Now the turkey and mince pie have subsided, for the old school tax professional it’s time to jump with both feet into the busiest time of the year.
We all knew it was coming and now the January tax season is upon us (don’t say it out loud!).
There’s been a shift in recent times: more people are doing their simple returns by themselves, and with the rise and rise of cloud technology, real time banking and the ‘doing it as you go along’ method, this has, for those in the know, eased the burden considerably.
Many practices are using Xero Ledgers’ functionality to quickly cash-code items, or if they need, to open a .ofx file sent by clients to quickly read the information.
Using Xero efficiently results in many firms reporting that January is no longer a big stress. But for the rest of us who are still a little worried, here are some tips to help you and your team breeze through.
Plan, plan and plan again
It should go without saying, but you must plan ahead – not just for an increased workload, but a real plan. Plan to make the most of your team’s skill set. Plan for problem clients. Success for many has come from having the partner split clients into A, B and C, where they then prioritise assignments correctly.
Plan for how you will deal with overtime. Plan for the amount of hours you’ll actually need. It has to be more than simply: “It’s January, plan to be here ‘til midnight.”
Educate clients so you can avoid the same pain next year. Offer discounts in April/May for paperwork submitted to avoid the cost of paying overtime in January. Equally, charge a premium for any records submitted from October onwards.
Technology and the cloud
Make the most of technology – it’s here to make your life easier. Make the most of the cloud, and get everything running smoothly beforehand to reap the benefits of not having to wait for your information. Real time collaboration. Work done beforehand. Being on top.
Recognise their pain
In the maelstrom it can be easy to focus on what isn’t running quite to plan and to forget the mountain of good that your team is churning out. Treat them to a last supper. Ply them with sugary treats. Focus on solutions to problems which they almost certainly didn’t cause. Now is your time to be their leader and motivator.
You cannot overestimate the lasting goodwill this will generate.
No matter how well you plan, there will always be clients who are late, incomplete, or both. Recognise these problem children early on. They are usually repeat offenders. Engage with them early, be utterly firm with them and do not let them throw a spanner into your finely tuned machine.
This is never an easy time; there is a whole heap to get done. But if you see this as an opportunity, you can get a lot more out the process. This is your chance to make the most of the cloud and the technology at your fingertips, the chance to dust off your processes and fine tune them for the year ahead.
And it’s the chance to be a hero. Reconnect closely with your team and appreciate the hard work they put in for you and your firm. If you can put all of this into practice, you will sail serenely into spring time with happy clients and a happy team.
Why not make contact with the Xero Enablement Team or your Account Manager for strategies and recommendations on how Xero can help you ease the stress and pain of January.
In real estate, the adage is “location, location, location”. For small business, the adage should be “cash, cash, cash”. Whether it is a service or product-based business, cash is necessary, and positive cashflow is the goal.
There are many business apps and software dedicated to the “front end” of the sales cycle. The sales cycle is the time between the initial contact with a client or customer, the identification of services or goods to be procured, the acceptance of purchase, and the transaction that completes the sale. There is lead generation, marketing, and CRM software – but the critical part of running a business often gets ignored. The back end is the bookkeeping. It’s not sexy but it is necessary.
After the sale is made, the cash cycle begins. You either end up with cash, credit card transaction or an accounts receivable. Think of it as a race and the finish line is your business’ bank account. Cash is the fastest. Cash is a sprinter. For retail businesses during the busy holiday season, it is important to make cash deposits daily. This cash can be immediately turned around to pay for expenses and employees. Depending on the price point of your products, you may have lots of cash transactions, but for a smaller amount per sale.
Credit card sales are not as fast, but can be powerful. Credit card sales are like Olympic hurdlers. They take a bit longer, but they are substantial. A few years ago, I worked as a sales representative for a jewelry designer at a holiday market in New York. While working there, I noticed that the average credit card sale was always higher than the average cash sale. The downside is that are merchant fees and the fact that it takes up to three days for the proceeds from credit card sale to be deposited into your business account.
