Helping our customers get paid faster and automating administration are mantras at Xero. We’re always looking for ways to help simplify invoicing, make Xero more efficient, or reduce the effort required to get tasks done.
I often get asked how small businesses should approach technology. My advice is always the same. To safeguard your business and improve operating efficiency, stay up to date. Small businesses have always been nimble – it’s our greatest strength. Constantly evolving tech is letting us to be more nimble and competitive than ever.
One of the greatest advantages of small businesses is their agility.
The ability to make quick decisions is what makes us so competitive. We’re nimble. Whether it’s launching a new product, responding to customer requests or changing a business’s focus altogether.
Social media is changing, advancing and evolving, so it’s difficult for employers to know where they stand legally.
Having spent years as a fitness instructor and in financial services, there are many lessons I’ve learned from keeping in shape and living a healthy lifestyle that can be transferred to managing your finances.
The cost of travelling overseas can quickly add up so it pays to know some tips and tricks so you can avoid being ripped off on exchange rates and unnecessary fees as well as get a better deal on your flights.
As someone who constantly has the travel bug, I’m always on the lookout for ways to get more out of my money so that I can afford to squeeze in more trips each year. Here are things that I’ve discovered from my travels over the years.
The Fair Work Ombudsman has been unusually proactive in pursuing underpayment claims in the courts recently. This may have been prompted by several widely reported cases of large supermarket chains mistreating and underpaying their staff. Regardless, this impacts small to medium size employers who may have genuinely underpaid staff due to naivety or a human error and who are now prescribed to the same serious consequences.
It’s no secret that providing employee perks to your staff is a key way to keep motivation and happiness levels high, and to increase productivity across the business. However, for many small to medium size businesses, it can be difficult to compete on a level playing field with large companies. Big corporate players have access to the funds to spend on developing programs at a much higher scale than SMBs can afford.
David Koch is best known as ‘Kochie from Sunrise’, co-host of an Australian television breakfast program. But he also runs a small business, a boutique media production agency called Pinstripe Media. It’s a family business that’s been up and running for well over a decade. In fact, David and his family started the business around the same time he was hired to work on Sunrise.
You’re still likely to know someone who will tell you how much better things used to be before “technology”. This term covered anything from mobile phones to computers to fax machines to maybe even television sets. Whatever “it” was, it was to blame for making the modern world far too busy and far less human.
The recent New Balance case should be a big wake up call for Kiwi companies exporting to Asian markets, especially those capitalising on e-commerce to do so.
As a customer, you want the payment process to be easy and as a business, you naturally want to get paid. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to consider what options you give your customers.
Small businesses have it tough within their industries, especially in the months and years before they have gained a foothold in the marketplace with a dedicated customer base. They have to develop relationships with suppliers, advertise themselves and conduct their business perfectly with all outside parties in order to create a positive impression that will keep people coming back. However, even when they have succeeded in doing all of that, they will still be faced with one problem which is prevalent in small business dealings: getting paid on time.
Over the past two years or so, retailers and payment processors in the United States have been buzzing about the country’s shift to EMV, a more secure payment standard for credit and debit cards. This new standard will replace the traditional magnetic stripe cards (AKA “swipe-and-sign”) with chip cards, a breed of debit and credit cards that’s considered more effective in preventing fraud.
In a nutshell: It is legal and required in some states to charge sales tax on shipping and handling charges. Some states require sales tax on delivery charges only in special cases and some don’t require sales tax on shipping charges at all.
In personal finance, debt is almost always the enemy. Sure, you might take on a loan for school or a house or vehicle. But even then the best policy is to pay it off as quickly as possible. This is such a truism that debt payment coaching is a thriving industry.
Invoicing clients should be fun - it’s the final step between your hard work and hard cash! But often it’s a stressful process filled with friction and sometimes fiction!
Giving more payment options to your consumers is a proven way to increase sales and grow your business. eWAY's flexible, award-winning solutions make it easy to customise the payment process to suit your industry and your business.
Float is an online cash management and forecasting tool that helps you manage your business and keep on top of your cash flow. By projecting your future cash in the bank it’s easier to make the right decisions for your business.
Customer expectations have changed rapidly for retailers, and the pressure to provide great shopping and checkout experiences is more critical than ever. In the last 5 years, it’s become clearer that you’re not just competing with the shops in your community – you’re competing on a global level with every online business. There’s even a new app that will send competitors’ coupons to your customers when they walk into your store.
