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Summer a time for small businesses to reflect and plan for the year ahead

Written by admin on . Posted in Business

A summer break is an ideal time for small business planning. Owners can take stock of the year that has been and identify improvements to make for the upcoming year.

I have put together some top tips for Kiwi small business owners to think about over a barbecue or at the beach.

Take on board any learnings from 2014 and make 2015 your year with these top 10 tips.

      1. Set goals and objectives: Summer is a great time for small business planningSMART (or Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-related) goals are an effective tool for small business owners. Maybe you want to achieve a 50% increase in sales? Maybe you’d like to gain five new customers? Or maybe you’d like to give yourself a day off each week? SMART goals make it easier and clearer for your business to reach its potential. Set some goals with interim milestones, write them down and stick to them!
      2. Expand your social media presence: Social media is a great tool for engaging with current and potential customers and gaining valuable insights. It’s important to find the right social media platform to reach your target audience. Spend some time scanning through potential new “Followers” to grow (or simply start) your Twitter base and map out a content plan for the year ahead so you’re posting regularly and engaging your audience.
      3. Update your website and enable SEO: Having a website is fundamental in today’s tech savvy world and it’s important to make sure it’s fit for purpose. Is it mobile friendly or mobile optimised? SEO (or search engine optimisation) is the process of making your website visible in search engine results. One way to optimise your website is to identify keywords that could direct people to your site, then make sure these terms are throughout your site. Regularly updating your website with new, relevant content is important as this also effects your search engine ranking.
      4. Budget: Work with your accountant or business advisor to establish a budget and financial forecast for the new year. This will help you to plan for tax payments as well as cash flow management. With some planning you’ll be able to set targets with the aim to build your business for the future. Finally, don’t forget to dream about where you want your business to be financially in the next 3-5 years.
      5. Consider a business mentor: A business mentor can really help bring a new perspective and fresh ideas to your business. Whether it’s a person you already know and trust, or whether you use a business network, having a mentor is invaluable to the long term success of your business.
      6. Consider doing some market research: Market research can really help you learn about the market demand for your products or services. It is extremely valuable when moving into new markets, or launching a new product or service. There are many useful resources available online for free including Google Trends, LinkedIn and Twitter. Use these to make more informed marketing and business decisions.
      7. Embrace ‘the cloud’: ‘The cloud’ is a platform to make data and software accessible online anytime, anywhere, from any device. It’s scalable, cost-effective and easy to use. For small business owners this allows the ability to work remotely and not be confined to one device. There is a large range of online software available – from Xero’s accounting software to project management (WorkFlowMax) and point of sale (Vend) – to meet small business needs. And don’t forget to have a good look at cloud storage platforms as well.
      8. Get online invoicing: Online invoices can provide your business with a faster and easier method to send out invoices and track them. Online invoices tend to get paid faster so this will assist with cash flow management. It also greatly reduces the amount of paperwork and administration time required.
      9. Network: If you’ve played with the thought of increasing your business network, you can either hold your own event or seek out relevant events to attend. Take the time to see what’s on offer in your area so you can share ideas and business tips with like minded people.  Plan your events for the year and lock them in your calendar while it’s free!
      10. Improve your customer relationships: CRM (or customer relationship management) applications, like Xero’s Smart Lists, can help small businesses retain existing customers, find new ones and get a better insight into sales. With CRM software you can store client contacts, handle customer interactions, schedule client contact and track campaigns. CRM applications are even more valuable when integrated with other cloud based systems like email software and accounting software.

Check out our Small Business Guides for more great tips for small business.

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Source: Xero Blog

The Australian Tax Roadmap: Partnership tax return

Written by admin on . Posted in Taxation

This will be the last tax release for the year and we’re really pleased to tick off another item from Australian Tax Roadmap.  This release means we’ve delivered 4 key forms this year; Individual, Company, Trust and now Partnership returns.