Accounts Receivable is definitely the slowest of the three, but it may be the most consistent. Accounts receivable are the long distance runners. Professional service-oriented businesses are more focused on accounts receivable because their sales are usually recurring. For example, if you are bakery that has set up a business account with an office to provide baked goods every week for a set price, then you just have set a recurring invoice and you should receive payment monthly.
No matter how fast or slow the money hits the bank, you have to have a good way to record it. Xero.com is back end software of the sales cycle. It’s where you can manage small business cashflow easily and reach the finish line.
Guest author Nichelle Stephens is a blogger, cupcake enthusiast, editor, event producer and social media strategist. She is the co-founder of Cupcakes Take The Cake, a popular blog about cupcakes. She is also the founder of Keeping Nickels, a personal finance and business accounting blog for freelancers and entrepreneurs.
This month we are super excited to kick off a campaign and sponsorship of 60 Minutes in New Zealand. We’re really proud to be associated with this trusted current affairs programme and there’s a great fit between viewers of 60 Minutes and business owners who are considering Xero. Our goal is to start to educate NZ businesses on Xero and the great reasons they should jump on board with us.
We’ve used this opportunity to showcase four real New Zealand small business owners and I’m sure you’ll agree they are just fabulous! Each customer focuses on a different feature of Xero that has made managing their business easier. We love hearing about how kiwi businesses can save time, be more efficient, stay on top of their finances, and generally enjoy doing business more Who doesn’t love that?
We know there are a lot of people who know about Xero but haven’t taken the next step to use online accounting software. This campaign is to inspire them to make time to do that, by showcasing their peers who have taken the step and are really benefiting from having Xero in their lives.
Here’s a sneak peek of two of our Xero customers featured in the campaign – Jeremy from Cibo restaurant in Parnell, Auckland, and Kerry owner of online florist Wild Poppies. You can also check them out on our website. Continue reading ›
As 2014 draws to a close and we get ready to take a well-deserved break, it’s a good time to reflect on what we’ve achieved in the past year. In Australia alone during 2014, Xero:
- Grew to 158,000 Australian customers at 30 September, at 100 per cent year-on-year growth
- Surpassed $1 billion in Australian payroll processed through Xero every month
- Reached 176 staff in Australia and opened new offices in Canberra, Brisbane and Perth
- Grew Xerocon to become the largest accounting event in Southern Hemisphere, with more than 1,300 registered attendees
- Ran largest partner roadshow in Australia, with more than 5,500 registered attendees
- Appointed a Head of Accounting and Head of Bookkeeping to represent the expanding number of accountants & bookkeepers working with Xero, now more than 6,500 in Australia
- Was named #1 as Australia’s Most Innovative Company by BRW
We’re pleased to announce that direct feeds from Bank of Queensland are now available for our business customers. Direct feeds are supplied from the financial institution through to Xero on a daily basis.
Bank of Queensland is one of the largest independently owned Australian banks that is not owned by one of ‘the big four’ and it is one of the oldest banks in Queensland. We’re delighted to have worked with them to offer feeds directly into Xero. Bank of Queensland Specialist Bank feeds have been supported since earlier in the year but we’re delighted that feeds are now available for the entire bank, for all current, savings, loans and term deposit accounts.
To sign up for Bank of Queensland feeds, or to move your existing Yodlee feeds over to direct feeds, please visit our help centre for instructions.
Bank of Queensland is the last new direct feed of the year, after a busy twelve months of adding new banking data suppliers. We’ve been adding support for new banks at a rate of more than one a month and there’s no reason to expect this to slow down in 2015. In fact we aim to speed things up – we already have a backlog of new feeds to introduce in the first part of 2015!
