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Xero release: 23 June 2014

This morning we released a ton of updates to Xero. Here are some of the highlights – check out the Xero release notes to see the rest.

Xero TV on the login screen

23 June 2014 Xero release includes Xero TV on the login screen

We now display education videos right on the login screen making it easier for all users to be smarter with Xero, and discover new features. Our education team has been investing significantly to create useful content for Xero TV and it’s the best place to learn about Xero.

Support for four decimal places on unit prices

We’ve heard you! Plenty of you have been asking for Xero to support unit prices with more precision – a bit more to it than you might think but we hire smart people, so good to be able to tick this off. For most of you it will just work – however, if you use DOCX invoice templates you need to make a small update.

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Delivering HR for a hyper-growth company

Anne Allen, UK HR Manager, XeroIt’s been a couple of months since my last HR blog post – and that’s mainly because I’ve been so busy finding new Xeros to join our ever-expanding team. We’ve been incredibly active on the recruitment front this year, with over 50 new people joining Xero UK so far in 2014! As you can imagine, I’ve had my hands full writing job specs, dealing with recruitment and interviews and generally making sure we’ve got the right people in the team to move us forward.

So, I’m extremely glad (not to say ecstatic) to announce the arrival of our new full-time Xero Recruitment Consultant, Liz Crump.

Liz joined us on the 16th June and is already making a big difference in reducing the amount of my week that’s spent on recruitment. So, welcome to the HR team, Liz!

Focusing on people management

Switching my focus away from pure recruitment means I can extend my role and really focus on people management activities. But in a fast-moving business like Xero, what are the important parts of the HR spectrum that I should be focusing on? To cut to the chase, what’s the purpose of HR for an organisation at Xero UK’s stage of growth?

There are at least two dimensions going on in terms of scale; global and local. When your global HQ is based on the other side of the world, there are some very specific challenges that come up around growing local teams, expanding communications between territories and creating a common culture and company philosophy – not to mention how you plan meeting times for multiple timezones, and make sure everyone is taking their turn to do late-night Google Hangouts etc. And, from a local perspective, there are specific regional focuses that I need to think about around supporting the UK strategy, pushing our people management plans forward and making sure everyone’s happy as they move along their Xero journey.

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Connect Smart security advice for small businesses

Connect Smart online security survey infographicThe Connect Smart website launched this week in New Zealand, a collaboration between the NZ Government and other agencies and companies. The goal of the website is to help people keep themselves secure online.

Connect Smart and protect yourself online

Being secure online is important for everyone who uses the internet – in their personal life, at work and when out and about with their mobile device. Here are some statistics that Connect Smart has compiled from a New Zealand survey:

- 83% of people have experienced a cyber breach
- 22% have had their emails hacked
- 12% have had their credit card details misused
- 86% of people don’t regularly change their passwords
- 44% of Kiwis use less than three unique passwords
- 48% of people don’t have a PIN on their work phones

Source: Connect Smart: Understanding public perceptions towards cyber security

It’s easy to see how behaviour like this could cause issues for small businesses. A wealth of information is stored and transferred over email and work phones. Credit cards are regularly used to purchase products. Passwords are the main key to our digital lives. If any of these are compromised it can affect a business’s day to day operation, or even its long term viablility.

It’s often quite hard to give security advice to small businesses. There’s a wealth of information out there, some of which is really aimed at large companies with big budgets, and distilling it down to what what’s useful for small businesses can be difficult.

Connect Smart SME Toolkit and Cyber Security WOF

The Connect Smart team have put together a great SME Toolkit which I encourage you to check out.

The Cyber Security Warrant of Fitness is a checklist covering four areas:

  1. Assess the cyber security of your business
  2. Develop a cyber security policy for your business
  3. Establish an incident management plan
  4. Regularly review and update your network security systems

The first step of assessing the cyber security of your business is something you can quickly do to see how you compare and what you want to improve.

Connect Smart cyber security warrant of fitness

 

Cutting your AU small business tax bill

small business tax timeThe end of the financial year is approaching in Australia and small business owners need to start planning their tax strategies. Here are our tips on how to reduce your small business tax bill by timing your income and expenses.

