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Read all about it: How to do small business PR

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.

Woman at desk

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.

 

Driving the future of better business: CPA Day @ the Capitol

Last month (Wednesday, January 21, to be exact) a group of four Xeroes – Saul Colt, Arthur Garcia, Marie Jung and Karen Liu – packed into the Xero-approved Mini Cooper and headed to the California State Capitol in Sacramento. There, they marked the Xero territory in chalk, fed hungry accountants, and doled out lots of Xero love during CPA Day @ the Capitol.

CPA Day

State CPA societies often organize an annual CPA Day – an event that gathers members with state representatives to discuss key issues facing the profession. These discussions are important. They help shape the future of better business policies all across the state. Attendees volunteer their time – and this year, for CalCPA, a record number of members, including student chapters, attended.

A shared mission

Xero shares a mission in common with CPA Day. And we’re inspired by the folks who took the time to perform this service – which made it the perfect setting to show our love and support – complete with food and smiles. And well, the feeling was mutual:

Karen Liu at CPA Day @ The CapitolXero Mini at CPA Day @ the Capitol

CPA Day @ the Capitol attendees enjoy great food Continue reading ›

 

Online payroll is a smart business decision

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.

online payroll

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.

 

 

 

Get ready for big ideas at Xerocon London 2015

What will it take to boost the role of small businesses in the UK? In less than a week, a line-up of influential guest speakers along with some of our very own stars will speak at this year’s Xerocon, which is now the UK’s largest fintech conference and is taking place on February 10 and 11 in London.

Xerocon Day One – Tuesday, 10 February

Our first guest speaker to the stage will be the vice-chairman of West Ham United FC, Karren Brady, who is also a peer in the House of Lords and the Small Business Ambassador to the Conservative Party, besides making regular appearances on the BBC TV show The Apprentice. After many successful years as a businesswoman, Karren is well-placed to explore the theme of this year’s Xerocon.

Karren Brady – Xerocon London speaker

Karren will be one of several influential thinkers at this year’s event, which is at Battersea Evolution in London and features talks and workshops brimming with practical advice, insider product updates and predictions about the future of technology. And of course, plenty of opportunities for networking.

Continue reading ›

 

Start spreading the news! Payroll for New York is here with e-file and e-pay

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 BusinessesGuidance, 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.

 

 

 

You made the tax deadline. Phew! So now what?

It’s the beginning of February and there are three good reasons for UK small business owners to celebrate: Dry January has come to an end, payday has finally arrived, and the tax deadline has passed.

If you were one of the many self-employed small business owners, freelancers, investors or landlords obliged to file a return this month, you’ll have had to spend time crunching the numbers – unless you were super organised and did it early.

According to our recent research, 8% of UK small businesses waited to compile their self-assessment tax return the day before or on deadline day! Seems stressful.

But as Xero users will no doubt testify, when you’re getting your head down and getting to work on this annual task, having all your figures in one place can go a long way to easing the time burden.

So now that you’ve filed your return, there’s no point getting too bogged down with the finances, is there? Well actually, if you’re a small business owner or trader, the answer is definitely yes. Remember: no matter how well your business is doing, financially and strategically, you can’t afford not to keep one eye on the numbers at all times. In fact, our research also showed tax and accounting inefficiencies are amongst the biggest worries to UK small business in 2015, with 16 per cent saying they would like to make their accountancy and payment systems more efficient.

Inefficiencies

Continue reading ›

 

We’re putting on a real show for our first event of 2015 in Australia

Welcome to another year of doing Evolve_Twitter_Card_DH_v1beautiful business in the cloud. The new year is still young, but it’s already shaping up to be a massive one. We’ve got lots of exciting developments to share with you, and plenty of ideas to help you get inspired about smarter and more efficient ways to run your practice.

And there’s really no better way to keep you informed, and kickstart your thinking, than by coming along to a roadshow. So I’m really looking forward to hitting the road, meeting partners and doing my bit to inspire all of you.

This February we’ll be visiting 20 cities across the county to present, network, demo and chat all things cloud accounting and business evolution.

Evolve is the theme for this year’s February Roadshow. What does this mean for you as a partner?