Partnership Tax Return

Partnership tax returns 2014 can now be completed and filed from tax in Xero Practice Manager.

As with the individual and trust tax returns that are available now, sharing is taken care of for you when you’ve setup the partner relationships in the client, helping you to save time and eliminate re-keying shared data.

Find out more in our Practice Studio Help Centre

How can you get Australian Tax?

As with other tax releases, you’ll need Xero Practice Manager to take advantage of these new features. Practice Manager and tax comes with Practice Studio which is available for a monthly fee, or if you’re a Xero Silver Partner (or above), for free.

What’s next?

There’s plenty to look forward to next year and the team are working on some customer reporting field updates, summary printing options for the individual tax return, as well as interposed entity election and family trust election for the company, partnership and trust returns. Stay tuned for information on releases as we continue to ship all the forms and features needed for you to assess our tax product and transition across for tax time 2015.

 

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Source: Xero Blog

400,000

Written by admin on . Posted in XERO

Over the last few days we passed 400,000 paying customers around the world. We thought it would be useful to give a 2014 wrap up and share some of the internal numbers we’re seeing as the power of the small business cloud platform is coming clear.

Paying customers gif

 

Key numbers from 2014:

  • Millions of small businesses now connect in the cloud on Xero – we touched around 10 million businesses
  • Processed over NZ0 billion in transactions
  • Over 400 customer facing updates
  • Emerges as crucial growth platform for small businesses

400,000 is a key milestone as we head into key selling seasons in the UK, New Zealand and the US. In 2014 we processed NZ0 billion of transactions and 95 million invoices, connecting millions of businesses, advisors, suppliers and customers worldwide.

The support from both our customers and partners is both humbling and exciting. Together we’ve established Xero as one of the leading platforms on which they connect, collaborate and conduct their business. Through a constant innovation cycle we are fulfilling our potential as a small business growth engine, bringing together crucial capabilities in accounting, payroll and payments with insights and the business specific applications small businesses need from our hundreds of partners worldwide.

We’re now utilising more than half a petabyte of data collected to report business performance at scale and deliver insights to help improve the growth of small businesses, providing a real time data set to discover the real power of the small business economy and trends such as growing self and part-time employment.

We are thrilled to be playing a role in igniting the small business economy. Our customers are adding employees and growing revenue and margins by having clear visibility of their numbers and easy access to advisors. At the same time, the vibrant ecosystem around Xero – including the growing advisor channel – is creating jobs worldwide.

We’re continuously improving with over 400 customer facing releases deployed during 2014. Most of these releases are silent, unnoticed by customers,  but span small business tasks ranging from payroll through beautiful business reporting. In the next week, we’ll unveil a new business dashboard to help small businesses have better visibility of their cash flow as Xero begins its delivery of ‘Big Data for Small Business’ in early 2015. We’ve now grown the team to over 1,000 in 2014, building capability for further innovation in 2015.  Onboarding so many staff has been an incredibly time consuming activity but it positions us very strongly for the coming years.

Our momentum is not only a clear vote for platforms born and bred in the cloud, but also for those optimised for mobile devices. In the past 12 months, over 145,000 small businesses have downloaded Xero Touch enabling them to pay, invoice and manage cash flow any place, any time.

Today, we are New Zealand and Australia’s most loved accounting platform and achieving a similar position in the UK. We had some staff speed wobbles in the US but we now have the key operating team in place and seeing a positive difference. The small business cloud market is still in its infancy: of the addressable market of hundreds of millions of small businesses, only a small percentage currently use cloud financial software.

Throughout 2014, we’ve invested significantly in our platform which is becoming critical infrastructure in its core markets. We now manage 500 servers across redundant data centres managing approximately 500TB of production data while maintaining best-in-class uptime of 99.99 percent. We have our sights set on not just leading in building our Cloud infrastructure, but also putting the innovations and investments from the global cloud providers like Microsoft, Google and Amazon to work for small businesses.