I’m a big fan of simple marketing strategies that are easy to use and produce a noticeable impact on your sales results when you use them consistently.
And that’s why I love thank you cards
Thank you cards are easy to use, very affordable and work like magic.
Discounting is one of the most popular (and arguably among the most effective) ways to drive sales.
Talk to any credit control expert and they’ll tell you the sooner you follow up an overdue invoice the better. You’ll not only get paid sooner, but you’ll also send a clear signal to your customer that you take your payment terms seriously.
Whether in a large corporation or a small retail store, implementing a new piece of software can be a daunting task. One of the largest mistakes an organization can make is overlooking the training investment required with new software.SoftwareInsider recently conducted a survey of potential software buyers and asked what the most important buying factor was when choosing a product. Here were the results:
Whether you’re on vacation, attending a conference, or simply working from home, being out of the office can feel stressful.
In the world of inventory management all mistakes are costly. Errors throughout a business’ supply chain almost always filter down to place unnecessary burden on the bottom line.
For any operations manager, it is extremely important to be aware of the common mistakes to look out for when overseeing inventory as well as to know how to prevent them from occurring in the first place.
Have you been told that you should use business networking as a tool to grow your business? You should; it’s an awesome way to expand your brand’s reach and find new clients through referrals, particularly if you’re just getting your business off the ground. But, there is SO much more to be gained from business networking - both professionally and personally - if you put the effort in.
When asked what inventory management is, business owners often say it’s about keeping control over stock levels: optimising how much inventory your business holds, to minimise costs associated with inventory handling, obsolete stock, and logistics. While inventory management assists with all of these things, its benefits to a business extend far beyond this. With the software available today, a good stock management system can help with making better sales, customer retention, business data analytics, security, and cash flow.
Often we’re asked for recommendations on what devices to roll out to field staff. While we prefer not to recommend any one device, the following article may shed some light on how to go about making an informed decision.
Cloud computing is quickly becoming a viable and effective tool for manufacturing businesses. While there is still room for improvement, the advances already made offer some great inventory management solutions. Many businesses are using it to some degree, although there remains a lack of understanding across the board as to how deeply it can be implemented. Most ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) packages now include cloud modules, and concerns around reliability and security are steadily being overcome.
Let’s set the scene. Close your eyes. Imagine.
A staunch, somewhat broad gentleman exhibiting a sunken in face, dressed in the latest season Hugo Boss navy suit and donning a pair of the most expensive Ted Baker shoes, opens the door to the office. His shoulders are drooped as if he were carrying the weight of the world on them. It’s 8:00pm. He walks down the hallway pretending to have purpose – trying his best not to let the onset exhaustion show.
When it comes to customer protection, New Zealand legislation sets a high standard, and recent amendments to the Fair Trading Act 1986 shifts the focus even more to doing the “right thing by the consumer”.
The sudden decline in stock values in China is alarming, but the outcome may not be as hard on New Zealand as some people fear. Johnathan Chen, Head of James & Wells' Asia Division, explains.
We get a lot of questions about exactly how much sales tax you should be charging your customers.
As with most things in the sales tax world, the answer is usually “It depends.”
This post will explain what factors go into those weird “6.75%” or “9.5%” sales tax numbers you see when charging sales tax to your customers. And we’ll also arm you with the tools and knowledge you need to be sure you’re charging your customers the right amount of sales tax! (And if you’re building your own shopping cart and reading all this sounds like pulling teeth, we get it. Check out TaxJar’s SmartCalcs Sales Tax API and let us handle it for you!)
We see a lot of variations on this question: “A state said I had to register to collect use tax, not sales tax. What’s the difference?”
To make a long story short, sales and use tax generally refer to the same thing: A percentage tax on the price of a sale that is collected by a merchant and remitted to the government.
Many successful inventors sometimes talk about “BBB time” – time spent in Bed, in the Bath or on the Bus (or other form of public transport). This is when most new ideas come to them, because they’re relaxed and unfocused. Their minds are running on automatic, free to roam far and wide without the constraint of work or other distractions.
“Female customers? Make it pink.”
I once heard this sage advice in a product marketing meeting. It was said partly in jest – but only partly. Does that make it insulting, offensive, and sexist? Or was it a helpful insight into gender biases amongs consumers?
