A few months back, Xero released the Make or Break report, which identified key traits of successful business owners. Surveying 2,000 small business owners across the US and the UK, we gathered data on the perfect ingredients a small business owner needs in his/her pantry to survive the hardships that come along with owning a business. As we are kicking off a new quarter, here are some of the tips on how Xero can help formulating the right recipe –
Mark Constantino Jr is on a mission – to convince small business operators and managers that there is nothing scary about cloud-based computing. “The cloud is just the internet,” says the US-based information technology expert and co-CEO of tech-help solutions company MyCloudCure. “It’s just the way that everything is interconnected from country to country, from continent to continent.”
As we’ve mentioned, wearable tech for our everyday lives hasn’t exactly taken off. There are multiple reasons for this, mostly around cost, wearability and it’s lack of desirable functionality. However, those factors aren’t the same in the business world. They have vastly different budgets and needs, and let’s face it, when have work uniforms ever been fashionable? The wearable tech revolution isn’t going to be pioneered by hipsters living in Silicon Valley, it’s going to be ushered in by industries that can most benefit from the current technology.
Do you remember the last time you focused so deeply, so completely on something that it consumed you entirely? In the middle of writing this blog post I’ve already checked my mail (twice), flicked through a couple of articles on Medium, Forbes and Fast Company (my favourite research and inspiration hunting/stomping grounds) drafted an email to a customer and trawled through 76 responses from a user survey. I’m SUPPOSED to be writing an 1000+ word blog post, but more often than not I find my attention drifting to the million other things I need to get done during the day.
We haven’t written a “Work Life” post in a while and I’m a firm believer that it’s a critical part of a productive work environment. So taking a break from all our “Work Smarter” posts, I hereby offer something on the lighter side. And hey, as April gains momentum in, it’s also a GREAT time to make some positive changes to start FY17 fresh!
In the early days of my field service career, I took over a territory from a tech who was… let’s just say, less than the ideal service rep.
My very first service call in his territory told me what I was in for. I called the customer to give an ETA and her response was, “Two hours? Yeah, right. I’ll see you tomorrow, if I’m lucky.”
I was shocked, so I had to ask, “Excuse me, but why do you say that?”
“I’ll just finish that email, oh look my friend is messaging me, oh and there’s someone knocking on the door of my office, and that report is due, and my phone is buzzing …”
Does this sound like you? Are you trying to do a million things at once and failing at them all?
A robust rostering system is essential in any hospitality or retail business. Ensuring you have the right number of staff rostered on will keep your customers happy, and your wage cost looking great.
When Fortune tabs you as the #5 Best Workplace in Retail for 2015, you’re on to something good.
This week Xero Gravity host Elizabeth Ü chats with Anthony Bucci, Founder & CEO of online motorcycle retailer RevZilla. Anthony’s passion for hiring the right person is undeniable. He shares his learnings from those first handful of hires made at RevZilla and offers invaluable insight into how to grow your best team.
We’ve all worked with them at some point – the employees or coworkers who are chronically late for work but who are the first ones to head home at the end of the day.
When they’re on the job, they do the minimum that they can get by with without getting fired. Many label them as ‘lazy’ or ‘slackers’ and quickly write them off as a potential layoff candidate.
It’s that time of the year again – the time when you’re looking over your books and seeing what worked and didn’t work. You’re thinking about goals for the year ahead and wondering how you can improve profit in your company. And one simple solution is staring you in the face: you can raise prices.
Hands up if you recognise the process of; receiving an invoice, getting it to your bookkeeper, making sure it’s entered into your accounts, filing the invoice and then storing it for several years…
The profitability of any job undertaken by a field services business can vary significantly from expectations at the time the estimate for that job was created. Removing this variability and delivering consistent profits should be the goal of every business owner.
Five customers from 100 leads is huge. But what about the other 95 that started out interested? The answers lay in digital marketing.
This week, Xero Gravity host Elizabeth Ü chats to Michael Mothner, Founder & CEO of online marketing firm WPromote. He’ll bust digital marketing myths and provide solutions that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. We’ll also explore questions like, “We created a website, what now?” and “I get business from world of mouth, why do I need digital too?”
There is one quality that every trades or services business needs to survive – trustworthiness. Without it, a company and all who sail in her are destined for a watery grave.
Understanding your target audience is vital for developing a marketing strategy that works. Without a particular ideal customer in mind, your efforts amount to little more than wishful thinking. There are very few niches where a business will be unopposed, and if you aren’t making efforts to refine your marketing focus to build better leads, you can be sure that your competition is. Having a great product is only part of the equation. Getting it in front of the right faces is as, if not more, important.
Over the last few years we’ve been able to get a pretty good handle on your biggest pain points as a business.
One of the easiest ways to drive sales for your business is to have repeat and referral customers. But if you want a customer to keep coming back, or to refer you to their friends, you have to keep them engaged. This doesn’t mean hammering them with emails or making sure they’re following all your social media accounts. It means interacting with them in a meaningful way, a way that makes an impact.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming an increasingly popular concept in the retail world. More and more merchants are realizing that giving back doesn’t just make the world a better place, it’s also good for business.
Payroll year end can be stressful when you’re balancing deadlines with normal business tasks and activities.
Founder and CEO of the Bright Ideas Trust, Tim Campbell, came to visit our new London office yesterday. We cornered him and our Managing Director, Gary Turner, to discuss why this could be one of the most significant Budgets for small businesses that we’ve seen.
Keep tabs on your business relationships without fuss. Connect and collaborate seamlessly with your contacts. That’s what you get from the tighter integration of Xero and Google Apps for Work announced today.
