also a huge help when we converted to General Ledgers due to her extensive background in using the product.

How do you thank a company for changing your life? We kicked a few ideas around the office and came up this video, which we’ve shared with Rod Drury, Chris Ridd, Trent Innes and others at Xero.

A lot has changed for us since Xerocon 2013, and I know we’re all looking forward to learning more, opening our eyes even more – and making some amazing new discoveries at Xerocon 2014. We hope to see you there!

 

Xero Accelerate

I have a theme here: Excitement. I’m happy (make that excited) to officially launch Xero Accelerate.

Xero Accelerate is a one-day, roll-up-your-sleeves US-specific workshop designed to help accounting professionals turbo-charge their business. In true Xero fashion, you learn from Xero Platinum Partners as they guide you through the strategies, tactics and tools needed to successfully run as a modern cloud accounting practice. Watch this video to learn more:

It’s exciting and it’s our our responsibility, too…

When the teams first brainstormed the ideas behind Xero Accelerate, I got excited. Really excited. That’s because the concept of Xero Accelerate checks boxes that are important to us as a company:

  • The first box centers on beliefs. We believe in accountants and the accountant/small business relationship. We also believe in the cloud and cloud accounting.
  • The next box is education. Xero as a company has a responsibility to educate and it’s very much a part of our mission. Think about it: Cloud accounting is what we do all day/every day. We, along with some of our accounting partners who are working with us on Accelerate, probably know more about what works best from a small business cloud accounting standpoint than anyone else in the world.
  • The last box is obligation. I believe our company has a moral obligation to help enable the accounting profession to embrace this new technology that has the ability to improve many people’s lives. And we have to remember along the way that there’s a human side to any change. Given that the move to the cloud involves new technology and learning, and given that we’re in the best position to provide that learning, I believe it’s our obligation to do so.

It’s rare for one event to embody the mission and values of a company, but I’m excited (yes, I said it again) for Xero Accelerate to be that event for us here in the US.

Learn more and register for the Xero Accelerate workshop.

 

An afternoon with the Prime Minister

A week or so ago we received a note from the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Office that John Key would like to see more about what we’re doing at Xero and meet some of our Wellington based staff. We were thrilled to have had the PM drop in on us at Field Days and delighted that he wanted to learn more about how ICT is developing in NZ.

“Of course,” we said. We then realized that many of our development team were over at WDCNZ, so worked with his team to have the Prime Minister visit the conference and do a Q&A with the 440 web developers attending.

NZ Prime Minister John Key at WDCNZ

It was a treat to be able to introduce the Prime Minister at the conference and share a few fun stories of working with the PM over the years.

We then walked across to Xero One Continue reading ›

 

When should you hire an accountant?

When to hire an accountant

Research we did in the small business community showed that many small businesses are unsure about when to hire an accountant and about the value they can bring. Xero’s latest Small Business Guide ‘When to hire an accountant’ provides all the top tips you need to know.

If you’re a small business owner, the chances are pretty high that you didn’t start your own business to be swamped in the financials. This is where it makes sense to get a professional to take care of the numbers so you can focus on what you do best – running the business.

Growing small businesses need well-managed finances

Small business owners are always looking to save money, so an accountant can often be considered an unnecessary expense. But certain tasks (such as filing taxes) can be very time consuming for someone without experience  – and even then the tax return can be riddled with errors. The best accountants and bookkeepers will be looking for ways that your business can make money. They are coaches, always encouraging and training you for better results.

Continue reading ›

 

NZ Data Futures Forum final recommendations

NZ Data Futures ForumWe welcome the New Zealand Data Futures Forum final report – Harnessing the economic and social power of data – released on Monday 28 July. This is a good example of the public and private sectors collaborating to deliver positive change and sets out ambitious recommendations to derive value from New Zealand data.

Data has the potential to be an incredibly valuable resource for all New Zealander. It’s great to see the Government is focussing efforts in this area and that feedback from the private sector has been taken on board in this third paper.

We’re now in the third generation of the internet revolution which is all about big data. This data must be managed in an ethical manner and in a way that creates value and instills trust.

There are so many possibilities when it comes to open data and its innovation potential to address business, social, environmental and community issues. Already, globally we are seeing great potential for data to play a role in emergency management, weather patterns, tourism, geographic segmentation and customer trends – just to name a few. The opening up of London’s transport data through the London DataStore has been a good example that has seen many innovative uses developed.

Three out of the four foundations that underpin the report’s recommendations specifically place individuals and their comfort at the forefront. This indicates the Data Futures Forum has really listened to people’s concerns and that it is likely there will be a lot of opportunity for people to have ongoing input and feedback to ensure those foundations are upheld. Here in New Zealand we have an opportunity to develop a competitive advantage through a data-sharing ecosystem built on trust, control and inclusion. Continue reading ›

 

Giving accountants and bookkeepers an even bigger voice

We want to give accountants and bookkeepers even better representation in XeroAs a fast-growing business, we’re always looking for new talent, from developers and designers to people with an uncanny ability with technology, numbers and relationship-building. We’ve recently posted two exciting new roles that have been getting quite a bit of attention:

Head of Accounting

Head of Bookkeeping

A number of enquiries have come in, as well as questions from partners wanting to know more about what we’re up to. So, I’d like to share some thoughts and background with you.

