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Summer of Tech – insights from an intern

As part of the Summer of Tech programme, Xero has taken on 13 interns across the Auckland and Wellington offices. We profiled Auckland intern Grace Benedek Rooney in January, and today we talk to Joseph Whyle about his summer.

What are you studying?

I have just completed a Bachelor of Information Technology (IT) at Whitireia in Porirua. Now I’m working at Xero as an intern as part of the Summer of Tech programme. I’m with the Internal IT team based in Wellington.

What attracted you to Summer of Tech?

My involvement with Summer of Tech programme started in early 2013, when I first found out about it. I jumped at the thought of being able to get industry experience and get paid for it. I managed to land an internship with a government department and learnt loads. I went through the process of Summer of Tech for a second time, and ended up with an internship at Xero in the Internal IT team.

Joseph Whyle – Summer of Tech intern
What are you working on during your internship at Xero?

Since November, I have had an inside look at how the Internal IT team looks after all of the Xero employees. It keeps Xero seamlessly working. The team that I work with truly goes the extra mile to accommodate and make sure that everyone is able to accomplish their day-to-day work. They also really are the best team, full of laughter, fun and are all round are just legends. This has pushed me to make sure that I deliver the best service I can no matter what the situation is and what is thrown at me. It’s been fantastic being part of a team that not only supports Wellington, but all the offices in NZ and overseas and any remote people we have.

What do you love most about Xero?

The thing that really attracted me to working at Xero was how it is a very collaborative environment and everyone understands the work hard, play hard saying. This is reflected in the culture and people that work here. Lastly, would be that everyone is really happy to answer my questions and teach me things that I don’t understand. Thank you for giving me an opportunity to be part of a company that champions innovation and is always looking ahead to achieve the vision and mission of Xero.

What are your career ambitions?

This really is the start of my career within the IT industry. It’s exciting to think about what opportunities there are within Xero, and knowing that I could develop my skills and knowledge. This will allow me to apply this in my work and be able to make a difference in my part of the company.

What does a typical day look like in Internal IT?

Each day is different, typically I start by looking at any unassigned tickets (a ticket is a request from an employee). This allows me to start work on the tickets I can tackle straight away, and also plan if I need to head over to the other buildings. Often I will be looking after the new starters for the following week. I will be setting up their account, building their machines, and then finding out where they will be sitting. My job often involves interacting with people and solving any issues that they may have, which I really get a buzz out of. Our team works super closely. They make sure that if I’m at another building I can carry out the work I had planned, and also any other issues I can pick off while I am there.

Learn more about Summer of Tech.

 

A new way of taking payments with iZettle

iZettle’s point of sale (POS) application makes it easy for your business to accept card payments and sell in store or on the go using a tablet or smartphone. And from now on, iZettle is integrated with Xero, meaning your cash and card sales, VAT, bank account deposits and processing fees will be seamlessly updated within your accounting.

You’ll also get a business overview with great analytics that let you keep track of your sales and products. And there are no fixed contracts or fees – you only pay per card transaction.

Who is it for?

iZettle is ideal for any small business in the UK, whether you’re a small store, a cafe, or someone selling hot dogs on the go. It’s made for anyone in need of the tools to run a business and who wants to accept secure card payments.

How iZettle works with Xero

Simply connect your iZettle and Xero accounts with the click of a button. All iZettle sales and deposit data will be seamlessly transferred into your Xero accounting platform, and deposit data is reconciled through Xero’s automated bank feeds.

What about pricing?

There’s no sign-up fee and no contract lock-ins or fixed fees, so you only pay per transaction. And the more you sell, the less you pay. iZettle’s Smart Rate automatically reduces your transaction fees based on your monthly sales, starting at 2.75% and dropping to as little as 1.50% per transaction.

Try out iZettle now

Sign up to iZettle and give it a go now. It only takes five minutes to register and if you do it now you get a free iZettle card reader. There’s no trial period, because you only pay when you use the service – if you don’t use it, you don’t pay! Sign up now and let your customers start spending.

 

What does the UK budget mean for small businesses?

Head of KPMG Small Business Accounting Bivek Sharma popped by our London office yesterday. We grabbed him and our UK managing director Gary Turner for a chat about the UK Budget 2015 and what it means for small businesses.

What does the UK Budget mean for small businesses? from Xero Limited on Vimeo.