If you employ people to provide services to customers, it’s vital to manage the hours invoiced to customers compared to those you pay to staff. Reason being, the differential is potential lost income to your business and precious profit.
Setting a price for your product or service can be difficult to get right. We think we’re rational when we assess the value of something. But there’s actually a lot of factors, including the prices of competitors and our own emotions. Understanding behavioural science is key to setting the right prices and improving your profitability.
Flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere are increasingly becoming the driving forces behind many career goals. FlexJobs (a leading job search site) has reported a 26% increase in remote jobs advertised from 2013-14. Workers are looking for companies that allow them to set their own schedules, work from home or while travelling, and not stay tied to one company.
According to Greek mythology, the temple of Apollo at Delphi was inscribed with the words “Gnothi Seauton.” This translates to “Know thyself” – and it’s a useful maxim for business owners today.
I was driving to work the other day - it was still dark, it was cold, it was pouring with rain, and traffic was at a standstill. Looking around, I could tell people were grumpy, fed-up, and exhausted before their work day had even started. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, too; man, if I could be anywhere else but here right now… damn you, work, for getting in the way of a nice relaxing life…!
I’ve always appreciated the freedom and flexibility mobile tech allows me to have. From staying in touch with my kids overseas to running the family business on the move. In fact, right now I’m writing this on a plane.
And I think it’s the same for most people. With instant notifications and endless apps across phones, tablets and computers, we’ve never been more connected. In one afternoon, I can Skype family, send off a string of emails and tweet a photo from the footy. It’s all so normal now.
It’s been three months since we launched Tracked Inventory in Xero. It’s proven to be a great tool for small businesses who want a real-time view of the products they sell.
Our customers are impressed with Inventory in Xero. They’ve found it to be an easy way to keep track of their stock.
Chancellor George Osborne announced a tough Summer Budget yesterday in an effort to turn the UK’s whopping £70 billion deficit into surplus. But what does it all mean for UK small businesses?
Xero UK MD Gary Turner shares his thoughts on the pros and cons of this year’s Summer Budget.
Summer has finally arrived in the UK and Brits all over the place are no doubt collectively yearning for a beach holiday. But for small business owners, that heady feeling of freedom is often replaced by worry at the prospect of leaving their business at such a critical time.
A cash flow forecast is a key management tool for businesses. This video will show you how you can use the Cash Summary report in Xero to quickly create a cash flow forecast in Excel for your business.
Opening additional retail stores is always an exciting endeavor. When implemented correctly, expanding to new locations enables you to tap into new communities, create more jobs, increase revenues, and more.
In other words, opening additional stores can catapult your business to higher levels of retail success. But in order to achieve that success, you need to plan your expansion thoroughly. Rapidly sprouting up new stores can do more harm than good if you don’t think things through.
Sales drive a small business forward, but too often they’re a sideline rather than a focus.
From owning and selling a small business to being CEO of a billion dollar company, I’ve seen sales from every angle. Here are my suggestions to grow sales by creating a small business where sales are a focus and customers keep coming through your door.
Having a big name retailer move in on your turf can be quite daunting. Retail giants not only carry the name recognition that draws huge crowds, but they also have resources and connections to drive down prices and offer tremendous deals.
No matter how innovative, sought after or profitable your small business may be, without cash in the bank, you’re going to face some serious struggles.
Typically defined as: ‘the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.’ (1)
Success means a lot of different things to different people. Success may mean wealth, or it may mean happiness. It may mean fame, and for others it may mean power. But can revenue be a true predictor of success?
What is it that makes us truly successful? Renowned psychologist, best-selling author and happiness guru Dr. Robert Holden believes our definition of success has changed over time.
While many of us were brought up to believe that success will make us happy, Robert says we’re now looking at success differently. “In fact, I think many of us today believe happiness actually increases our chances of success,” he says.
Running an agency is hard.
It’s the ultimate service-based business where time quite literally equals money. Waste a single second, and you're eating into your margins.
Or even worse, a project that you thought would take 4 weeks takes you 6 weeks. The delay in your deliverable means a delay in a paycheck from your client, and you risk becoming a cashflow negative business.
“We have this big myth in the technology industry that we like to impose on everybody — disruption is going to happen and it’s going to destroy you. But this pattern of change actually takes time.”
Getting your inventory management strategies working in harmony can be a daunting – but far from impossible – task. The key is recognizing what strategies best suit your business needs and having the tools to implement them effectively and efficiently. If you’re a small business looking to take the leap, or a start-up wanting to get the basics right, there are some critical strategies to consider.