The term ‘disruption’ comes up a fair bit in our industry. While it could be deemed an ‘overused buzzword’, I don’t think too many people involved in accounting would deny that disruption is precisely what cloud technology has brought to the table. Our belief is that this is a positive change with the scope for many benefits to the industry. We are also realists, however, and understand that new technology, and change in itself, can be challenging for some to embrace, and we want to do everything we can to help.

Several practitioners and journalists who follow this industry have not been shy in sharing their views, some provocative, on disruption and, notably, Xero’s responsibility in stepping up to the plate as a new industry leader (see some links below). As proponents of the cloud and this new model of working, we have to keep our eyes and ears open to feedback and commentary and, most importantly, we have to be proactive and take action to make sure that we stay focused on driving this progression and giving people the tools they need to succeed.

Continue reading ›

 

ANZ Flying Start Business Plan Competition

The ANZ Flying Start Business ANZ Flying Start Business Plan Competition – enter now logoPlan Competition is back for 2014 and ready to uncover New Zealand’s next big thing in small business.

Xero is pleased to support the competition in 2014. Run by Business.govt.nz, part of MBIE, the business plan competition is now in its fourth year. It gives existing both small businesses and those with an idea that are yet to start up the shot at a prizes worth over $65,000.

All you’ve got to do to have a chance at winning is enter your business plan. It must show an original idea that is geared for growth and sustainable revenue. The best and most innovative plan will see the supreme winner win a prize package worth $45,000.

Last year local Nelson business CHIA was the supreme winner. CHIA received a prize package worth $58,800, including $30,000 in cash from ANZ.

Why a business plan competition?

The competition is about getting businesses across New Zealand to take a proper look at their business plan and see where they are and what opportunities they have.

The second and third prize winners each receive $5,000 in cash from ANZ. The competition’s 10 regional winners each receive $1,000 cash from Silver sponsors Ernst & Young, OfficeMax and Xero.

The competition is open now and entries close on 12 August:

ANZ Flying Start Business Plan Competition

Xero wishes all the 2014 entrants the best of luck.

 

The biggest myth about CRM

Today’s guest post is written by Gene Marks, small business owner, technology expert, author and columnist. He writes regularly for leading US media outlets such as The New York Times, Forbes, Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur. He has authored five books on business management and appears regularly on Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC and CNBC. Gene runs a ten-person CRM and technology consulting firm outside of Philadelphia. Learn more at genemarks.com.

CRM systems and databases

Image courtesy of ddpavumba / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The rebranding of CRM

My company has been selling Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems for more than 15 years. During that time I’ve watched these products go through multiple rebrandings, from “contact managers” to “sales force automation” to “collaboration” to CRM, which now encompasses not only sales but service, marketing and operations.

But, rest assured, these are all just elaborate names for one thing: databases.

The makers and marketers of today’s CRM systems will throw around all sorts of buzz words to describe what they do. “Social CRM.” “Workflows.” “Automation.” “Call Center.” They will dangle cool and exciting features in front of their customers Continue reading ›

 

A new way to enter your EC Acquisitions and Reverse Charges

You’ve probably already seen some of the new functionality that we announced in our 23rd June update to Xero. There were a lot of great new features in this release, and one we really want to highlight is the way you can now enter EC Acquisitions and Reverse Charges from inside Xero. When you’re purchasing goods and/or services from EU Member States, the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) requires you to declare this information in certain boxes on the VAT return. Which box this information goes into depends on the type of transaction. In terms of Reverse Charges, there are occasions when purchasing items from the EU where the VAT has to be declared (paid), but then ‘reversed out’ (refunded) directly at the same time.

Now, providing you use one of the three new tax rates that we’ve set up, Xero takes care of all of this for you. Xero automatically reverses the purchased items out – and that’s quite a time-saver if you’ve been doing this manually up to now. The three tax rates that have been set up are:

  • EC Acquisitions (20%)
  • EC Acquisitions (Zero Rated)
  • Reverse Charges (20%)

Watch our how-to video

We’ve put together a short how-to video that runs you through the process and shows you where the items will appear in your VAT report. Take a look and see how easy it is to deal with Reverse Charges in Xero.

 

KANZ Technology Summit 2014

kanz

Photo Credit: @TurnbullMalcolm. From left to right: Yoon Jong-Lok, Vice-Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Korea; Amy Adams, Minister for Communications and Information Technology, New Zealand; Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Communications, Australia, at KANZ.

Earlier this month I was fortunate to be invited by NZ Trade & Enterprise to the Korea, Australia, New Zealand (KANZ) Technology Summit in Auckland. The conference brought together members of the technology communities of all three countries to forge links and share ideas about how to grow and support the ICT sector and strengthen the high-tech economy.

For me, the highlight of the event was Dave Birch’s stream on digital identity and money. Dave is the Global Ambassador for Consult Hyperion, a UK based consultancy focused on security around electronic transactions. Dave is something of a payments raconteur, whose wisecracks about ATMs needing thatched roofs and assuming anyone using cash is a drug dealer were funny and insightful – but they were all inching toward the point that despite all the innovation in financial services, all that we’ve really done is move physical payment paradigms into the digital world, and it’s not all that great an experience. Proving and managing identity for online financial transactions is still a big barrier to efficiency, and establishing identity, even in the physical world, often gives the illusion of security without any true validation. It’s “two people acting in a play about security” rather than an exchange that is truly secure.

Also, all the innovation in payments is happening on networks that were Continue reading ›