Harvest Integration Update: Easy Time Tracking and Job Costing

Written by admin on . Posted in Business

Tracking time and costs associated with a job (or project), and seeing how that measures up against a job’s budget in real-time may be a struggle for your clients. Harvest helps make time tracking and job costing painless for your clients, while eliminating manual entry of invoices into Xero on your part.

Copy Harvest Invoices to Xero

Last year we awarded Harvest with Xero’s Partner of the Year award because of the integration they built that copies invoices into Xero. They’ve now made that integration even better by making some changes that require less work from you to get your details into Xero.

Automatically copy payments from Harvest to Xero

You won’t need to add payments manually to Xero anymore. When an invoice is marked as paid in Harvest, either manually or automatically via online payment (they support PayPal or Stripe), this payment record copies over to Xero.

Harvest and Xero integration


Invoice line items save to the right Revenue Accounts in Xero

Now, the integration handles placing invoice line items into the right Revenue Accounts. You’ll just need to assign Item Codes and/or Contacts to a Revenue Account in Xero. Then, when a Harvest invoice is copied to Xero, each line item is mapped to its respective Xero Revenue Account.Harvest and Xero integration

If your clients haven’t used Harvest before and you think it might be a good fit, give Harvest a try with the 30-day free trial! If you’re interested in the details of the Harvest for Xero integration, they have a handy reference guide.

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Top 5 apps to manage business growth in 2015

Written by admin on . Posted in Business, Software

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner looking to meet ambitious growth targets for 2015, why not check out some of the helpful and inexpensive apps in the cloud to help you manage work on the move?

A new poll by UK mobile provider EE of 1,000 small businesses shows more than two thirds (69%) believe they’ll enjoy double-digit growth next year, with an average projection of 26%. So to help meet this demand, we’ve chosen a selection of top business apps from our add-on marketplace that are ideally-suited to small firms with big ambitions.

Xero Touch ID

Make 2015 your year with these top 5 apps for 2015 business growth:

#1 – Receipt Bank helpfully converts receipts, invoices and other piles of paper into Xero data, making expenses and outstanding bills easier to manage and account for.

#2 – Harvest: For a year-round bumper financial crop, download this user-friendly tracking and reporting tool. Use it to create invoices based on tracked hours and capture profitability.

#3 – GoCardless: An ideal entry-level solution, GoCardless is a cheap and simple app for small firms that want to take direct debit payments online.

#4 – Float: This online cash management, budgeting and forecasting tool helps you keep on top of cashflow. Use it to understand financial trends and patterns, factor seasonality and identify potential issues in time to act.

#5 – Xero Touch mobile accounting app: Latest OnePoll findings show more than half (54%) of UK SMBs are concerned about their cashflow. Keep yours moving and manage your business on the move with Xero Touch. From back offices to building sites, use it to reconcile, send invoices and create expense claims.

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7 ways to get on top of your small business debt in 2015

Written by admin on . Posted in Business, Finance

Debt can be a useful tool to start and grow your business, but small business owners need to make sure their debt is working for, and not against them.

When a substantial amount of expenditure goes towards servicing debt rather than investing in the business, small businesses struggle to grow and can often get into trouble when expenses and debt begin to consistently outstrip revenue.

As a small business owner, getting on top of your debt is one of the best New Year’s resolutions you can make. More than a third of small business owners feel uncomfortable with their levels of debt, but taking a few steps to get things under control now can go a long way toward making your finances easier to manage in 2015.

Here’s where you can start:

