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Why my small business switched to Xero

Today’s guest author is small business and finance expert, and co-host of Sunrise, David Koch.

David Koch on online accounting for small businessI’m not a huge fan of the Super Bowl, but I love seeing the ads. They’re always the highlight of the whole event for a lot of people. This year there was a great ad by BMW that showed a clip of two TODAY show hosts from 1994 who were reading an email address out loud. It was obviously the first time they’d done so. They didn’t know how to pronounce an ‘@’. This led to the perplexed duo questioning “what is internet anyway?”

Today’s rapid outpouring of technology and innovation often leaves business owners wondering “what is this?” and “do I really need it?” In a lot of cases, perhaps not. Small businesses have enough on their plate without trying to educate themselves on every single new ‘life-changing’ product or service. But when it comes to online accounting, it truly is a revelation. And in the world of online accounting, Xero is at the leading edge.

Making the switch to online accounting

I’ve been a small business owner for over 25 years now and have employed teams from five people right up to 70. Bookkeeping used to mean shelves and shelves of folders and actual books. There were days on end spent reconciling accounts, and using a ruler to scroll down pages of transactions (yes, I’m old). At the time, it was just something we had to do. But now, with the beauty of hindsight, it was a nightmare.

After a lot of research into the market, my family business, Pinstripe Media, made the switch to Xero last year. This was because we’d heard so much hype from other business owners, and our accountants, about how easy and how enjoyable it was. I was sceptical at first. How on earth could anyone make small business accounting and bookkeeping enjoyable? Fortunately, I was convinced to give it a go.

Never looked back

Nine months later, and I can tell you without any embarrassment that I love logging on and checking the accounts. I’m a control freak, and Xero’s platform really is impressive. Everything is simple, intuitive, and easy to navigate. In just a few clicks, I can see how much money is owed to us compared to what we owe. I can get a P&L for any specified time period – and even just for individual jobs – to compare against other jobs. I can see  bank and credit card balances, and reconcile it all straight away. Our bank feeds come straight into the dashboard. I love the dashboard.

The best part about it is that I can do it all while sitting on the balcony at home. Because these days I’m trying to spend as little time in the office as possible. (That’s why you have kids, to take over the family business isn’t it?). With the footy season coming up and, a lot of trips to Adelaide and Melbourne, I can keep checking up on things from the road whenever I like. And that’s the real beauty of Xero – it gives me not just peace of mind, but the freedom to have peace of mind from anywhere at any time.

So if you’re still wondering what all the fuss is about, then give it a go and see for yourself how much it changes your life as a business owner. Because in a few years it won’t be “what is internet” jokes playing on Super Bowl ads, it’ll be “what is online accounting?” And when that day comes, you can sit back and be proud that you knew all about it. And you may even have your Xero dashboard open next to you.

As a side note, in case the sceptics are wondering, I did pay for my Xero accounting package. We made our decision to switch without contacting them.

David Koch is the owner of Pinstripe Media. He also hosts Kochie’s Business Builders, co-hosts Sunrise, and chairs the Port Adelaide Football Club. Connect with him on Twitter @kochie_online.

 

Adopting cloud technology: eat or be eaten

 

Cloud technology adoption

Over the past couple of decades, The Chasm Model has been the centrepiece of nearly every conversation I’ve had about launching new technology.

While its merits are many, lately I’ve been wondering how applicable it is in business-to-business markets. Sure there are early adopters. Perhaps even an early majority. It’s the late majority that seems to be in trouble.

Having sat around harvesting revenue from their customer base, the late majority wake up one day to face a revenue precipice. In short, the early adopters and majority reach a tipping point and start acquiring their customer base en-masse. Powered by the economics of the cloud (not just technology but also business) these new players scale at speed – achieving continuous growth rates in the high double and even triple digits.

We see a couple of shifts driving the acceleration of the new players. For instance, cloud technology and business models on the supply side, and then mobile on the demand side. Entrepreneurs emerge from both sides presenting the late majority with an impossible force to counter – and their brand advantage and customer relationships are quickly weakened.

Look at what happened to booksellers, record stores, and others. We are seeing the same in accounting where new disruptive value propositions are being built on cloud platforms like ours. What’s important is that these new players aren’t just using new technology – they are reshaping their brands, service offerings, price points and more.

The message is clear. Rather than wait for the late majority, fuel the high-growth early adopters and watch them grow. Who would you rather be (or be backing)? The eater or the eaten?

 

 

Celebrating our partners: Xero Awards London

Last night we enjoyed an evening of dinner, dancing and decoration at the Xero Awards in London, celebrating the success of our partners in 2014.

Nineteen awards were presented across the evening, from our Regional Accounting Partners of the Year, right through to the Most Valued Professional, Add-on Partner of the Year and the Overall Accounting Partner of the Year.

Xero Awards room

A huge congratulations to all of our winners! 

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Xerocon London 2015 – day two highlights

We welcomed our guests back to Xerocon day two after a big night of celebrations at the Xero Awards, acknowledging the success of our high achieving partners.

Branding your practice

Rita Clifton, chair of BrandCap, opened day two with why branding is so vital in the digital age. Successful branding is about being clear about who you are and what you stand for, communicating that in all that you do, and employing people who stand for what your brand stands for. “It helps if the CEO isn’t an idiot… they’ve got to epitomise who the brand actually is.”

“A brand is more than packaging and labelling,” she said. “It’s the substance that lies beneath.”

Rita Clifton Xerocon 2

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Guest post: How to perfect your pitch to gain customers

Today’s guest author is international motivational business speaker Debbie Mayo-Smith.

