Small businesses win work by using sales quotes (also known as price quotes). Yet they often don’t realise that how they prepare and create quotes can cost them business. Many lose revenue by not following up on quotes or turning quotes around fast enough.
According to a recent US survey, the number one financial challenge of small businesses is cashflow and getting paid.* Getting on top of the quoting process can reduce the number of days to acceptance, which reduces the number of days to getting paid and improves your cashflow.
So, getting on top of your quotes make a real difference. Xero’s Head of Accounting, James Solomons, offers the following tips to help you prepare and create quotes that get accepted:
From cupcake-crazy home bakers to fitness addicts and artistic dreamers, more and more entrepreneurial Britons are turning passions and pastimes into money-making enterprises. In fact, latest studies show there are 600,000 more micro businesses in the UK today than there were during the onset of the financial crisis in 2008*.
A separate report by the Office for National Statistics also found that self-employment in the UK is at its highest level since records began 40 years ago. However, one of the big differences between being self-employed and turning your hobby into a business, where you’ve had no formal training, is that you’ll have to work even harder to get a grip on market and customer demand.
Do your homework
Before taking the plunge, homework and research are key to deciding whether or not it’s just a pipe dream. This needn’t break the bank – depending on the business and what you want to find out, you could try face-to-face focus groups in your local community, as well as free online polling tools such as surveymonkey.com.
Social networks give fast feedback and are a good place to find other people in your industry – and discover what your customers are saying about you. Or why not delve into big data? Google Trends and Google consumer surveys show the types of terms people are looking for online, which can assist in optimising your website copy using SEO (search engine optimisation).
Create a business plan
As with any new venture, creating a business plan and working out costs is also hugely important, especially when it comes to figuring out prices, profit and securing investment. That’s not to say it’ll be easy – many small businesses fail in their early years because owners make mistakes, misread the market, or fall victim to other external factors.
Get it right and you’ll end up wishing you’d done it sooner: “I used to teach textiles and was always sewing between classes,” says SewLomax founder and creative director, Emma Lomax. “Starting my own business meant moving to the next step. It was no longer about embroidery; it was about making something people wanted.”
* Data from Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce/Etsy.
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?
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.”
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 ›
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!
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.
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.
Each day, many of us follow our business, music and celebrity heroes on social media, watch them on TV and read about them in newspapers and magazines. In many ways, this enables us to get to know them like never before.
Yet, as successful brands like Apple or Virgin have demonstrated, in the multimedia age it is possible to connect with target customers and influence what they buy and how often they buy it. In PR and marketing speak, this is about using both online and offline media channels to create brand engagement, inspiring invaluable customer loyalty and word-of-mouth endorsement at the same time.
Sound easy? Not exactly. The challenge for small businesses is that without a big budget for advertising or marketing, getting noticed in the media and by customers can be an uphill struggle. Even if you do decide to spend big, get your strategy wrong and you could be wasting valuable time and budget. But using small business PR can get you the outcomes you’re after.
Reach for the Clouds
As Xero’s newly-launched ‘Reach for the Clouds’ PR challenge aims to show, by thinking strategically, creatively and getting the right messages to the right audiences, it is possible to spark interest among potential customers – and give them a reason to get in touch, or keep coming back.
Have a strategy
First up, you need a strategy. Sharing news and opinions with journalists or via social media is important, but if you’re not careful all you’ll be doing is making noise. You need to ensure you’re getting the right content and the right messages into the right outlets, so that you can engage with your target audience.
Be clear about your objective
You need to be clear about your end objective. In most cases, it’s pretty simple; sell more stuff. However, depending on your business type and model and how long you’ve been around, this could mean selling more stuff to existing customers, or attracting the attention of new ones. You also need to be clear about your target audience profile and what media they might read, watch or listen to.
Get your key message nailed
Lastly, while getting your name out there is important, working out what you want to say and consistently saying it improves the likelihood of you making a connection with a potential customer, or making an existing one feel good about buying from you again.