  1. Get visibility over your debt: If you’re managing your finances through spreadsheets, you probably aren’t aware of all your debt obligations. And, if you’re not aware of your debt, you can’t make a plan to get on top of it. You need to have this information at your fingertips at all times. Using accounting software, like Xero, will help show what you really owe as well as working out your optimum level of debt for your business.
  2. Prioritise your debt: Not all debts are created equal. Prioritise your debt by asking yourself “what would happen if I didn’t make this payment?” The more unpleasant the outcome, the higher priority the debt. Payroll is usually the highest priority, because if your people aren’t getting paid, they have no incentive to work. And, if they’re not working, they aren’t generating revenue to help you pay off the rest of your debt. The same goes for your top suppliers and business partners, although not to the same extent.
  3. Renegotiate bank loan terms: You can renegotiate your bank loan depending on your situation. If you need more cash in the short term, you can ask for a higher interest rate in order to reduce your monthly payments – even though the overall repayment amount will be larger.
  4. Work out a payment plan with your creditors: If you are having trouble paying off your creditors, talk to them before they come asking for their money. If you put together a clear payment plan, they will be more receptive. After all, it’s in their interests for your business to succeed; if you go under, they get nothing.
  5. Ask your biggest suppliers for a discount: Don’t be shy. The people you buy from in bulk and/or have a long history with are great candidates for giving discounts. These discounts can add up, and the savings can go into paying your debts.
  6. Cut short term costs: Accounting software gives you visibility of your largest outgoing costs, so you can see which ones to cut. For example, you could reduce the amount of office space you lease. Be sure to think carefully about where you cut costs – sometimes it can be counter-productive. If you lose your biggest customer because you cut your ability to serve him or her for example, you’ll be worse off than you were in the first place.
  7. Look for opportunities for more revenue:  Easier said than done – but it’s not impossible. One way to get a short-term boost is to offer clients a prompt payment bonus. You’ll lose a bit of revenue, but you’ll have the cash you need to service your debt faster.

For more information, check out Xero’s Small Business Guides on debt – How to manage debt and 10 ways to stay out of debt.


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A winner’s guide to surviving the January tax season

Written by admin on . Posted in Business, Taxation

Guest post by Tony Stevenson, Partner Enablement Specialist at XeroTony Stevenson has some great tips for surviving the January tax season

Now the turkey and mince pie have subsided, for the old school tax professional it’s time to jump with both feet into the busiest time of the year.

We all knew it was coming and now the January tax season is upon us (don’t say it out loud!).

There’s been a shift in recent times: more people are doing their simple returns by themselves, and with the rise and rise of cloud technology, real time banking and the ‘doing it as you go along’ method, this has, for those in the know, eased the burden considerably.

Many practices are using Xero Ledgers’ functionality to quickly cash-code items, or if they need, to open a .ofx file sent by clients to quickly read the information.

Using Xero efficiently results in many firms reporting that January is no longer a big stress.  But for the rest of us who are still a little worried, here are some tips to help you and your team breeze through.

Plan, plan and plan again

It should go without saying, but you must plan ahead – not just for an increased workload, but a real plan. Plan to make the most of your team’s skill set. Plan for problem clients. Success for many has come from having the partner split clients into A, B and C, where they then prioritise assignments correctly.

Plan for how you will deal with overtime. Plan for the amount of hours you’ll actually need. It has to be more than simply: “It’s January, plan to be here ‘til midnight.”

Educate clients so you can avoid the same pain next year. Offer discounts in April/May for paperwork submitted to avoid the cost of paying overtime in January. Equally, charge a premium for any records submitted from October onwards.

Technology and the cloud

Make the most of technology – it’s here to make your life easier. Make the most of the cloud, and get everything running smoothly beforehand to reap the benefits of not having to wait for your information. Real time collaboration. Work done beforehand. Being on top.

Recognise their pain

In the maelstrom it can be easy to focus on what isn’t running quite to plan and to forget the mountain of good that your team is churning out. Treat them to a last supper. Ply them with sugary treats. Focus on solutions to problems which they almost certainly didn’t cause. Now is your time to be their leader and motivator.

You cannot overestimate the lasting goodwill this will generate.

Problem children

No matter how well you plan, there will always be clients who are late, incomplete, or both. Recognise these problem children early on. They are usually repeat offenders. Engage with them early, be utterly firm with them and do not let them throw a spanner into your finely tuned machine.

This is never an easy time; there is a whole heap to get done. But if you see this as an opportunity, you can get a lot more out the process. This is your chance to make the most of the cloud and the technology at your fingertips, the chance to dust off your processes and fine tune them for the year ahead.

And it’s the chance to be a hero. Reconnect closely with your team and appreciate the hard work they put in for you and your firm. If you can put all of this into practice, you will sail serenely into spring time with happy clients and a happy team.

Why not make contact with the Xero Enablement Team or your Account Manager for strategies and recommendations on how Xero can help you ease the stress and pain of January.

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Taking Stock Of What’s Important: Managing Inventory

Written by admin on . Posted in Business, Finance

Inventory matters. With your business, you are not only selling 3d4ebd3the brand but also the product or service as well. The consumer retail industry lives and dies during the holiday season so it is important to manage inventory. Optimal inventory should be just above “Goldilocks level”. Remember the fairy tale Goldilocks and The Three Bears where Goldilocks only what the middle bear’s stuff because it was “just right”? In fact, there’s a Goldilocks principle that says that the preferred state is between the margins-not too little or not too much.

