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Wired by Design

Twenty years ago a magazine started that profoundly impacted the newly forming digital technology industry. I was very lucky to be there when that magazine launched in 1994 and last week I was perhaps even more lucky to be at their first ever conference.

Wired magazine hit like a thunderbolt. I was at the launch party in 1994, and from the very start it was obvious this publication was radically different and would be massively influential. To start, it was beautifully designed to grab your attention and ignite your imagination. Wired defined and popularized geek and tech culture. It made it cool to work in technology. It made pop stars and cultural heroes out of people who were otherwise considered fringe freaks.

Last week I attended Wired by Design, a conference that was presented as a “live magazine”. And it was pretty much that. It was a series of stories about people doing inspiring work in a broad range of fields: technology, architecture, food, fashion, science, education, film, finance, among a myriad of others. The common thread was how each and every person designed new and amazing experiences.

Philip at Wired by Design

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How to increase business revenue by 16 percent

Wondering how to increase business revenue for your small business? Here’s a key tip – hire an accounting professional and use Xero.

This is what we learned from a survey we distributed to more than 300 small businesses (SMBs) in the US that use Xero.

The data showed that:

  • Employing an accounting professional pays off:  SMBs who use an accounting professional with Xero experienced a 16 percent increase in revenue over businesses that do not work with an accounting professional but use Xero.
  • Using two accounting professionals equals more revenue: When SMBs pair an outside accounting professional with an internal one and use Xero, they increase the prior mentioned revenue gains by 50 percent. This means a 24 percent increase in revenue vs. 16 percent when working with only one accountant.

The survey also showed that SMBs are experiencing growth in 2014 and increased business confidence heading into 2015.

  • Growth in 2014: More than 80 percent of SMBs grew revenue in the past year with 22 percent growing more than 100 percent.
  • Optimistic for 2015: And this is expected to continue into 2015.  Nearly 90 percent of survey respondents forecast they’ll increase business revenue, with 21 percent expecting to grow more than 100 percent.

Increase business revenue for a successful year





















Other stats show that while SMBs are mainly satisfied, those SMBs that take risks are making more money today and expect to grow even more in 2015.

  • Satisfaction: 87 percent are content to extremely satisfied with how their business is performing.
  • Risky business: 68 percent of small businesses never or only occasionally take a risk while 32 percent will almost always take a risk.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained: These risk takers have experienced a 49 percent growth in revenue over the last 12 months vs. 43 percent for non or occasional risk takers.
  • Glass half full: Risk taking SMBs are also more optimistic, forecasting 63 percent growth over the next 12 months vs. 51 percent for those who are risk averse.

Survey methodology

A survey conducted online to 304 small business owners that use Xero online accounting software in the US. The survey was conducted on behalf of Xero by Radius Global Market Research in late March/early April 2014.


If you believe Xero is awesome, please vote!

We need everyone’s help.

This is the final week when you can vote for Xero to be selected for the Sleeter Awesome Award. It takes two seconds.

If you’d like to vote for us, simply head to the Sleeter Awesome Award page on The Sleeter Group website. You can vote each day so please set up a reminder to vote every morning until the end of this week.

Sleeter Awesome Award logo

The Awesome Award recognizes companies that are helping small businesses and accounting professionals develop efficient business processes through accounting software.

Right now we have only 553 votes and we need a thousand more. If we all work together and vote each day until the end of this week, we can improve our ranking substantially. The popular vote accounts for 40 percent of the award so your vote could help us significantly.

Thank you!




Getting paid via internet banking is easy with POLi Payments

POLi Payments Xero Add-on

POLi is an online payment option which facilitates a Pay Anyone payment from a customer’s bank account to a merchant. It is a great way for businesses using Xero to offer their customers an alternative to credit card payments by allowing them to pay with their internet banking. POLi populates the payment details and informs the merchant as soon as the payment is complete. With the POLi Payments now integrated to Xero, it’s never been easier to setup and use.

Who is it for?

POLi is perfect for those who don’t have a credit card or those who prefer not to use it online. There’s no registration required and customers can use it for free.

How POLi Payments work with Xero

POLi enables your customers to pay with their internet banking. It populates the payment details and updates Xero as soon as the payment is complete through an easy 4 step process:

POLi Payments Xero integration

Where can you use it?

POLi works for customers with Australian or New Zealand bank accounts. POLi can be used to make payments from anywhere in the world. POLi is available as a payment method with hundreds of merchants worldwide including Jetstar, Virgin Australia, Qantas Cash, OzForex, Cars Guide and many more.

It’s free to set up your POLi account

Looking to start using POLi? Check out the Australian or New Zealand website for more details.


Thoughts on Apple Pay

The big announcement for me at the Apple Event last week wasn’t the new iPhone or the Apple Watch, lovely as they may be. Apple have long been rumoured to be entering the world of payments, and now with Apple Pay, they finally have. With more credit cards on file than any other company in the world, they, along with Google, Amazon and PayPal, represent the greatest disruptive threat to established payments systems than anything else out there.

