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2014 year-end payroll in the US

It’s coming up on the holiday season here in the US … which means that the end of the financial year is not far behind. This can be a stressful time, so we’ve put together some helpful information. Whether it’s tax filings or company holidays, there are key things that have to be done to close out 2014 and ring in 2015 penalty free. We’ve also listed key payroll tasks to complete to make this time of year as stress free as possible.

In general, most employers follow a similar process to bring the year’s payroll to a close – and this ensures that all numbers are accurate and everything is ready for the new year. The exact responsibilities involved in completing end-of-the-year payroll will vary by circumstances and state.

Note: The payroll software you use and your company policy may render some steps unnecessary or require that they be done in a different order.

1. 2015 electronic filing requirements
Make sure you are up to date by checking the Federal, State and local electronic tax filing requirements for 2015. Many of these requirements can be completed directly from Payroll in Xero with one simple click.

2. 2015 W-4 verification
Ask that employees review their name, address, Social Security number and W-4 information to maintain accuracy on their W-2 forms. Check that Federal and State income tax withholding selections are correct for 2015 and update in your payroll software as required.

3. 2015 payroll processing schedule
Prepare your 2015 payroll processing and tax return filing schedule. You can make any necessary changes to your payroll schedule within Payroll in Xero to allow multiple schedules to happen at the same time. With Payroll in Xero we keep track of your filing and payment schedules under Taxes & Filings.

4. 2014 W-2 distribution
Determine what method will be used to distribute employee copies of the 2014 Forms W-2. These can easily be downloaded from Taxes & Filings within Payroll in Xero.

5. 2014 W-2 filing – employer
File last year’s W-2. Payroll in Xero will automatically calculate your W-2s, and you can electronically file – at anytime – from Taxes & Filings with one click. Continue reading ›

 

Xero works around the clock

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.

Repeating journals in Xero are a great way to save time when you're running a small business

Find out more about repeating manual journals.

Bank reconciliation

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 ›

 

Celebrating your team this Christmas

As the silly season and the end of the year approaches, it’s a great time for your business to get involved with Christmas festivities and give everyone the opportunity to have a bit of fun to celebrate a busy and successful year.

Letting your hair down with the people who have chosen to come and work with you is a great way to keep up company morale and motivation; sending them off on their holidays excited to return to work next year.

There are plenty of ways you can do this, no matter what the size of your business or the size of your budget. If you don’t have any office Christmas ideas, here are some of the things the team at Xero UK have been up to that might inspire your festive celebrations.

Christmas Jumper Day for charity

Christmas is a time for giving, not just to our friends and family, but also to those less fortunate. So this year, the UK team donned our jazzy jerseys for Christmas Jumper Day to raise money in aid of Save the Children. Not only does charitable giving benefit those in need, but it builds morale for the team as well. 

Christmas Jumper Day

Continue reading ›

 

Xero Dashboard: your business at a glance

Fresh new look for the Xero DashboardHi, 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.

Continue reading ›

 

Summer a time for small businesses to reflect and plan for the year ahead

A summer break is an ideal time for small business planning. Owners can take stock of the year that has been and identify improvements to make for the upcoming year.

I have put together some top tips for Kiwi small business owners to think about over a barbecue or at the beach.

Take on board any learnings from 2014 and make 2015 your year with these top 10 tips.

      1. Set goals and objectives: Summer is a great time for small business planningSMART (or Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-related) goals are an effective tool for small business owners. Maybe you want to achieve a 50% increase in sales? Maybe you’d like to gain five new customers? Or maybe you’d like to give yourself a day off each week? SMART goals make it easier and clearer for your business to reach its potential. Set some goals with interim milestones, write them down and stick to them!
      2. Expand your social media presence: Social media is a great tool for engaging with current and potential customers and gaining valuable insights. It’s important to find the right social media platform to reach your target audience. Spend some time scanning through potential new “Followers” to grow (or simply start) your Twitter base and map out a content plan for the year ahead so you’re posting regularly and engaging your audience.
      3. Update your website and enable SEO: Having a website is fundamental in today’s tech savvy world and it’s important to make sure it’s fit for purpose. Is it mobile friendly or mobile optimised? SEO (or search engine optimisation) is the process of making your website visible in search engine results. One way to optimise your website is to identify keywords that could direct people to your site, then make sure these terms are throughout your site. Regularly updating your website with new, relevant content is important as this also effects your search engine ranking.
      4. Budget: Work with your accountant or business advisor to establish a budget and financial forecast for the new year. This will help you to plan for tax payments as well as cash flow management. With some planning you’ll be able to set targets with the aim to build your business for the future. Finally, don’t forget to dream about where you want your business to be financially in the next 3-5 years.
      5. Consider a business mentor: A business mentor can really help bring a new perspective and fresh ideas to your business. Whether it’s a person you already know and trust, or whether you use a business network, having a mentor is invaluable to the long term success of your business.
      6. Consider doing some market research: Market research can really help you learn about the market demand for your products or services. It is extremely valuable when moving into new markets, or launching a new product or service. There are many useful resources available online for free including Google Trends, LinkedIn and Twitter. Use these to make more informed marketing and business decisions.
      7. Embrace ‘the cloud’: ‘The cloud’ is a platform to make data and software accessible online anytime, anywhere, from any device. It’s scalable, cost-effective and easy to use. For small business owners this allows the ability to work remotely and not be confined to one device. There is a large range of online software available – from Xero’s accounting software to project management (WorkFlowMax) and point of sale (Vend) – to meet small business needs. And don’t forget to have a good look at cloud storage platforms as well.
      8. Get online invoicing: Online invoices can provide your business with a faster and easier method to send out invoices and track them. Online invoices tend to get paid faster so this will assist with cash flow management. It also greatly reduces the amount of paperwork and administration time required.
      9. Network: If you’ve played with the thought of increasing your business network, you can either hold your own event or seek out relevant events to attend. Take the time to see what’s on offer in your area so you can share ideas and business tips with like minded people.  Plan your events for the year and lock them in your calendar while it’s free!
      10. Improve your customer relationships: CRM (or customer relationship management) applications, like Xero’s Smart Lists, can help small businesses retain existing customers, find new ones and get a better insight into sales. With CRM software you can store client contacts, handle customer interactions, schedule client contact and track campaigns. CRM applications are even more valuable when integrated with other cloud based systems like email software and accounting software.

