What does a typical small-business owner look like on Xero? The picture is a diverse one. They could be swinging a hammer, working in a kitchen, or hanging out of a helicopter to take photos. Together, they create a mosaic of professions that comprise Xero’s 500,000 subscribers.

Just as their professions vary, some Australian industries are adopting cloud-based accounting software faster than others. In the year through March 2017, construction posted the biggest gain, generating 33% of all new Xero subscribers.

That boom echoes a trend in the broader economy. Construction spawned more new businesses than any other segment for the year to the end of June 2016, according to ABS figures. There were almost 60,000 business entries – – a 17 percent jump — fueled by domestic building in capital cities.

Adam Clarke, owner of Prompt Roofing just outside Perth, says there’s more business than he can handle. That’s why he turned to Xero two years ago, in an effort to create time for customers.

“Xero saves me an incredible amount of time,” Clarke says. “It tells me where I stand financially in an instant – what I own, how much I owe, and what bills I’ve paid. That’s hours of paperwork I don’t need to do every week.”

His seven employees enter their hours into the Xero app on their phone, which then gets picked up by Xero payroll. That in turn lightens the load on Clarke’s bookkeeper.

Prompt Roofing uses Xero in combination with the app ServiceM8. The Xero-integrated app creates customer files that contain all the info from the original contact, the job details and the e-mail chain. And the financials flow into Xero for easy reconciliation.

Australian business industries adopting Xero

While construction leads the list of industries adopting Xero, retail is also a standout. The sector generated 15% of new Xero customers in the year to the end of March 2017. In the broader economy, retail saw the number of new businesses rise 13 percent, according to ABS figures for the year to mid-2016.

Aquabumps, an outdoor photography business based in Sydney’s Bondi Beach, explains part of Xero’s appeal for retailers: daily bank feeds and easy ways for customers to pay.

“We take payments in many ways – Eway, Paypal, Tyro, Amex and cash – and it’s so easy to match the payment to the transaction when the bank feeds are right there in Xero,” says Debbie Tan of Aquabumps. “Xero even suggests a match, saving so much time. Our bookkeeping fees have come down since we moved from MYOB to Xero.”

Debbie’s husband, Eugene “Uge” Tan, frequently takes shots from a helicopter above Bondi, where he’s captured some of his most famous images. When back in the office, Eugene turns to some of the apps that connect to Xero. For rostering and timesheets, he uses Deputy.

The cloud-based app syncs with Xero and sends all timesheets directly to the accounting software. A gallery manager then approves the timesheets, and they go straight to the bookkeeper in Xero for payment and confirmation.

“We formerly used spreadsheets and paper, which were always getting lost and were inaccurate,” says Uge. “We also send all of our online store orders – taken through WooCommerce – directly into Xero for reconciliation. It’s a pretty cool thing. Makes life so much easier.”

Further south in Melbourne, retailer Kjetil Hansen used Xero and its connected apps to help win an appearance on the TV show “Shark Tank.” He walked away this year with a pledge for $300,000 to expand Deliciou, his line of bacon-flavoured seasoning.

“I started using Xero because it integrates seamlessly with the app Shopify and makes accounting simple,” says Kjetil. “For an ecommerce store owner, it’s critical to understand the numbers, and Xero makes it easy to keep on top of them. I can process payroll for multiple staff in under five minutes and reconcile bank transactions in just a few clicks.