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Taking online accounting to the country

I spend a lot of time hitting the airports and hotels across Australia, presenting to accountants and bookkeepers about the virtues of Xero and cloud computing. The pace and the travel aren’t for everyone but I’m in my element meeting new people and seeing their faces light up when they realise how a new way of working can change their lives.

As we close the books on FY11, I’m getting ready to begin the new financial year with a Xero roadshow that’s a little different. Instead of racing around the airports and capital cities, I’ll be in a hire car, zig zagging across regional Victoria and New South Wales. The iPod is jam packed in readiness for the drive to 24 towns in just under three weeks – first stop Ballarat on 4 July and last stop Lismore on the 22nd. Yikes!

Having grown up in the small town of Moama in NSW, I’m well aware of some of the geographic, technological and infrastructural limitations of being based in regional Australia, particularly for businesses. But the world has changed, and with online accounting and the cloud, many of these boundaries are disappearing. Testimony to this are innovative accountants and bookkeepers based in regional centres who are leading the charge. Let me share some of these success stories.

No longer a tyranny of distance

A year ago David Gardner of Mildura based Southern Cross Business Advisors was looking for a solution to help him move his client relationships from one focused on compliance, to one of trusted business advisor. “Xero really has allowed us to attend to our client needs more efficiently and it makes them more appreciative of our relationship,” says David. The business has gone from servicing clients in the immediate Mildura vicinity to expanding into Adelaide, Melbourne, Broken Hill and beyond. “With Xero being online it allows us to access the information from clients at a click of a button, rather than waiting on a flash drive to travel hundreds of kilometres.”

Rural tradies embrace the change

A similar success story is Steph Hinds of Growthwise in Newcastle. I’d describe Steph as one of those new age tech-types who has embraced everything from Linked In, Skype and Twitter to help build her business and her brand. But hang on, surely all this technology would be a turn off to the country folk? Wrong. Steph started out with Xero two years ago by working for the more tech savvy small businesses such as web developers and engineers. Within six months she was approached by a number of trades people including painters and plasterers. “They needed a solution so they could prepare quotes and invoices. A bookkeeper could then take care of the rest of the transactions, yet it was easy enough for the client to look at exactly where they were up to,” says Steph. Today Xero is now more popular with Growthwise’s trade-based clients than with techies. Like David, Steph too is now doing business across the nation. “We have clients in Sydney and as far as WA, and the great thing about Xero is that we can still offer them the same level of service because we have access to up-to-date figures and can collaborate with them real time.”

Family life is back in the picture

My last success story is one that’s just getting started. Wollongong based Colin Dickeson of Altimate Consulting was a bookkeeper and MYOB die-hard and is now a Xero convert. “I have been involved with PC based accounting software for around 12 years and when I came across to Xero I found it so easy to setup, to use and to generate reports,” says Colin. He anticipates he’ll be able to triple his business using Xero, but there are some huge personal gains too. “Thanks to Xero I expect to have more quality time with family instead of working at weekends to process paperwork as this can all be taken care of as we complete each appointment”.

So if you’re an accountant or bookkeeper in regional Australia, make sure you come along to one of our Xero Partner events over the next three weeks. These events are especially for you and who knows, perhaps I’ll be writing about your success story in the not too distant future.

Check out where I’ll be, when, and register. And yes, Echuca/Moama is on my list!

Photo: Winter Sunrise, NSW Australia by thenoodleator, on Flickr


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Kent accountants
21 August 2011 #

Hi Wayne, advancements in on-line accountancy software have allowed me to build my business. No central office, no set work hours just a quantity of work that needs to be delivered by a set date.

Client liasion and day to day correspondence, answering queries etc can be handled by a small number of staff based where ever – broadband and VOIP make this all possible.

But Xero is the cornestone.

Wayne Schmidt
22 August 2011 #

Great to hear. Certainly on the road trip I found that Xero partners proved to me that advising without geographical borders is occurring. Xero partners are finding the joys of being able to gain business from new regions as they move into the cloud. Another side benefit is was what I call first mover advantage, those partners that sign up on the cloud journey first are getting to lead and be seen as the innovators.

Kent accountants
23 August 2011 #

I agree with that, new tech businesses looking for an online accounting packages and better support are looking at new/younger/fresher firms of accountants.

It appears to me that there is a hug divide between accountants who embrace new technology and those who just go along with it because they think they have to.

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