With Xerocon Melbourne fast approaching, there’s never been a better time to buy a ticket. And if you’re thinking, ‘I’ve already been to an accounting conference before’, think again. From live DJ sets to dresses made from money, things are done differently at Xerocon – as Sally Hams, the managing director of Xero silver partner firm, Balance Books, explains.
“This will be my third year at Xerocon,” says Sally, whose cloud-based firm is based in Adelaide. “I feel excited just thinking about last year: the darkness, the blue lights, the live DJ. There was just something in the air – you knew something special was about to happen.
“You have the front runners in cloud accounting sharing mind-blowing information – with data capabilities that only get bigger each year,” she adds. “For me, public speaking is about how you make someone feel when you leave the room. And that’s what I remember from Xerocon – everyone on stage gave me such a buzz.
“It’s a unique mix of education and excitement and it matters. Thanks to everything I’ve learned, my business growth has been 65 percent year-on-year. I’ve got 70 clients and counting.”
Once the lights go down: dress to impress
But some of the quirkiest surprises of Xerocon is left till last – once the lights go down on the main stage – and hundreds Xeros, accountants and bookkeepers return for the night’s evening entertainment.
That’s where Sally secured her place as the unofficial fashion icon of Xerocon in 2015 – arriving at the award ceremony in a custom-designed gala gown made from money. In 2016 – with haute couture expectations running high – Sally didn’t disappoint. She took things digital and wore a cloud-shaped dress, complete with Xero-branded ribbon.
“This year’s dress? Oh yes, I have the design,” Sally laughs. “I’m desperately hunting for someone to make it for me in time. I won’t share all the details, but I will say it involves steel. It’s a sophisticated concept, though – no spinning clouds this time. I don’t think people knew what to do with them!
“It’s head-turning – but that’s the way these dresses are meant to be. Because why not do something to stand out?
“I wanted to go to Xerocon and say, ‘We do bookkeeping and we do things differently.’ Accounting and bookkeeping is universal, but every business has its own intricacies and personality. Balance Books likes to be thought of with some humour, some edge. We want to bring some fun back to the stigma of doing the numbers. Numbers can be thrilling too!”
Fashion meets fundraising
And this year, Sally hopes her latest design will clock up some dollar figures for a different cause.
“I’m the South Australia coordinator for Share the Dignity, which helps people who suffer from domestic violence. In particular, it supplies sanitary items for homeless women, which can otherwise be too expensive,” she explains.
“I’d just love for people to donate toward my 2017 dress – because all money will go to Share the Dignity.
“And I can’t wait for September. Hang on tight for an amazing ride.”
Sally’s tips to doing things differently at Xerocon
- Know what you’re looking for: I let my clients know I’m off to Xerocon in advance, so I can look out for answers to their problems.
- Don’t fear forced friendships: I always like to build relationships with trust and integrity and, at Xerocon, you’re part of one big family. Don’t hold back. Remember we all share the same passion for the connectivity, efficiency and support that Xero provides.
- Engage with the online communities: Get on the Xero Facebook user groups now so you can talk to people you’ll meet in person. I love running up to a person and saying, ‘You’re real!’, or finding out how someone’s business has progressed since last year.
- Share what you learn: I’ll be shouting about everything I learn at Xerocon from the rooftops. Think about doing a Facebook Live video for your clients, or keep them updated with regular social media updates and email round-ups.