What an incredible year 2014 has been so far in the world of cloud accounting. Xerocon 2014 has been an absolute highlight for me as a Xero bookkeeping partner. But being appointed Head Of Bookkeeping of Xero Australia has been by far the most exciting.
Now I am able to work within the industry, and also as part of the Xero team! This role is all about listening to bookkeepers thoughts, loves, dislikes and being their ‘voice’ back into Xero to help make it better. I also want to share how Xero can help a practice along its cloud journey. But first, I’d like to share a little with you about my bookkeeping journey…
I first started in the industry in 1992, at a little tax accounting practice in Newcastle as a trainee accountant. It entailed driving around in my yellow Toyota HiAce van (a must for all part-time musicians), fondly dubbed ‘The Mystery Machine’, and providing mobile tax return services. What a fantastic job! I loved being out of the office and, best of all, meeting people and really discovering and learning about them.
A lot of the people I serviced back then were in small businesses, or working with a small business on the side. At that point I discovered my love for systems and quickly started to help people implement systems and organise their information for them, so it would make my job easier at tax time. As a side result, all of a sudden my clients were able to get a picture of how things were going in their business. The birth of a bookkeeper!
Since then, bookkeeping has always been my ‘trade’, and in 1994 I started using software to make my job easier. Manual ledgers were very time-consuming, so the introduction of bookkeeping software brought many efficiencies.
It also started the evolution of remote-based working for me. The idea that I could get the client to post me a disk, and all the required information, and I could work from home was just brilliant. I had small children at the time so being able to strike a balance between work and family was a win-win.
With the introduction of the GST in 2000, my business grew and grew. Before I knew it, I had other amazing people working with me to help our clients in small businesses gain efficiencies.
During my journey, I had a break from the industry and ventured into other crazy things including legal software consulting, IT consulting, owner of a motorcycle dealership & finance brokerage, all of which filled my hunger for business development.
In 2012, after the sale of the motorcycle dealership and finance brokerage, I was looking for the next thing to do… and then I discovered Xero. My accountant at the time said to me “Mel, you need to look at this,” and at first sight, I loved it. It was very different to what I was used to, but the tag line of being “beautiful” was right — I was in love…
In Xero, I had a tool that became the centre of my new business model. Xero bookkeeping provided so many tools and support for my growth, such as Practice Manager, educational webinars on software, business development, marketing and an account manager who called me to say “Hi! What can I do to help?” I felt very supported as I started my journey, even though I only had a few clients.
I have found those working within the bookkeeping industry to be very skilled, generous, caring, and passionate about the services they provide. I truly experienced this myself as I ventured along to a local ICB Monthly Meeting in my area. Immediately I was greeted, encouraged and enveloped with so many offers of help and assistance. I left with engagement letter templates, directions on how to register as a BAS agent — the industry had changed in my five-year absence!
I remember stating at this point that my goal was to be a Xero Gold partner within 12 months. By June 2013, I achieved this with another dedicated staff member whom I employed in absolute faith knowing that I was going to experience growth.
So my journey brings me to this point, working within Xero as Head of Bookkeeping. It just seemed a natural next step after having worked within the industry for a long time. Now I am able to work in an infrastructure that supports the bookkeeping industry — what a great opportunity!
Yes — I am keeping my hand in the industry by keeping my practice and continuing to service my lovely clients (I have a great team on hand to help me do that!). This role will allow me to be the bookkeeper’s ‘voice’ in Xero. I want to hear your stories, the things you love, the things you maybe ‘don’t love’, and also simply about your business journey.
This role will allow me to work with our leadership and development team to bring your input into Xero, to help make it better for you and — the whole reason we are here — our clients! I am also here to guide you on what tools you can use to develop your business in this changing climate, and listen to your requirements.
I look forward to meeting you at roadshows and Xerocon. You can connect with me on social media here:
LinkedIn: Melanie Power
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!