 

Xero Roadshow UK – evolve your practice with a deep dive into all that is Xero

We’re kicking off the new financial year with a bang and we can’t wait to share it with the UK’s accounting and bookkeeping community.

At Xerocon London, we made a lot of announcements about our investment in Xero, with a tonne of new features. This year we’ve already released Payroll, Quotes, Notifications and our iPad app. Next you’ll be seeing Online Quotes, Inventory and Side by Side Bills, followed by Find & Recode, Global Search, Improvements to Reporting, Big Data for Small Business, Enhancements to Practice Studio and new Partner Bank Feeds.

focus on your practice

We get it. There’s a lot to take in! That’s why we’re committed to taking you through it all step by step, showing you and your team how your practice can use Xero to its full potential. Learn how you can use Xero to add real value to your practice and your clients.

Come along to the Xero Roadshow – in a city near you this April and May

Throughout April and May, we’ll be touring across the UK with the Xero Roadshow. We’ll take your whole practice on a practical deep dive journey into Xero. We’ll show you the key features and benefits ideal for accountants and bookkeepers. And we’ll share with you the processes that will help your business to fully evolve into the world of the cloud.

Continue reading ›

 

Fifty Shades of Tax Write-Offs

What’s the weirdest thing you think someone might try to write-off in their taxes? Dogs? Cats? Donkeys? Adult, ahem, entertainment items? The list is long and distinguished, according to a survey we just conducted of small business owners and accountants.

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The results are part of our brand new Xero to Sixty Report, a look at the relationship between accountants and their small business clients. We found some tasty morsels like the attempted write-offs above, but we also identified really useful data suggesting a huge opportunity for small business owners and accountants to grow their relationships and therefore their businesses.

But it also shows the disconnect on both sides. For example, both parties share a common goal of wanting to track financial performance and increase profits. However, while 70 percent of accountants recommend that their clients see them at least once a month, only 45 percent of small business owners do so. What gives? Continue reading ›

 

Change to Xero – free until 31 March

Getting up and running on Xero is easy. But when you’re moving from an old product like Sage, while it might be nice to start fresh with Xero, you may also want to bring your transaction history with you.

We want your transition to Xero to be as seamless as possible, which is why last month we announced that until 31 March we’d foot the bill to help UK small businesses move their books to Xero from Sage and Quickbooks.

Hundreds of UK SMEs have made the switch already. But if that’s not yet you or your clients, now’s the time to take a positive step into the new tax year. Join more than 400,000 small businesses and almost 14,000 accounting practices around the world already enjoying the benefits of Xero’s beautiful accounting and payroll software.

change to xero

Continue reading ›

 

Exercise for stress relief and problem solving

For Xero CEO Rod Drury, exercise is key to stress relief and problem solving

“It feels great to plan to achieve something. Do the work. And nail it.” – Rod Drury

The first thing most people do after they arrive home from a long-haul flight is rest. For Rod Drury, this wasn’t the case. Instead he jumped in the pool and smashed out a 1km swim. He then hopped on his cycle and conquered a forty minute hill-climb.

He’s not alone, studies have shown that exercise doesn’t just keep the heart healthy. It also depletes stress hormones and releases endorphins which help with stress relief. Endorphins are mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain that act as the body’s natural painkillers. The increase in endorphins in your body leads to feelings of euphoria and relaxation (aka the ‘runner’s high’). This helps combat the negative effects of stress.

I had a quick chat with Rod about fitness just after he arrived back in New Zealand from Xerocon UK. He mentioned an interesting concept that he has been aware of for most of his working life – the brain needs time for unconscious thought to function well and solve problems. Time where focus is not directly on the problem at hand. This unconscious thought often occurs while we are sleeping. Ever had one of those middle-of-the-night ‘eureka moments’? Exercise can provide a similar experience that helps to form ideas and solve problems.

Exercise is good for your brain

“I always have these massive ideas by the time I’ve finished exercising.” – Rod Drury

When dwelling on a few issues during the day, he will jump on his cycle for a hill-climb. By the time that he comes down the hill, the problem is usually solved. I have also experienced this during weight training sessions. While concentrating solely on my training, ideas and solutions just pop into my mind. Rod recommends busy people who deal with a lot of problems prioritise time in their day for exercise. The time spent focusing on exercise gives the brain a chance to develop thoughts and work through problems.