When it comes to inventory for the holiday season, it is best have a little more than just enough. As it gets closer to Christmas, sales can increase significantly on the weekends when people are free to browse and shop.

Keeping inventory levels right is vital since it not only controls costs but also serves as a barometer of a business’ overall health. First, pay attention to your top sellers. Whether you are using Square, Shopkeep or some other Point-of-Sale (POS) system, there is a report that will show which inventory items are consistently selling well. Use this data as a guide to determine which items should be increased in your inventory.

Next, look at the bottom of the list to the inventory that is not selling. One thing that may be a quick fix is to change where it is displayed. If you are selling offline, move the inventory in the store next to items that are selling or that are complimentary. If you are selling online, you may not be able to change your website as easily, but you can feature items in your newsletter or social media.

Another reason that an inventory item could be under-performing is its price. The most obvious answer is that the price is too high. That can be true; however, sometimes it is because the price is too low. While working as sales representative for artisan jewelry designer, the owner actually increased the price of some pieces and sales actually increased. I think that customers perceived more value from the higher price. This is an important distinction. Value tends to more important than bargain for people especially when shopping for others.

The last reason that an item in your inventory is under-performing is that doesn’t fit with the brand of your business. For example, if your business is known for selling vegan leather accessories, then suede shoes should not part of your product line.

It is essential to establish good relationships with vendors. Despite all the technology and apps, small business retail is based on maintaining relationships with all vendors. That way, you can reach out to them to deliver product immediately if you sell out. Vendors can be lifesavers to your business when it comes to maintaining inventory level. Some vendors will even suggest other products to sell and may offer a discount. You have to communicate with them often and let them how sales are going. They may offer advice on what works best.

The accounting of sales inventory is pretty easy with Xero.com. When you add a new vendor invoice into Xero to pay it, you can associate each line of invoice to inventory item that you are selling. You can also enter unit price and product description as well. If your business needs a more robust inventory management software, check out TradeGecko which can be integrated with Xero as part of Xero’s Add-On Marketplace. Managing inventory is taking stock of what is going with you business. You can’t afford to ignore it.

by Nichelle Stephens

Nichelle is a blogger, cupcake enthusiast, editor, event producer, and social media strategist. She is the co-founder of Cupcakes Take The Cake, a popular blog about cupcakes. She is also the founder of Keeping Nickels, a personal finance and business accounting blog for freelancers and entrepreneurs. 

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Right Brain, Left Brain, Right Foot, Left Foot

Written by admin on . Posted in Business

When I was a kid, it bothered me when kids in 3d4ebd3school would mistakenly put on their shoes on the wrong feet. It seemed silly to me because the right shoe on the left foot or vice versa was so uncomfortable.

Like shoes and feet, the way people think is often slotted into two categories, right brained or left brained. If you are “right brained”, you are considered to be more creative and intuitive. Conversely, if you are “left brained”, then are more analytical and objective. It’s an over-simplification of how people think, but what often people pick a side of the brain and stick with it.

When I was in grade school, I exhibited right brain tendencies. I wrote poems and stories. I took modern dance and acting. However, I did well in science. Sans the catastrophe of calculus, I was always good at math. Back then, it was something I did well; but not something I really liked. One thing I have learned from adulthood is that you can be happy with doing something well even if it not your favorite thing to do. The feeling of a job well done can be intoxicating.

While in college deciding on a major, I was choosing between being a marketing major and an accounting. Plus, accounting seemed like a career that would mean steady employment.

Because of the internet, I tapped into my inner right brain creative in 2004. I started a blog about cupcakes. The next year, I quit my job as a risk management consultant and started accounting for entrepreneurs. Most of the entrepreneurs I initially worked women I met through Ladies Who Launch, an organization for creative women starting businesses. My first clients were jewelry designers, personal coaches, food truck owners, and writers. I helped them navigate the perils of invoicing, accounts receivable and bank reconciliations while also understanding and appreciating their creative spirit.

My early clients helped me to love accounting because I can see the immediate results of making deposits, paying vendors and entering invoices. Instead of focusing of income statements and balance sheets, I was empowering my clients by simply doing their books.