You know how important it is to have a small elevator pitch or few word summary of what you do. Not only to have it – but to get it right.

This is something that I have had great difficulty with. No, more than difficulty. It has painfully eluded me. Even though I am a marketer and normally have a way with words and know how to talk in benefits. Well, you would think – that is until it came to describing succinctly what I do. Having that wee pitch that generates interest and ‘tell me more’

Oh the struggle! Every time someone would ask ‘so, what do you talk about’? A feeling of pain would have to be carefully hidden from showing in my facial expression (because I knew I hadn’t found the perfect description) as I would stammer out an answer.

This past week I was in Melbourne, invited to speak at a very important event – AIME. Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Expo. This event is populated with my prime target market – professional conference organisers and event/meeting planners.

I thought I was creative in picking this title for my presentation:

Tiny Tweaks – Great Gains. Fabulous smartphone, software, Internet, cloud tips from the queen of productivity Debbie Mayo-Smith.

Yeah, I agree now in retrospect. Toooooo verbose.

Keep your elevator pitch simple

The day before my keynote session, we had several networking events. Seeing simply my company name SuccessIS, which I never use anyway, people would ask, as they do, “So what do you do?” and “What do you speak about?”.

“I show how to use your everyday business tools better for more time and more income.”

“I talk about using everyday technology better.”

“I show how to make small changes for great gains in using everyday business tools.”

The response has always been bland – not that “ohhhhh, tell me more” that you are supposed to get (according to the people that teach you how to get the elevator pitch right). Yet, the subject matter – email overload, smartphones, software, the Internet, is something everyone uses and struggles with. Continue reading ›

 

Xerocon London 2015 – day one highlights

More than 800 accounting industry professionals rolled into Battersea Evolution this morning for Xerocon London 2015, the UK’s largest fintech conference. Attendees arrived from far and wide – New Zealand, Australia, and the US, as well as all across the UK. Many rolled in on our awesome Xero shuttle bus, and some even arrived in our Xero black cab… though it’s no longer black!

xero black cab

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UK Payroll in Xero is coming bringing seamless payroll and accounting

Earlier this year we gave you a preview of our work on building out RTI-compliant UK payroll software. Now, we’re getting ready to bring UK payroll in Xero to life to offer a seamless online payroll & accounting experience for our UK customers. We know changing payroll software providers is a big decision, so we want to share details on what to expect.

Taking the pain away from small business payroll from Xero Limited on Vimeo.

Payroll in Xero is designed to help make running your business easy. If you work with your accountant or bookkeeper they can be invited in to manage payroll for you or invite someone in to manage payroll without seeing the rest of the business financials. Integrated accounting and payroll is inevitable. Information from payroll seamlessly flows into the accounts – no more manual data entry, no more manual processing. The way it should be.

UK Payroll in Xero

We’ve built beautiful, smart online UK Payroll for businesses and their advisers that’s easy to implement and easy to use from anywhere. We’ve designed the experiences for businesses with less than twenty employees.

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Notifying you about notifications

Today’s release introduces a new notifications framework to Xero – a new way of keeping you up to date about what’s happening from within the application.

With more features being added to Xero every month, and with the features we’ve got in the pipeline, there will be more opportunities to send updates to you – and to your advisor. We’re keen for Xero to “work while you sleep”, automating many of the mundane and repetitive aspects of running a small business. As we do more of this for you, we also want to keep you updated.

We figured this required a rethink about how we provide you with these updates.

Previously, updates have been provided through the notifications inbox; every now and then you’ll see a small red circle letting you know there’s a new update to read about.

Typically these updates tell you about a new product release, or about a bank feed’s status. To read the notification you need to click on the inbox icon, access the list of notifications and click on one to read it. Put another way, you have to stop what you’re doing to see these updates.

Notifications 2.0

Our vision is simple: to have a single notification engine that supports all our applications; not only Xero, but our mobile and practice offerings as well.

Today’s release is the beginning of that journey.

Updates are signalled in the same way: via a small red number on top of the inbox. Instead of needing to go into the inbox, you click on the icon to display a drop-down menu that sits “on top” of whatever you’re working on. You don’t need to jump into a new screen to read the update. Watch the video below to find out more.

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Getting ready for Xerocon London 2015

We’re getting ready to host the UK’s biggest fintech conference, with over 800 attendees and an amazing line-up of keynote speakers.

Xero UK managing director Gary Turner is down at Battersea Evolution the day before Xerocon London 2015 kicks off, with a summary of what to expect over the next two days. Check it out here:

 

Driving the future of better business: CPA Day @ the Capitol

Last month (Wednesday, January 21, to be exact) a group of four Xeroes – Saul Colt, Arthur Garcia, Marie Jung and Karen Liu – packed into the Xero-approved Mini Cooper and headed to the California State Capitol in Sacramento. There, they marked the Xero territory in chalk, fed hungry accountants, and doled out lots of Xero love during CPA Day @ the Capitol.

CPA Day

State CPA societies often organize an annual CPA Day – an event that gathers members with state representatives to discuss key issues facing the profession. These discussions are important. They help shape the future of better business policies all across the state. Attendees volunteer their time – and this year, for CalCPA, a record number of members, including student chapters, attended.

A shared mission

Xero shares a mission in common with CPA Day. And we’re inspired by the folks who took the time to perform this service – which made it the perfect setting to show our love and support – complete with food and smiles. And well, the feeling was mutual:

Karen Liu at CPA Day @ The CapitolXero Mini at CPA Day @ the Capitol

CPA Day @ the Capitol attendees enjoy great food Continue reading ›