We all know that when you run your business, you want to maximise income and keep expenses as low as possible.

But when it comes to tax time you should aim to do the opposite – minimise income and maximise expenses in order to reduce your assessable income and the amount of tax you have to pay.

Of course, you don’t do this by turning away customers or needlessly spending money!

Instead, it’s all in the timing. In other words, you bring forward expenses into the current tax year, and defer income into the following tax year.

While you might eventually have to pay tax on the money you save, in the meantime the extra money is yours to use as you see fit – to invest back into your business, to reduce your borrowings and hence your interest payments, or to earn interest in the bank.

Crunch the numbers: cash vs accruals

Many small business-owners start out with cash accounting – that is, recognising the income and expenses in your business when they are physically paid.

Timing strategies work best with accrual accounting so, if you haven’t already, you might consider making the change.

Accrual accounting recognises income and expenses when you issue an invoice or receive a bill, not when you receive or pay money. This accounting method creates debtors and creditors, so it’s a good idea to use online accounting software like Xero, which makes it easy for you to keep track of your business’s cash flow and its true financial position.

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Xero Australia commits to growth in the capital

Xero Australia is excited to announce the opening of a new office in Canberra, amid its growing footprint in Australia. The team in Canberra is moving to a larger office space to accommodate the hiring of additional staff, with a number of developer roles opening up in the second half of 2014.Xero Canberra

During a time when many public sector jobs are under threat in the ACT following this year’s Federal Budget, we’re committed to creating employment opportunities in Australia’s capital.

Momentum for Xero is building strongly among small business owners, with the recent announcement that Australia has over 120,000 customers, and staff numbers in Australia now total 144 across five offices.

Check out our photos of Xero Australia’s new Canberra office, and listen to an interview I gave to 2CC radio in Canberra:

 

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Apply for an accounting, economics or finance scholarship

Do you know anyone in the US who is in school – or about to head to school – to get an accounting, economics or finance degree? Could they benefit from a little financial help? If so, make sure to tell them about Xero’s $5,000 accounting, economics or finance scholarship.

Here at Xero, the accounting and financial worlds are obviously a huge part of what we do. What’s more, we know that accounting, economics and finance students go on to play an extremely important role in the small business world. So we’ve decided to award $5,000 to a student who is majoring in one (or more) of these subjects.

Xero is offering a $5,000 accounting, economics or finance scholarship to US university students

Who can apply for Xero’s accounting or finance scholarship?

All legal US residents who are currently enrolled full-time at an accredited university or business school (which must also be in the US). Applicants must be majoring in accounting, economics or finance. There is no age limit and it doesn’t matter what stage of study the student is at (see below for GPA requirements).

What can the scholarship money be used for?

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Xero announces $NZ100 million ARR

We reported a huge milestone for our team today as we hit $NZ100m in Annualized Recurring Revenue (ARR).

What is ARR?

ARR is a key metric for SaaS companies. It is the most recent month’s revenue multiplied by 12. Essentially, if we got no more customers in Xero, we’d bill this amount over the next year.

You can check out the media release here: Xero hits NZ$100m Annualised Revenue

$100 million ARR for Xero

Why is $100 million ARR so important?

When you start a company, $100m of revenue is one of the big milestones you dream of. Very few startups ever get there. $100m is a ‘real’ business. At many industry events we’d hear “we need to create 100 more $100m businesses.” All of our team are thrilled to be one of the very few companies to get there.

Most of the SaaS companies we follow are in the Enterprise space where they sell a smaller number of high value deals using traditional software selling models. You simply can’t do that in the small business market. Xero is a hybrid. A combination of complex business software (like SAP, Salesforce or Workday) coupled with a more consumer market like – high volume sales.

So the significance for achieving $100m quickly is an important validation for our business model and demonstrates Xero is one of very few software companies to have cracked the code of selling into the large, fragmented small business market. What’s also significant is that we have achieved these revenue numbers building a business primarily outside the US domestic market.