So whether it’s telling the world about your inspired idea, giving advice to customers on how to work smarter or getting a customer to endorse your product or service, plan your strategy and don’t be shy about getting your business noticed.
If your business has employees, one of the most important tasks is to ensure they are paid in a timely and accurate fashion. Maintaining accurate payroll information is critical for small businesses. However, meeting the compliance obligations can be a huge administrative burden. Online payroll reduces the risks involved in paying employees and keeps you on the right side of government requirements.
Online Payroll Benefits
Some of the main advantages of using online payroll include:
Speed. You can access information or perform calculations quickly. Once setup, you can process payroll from anywhere, at anytime, with a few simple clicks.
Accuracy. If you’re managing payroll tasks manually, you’re opening your business to human error. Online payroll does the calculating automatically for you, which keeps mistakes to a minimum and makes sure you’re paying your employees and taxes correctly.
Flexibility. You can manage payroll yourself without the need to hire a third-party service. This cuts down costs and gives you more time to run your business.
Collaboration. Online payroll allows you to easily collaborate with employees and your accountant. If you don’t want to manage payroll yourself as a business owner, you can invite your accountant, bookkeeper or payroll specialist to access payroll and process on your behalf. Online payroll also allows employees to self-service their information and submit requests for time off without seeing the rest of the business financials or payroll information.
Convenience. Now you can break away from your desk and manage payroll anywhere, anytime on any web-enabled device. You can also access information and view history whenever you need it.
Compliance. A major risk for business owners is keeping up with ever-changing government regulations. With online payroll, you don’t need to worry about missing any tax or reporting changes. Updates are automatically applied to ensure you’re compliant without downloading and installing updates.
Payroll in Xero
We’re committed to making the lives of business owners easier by providing beautiful, flexible, smart and connected online accounting and payroll software.
Payroll in Xero currently processes billions of dollars of payroll every year in Australia and the United States. We’re committed to bringing this nationwide across the US as quickly as we can. We’re also really excited to make this available to businesses in New Zealand and the United Kingdom in time for the upcoming new financial year.
Over the next few weeks, you’ll see lots of information about New Zealand and UK Payroll in Xero. And if you’re joining us for Xerocon in London next week, you’ll be the first to see this in action.
We can’t wait to show you what we’ve been building.
Following on from our last major update two weeks ago, we’re pleased to announce payroll for businesses in New York, the Empire State.
Why the Empire? According to the Empire State Development Agency, small businesses comprise 98 percent of all businesses in New York and employ more than half of New York’s private sector workforce. Now, we can give around hundreds of thousands of small businesses access to beautiful seamless payroll and accounting software.
E-File and E-Pay New York payroll taxes
You see upcoming payroll filing and payment obligations on the Payroll Overview with detailed information available under Taxes & Filings. Payroll in Xero calculates relevant business days and displays both the File By and Due By dates to make sure you know the key dates. Enroll now for Payroll in Xero e-file and e-pay.
All existing and new Standard and Premium customers have access to e-file and e-pay for payroll taxes at no extra cost.
Power the payroll
You no longer have to export and import your payroll data. With the general ledger automatically updated, you can easily follow the payroll data through payroll reports and the balance sheet, income statement and other relevant accounting reports. Payroll administrators are empowered with an easy-to-access dashboard, which provides a quick overview of the payroll with employee timesheets and time off requests seamlessly pulled into the payroll.
Serve with pride
Xero is proud to be serving New York businesses. For more information on small business in New York, check out these important resources:
- Your Business. a downloadable guide to owning and operating a small business in New York State.
- Business Services Web Portal. NYS Department of Labor (DOL) provides links to information on employee/employer issues and programs that can benefit employers.
- New York Tax Guide for New Businesses. Guidance, online services, and forms that help taxpayers and tax professionals comply with the tax law.
New York’s motto is ‘Excelsior’, meaning ‘ever upward’. Xero is exactly the same.
Many of you have requested Payroll in Xero support in your home state – and we’re working quickly to expand Payroll in Xero nationwide. Ever upward, indeed.
For more information please see the release notes.