Thank you all for your support in 2014. Our team are fired up and excited about what’s to come. 2015 is going to rock.

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Source: Xero Blog

Public holidays, US reports and more Payroll in Xero updates

Written by admin on . Posted in XERO

We’ve released updates to Payroll in Xero today following on from previous monthly updates in November and October.

Public holidays

Managing leave requests where the dates include public holidays is a real chore. Today we’ve added Holidays to make it easier for you to more accurately calculate your employee’s leave requests.

You can add any number of custom Holidays and Groups for your business and assign them to employees as required. The first step is to ensure that you have the right groups and holidays configured. You then assign the employee a Holiday Group on their Employment screen. An employee can be assigned to one Holiday Group.

We’ve created Holidays and Groups automatically for you based on your country with dates entered for 2015. We’ll keep public holidays up to date each year for you so automatically.

Holiday leave requests in Payroll

This is just the first step for Holidays and it currently works with leave requests. When the request dates includes a holiday for the employee, the number of hours requested is automatically reduced by the number of holidays falling within the date range. For example, a request for 26–30 January 2015 will automatically calculate the 26th as public holiday in Australia, for Australia Day, and reduce the required number of hours requested.

To use Holidays for new requests in the remaining few weeks of 2014 you simply need to manually add the holidays you need and assign the employees to the correct group. Any new request will use this information and previously completed requests will not be affected.

We have plans to roll this out to more areas in the coming releases including timesheet visual indicators, automatically including a days pay within the pay run and a visual calendar for everyone to see when key payroll dates and who’s away from the office.

Why not use My Payroll (employee self-service portal) to let employees apply for leave online? It makes life easier for them and for you. You’ll be able to approve requests online and have electronic records at your fingertips. It also allows your employees access to information, such as how much time off/leave they have due, without asking the HR department. Employees and managers can plan December holidays better, knowing at all times exactly how much time off/leave is available.

Check out the help information on getting holidays setup correctly, click here if you’re in Australia and here if you’re in the US.

Payroll settings

Pay Items

As we continue to build UK and New Zealand Payroll in Xero we get the opportunity to give key pages a refresh. In this release you’ll notice that Pay Items have moved to a left-hand navigation.

Payroll Earnings

As a result we’ve added a Display Name field for Earnings. We understand that sometimes an earning name can be confusing for employees, especially due to penalty rates flowing in from timesheet add-on partners. This optional field allows you to control what name is displayed to the employee on their pay information, on timesheet entry and in the employee portal.

For our US customers we’ve also added support for additional Benefit categories including:

  • Group Term Life (GTL)
  • Personal Use of a Company Car (PUCC)
  • S-Corp Health Insurance (S-Corp)

Payroll frequency

When setting up payroll frequency in Calendars (Australia) or Schedules (US) we’ve made it clearer to understand how this works to ensure you get setup and ready to go correctly.

Payroll Frequency

You’ll now see the next three payment dates depending on the Start Date and First Payment dates you select. The Name will be auto-populated based on the type you select, but it’s editable.

US payroll reports, annual forms and electronic filing

As the financial year comes to an end in the US we’ve released key updates to US Payroll in Xero including state annual forms and payroll reports.

Under Taxes & Filings we’ve added support for the following forms: New Jersey NJ W-3, Utah TC-941R and Virginia VA-6.

You’ll also notice five new reports under Payroll Reports that are specific to US Payroll. These include:

  • Opening Balance Summary
  • Opening Balance Details
  • Total Cost Summary
  • Total Cost Detail
  • Taxable Wage Summary

Coming in January will be the first release of State electronic payroll filing and payments with the focus on our current seven states. This will allow you to file and pay your state payroll taxes with a click of a button. More on this coming really soon! We will then begin rolling out calculation and filings for new states.

For full details of this release see the 9 December release notes.

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Source: Xero Blog