Because of their “right brain” leanings, many of my clients were afraid of bookkeeping because it was in another language that they were convinced they could never understand. Some creatives had anxiety about accounting and preferred to delegate it to someone else. However, accounting does not have to be a chore because it helps them to see how their business is doing quickly.

If you love to read but you’re not a fan of accounting, change your perspective. Think of the chart of accounts is like the table of contents of a book. The income and expenses are like the forks in the road of a choose your own adventure book. Your bank account is your protagonist and your other current assets are its friends. Conversely, the all the payable are potential threats. The taxes and the loans are especially menacing. Making the right decisions can yield a happy ending to the story. Then you do it all over next year. The goal is to be a prolific as George R.R. Martin without the blood and gore.

The right brain, left brain dichotomy is a construct. If you own your business, you need both. Two sides of the brain are better than one.

by Nichelle Stephens

Nichelle is a blogger, cupcake enthusiast, editor, event producer, and social media strategist. She is the co-founder of Cupcakes Take The Cake, a popular blog about cupcakes. She is also the founder of Keeping Nickels, a personal finance and business accounting blog for freelancers and entrepreneurs. 

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Cash Rules Everything Around Me: Managing Cash Flow For Your Business

Written by admin on . Posted in Business

In real estate, the adage is “location, location,3d4ebd3 location”. For small business, the adage should be “cash, cash, cash”. Whether it is a service or product-based business, cash is necessary and positive cash flow is the goal.

There are some many business apps and software dedicated to the “front end” of the sales cycle. The sales cycle is the time between the initial contact being make with a client or customer, the identification of services or goods to be procured, the acceptance of purchase, and the transaction that completes the sale. There is lead generation, marketing and CRM software but the critical part of running a business often gets ignored. The back end is the bookkeeping. It’s not sexy but necessary.

After the sale is made, then the cash cycle begins. You either end up with cash, credit card transaction or an accounts receivable. Think of it as a race and the finish line is your business’ bank account. Cash is the fastest. Cash is a sprinter. For retail businesses during the busy holiday season, it is important to make cash deposits daily. This cash can be immediately turned around to pay for expenses and employees. Depending on the price point of your products, you may have lots of cash transactions, but for a smaller amount per sale.

Credit card sales are not as fast, but can be powerful. Credit card sales are like Olympic hurdlers. They take a bit longer, but they are substantial. A few years ago, I worked as a sales representative for a jewelry designer at a holiday market in New York. While working there, I noticed that the average credit card sale was always higher than the average cash sale. The downside is that are merchant fees and the fact that it takes up to three days for the proceeds from credit card sale will be deposited into your business account.

Accounts Receivable is definitely the slowest of the three, but it may be the most consistent. Accounts receivable are the long distance runners. Professional service-oriented businesses are more focused on accounts receivable because their sales are usually recurring. For example, if you are bakery that has set up a business account with an office to provide baked goods every week for a set price, then you just have set a recurring invoice and you should receive payment monthly.

No matter how fast or slow the money hits the bank, you have to have a good way to record it. Xero.com is a back end software of the sales cycle. It’s where you can manage you cash flow easily and reach the finish line.

by Nichelle Stephens

Nichelle is a blogger, cupcake enthusiast, editor, event producer, and social media strategist. She is the co-founder of Cupcakes Take The Cake, a popular blog about cupcakes. She is also the founder of Keeping Nickels, a personal finance and business accounting blog for freelancers and entrepreneurs. 

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[Resolved] Intermittent access issues

Written by admin on . Posted in Business

22 December 10:48am GMT

Xero is currently experiencing intermittent site access issues affecting a small number of users.  The issue affects some users attempting to access xero.com sites due to a DNS timeout (DNS is the service that translates the name you type into the browser into the number of the system you are accessing) due to a problem at our hosting provider.

We are working as fast as possible to resolve the issue for affected users however we can’t provide you with an estimate at this stage as to when that will be. We will provide updates via this blog post & twitter as and when we know.

22 December 11:35am GMT

The issues are now resolved.  We will continue to work with our provider on the root cause and monitor the service closely.  If you experience any further issues please email support@xero.com

22 December 2:30pm GMT

This has started reoccurring for a small number of users. We are currently working with urgency to resolve.

22 December 4:12pm GMT

We continue to have intermittent issues and are working with our current provider in parallel with migrating DNS to our backup provider.  We do not have an ETA at this point however we are working as quickly as we can safely make changes.  We apologize for the inconvenience this is causing.