This year we’ve added new feeds for: Continue reading ›
One of great things about Xero is how it saves you time by taking care of the mundane and repetitive aspects of running a small business. In today’s release we added more features on this theme, so I thought now was a good time to present these and give an overview of some of Xero’s existing time savers.
(Repeating) manual journals
If you’re a business owner, you may not care too much about manual journals. Fair enough, but your accountant or bookkeeper certainly will and we think they (and nearly 300 voters on Community) are going to like another time-saving update.
Much like repeating invoices, it’s now possible to create repeating journals. Great for apportioning costs throughout the year or making regular adjustments.
Find out more about repeating manual journals.
At the heart of Xero is the way we’ve simplified getting transactions from your bank into Xero. In traditional accounting software you spent hours manually entering data and then reconciling this with your bank accounts. In Xero, we’ve brought these processes together into what we call Bank Reconciliation. Continue reading ›
Hi, I’m Tony. I’ve spent the last six years leading the Xero API team and am excited to get back to my roots to focus on the core user experience of Xero. I am laser focussed on making it easier for Xero users to monitor and understand the health of their business.
I’m excited to tell you that with today’s release you’ll notice a fresh new look to the Xero Dashboard. This is just the start of many ongoing updates you’ll notice to the dashboard in the coming months. With this release:
- We’re introducing a new graph which shows your incoming and outgoing cash over the last few months – handy for seeing your historical cash movements at a glance. You can drill into the detail as required.
- Our invoice and bill graphs will be improved so you’ll be able to see the total amounts for all outstanding invoices rather than just those overdue – the same will apply to bills. The charts are simplified so you can quickly see if there are overdue items at a glance and drill down to see these.
- You’ve told us for a long time that you want the choice of what to show on the Dashboard and where those items are positioned. So from now everything can be positioned as you like or optionally hidden if you don’t have a need for a particular item.
This will be the last tax release for the year and we’re really pleased to tick off another item from Australian Tax Roadmap. This release means we’ve delivered 4 key forms this year; Individual, Company, Trust and now Partnership returns.
Partnership Tax Return
Partnership tax returns 2014 can now be completed and filed from tax in Xero Practice Manager.
As with the individual and trust tax returns that are available now, sharing is taken care of for you when you’ve setup the partner relationships in the client, helping you to save time and eliminate re-keying shared data.
Find out more in our Practice Studio Help Centre
How can you get Australian Tax? Continue reading ›
A little while ago we told you about some awesome new changes to improve the support experience. Now we’ve released two more updates to improve Xero support.
Adding attachments for Xero support
When raising a support request using the help menu in Xero, users can now add up to three attachments. This is a great new way for you to submit bank feed applications and send through additional documents, such as PDFs or screenshots illustrating a scenario. We know this update will make life easier for everyone.
You can give us access to your organisation
At Xero, we only access your information if you let us. So, we’ve added the ability for you to give Xero access into your organisation when raising a support request. It’s an enhancement we’ve wanted to do for a long time, a great improvement over the previous method – where access was provided through the settings menu. Giving us access when you have a question helps us get to the heart of the issue. Screenshots and other supporting material are a big help, but seeing the real thing is better. It’s why we love the cloud!
If you or your clients invest in real estate, life just got simpler. Real Estate Investar have just launched new products, which are 100% cloud based and integrated with Xero!
Real Estate Investar (REI) can help you and your clients build and manage property investment portfolios.
Whether your goal is to build a property portfolio, or just manage, track and optimise an existing portfolio. “The new tools represent a quantum lift to the way our members will access their information and data to make better investing decisions,” said Ian Penman, Real Estate Investar’s CEO. “Our powerful, easy to use tools, combined with flexible and affordable membership options, means that whatever your property investment goals are, we can help.”
Portfolio Tracker enables property investors to see actual market values, capital growth rates, equity and cash flow data, for each property in their portfolio, in real time. They can also sync bank transactions and accounting data through Xero. When added to the powerful research and valuation tools investors now have an unrivalled property investment solutions at their fingertips.