Check out our Small Business Guides for more great tips for small business.

 

400,000

Over the last few days we passed 400,000 paying customers around the world. We thought it would be useful to give a 2014 wrap up and share some of the internal numbers we’re seeing as the power of the small business cloud platform is coming clear.

Paying customers gif

 

Key numbers from 2014:

  • Millions of small businesses now connect in the cloud on Xero – we touched around 10 million businesses
  • Processed over NZ$250 billion in transactions
  • Over 400 customer facing updates
  • Emerges as crucial growth platform for small businesses

400,000 is a key milestone as we head into key selling seasons in the UK, New Zealand and the US. In 2014 we processed NZ$250 billion of transactions and 95 million invoices, connecting millions of businesses, advisors, suppliers and customers worldwide.

The support from both our customers and partners is both humbling and exciting. Together we’ve established Xero as one of the leading platforms on which they connect, collaborate and conduct their business. Through a constant innovation cycle we are fulfilling our potential as a small business growth engine, bringing together crucial capabilities in accounting, payroll and payments with insights and the business specific applications small businesses need from our hundreds of partners worldwide.

We’re now utilising more than half a petabyte of data collected to report business performance at scale and deliver insights to help improve the growth of small businesses, providing a real time data set to discover the real power of the small business economy and trends such as growing self and part-time employment.

We are thrilled to be playing a role in igniting the small business economy. Our customers are adding employees and growing revenue and margins by having clear visibility of their numbers and easy access to advisors. At the same time, the vibrant ecosystem around Xero – including the growing advisor channel – is creating jobs worldwide.

We’re continuously improving with over 400 customer facing releases deployed during 2014. Most of these releases are silent, unnoticed by customers,  but span small business tasks ranging from payroll through beautiful business reporting. In the next week, we’ll unveil a new business dashboard to help small businesses have better visibility of their cash flow as Xero begins its delivery of ‘Big Data for Small Business’ in early 2015. We’ve now grown the team to over 1,000 in 2014, building capability for further innovation in 2015.  Onboarding so many staff has been an incredibly time consuming activity but it positions us very strongly for the coming years.

Our momentum is not only a clear vote for platforms born and bred in the cloud, but also for those optimised for mobile devices. In the past 12 months, over 145,000 small businesses have downloaded Xero Touch enabling them to pay, invoice and manage cash flow any place, any time.

Today, we are New Zealand and Australia’s most loved accounting platform and achieving a similar position in the UK. We had some staff speed wobbles in the US but we now have the key operating team in place and seeing a positive difference. The small business cloud market is still in its infancy: of the addressable market of hundreds of millions of small businesses, only a small percentage currently use cloud financial software.

Throughout 2014, we’ve invested significantly in our platform which is becoming critical infrastructure in its core markets. We now manage 500 servers across redundant data centres managing approximately 500TB of production data while maintaining best-in-class uptime of 99.99 percent. We have our sights set on not just leading in building our Cloud infrastructure, but also putting the innovations and investments from the global cloud providers like Microsoft, Google and Amazon to work for small businesses.

Thank you all for your support in 2014. Our team are fired up and excited about what’s to come. 2015 is going to rock.

 

Monitor key business data in one dashboard with Cyfe

Businesses spend a lot of time juggling data around for multiple websites, Cyfeblogs, email accounts, social media accounts in order to monitor and analyze data required for making informed business decisions. For many businesses the process is tedious and repetitive work.

Cyfe offers a business dashboard to help you easily monitor all your business data from one place (e.g. social media, analytics, marketing, sales, support, infrastructure, etc).

Cyfe dashboard

Cyfe lets you monitor individual departments, projects, multiple websites and anything else using dashboards. You can pull data from popular services like Xero, Google and Facebook using pre-built widgets. Or use custom widgets to securely display data from your company’s databases.

Who is it for?

Cyfe is designed for anyone who wants to save a ton of time on reporting and make better business decisions in the process. Marketers and IT teams in particular have found the software very useful for their companies.

 

Continue reading ›

 

Making Xero support easier

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!

Contact Xero support – screenshot

Continue reading ›

 

The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement: small business highlights

Following this week’s unveiling of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement in the UK, it’s cool that Chancellor George Osborne has recognised the crucial role played by small businesses in the UK economy as it moves ahead faster than most European countries.

There were some notable highlights for small businesses this year. In particular, extending the doubling of business rate relief for SMBs for a further year until April 2016, which is a much needed boost. It’s just one step that will help keep growth on track for our small business community, and will benefit 500,000 firms and exempt a third of a million.

London Houses of Parliament

It’s also great to see a full review of how business rates are structured and that any rate increase will be capped at two per cent. Another economic injection comes in the form of additional support for the retail sector; increasing the business rates discount from £1,000 to £1,500 for shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants with a rateable value of £50,000 or below.

This is all pretty positive news for a small business community struggling under the burden of tax and regulation.

Some other small business highlights from the the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement include:

Continue reading ›

 

Property portfolio investment tracking with Real Estate Investar

If you or your clients invest in real estate, life just Real Estate Investar logogot 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.

Continue reading ›