Rod’s progress is real evidence that consistency and commitment leads to results. When he first started swimming, he was only able to complete one or two lengths of the pool. Over time he’s built up to swimming 1km three or four times per week and is now looking for his next challenge. He has also clocked up over 440 hill-climbs on his cycle. Swimming and cycling keep him fit for his passion of stand up paddleboarding. He’s been surfing for years but this requires a much higher level of fitness. Stand up paddleboarding makes more sense as he gets older and travels more frequently.

We also discussed the significance of finding the right environment for exercise. In other words, finding an environment that minimises the dread of exercise. This dread of exercise plagues many of us and often leads to failure. Rod would much rather conquer a hill-climb outside on his cycle than sit on a spin bike inside. Even if it’s cold and wet, or the middle of winter, outdoors is the right environment for him. In contrast, I prefer weight training in the gym. We all have our own exercise-niche. Once we find it, exercise becomes something we look forward to; instead of dreading.

Towards the end of our chat, Rod stressed the importance of exercising and remaining active as we age. As we get older our bone density declines, our muscle strength deteriorates and a lack of exercise compounds this. Exercise helps us to stay healthy, energetic and independent. For older people, he suggests low impact activities which are easier on the joints. Remaining active and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle is something he’s worked hard on as he approaches his fifties.

While my exercise-niche is different than Rod’s, we have both experienced the same benefits. Regular exercise helps us to relieve stress and solve problems. I suggest that you find your own exercise-niche, train for yourself and look forward to exercising!

In addition to being a developer at Xero, Jordan also runs jch254, a fitness and productivity website. A version of this post was originally published there.

 

 

 

Farming: Embracing change

As Xero’s Head of Rural Strategy, I recently wrote this piece for Young Country that I thought I’d share with you.

One of the great things about meeting and talking to farmers is understanding why they are passionate about farming and their drivers. Farms are very different in nature to your average city small business or listed corporate, but there are things in common which often get neglected in city business and farming entities.

First things first. Every business should have a clear strategy and a plan on how to execute that with the right team. Secondly, any good business should bring in support from outside and improve skills where key knowledge gaps exist. This can be from working closely with advisers, like accountants or consultants, to ensuring your ‘team’ is aligned. From my perspective, the key thing is the ability to embrace change, so that’s what I want to start off on.

I am not suggesting change for change’s sake. We know that many people in the industry have built a vast bank of experience throughout generations and that wisdom should always be respected and reviewed, but too often farms continue to run the same way for generations and miss key opportunities to grow or take advantage of the shifting industry. Just like business customers’ needs are constantly changing, we need to make sure we are evolving or changing our products and services to meet their needs.

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When it comes to change what are the important steps to consider? Continue reading ›

 

Big changes coming in Xero Workpapers

The Xero Workpapers team has been releasing lots of small updates lately, and you’ll see some really big changes this month.

You will be able to log in with your Xero credentials

This is a huge change for us. Once you’re logged into either Workpapers or Xero, you’ll be able to switch between them seamlessly.

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The first time you log in with Xero, we’ll need you to link your Xero account to your old Workpapers account. After that, there’s nothing else to think about! You probably won’t even see our login page again, and you can forget your old Workpapers-only password.

The practice switcher

I know many of you work with clients across multiple practices within Xero Workpapers, whether it is across different countries or offices. Before now, you’ve had to use a different username for each practice you’re a member of. We’re launching a way for you to instantly switch between your different practices. Continue reading ›

 

Survey: Stormy Weather Brings Headwinds and Tailwinds to Small Businesses

Spring is around the corner, thankfully, and parts of the US that have been hit with harsh weather are seeing signs of an anticipated big thaw. But for small businesses, digging out of the financial impact of winter storms may not be quite as easy. Here at Xero, we wanted to understand just how small businesses in the Northeast fared, so we partnered with Dimensional Research to poll 200 small business owners in Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont, who had experienced extreme snow, sleet or rain this winter. And to get a complementary pulse on how consumer behavior regarding small businesses might be impacted, we worked with Harris Poll to survey over five hundred consumers in the Northeast region.

The results were, in some cases, startling:

  • 58 percent of small business owners said that their business was negatively impacted by the weather
  • Revenue was down for a whopping 31 percent of small businesses
  • Rural businesses were hit 10 percent harder than urban businesses
  • According to Harris Poll, 61 percent of people surveyed said they were less likely to rely on small businesses and service providers during extreme weather

Continue reading ›