To date we have solely focused on customer acquisition to achieve our revenue. We didn’t use a freemium model as we correctly believed that small businesses will pay directly for quality software solutions that improve their business. While we’ve focussed solely on customer acquisition our healthy ecosystem of 300+ add-on partners have successfully leveraged our customer base and channel to build their own successful businesses without massive sales and marketing spend. This confirms our belief that once you have created a relationship through accounting software, there is plenty of opportunity to grow revenue from existing customers by adding new products and services while making life even easier for them. As we complete core accounting we can turn our mind and resources into many additional services to create new revenue opportunities.

There is a massive investment to build these types of businesses and it doesn’t seem that long ago when were excited to get our first 1000 customers. It was only back in 2009 our revenues were just under $1 million. In 2010 we did $3 million. It wasn’t long ago we hit a million a month which was another big day. It’s very gratifying to see that massive multi-year investment beginning to deliver.

The scary thing is it is still so early. We’re thinking five to 10 years out and over the last year have added so much fantastic new talent into the business. We don’t see barriers for us to grow to a billion of revenue over time.

A huge thank you to our team who have worked tirelessly for seven years. Thank you to our partners and customers. We know we still have so much to do but with your support we are able to keep investing.

Our most exciting work is yet to come.

 

Resolved – recent intermittent issues with Xero

Now resolved – intermittent connection issues with Xero, 9am UTC

A limited subset of customers may have experienced intermittent connection issues with Xero services over the last five hours.

We have addressed the problems and all services are fully available again.

Our initial investigation indicates that maintenance completed earlier today caused some of our servers to have intermittent connection issues which have now been resolved.

We apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused.

 

Peak beard: does creative equal hirsute?

When I joined Xero I wrote a short blog about what it’s like wearing a Xero t-shirt to work. It was a blog about how people look, the assumptions people make based on our appearance and the impact that our clothes have in the business world.

But how we look isn’t just defined by our clothes. If you’re a man and, like me, you have a beard, you’re also sending out a certain subconscious message about who you are. Men who wouldn’t have been seen dead with facial hair five years ago are now sporting beards that wouldn’t look out of place on an Edwardian sea captain, or a 19th century Wild West gold prospector. And nowhere is this more true than in the creative industries.

Are the beard’s days numbered?

So have we reached ‘peak beard’? Plenty of columnists have been saying so. In fact, a team from the University of New South Wales in Sydney even published research into the attraction (or not) of men with beards. But if you walk down Leather Lane around the corner from our Farringdon office, you’ll see plenty of beard action still happening on the streets of London – especially amongst the creative community. In fact, the coffee shops of Farringdon, Clerkenwell and Shoreditch are heaving with bearded creatives (and even the occasional moustache).

Inkling – why creatives love Xero

So does creative equal hirsute? Our latest case study video highlights how creative marketing agency, Inkling, use Xero to manage their business. And you’ll see that the beard is definitely still being rocked here in the UK.

Inkling recommends Xero for small business accounting from Xero on Vimeo.

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Farming in the Cloud debuts at Fieldays 2014

We debuted our new Farming in the Cloud online accounting and farm management solution with key farming solution partner Figured, at Fieldays 2014 in Mystery Creek. We’re already halfway through our first foray into the biggest event on the New Zealand rural calendar, and although we’ve been travelling around the country talking with the rural sector for a while now, we’ve been overwhelmed at the interest and engagement from the farming community.

Feedback from New Zealand farmers and rural businesses who serve the farming industry has been fantastic, and there is genuine excitement at the end-to-end cloud eco-system that we’ve created with our partners for the rural community, and the impact that the Rural Broadband Initiative will have for rural businesses around the country.

Farming in the Cloud stall at Fieldays 2014 We’re loud and proud at Fieldays and to top it all off, Xero last night won the award for best premiere feature site. A fantastic achievement from the team  especially with some trying weather conditions during set up. Looking forward to the next two days!

A few of the highlights have included: Prime Minister John Key takes Farming in the Cloud online tour with Ben Richmond, Xero Rural Strategy Lead, during his walkabout at Fieldays 2014 today. Continue reading ›