Thinking like a freak means looking at common, everyday problems through an out-of-the-box lens. This process lets you question every step involved in your current systems and processes. It also means re-examining whatever conclusions you arrive at. How can you be sure you’re actually performing at the highest level if you’re not willing to deconstruct the way you’re currently working?
“Um… I dropped it really, really hard…” I said as I dropped a baggy full of pager pieces on the desk.
The stunned look on our technology specialist’s face was priceless. She poured the beeper’s remains onto her desk. Sifting through shards of plastic, bits of metal and a crushed battery, she smirked and asked, “Stressful day?”
As a founding member of the Fast Company magazine team, Polly LaBarre has seen her share of successes—and failures—in the business world. Now the cofounder and director of Management Lab, she helps businesses and entrepreneurs succeed. She starts by asking them a single question: Are you capable of changing as fast as the world is changing?
Secretly, my ultimate goal is an empty inbox. I create folders and subfolders and diligently file emails away as soon as possible, or delete anything I no longer need. The thought of my inbox growing massive in number kind of scares me - an irrational fear that if it grows beyond a certain amount, it’s too late to be saved, and I’d just have to give up and let it run wild. Some might call it OCD, I just like to call it ‘organised’.
If you’d asked anyone 10 years ago about how important technology was in running a successful café, they probably would have responded: not at all!
But today, we are increasingly seeing small businesses embrace technology to grow and be more relevant to their clients.
Raw data describes the facts and figures that a business processes every day. Over time, every business hoards a certain amount of data and it only becomes information to a business after it has been processed to add context, relevance and purpose.
Have you ever thought you were doing something good for yourself only to find out it was having the reverse effect? Like having a caffeine-hit only to end up in an even bigger slump, or dry-cleaning that expensive jacket and having it returned ruined. Unfortunately the same can be said for many Australians who keep their savings in a high-interest bank account.
The end of the first home saver accounts (FHSA) scheme means Australians who have put their money into the FHSA have lost a great vehicle to build up their savings.
We’re quickly approaching EOFY, the moment that businesses often dread. Time consuming, admin heavy tasks begin to really start to gather momentum, which often means reconciling the entire year’s payroll. However, it shouldn’t be a burden or a time of concern. Instead, it’s an opportunity to draw a line in the sand and begin a new financial year with a clean start to payroll and perhaps a focus on what you’re really in business for.
New Zealand’s Consumers Price Index for the March 2015 quarter fell 0.3% compared with last quarter, but the prices for fruit, rental housing, and newly built housing all went up. With the basic costs of living and housing all consistently rising, saving money for your retirement becomes less of a focus, and seemingly less achieveable.
As your business begins to grow, when the workload increases and the time commitment too, you may start to think you need some help. If getting the kids to stuff envelopes for pocket money come invoicing time just isn’t cutting it anymore, it might be time to think about formally hiring some staff.
Summer is one of the most active seasons for small businesses. Not only do businesses start hiring more people but, according to the Paychex IHS Small Business Index, there tends to be an upswing in the number of businesses started during the summer months. The trouble is some people see their summer business as a seasonal project, rather than as an actual company, so they don’t pay close enough attention to their new tax obligations. To help summer entrepreneurs stay out of trouble, here is a quick breakdown as to what taxes their business has to collect and pay.
In an ideal world, you’d charge one sales tax rate to all customers buying from your online store and that would be that. (Okay, so in a real utopia there would be no sales tax, but that’s really dreaming. Or Oregon.)
I've learned a number of valuable marketing lessons over the last few weeks and I thought I'd share three of these with you.
In more than 20 years of writing for and about a wide variety of companies, I’ve noticed something important. The businesses that flourish are the ones that truly understand their customers – who they are and what they want.
As a merchant or a person acquainted with ecommerce, you might have heard such terms as “cross selling” and “upselling”. But if you think these are some sort of sophisticated novelties – they are not. These techniques have been used by many generations of traditional retailers and are still considered to be the keys to profit generation.
Are you a retailer (or retail sales associate) who’s struggling with how to approach shoppers? Worried that you lack the magic touch, or that you’ll come off as an annoying salesperson? Would you rather be awkwardly staring at your store’s point of sale software screen than actually talking to the customer in front of you?
