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The year that was in Xero Small Business Insights

We’ve just passed the one-year mark at Xero Small Business Insights (XSBI), and it’s been a journey with some unexpected turns. As we close out 2018, we’d like to take a look back at the terrain we’ve covered. When we conceived of XSBI in late 2017, the project was driven by the vision of Xero Australia Managing Director Trent Innes. Trent believed with the right data, policymakers and large enterprises could help end practices such as late payments, which were crippling small businesses. XSBI launched with monthly data on cash flow, late payments, trading overseas and hiring people, drawn from hundreds of thousands of anonymised, aggregated businesses. We were gratified when in early 2018, Xero data found its way into media stories, parliamentary hearings, and briefings to Treasury. The data explained just what Australia’s 2.23 million businesses were experiencing, in real time. Today, Canberra officials increasingly recognise XSBI as a torch that illuminates a corner of the economy that had long been hidden. “Xero has actually given us real data on what’s happening with payment times,” Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell told a Sydney audience in October. “The reason the federal government, I think, took action on payment times was that it had data that showed small businesses were paying each other quickly, but big businesses and government weren’t doing their bit. Data gives us the grunt to get policy changed.” Late payments is just one area where XSBI sharpened the debate. In collaboration with outside economists, XSBI has gone on to produce special reports on tax cuts, the rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN), and metropolitan versus regional wage growth. These are in addition to monthly updates on small business conditions. Here are some milestones for Xero Small Business Insights in 2018:  Do company tax cuts boost jobs, wages and investment? An XSBI special report What’s the impact of company tax cuts on Australian small businesses – do they hire more workers, increase wages and boost investment? Economists and policymakers have struggled to answer these questions, in part because of a lack of quality…

Xerocon 2018: the key takeaways for South Africa’s small businesses

This year’s Xerocon London was attended by over 3,000 accountants and bookkeepers – united by their universal love of caffeine! Baristas from one of Xero’s customers, Grind & Co., whipped up some 10,000 cups of coffee over the two day event. There was also plenty to see and do, many people to meet and inspirational talks to listen to. Motivational speakers like Olympic gold medallist, Sir Chris Hoy; Royal Marine commando, Ben McCLean and former BBC HR Director, Lucy Adams stirred audiences with their inspiring true-life tales. And of course, accountants and bookkeepers were the undisputed heroes of the entire event, with South African firms, BVSA Chartered Accountants and Core Cloud Accounting both crowned winners in Xerocon’s award ceremony. Check out why they won here. As 2018 draws to a close, here are the key takeaways that small businesses and accounting firms in South Africa should be thinking about in the New Year: Faster access to financial data At Xero, we know that the right business partner can make all the difference between real success and doing ok. That’s why we are very excited about our integration with Absa. Together, we aim to provide small businesses with next generation financial management. It’s simple; Absa’s banking customers who use Xero will be able to upload and access their financial information faster than ever before. Bank statements, for example, will be automatically imported and categorised, eliminating the need for manual oversight and thereby saving small business owners a lot of time. Absa spokesperson Molahadi Mohale joined us at Xerocon to talk about the integration. She said that it is designed to “give clients a full view of their financials and full control over their business, so that they can run their business a lot more efficiently.” Better banking Xero’s new, full-featured API for bank feeds, announced at Xerocon, makes it easy for small businesses and their advisors to receive the financial information they need anytime, anywhere. Customers can reconcile accounts, create smart, shareable reports and online invoices, and review their cashflow in real-time while on the go. This means that users are…