Whether you’re starting out with cloud accounting, or are well on the way to growing your client base, this roadshow is about evolving your thinking, ideas and business processes and really taking what you do to the next level.

To help you get there, we’ll be showcasing our latest tools, a new demo stream and hands on sessions to create clear action points for the evolution of your practice. And yes, we’ll be sharing a sneak peek of upcoming Xero product features.

Continue reading ›

 

Matthew Strawbridge: using dyslexia for inspiration

Matthew Strawbridge is a 15-year-old Wellingtonian who attends Scots College. He’s used his dyslexia to make a positive difference in his own life and the lives of others. Our CEO Rod Drury was so impressed by Matthew that he invited him to spend two weeks at Xero to get some new work experience.

Today, Matthew has kindly agreed to share his story with us.

It’s an amazing feeling being able to help kids reach their potential, provide workshops for fellow dyslexics, and have the opportunity to travel overseas to attend Global Youth Leadership Summits.

Sharing a stage with Richard Branson and meeting famous motivational speaker Les Brown have also been life changing experiences for me. Being interviewed for both magazine articles and TV has been pretty memorable too.

It’s also a fantastic feeling to be successful in NCEA, strive towards receiving a level one endorsement, and receive top marks for business studies. However, my life has not always been like this…

Growing up with dyslexia

Kindy was awesome, and I loved every bit of it. However, once I started school I started to realise that I couldn’t do what my friends could do, but I didn’t know why.

One day, in about Year 3, the teacher asked the class to do a piece of writing about our break. I was sitting next to a kid who wrote three or four pages on his holiday. Other kids in my class wrote papers of similar length. I was able to think of so many things to say, but all I could write was the date – Wednesday 5th of September. Every five to ten minutes the teacher would come over and tell me off for being lazy. I had just returned home from a holiday in Australia and had the burning desire to write about the amazing time that I just had, but I just couldn’t. It was an incredibly frustrating experience, I didn’t talk to anyone, and I was trying so hard to focus, but I just couldn’t get the words down.

In my first few years of school, I would often have rushes of anxiety, stress and confusion while I was in the classroom. To the point where my parents had to drag me kicking and screaming out of bed each day. I was completely unmotivated and every day I woke with a pain in my stomach. It got so bad I went to the doctor who suggested anti-depressants, but I never took them. Continue reading ›

 

All about deflation

What is deflation?

You may have noticed some news articles recently talking about deflation with some economists telling us that deflation is really bad for the economy, but others saying “Meh… it’s not so bad”. Put simply, deflation is the opposite of inflation. Deflation occurs when prices go down. Your money buys more tomorrow than it buys today.

How will deflation affect me and my business?

Most economists think that NZ will have a short period of deflation lasting from six months to a year. This is good news for kiwi small businesses as it adds some spending power to consumers in the short term, and should not be long enough to delay business investment decisions.

  • Interest rates should remain unchanged during the rest of 2015.
  • Lower oil prices will keep fuel costs down leading to lower freight and delivery charges. SMBs could achieve some windfall profits on the back of this as long as they can keep their prices up.
  • Turnover should remain stable. Households should continue to spend, although purse strings may tighten if the NZ economy seems to be heading into a prolonged period of deflation.
  • Cost management should get a little easier. Most of the overhead costs for small businesses should decline slightly over 2015, easing some cashflow pressure. However, there is unlikely to be any decline in wage costs over this year as employees will resist wage cuts, even with deflation.

Five questions to ask yourself

The main thing a business owner can do is plan. Having a plan in place before something happens will always ensure you have a better response.

Questions you should ask yourself, and plan for, include: Continue reading ›

 

What’s holding firms back from the cloud?

I recently interviewed Jason Blumer on the future of accounting and how he runs his practice. As always, Jason is a blast to chat with and he has some very interesting perspectives. One thing that comes across loud and clear with Jason is that everyone should get their data into the cloud. Anyone who isn’t seeing the light is simply missing the opportunity.

Jamie Sutherland and Jason Blumer discuss the future of accounting

The series of interviews were posted on Accounting Today. Click the image below to see the videos.