Apple Pay has the most impressive number of payment cards on file (globally)

Many, including me, were probably expecting a more aggressive payments entry. Something around storing value, the development of an Apple merchant terminal product, and moving funds from one customer to another through a closed network with low fees like PayPal (or newer entrants Dwolla), bypassing the banks altogether and undercutting them and the card companies on fees.

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Apple special event 2014

Many eyes are glued to Twitter streams and live feeds for the Apple special event today! The much-awaited unveiling of new hardware, software and tech is taking place at the Flint Centre in Cupertino, California. That’s the same place they announced the original Mac and the iPhone 5s, so expectations are high.

Pizza + live stream of the Apple special event = perfection

It’s supper time in the UK but keen Apple fans are in the office keeping an eye on the live stream!

From designers to developers our team are feasting on the announcements. Keep checking back – they’ll share their thoughts below:

Thoughts on the Apple special event 2014

Well, that’s a wrap! Tim Cook and U2 are offstage and the rapturous applause has died down. Over my tenth cup of coffee this morning (the event started 5am NZ time), what do I think of the announcements? The new iPhones look great, but unusually they were almost a sideshow amidst a slew of new directions from Apple.

From a design point of view, I’m excited that the new phones have a more integrated landscape experience. Permitting a landscape home screen may seem like a small touch but it means there’s no longer a ‘preferred’ orientation. It’s a natural move with the extra screen real estate of the 6 plus. I’d expect to see a lot of phone apps (including our own) become more tablet-friendly with the extra layout options. Continue reading ›


Using Google’s Chromebox for Meetings at Xero

Here at Xero we are rolling out Google’s Chromebox for Meetings globally – and for the first time in a long time I am actually excited about meeting room A/V.

Global collaboration is crucial for Xero. Unlike a lot of global corporations that run fairly independently in each country they are based in, we have many teams that have members spread across various locations around the world. For the Xero Internal IT team it has been a huge challenge for us to facilitate the process of these teams working together.

Pre-Chromebox frustration

Prior to the Google move we had multiple methods of communication. This led to confusion and frustration between people and teams – “What do I use to talk to person X in the San Fran office?”. There were many options available and nobody was exactly sure what the correct method was. Adding to this confusion, many of our meeting rooms offered multiple connection methods (room PC, local HDMI/VGA, projector, etc) which more often than not could be difficult to set up. Delays in meetings were frequent. As Xero grew larger the problem also increased and productivity was starting to suffer.Chromebox being used at Xero Continue reading ›


US Payroll API live with first integration

We’re pleased to announce the general availability of the API for US payroll. This extends the reach of the payroll API to Australia and seven states in the US that covers approximately 40% of the US population.

US Payroll API

The US Payroll API covers the main use cases including employee information, creating and updating timesheets, and processing pay runs. This is the first release of the US Payroll API and there are extra end points that we’ll address in future releases including time off and holidays. Developers will be familiar with the same pattern being used as the other Xero and payroll API endpoints. The same OAuth process is utilised, but with the addition of granular permissions.

US Payroll API Continue reading ›


NZ Data Futures Forum final recommendations

NZ Data Futures ForumWe welcome the New Zealand Data Futures Forum final report – Harnessing the economic and social power of data – released on Monday 28 July. This is a good example of the public and private sectors collaborating to deliver positive change and sets out ambitious recommendations to derive value from New Zealand data.

Data has the potential to be an incredibly valuable resource for all New Zealander. It’s great to see the Government is focussing efforts in this area and that feedback from the private sector has been taken on board in this third paper.

We’re now in the third generation of the internet revolution which is all about big data. This data must be managed in an ethical manner and in a way that creates value and instills trust.

There are so many possibilities when it comes to open data and its innovation potential to address business, social, environmental and community issues. Already, globally we are seeing great potential for data to play a role in emergency management, weather patterns, tourism, geographic segmentation and customer trends – just to name a few. The opening up of London’s transport data through the London DataStore has been a good example that has seen many innovative uses developed.

Three out of the four foundations that underpin the report’s recommendations specifically place individuals and their comfort at the forefront. This indicates the Data Futures Forum has really listened to people’s concerns and that it is likely there will be a lot of opportunity for people to have ongoing input and feedback to ensure those foundations are upheld. Here in New Zealand we have an opportunity to develop a competitive advantage through a data-sharing ecosystem built on trust, control and inclusion. Continue reading ›


The biggest myth about CRM

Today’s guest post is written by Gene Marks, small business owner, technology expert, author and columnist. He writes regularly for leading US media outlets such as The New York Times, Forbes, Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur. He has authored five books on business management and appears regularly on Fox News, Fox Business, MSNBC and CNBC. Gene runs a ten-person CRM and technology consulting firm outside of Philadelphia. Learn more at

CRM systems and databases

Image courtesy of ddpavumba /

The rebranding of CRM

My company has been selling Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems for more than 15 years. During that time I’ve watched these products go through multiple rebrandings, from “contact managers” to “sales force automation” to “collaboration” to CRM, which now encompasses not only sales but service, marketing and operations.

But, rest assured, these are all just elaborate names for one thing: databases.

The makers and marketers of today’s CRM systems will throw around all sorts of buzz words to describe what they do. “Social CRM.” “Workflows.” “Automation.” “Call Center.” They will dangle cool and exciting features in front of their customers Continue reading ›