Steve Vamos: Xerocon London Day one – human at heart

Steve Vamos with Dexter, our digital tax advisor at Xerocon London 2018 It’s been a BIG day here at Xerocon London. We welcomed over 3,000 accounting partners and bookkeepers from the UK, Ireland, South Africa and further abroad, who heard from inspirational speakers including our very own UK managing director Gary Turner and Chief product and partner officer Anna Curzon. We finished the day on a high at Xero UK 2018 Awards – a big congratulations to all of the winners! What I love about Xerocon is the incredible energy and engagement of our partners, and the passion we share with them to help small businesses grow. This has been evident at every Xerocon I’ve attended, both before and after I became CEO. How did I come to join Xero? It all started when Rod contacted me, back in 2011, to help him find a leader for Xero in Australia. Around the same time, my bookkeeper Tracy Howitt introduced me to Xero to manage my accounts – and I’ve been a Xero customer ever since. Why is Xero for me? I’ve had a life-long interest in and passion for technology and digital media, and I’ve held senior roles in tech businesses like Microsoft, Apple and IBM. The thing that drew me to Xero, was our purpose and people and our commitment to helping small business thrive. Small businesses traditionally have been underserved, and considering they make up 99% of all businesses in the OECD, there’s immense potential to make a real impact. Getting ready for Making Tax Digital With Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT landing in the UK in April 2019, we put the spotlight on compliance this Xerocon. Those who attended today may have seen our mascot, Dexter the Digital Tax Advisor doing the rounds. We created Dexter to help small business owners and their advisors become aware and prepare for MTD. As Gary and Anna announced in their keynotes, Xero now provides best in class tools to help get accountants and bookkeepers ready for MTD. As part of this, we announced today that Xero has acquired Instafile,…

International Fraud Awareness Week: Don’t pay for Xero support

This International Fraud Awareness Week, I’d like to ensure all our users know how to get legitimate assistance from Xero. Knowing the right way to get support from Xero can help you avoid being scammed and losing money to bogus phone support sites. Even if you’re an experienced Xero user, you may occasionally need some help. Xero Central: your first port of call If you do need help with Xero, you should start at Xero Central.  If you can’t find the answer you need there, you’ll find a ‘Get in touch’ button at the bottom of each article. Getting in touch through Xero Central allows us to ensure we have all the information we need to make sure that the right person can help you with your question. If you would prefer to chat to someone over the phone, you should still raise a case through Xero Central and try to provide us with as much information as you can before also adding your phone number to the case. We will contact you directly as soon as we can to help solve your problem as quickly as possible. This Xero Central FAQ post outlines why Xero doesn’t offer inbound phone support. Don’t trust ‘Xero support’ phone numbers If you search online for a Xero support phone number, you may come across one of the bogus phone support numbers that we’ve posted warnings about on our Security Noticeboard.  These sites say they offer support for Xero, along with many other software vendors, but they actually have no affiliation with Xero.  In fact, if you read the fine print at the bottom of their pages they usually say this, but they don’t make that small print easy to find.  If you were to phone them, as we have, you’ll find they try to give the impression that they’re working with and on behalf of Xero. But they’re not working with or on behalf of Xero, and phoning one of those sites is going to cost you money.  A small number of our customers have lost hundreds of dollars to these sites, and…

Fostering Wellness in the Workplace

At Xero, we strive to create a positive environment where everyone feels they belong and that they can do the best work of our lives. We believe that supporting the mental wellness of our people is an essential component to running a compassionate, successful business. That’s why we’re proud to announce that we’re marking World Mental Health Day by making changes to our Wellness Leave policy. The new policy means that Xero staff can now take time off for their own personal wellbeing, in addition to time off for physical or mental illness and when a partner or dependent requires care. To learn more about the importance of fostering wellness in the workplace, the team at Xero Denver office had the opportunity to speak with Alexandra Yannacone from the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She shared insights about how all of us can work to manage stress in the workplace and support our colleagues. According to Yannacone, one in five Americans have a mental health condition, and 40 percent of American workers describe their jobs as “very stressful.” In addition to the human toll, there is also a very real economic impact — a World Health Organization-led study estimates that depression and anxiety costs the global economy $1 trillion annually in lost productivity. Yannacone explained that it’s important to understand that employees can experience workplace stress due to a variety of factors, including work-related or home-related issues. The good news, according to Yannacone, is that these stressors are something that we can do something about. For example: Be proactive and preventative: “We know there are more stressful periods at work or in our personal lives, like the holidays,” Yannacone said. “It’s about being prepared and thoughtful ahead of time. Each year we fall into these same routines and start panicking, but often we know some of these things are coming. Same with work, most jobs we know when our more stressful times are. We need to learn how to declutter and destress ahead of time so when we’re in the midst of it we can really pay attention to…

