To celebrate reaching the milestone of having one million subscribers across Australia, the Xero team is turning a spotlight on some of the people who’ve made it all possible. Like Xero, our customers, advisors, app partners and their employees who’ve come along on the journey, have evolved and adapted over the years. We explore how and, in doing so, uncover what truly makes them one in a million.
In this piece we talk to one of our oldest customers in Australia – The Hope Factory. Founder Andrew Cox explains how the web design agency has evolved from an education based business to a platinum ecommerce solution.
When did you first hear about Xero?
I don’t know if I was using cassette tapes or floppy disks at the time, but I remember how frustrated I was with the fact that how difficult it was to send business and investment information to your accountant. When I heard how Xero was cloud-based, it was a no-brainer to start using the platform to help automate that process.
Tell us about how The Hope Factory has grown since that time?
The Hope Factory started around 2008. I started the business with the goal of helping disadvantaged youth, training them in how to build websites, and then to undertake projects with clients and donate a portion of the profits.
While it was great, the difficulty was with the training, the amount of effort that went into that, and then running the projects became a bit challenging. So we evolved into offering microfinance loans via Kiva.org and from an agency perspective we’re now a Shopify Plus partner helping businesses set up their online stores – so we’ve evolved a lot over the years.
What has been your biggest learning during this period?
I think the biggest learning for me is not trying to do everything myself. As a small business owner, you wear a lot of hats and can tend to get caught in the trees and not looking at the forest. That’s been the biggest shift for me, seeking high-quality advisors and trusting their advice.
I have a great network with Paul Meissner as my accountant and Ryan Gollan as my bookkeeper. Paul has been really pivotal, in terms of simplifying things and giving clear direction of which way to go and always drawing back to the figures and what they were saying. Ryan also, has been fantastic as a bookkeeper and he’s particularly adept at separating signal from noise. I think having both the accountant, bookkeeping combination, is super powerful when you combine that with software such as Xero.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Managing cashflow would be the top one – if I didn’t have Xero. But I think the toughest thing has been getting off the tools to focus on the business as mentioned earlier. Pete Williams, author of Cadence, has been instrumental in this transition and his 7 Levers Framework not only helped us focus on profit growth, it has now become a core part of our coaching service for online business owners.
What has been the most rewarding aspect?
Working with a fantastic team, great partners and clients who are looking to take their business to the next level is definitely the most rewarding aspect. That’s the reason that day-to-day, when challenges arise, why you come to work, and that’s what makes it worthwhile, the people.
What makes The Hope Factory one in a million?
While we love working with larger brands, we get a real kick out of working with smaller businesses and helping them to grow on Shopify or upgrade to Shopify Plus.