22 December 5:21pm GMT

Issues continue however they are specific to the ISP you are using due to the way they cache DNS records.  A number of customers are having success by using their mobile device or mobile internet connection.  We are continuing to work with our providers to make sure we have resolution.

22 December 6:00pm GMT

We can confirm that the cause of this issue is a DDoS attack against the Rackspace DNS systems that tells your browser how to find Xero.  The issues you may be experiencing are a downstream effect of this attack on Rackspace and at no point has Xero been directly attacked.  We are working with Rackspace on resolution and in parallel we are migrating our DNS system away from Rackspace to another provider.  We are in the final stages of the move to the alternate provider however there are a number of security hurdles in place to protect our DNS from malicious hijacking which takes a little while to be disabled.  We do not have an ETA at this point however we are doing everything possible to resolve the issue.

22 December 6:55pm GMT

Rackspace are reporting to us that the issue is resolved.  We are still working to verify that all of our customers are able to access our sites.

22 December 7:25pm

Customers have confirmed that their access has been restored.  We will continue to work on this and monitor the situation however at this point the issue is resolved.


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Happy holidays from Xero Australia!

Written by admin on . Posted in Business, XERO

As 2014 draws to a close and we get ready to take a well-deserved break, it’s a good time to reflect on what we’ve achieved in the past year. In Australia alone during 2014, Xero:

  • Grew to 158,000 Australian customers at 30 September, at 100 per cent year-on-year growth
  • Surpassed billion in Australian payroll processed through Xero every month
  • Reached 176 staff in Australia and opened new offices in Canberra, Brisbane and Perth
  • Grew Xerocon to become the largest accounting event in Southern Hemisphere, with more than 1,300 registered attendees
  • Ran largest partner roadshow in Australia, with more than 5,500 registered attendees
  • Appointed a Head of Accounting and Head of Bookkeeping to represent the expanding number of accountants & bookkeepers working with Xero, now more than 6,500 in Australia
  • Was named #1 as Australia’s Most Innovative Company by BRW

The tremendous growth Xero has seen in Australia over the past 12 months comes thanks to the growing enthusiasm from Australian small businesses and their advisors in adopting cloud accounting, replacing both spreadsheets and clunky desktop software.

As an accountant, bookkeeper, financial advisor – or one of our 160,000 small business customers – you’ve all played a part in helping us reach so many milestones. So, a massive thanks for your support throughout the past year and beyond.

We’ve seen astounding growth at Xero over the past 12 months and we can’t wait to see what the next year has in store.

All the best for the festive season from all of us at Xero Australia. And a massive thanks for your contribution throughout the past year and beyond.

Enjoy the break – and happy holidays!



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Bank of Queensland completes a year of new feeds

Written by admin on . Posted in Business, XERO

Bank of Queensland logoWe’re pleased to announce that direct feeds from Bank of Queensland are now available for our business customers. Direct feeds are supplied from the financial institution through to Xero on a daily basis.

Bank of Queensland is one of the largest independently owned Australian banks that is not owned by one of ‘the big four’ and it is one of the oldest banks in Queensland. We’re delighted to have worked with them to offer feeds directly into Xero. Bank of Queensland Specialist Bank feeds have been supported since earlier in the year but we’re delighted that feeds are now available for the entire bank, for all current, savings, loans and term deposit accounts.

To sign up for Bank of Queensland feeds, or to move your existing Yodlee feeds over to direct feeds, please visit our help centre for instructions.

Bank of Queensland is the last new direct feed of the year, after a busy twelve months of adding new banking data suppliers. We’ve been adding support for new banks at a rate of more than one a month and there’s no reason to expect this to slow down in 2015. In fact we aim to speed things up – we already have a backlog of new feeds to introduce in the first part of 2015!

This year we’ve added new feeds for:


  • Bank of Queensland
  • B&E
  • Coastline Credit Union
  • Community Mutual Group
  • Goulburn Murray Credit Union
  • IMB Building Society
  • First Option Credit Union
  • Maitland Mutual Building Society
  • Rural Finance (Australia)
  • WAW Credit Union

New Zealand

  • CRT-Farmlands
  • Fonterra/RD1 (Farmsource)
  • PGG Wrightson

United Kingdom

  • Natwest
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Silicon Valley Bank

United States

  • Silicon Valley Bank

To see the full list of banks who supply data to Xero directly, please visit our help centre. We also have detailed information on the different types of feeds we have available.

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