Pause for a mental health check

What does mental health mean to you? For me, as a Director of People and Performance, it’s about remembering each and every one of us is human. We all feel stress. We all carry burdens that have kept us awake at night. And we all deserve support when times get tough. (But the support I need will be different to yours.) At Xero, we strive to create a positive environment where everyone feels they belong and can do their best work. Encouraging and supporting the mental wellness of our people is important to us, and this extends across our Xero small business community. Because running a small business isn’t easy. While it can be one of the most rewarding things you ever do, it also demands a great deal of time and energy. Long days may become frequent and the number of ‘hats’ you wear may seem endless. But when we forget to find ways to switch off – to make time to manage our stress levels – we risk impacting our wellbeing and mental health. As a time that’s dedicated toward education, awareness and advocacy, World Mental Health Day is a timely opportunity for us to reflect on ourselves  – and our teammates – and seek and offer any support. Mental illness is more common than you think Statistics show that one in five Australians say they’ve taken time off work due to feeling mentally unwell in the past 12 months, with anxiety and depression being the most common. But despite so many people finding themselves in the same boat, less than half call out for help.   For many small business owners, stress tends to stem from financial pressures, sustainability of the business and cash flow. According to Xero Small Business Insights, only 52% of small businesses in Australia are cash flow positive. Tom Larkin, the Director of accounting firm IEC Advisory, supports more than 100 agricultural businesses across central and western NSW and has seen the negative impact that financial strain can have on a business owner. “In anticipation of the impending drought, farmers have done a…

Here is the list of exhibitors to watch out for at Xero Roadshow Asia 2018

Preparations are underway for our second series of Asia Roadshows which will take place on 20 November in Hong Kong and 23 November in Singapore. The events will be bigger and better this year and we are pleased to confirm an exciting list of exhibitors to join us at the events. Xero Roadshows give accountants and bookkeepers the perfect opportunity to get to know existing and new Xero Marketplace apps in addition to discovering the latest technologies available in the accounting industry. Here’s a sneak peek of who you can expect to see on the exhibition floor this November: A2X A2X makes accounting easy for Amazon sellers – all the sales, fees and charges reconciled perfectly for every settlement. A2X gives Amazon merchants automated accounting by posting easy-to-reconcile summary invoices to Xero. The Amazon marketplace has millions of 3rd party sellers world wide and it’s growing fast. A2X allows accounting firms to specialise in helping Amazon seller clients so they can target this fast growing market. Catch them in either Hong Kong or Singapore and chat to them about becoming an Amazon accountant! Connect Outsourcing Looking for someone to handle your compliance work for you while you spend more time advising and servicing your clients? Connect does outsourcing, but differently. Make the change with Connect and you will see growth and profitability in your business as they provide you with qualified accountants that work on a per-job basis. Interested to find out more about how you can make the best use of time with Connect? They will be at Xero Roadshow Singapore so chat to them on how their expert workforce can work best for you; scaling up and down as your firm needs to grow with no fixed contracts or seat fees. PayPal Fueled by a fundamental belief that having access to financial services creates opportunity, PayPal is committed to democratising financial services and empowering people and businesses to partake in the global economy. Available in more than 200 markets, PayPal enables consumers and merchants to receive money in more than 100 currencies, withdraw funds in 56 currencies and…

Are you being data smart with your smartphone?

