We know that partnering with the right accountant or bookkeeper can make a big difference to your small business. In fact, a UK survey of 1,500 small businesses found that those with an advisor work an average of six hours less every week and enjoy their business 7% more than those without. Businesses that thrived in 2020 were also more likely to consult professionals like accountants and bookkeepers before making important business decisions.
That’s why we’re always looking for ways to help small businesses find the right advisor for their needs. At Xero On Air last year, we announced that we were making some changes to our Advisor Directory. After a successful pilot in New Zealand, we’re now releasing a new matchmaking tool within the Advisor Directory to all small businesses globally, whether they use Xero or not. Here’s why the change is so important and how it can help your small business.
Discovering what’s important to you
Our Advisor Directory was originally created to help our small business customers find a Xero partner in their city. Having an accountant or bookkeeper around the corner is still useful for some people. But as more businesses embrace digitisation (not to mention working remotely during a global pandemic), we realised that location isn’t the only valuable attribute when choosing an advisor.
We addressed this problem by undertaking some research to find out what kind of things are important to small businesses when it comes to choosing an advisor. Just as we suspected, location wasn’t the most important attribute. Things like the industry, size and type of their clients’ businesses, for example, were much higher on the list.
Our team came to the conclusion that if we could match small businesses with advisors based on all of the top attributes, then it would be a better fit. We also figured that small businesses work with people, not practices. So we looked at how we could profile individual accountants and bookkeepers in our directory, rather than the firms that employ them.
Rolling out the improvements globally
The new feature was built into the Advisor Directory and piloted in New Zealand last year, to help us refine the algorithms and make sure it was genuinely useful for small businesses. From today, it’s available to all small businesses globally — you don’t even need to be a Xero customer or use accounting software to access it.
To get your matches, you just need to complete a form with some details about your business. Remember, the more information you provide, the better your matches will be. For example, we ask about your revenue so we can match you with advisors that you can afford and who understand the kind of challenges you face.
Once you complete the form, you’ll receive an email with the details of three advisors that best match your business. You can then choose an advisor based on what’s most important to you, whether it’s location, experience, the kind of clients they have or something else. There’s no obligation to choose those advisors — they’re just three options that we think will best suit your needs.
What’s next for the Advisor Directory?
The Advisor Directory is such a valuable tool for small businesses that we’ve established a new team to focus on it exclusively. We’ll be working to improve and refine our machine learning algorithms, so they continue to make the best match based on the information you provide. We also have a new team focused on the advisor experience, so advisors can improve their profile and manage their leads.
It’s going to be another difficult year for so many small businesses around the world. But that makes having a really good accountant or bookkeeper even more important. So whether you’re preparing for the end of financial year or want to set yourself up for success in the months ahead, you can find your best match in the new Advisor Directory. Let us know what you think!