(Photo by Sally Hams @SHBS)
Say the words 'conference' and 'accounting' in one sentence and for most people it conjures up an image of grey-suited bores sitting around with pencils behind their ears. Fortunately, Xero's disruption to the accounting and bookkeeping world, extends to conferences. It was big (over 1,500 participants), informative, fun and not without controversy - particularly MYOB, traditionally purple, branding themselves in Xero blue and handing out free coffees at the entrance to the conference.
The MC was Peter Berner and there were some great high profile speakers from the IPA, the Government and industry leaders in marketing and online growth. There was also all the amazing Xero add-on partners showcasing their wares. There was an app for tracking the agenda and, of course, a hashtag (#xerocon) that trended nationally because of the thousands of tweets. There were networking drinks, awards, music by a band made up entirely from Xero employees and partners and the opportunity to meet with peers ...oh and maybe the founder, Rod Drury. What an awesome guy.
But for me - it's all about my clients - you guys. What can I learn that I can bring back and show you to help your business grow and prosper? How can we work more efficiently? What tools are available so that we can all get back to focusing on our business and not compliance?
Here's my top few.
1. Debtor management.
We all know the saying 'cash is king' - and that's because, without it your business can falter and fail. The best two ways to keep your cashflow healthy is, firstly, by invoicing as soon as you complete the work. Xero already makes that easy with the Xero touch app and the ability to raise an invoice and email directly to the client (and, by the way, if you've never looked, on the RHS of your 'Invoices Awaiting Payments' tab it tells you not only when the invoice has been sent but also when it's been viewed .... don't give me the ol' "I never got your email" line).
Secondly, is getting paid on time - and this is where Xero has a new release coming. From within your invoice settings, at no extra cost, you will be able to send customisable auto-reminders. For example, you can set it up so that 7 days after the due date, Xero will automatically send an email that you've worded, to your clients. It can send to all, or just the one's you select. I think this is an amazing free tool for Xero to introduce and I can't wait to share it with you.
2. Billable expenses.
I looove this! If you buy something that you currently on-sell, Xero will now allow you to track that item and remind you if you haven't on-sold it. Again it's fully customisable to your needs and you can pull out a report of 'Unbilled items' to make sure you haven't missed anything as well as provide data around margins and profit.
3. Global search.
This one's been promised for a while, but it shouldn't be too far away now. If you have a pesky transaction to find, you'll soon be able to click on the looking glass located on the top RHS and search throughout the whole system by name, number, date and more. Fingers crossed this arrives within the next few weeks.
4. Xero Me for employees and managers.
Employees can now submit and view leave requests directly from their mobile phone as well as view their latest pay details and past payslips. Managers can approve or decline on the go.
Watch this space - and I'll let you know when these become live. I've left the conference with no doubts that Xero is really all about helping small business. They're investing huge amounts of capital back into research and development and truly have bookkeepers, small business and accountants top of mind.
While there I also graduated from the first ever Xero 'Grow Your Practice' online course which I'd participated in over the last five months.
So I am back at work, mostly inspired but a little bit tired - excited and ready to help!