Last week, the new shiny iPhone XS entered the market. For all the Apple lovers out there, this might mean being the first to wrap your hands around the irresistibly smooth all-glass design, or finally upgrading your old glitchy iPhone 6 to the new model. If this is you, I’m guessing you’re focused on the opportunity to start afresh, buy a new case, clear all those apps cluttering your current device, and start playing with its new features. Right? But have you considered the security aspects? According to online security software vendor, Norton, the scary reality is that 978 million people in 20 countries were affected by cybercrime in 2017. In New Zealand and Australia, one in four small businesses experienced a cyber attack or hacking attempt. “It’s an unfortunate fact that the impact of cybercrime is a reality for all businesses,” Xero Head of Security, Paul Macpherson, said at our recent conference, Xerocon Brisbane. “We continually remind all of our customers – small businesses, accountants and bookkeepers – to take precautions to keep their data safe from hackers.” Sure, you’ll be eager to try the cool Face ID feature and of course you wouldn’t dream of breaking your shiny new phone. But are you mindful of how you’ll keep its contents safe too? Obtaining a new phone is the perfect opportunity to get everything set up correctly right from the start. And if you don’t plan to upgrade your mobile phone, there’s no time like the present to make changes. Are you too relaxed with your data security? While many of us are looking for convenience of easy-to-find or easy-to-remember passwords, in reality you’re making yourself vulnerable to digital identity theft. Xero Head of Industry, Matthew Prouse, says “the biggest mistake people make is keep highly confidential information in their phone, such as in ‘Notes’ or disguised as a contact. You’re walking around with a pocket of very sensitive data.” Prouse recommends that you do not – Add passwords and pin codes to the ‘Notes’ app Try to disguise passwords, bank account numbers or your tax file number as…

We’re sorry – really sorry…

Yesterday, we experienced a technical outage which affected our users’ access to Xero. The site went down at approximately 5pm New Zealand time, and was restored at 12.30am New Zealand time. We know you’re wondering what happened. The nature of the problem made it very hard to diagnose. There are many problems that can exhibit the same symptoms. We discovered a change was made to our network configuration. The change was incorrectly applied which meant some requests to servers inside that network failed. Our team worked around the clock to identify and implement a solution and to get the site up and running as quickly as possible. Once the change was detected and reversed, restoration of service was instant, so customers could immediately access the Xero site again. We sincerely apologise for any impact this had on our customers’ working day. We’re doing everything we can to build more resilience into our platform and reduce any risk of a similar issue in the future. Please rest assured that your data was not at risk at any stage. This outage was disruptive, and we’re really sorry for the frustration and difficulty it caused you and your business. We appreciate you bearing with us yesterday, and we’re disappointed we’ve let you down. Our site performance is extremely important to everyone at Xero, and we’re never happy with an outage of any length. Tony Stewart (Chief Product, Platform and Data Officer), and the Xero Team. The post We’re sorry – really sorry… appeared first on Xero Blog.

Celebrating National Payroll Week – Why it counts

It’s National Payroll Week in the UK – an initiative organised by the Chartered Institute of Payroll Professionals (CIPP). It aims to demonstrate the importance of efficient payroll to the economy. Payroll is crucial in business management and employee satisfaction. If payroll processes are locked down and run well, businesses will flourish. If they’re not, payroll can be an administrative nightmare, shifting the focus away from what business owners love doing. Whether you are an accountant acting on behalf of your client, or a small business owner managing the payroll yourself, here’s how the right payroll software can help: For accountants: Payroll management has historically been the bain of an accountant’s life. They know their clients don’t want to get employee wages wrong. By combining a smart payroll system like Xero Payroll with Xero, it’s far easier to get the job done efficiently, and quickly. Xero Me is an employee app that works with Xero Payroll. You can track time, mark holidays on a calendar and populate payslips. It’s not difficult to sell the benefits of the app to your clients – not only is the user experience seamless, but they gain the satisfaction of having all their important information in one place. It also means employees and employers benefit from more detailed reporting of their day-to-day activities. There’s no need to manually input data from other spreadsheets. By using payroll software that automatically integrates with your accounting software, you don’t have to keep track of all the changes your team make or post journals. There are a number of Xero partners saving time with Xero Payroll. Take Xero Gold Partner, David Hassel, Managing Director of DH Business Support and co-owner of XU Magazine. Xero Payroll has saved his firm twelve minutes per client per month. He’s reduced the time spent on admin tasks that detract attention away from helping the businesses he works with thrive. As David explains: “When it comes to small businesses we don’t just want to give people a history lesson every year – we want to give them actionable insights that affect their business decisions…

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