The beginning of a relationship is always the best. You laugh at each other’s jokes, you look forward to every phone call, and you truly enjoy getting to know one another.
This guest blog is by Tim Campbell, the first winner of BBC TV’s The Apprentice and co-founder of the Bright Ideas Trust, a charity that helps people start their own businesses.
What ‘simple things’ can you do to improve sales?
Regardless of what is going on in the economy there are always simple things many businesses can use to improve their sales and profits.
Sometimes making more sales is as simple as talking to more potential customers about what you sell.
You offer a valuable service, a skill set or a must-have product. Whatever your business, your customers obviously turn to you for a reason. And when it comes to sharing a little knowledge, your customers will be ready and waiting to read something from you, in your own voice.
Back in the day, retail pricing was relatively straightforward. Customers would walk into a store, browse products, look at their price tags, and if they like what they see, they would move on to checkout.
When deciding how to price your products, you need to understand how – and where – your business fits into the economy.
In the past, having honest scales were key to doing good business. Today, for many service-based businesses, our scales are our timesheets. Keeping our timesheets honest is not only good for our customers, but necessary to grow your business.
A popular topic these days is how to hire the perfect candidate for your business. Many industries seem to be suffering from a candidate shortage. When you can’t hire a quality candidate with a lot of experience, the focus quickly turns to hiring people straight out of school. So, how do you identify the diamonds in the rough? How can you give them what they need to grow and turn them into the best they can be?
Making your office a little greener is not just a great way to do your bit towards a healthier and more sustainable planet, it can also give your business a point of differentiation, while also helping your bottom line.
Job Management Software is a new market. Anyone using it is ahead of the game. Those that have adopted it name three key reasons for abandoning their old ways. ‘ Needless extra admin’, ‘Scheduling the workforce was painful’ and ‘We have had poor visibility of job progress’ are the top three.
A cloud inventory solution is one of the most important tools for an ecommerce business. Cloud inventory is the core of your operations, providing the infrastructure and technology needed to manage goods. There are many great cloud solutions which integrate with multiple marketplaces, shopping carts, and accounting platforms.
The government has high hopes for Australian small businesses and is banking on them to boost the country’s economic growth over the next few years.
One of the many things I love about working at Xero is how we can spot a gap in the market and work at #xerospeed to create a solution. It’s not only a buzz to see it happen, it’s also great for our customers – and rewarding for the people who work on the project, too.
The Government this month handed down the 2015 NZ Budget with a few surprises in store. This Budget continues to deliver on National Government’s pattern of fiscal responsibility. This is a positive thing for New Zealand business as it creates an environment of certainty and stability for businesses to invest.
It’s no question that data is a godsend for many retailers. Analytics can help you get to know your business better and can enable you spot trends, identify problems, and plan for the future. Data also empowers you to make more reliable decisions in just about every area of your business, including sales, inventory, staffing, and more.
The 2015 UK election results are in and the Conservatives are back in charge, this time governing alone. So what does the new government mean for UK small businesses?
Switching from QuickBooks to Xero just got even easier. Any US Xero user can now upload a QuickBooks Pro, Premier, Mac or Online data file and it will be automatically converted in three hours or less. A new Xero organization will be created with all of the transactional data for the current and previous year. All for free.
Congrats! You just finished setting up your online store. You’ve created winning product pages, put up some killer product photos, and you’re ready to start selling to the world.
We live in a social world. As much as some of us hate to admit it, social media plays a significant role in our everyday lives – from news updates to obscure selfies – the world is documented through social feeds.
Ever get that one product in that you just know will sell if people just get a chance to buy it quickly and easily?
You started your own business to do something you love and make money. But how much should you pay yourself? Too little and you may struggle to survive. Too much and your business might be at risk. So how do you strike the right balance?
Small businesses often start out using Excel – but that’s only doable up until a point. Like every teenager eventually becomes an adult, your business needs to evolve and grow. Find out why the smartest organisations are using online accounting software instead.
Accountants can help out at various stages during the growth of your business. They can handle much more than just your payroll and tax returns. So when should you consider hiring an accountant for your small business?
If you want your business to work smarter and faster, cloud accounting software is a wise investment. Working in the cloud will give you a better overview of your finances, and improve collaboration with your team.
When tax time comes around, is the hobby of selling the occasional item on eBay or Etsy still really considered a hobby, or have you found yourself in an accidental business?