SEO. Many business owners make the mistake of thinking it’s a one-time thing. It turns out that investing in search engine optimization and content marketing is actually one of the most important facets of running your business. Long story short, if your business has a web presence, you need to know SEO.
This week on Xero Gravity, Rand Fishkin, SEO wizard and founder of Moz, talks about the importance of optimizing your website and how it’s changing with social and mobile.
Keep up to date with the latest in the tech sector.
Inventory management has been around for as long as there have been businesses that stock and sell products. Even in the bygone era of having main street village shops and trades, some kind of inventory management was used, even if it was only a brief daily stock take followed by simple restocking, manufacture and acquisitions.
Determining the cost of a job accurately and efficiently can be challenging, overwhelming and fraught with risk. When you price a job right and win it, it can deliver instant improvements to your bottom line — but getting it wrong can be a very expensive mistake.
When my brother-in-law started his landscaping business in 2007, he didn’t expect his part-time operation to escalate to 50 hours of work per week within two months. And it was a big commitment for him to employ his first staff member six months in, but was necessary for him to meet demand. As soon as he was aware of the demand for the service he was offering, he prepared himself for growth and this planning quickly paid dividends.
Project Workflows should just…flow, right? Even Google Images represents ‘workflow’ as a series of harmonious shapes neatly connected with arrows... But in the real world things RARELY go according to plan. Remember that client who defaulted on payment, the tensions that arose within project teams and of course that one time the budget got blown out…?
Striking out on your own and starting a business is one of the hardest things you can do in your professional life, but the work isn’t over the second you open your shop. Once the business is up and running you constantly have to improve and optimize to stay ahead of the curve and, most importantly, to become — and stay — profitable.
We love curating list posts, especially list posts that feature apps and tools to help you work smarter. We recently published a post on handy browser extensions to improve productivity and get more done. This is one landscape that’s always changing however and we’re always looking to provide the most up-to-date and helpful information to help you achieve more. A conversation with a colleague sparked this particular post, and I hope you find it helpful – I certainly have.
The issue of bullying at school is well-known and reasonably well understood. But workplace bullying is just as big a problem. In the US, for example, 27% of employees have experienced bullying, and managers are the main cause.
Wherever you find people who are driven, ambitious and strong-willed, there’s potential for bullying. Unfortunately, there’s a good chance that some of the people reading this are workplace bullies.
When it comes to building rosters you want to be as accurate as possible when forecasting future staffing requirements. Time again, we’ve seen rosters being created based on instinct and manager experience.
As a small business owner, it’s quite likely you play both the role of salesperson and debt chaser. On one hand you want to keep the relationship positive so you can continue selling to that customer, but on the other hand you need your bills paid for your business to survive. Maintaining customer loyalty and satisfaction while keeping a credit control policy that’s abided by can (at times) put you in an awkward position.
Cash is often referred to as the lifeblood of an organisation, a key factor that determines business success or failure. In many cases, cash is vital for daily survival; a small business that doesn’t have enough cash on hand to pay suppliers might not be able to open the next day.
Social media. It’s big, it’s fast, and it’s growing. What can you do to make sure you’re using the right social channels to connect with your customers and market your brand?
In this episode of Xero Gravity, hosts Elizabeth Ü and Gene Marks are joined by Mychelle Mollot, CMO at Klipfolio, and Raheela Nanji, Director at Ree Consulting Inc., to discuss all the nitty gritty details of social media in business.
When business is booming and everything’s going well, it seems fair to cut back on your marketing efforts. More business means less spare time, so investing effort in marketing becomes difficult, and easy to neglect.
Customer retention is vital for the growth and sustainability of any eCommerce business. The cost of acquiring new customers means building loyalty within your current customer base should take precedence.
With smartphones at our fingertips, customers are searching online more than anywhere else to research a product. As a small business owner, it’s critical that you have a website ready for customers who are looking you up. Understanding why it is important and figuring out where to start can be intimidating. Here’s what you need to know.
Xero Managing Director, Gary Turner talking about the importance of better support for small businesses at Xero’s annual conference in London last week.
By harnessing the power of the cloud and combining it with an increasingly mobile workforce, the cost of starting a business has never been lower. However, despite barriers to launching and running a business falling, productivity rates aren’t climbing.
Mobile devices give us convenience and efficiency. Like taking a quick photo of a receipt and submitting an expense claim while on a business trip.
But there are still times when you need the convenience of a larger screen. Sometimes you need to look at multiple things at once. Closing Xero to open a browser, your banking app, Dropbox, then jumping back into Xero does the job, but it’s not efficient.
Why small businesses should switch to inventory management software. How much is spreadsheet-based inventory management costing your business? Chances are more than you think.
Apple’s recent release of the iPad Pro has brought up the question again, can you replace your laptop with a tablet? For some early adopters, the answer is yes.
Xero CEO, Rod Drury, is among those early adopters. He recently made the switch and decided to stick with it. His motivations for doing so:
Procrastinators act as though they have all the time in the world. The truth is, the tasks we put off become the roadblocks that prevent us from moving forward. Breaking this behaviour is as simple as following a few practical tips that will put your time back under your control.
A strong service culture within your business leads to improvements in customer experience and can give your business a competitive advantage in your industry.
Because customers now have more choice than ever — making it even easier to switch suppliers or service providers — field service businesses must work harder and smarter to build relationships with customers and sustain long-term loyalty. Building a service culture within a company is an extremely valuable way to do this, as it leads to opportunities for higher growth and revenue and helps create strong relationships with your customers.
Change. It is the one crucial element an organization needs to be able to execute if it wants to remain relevant and profitable in an increasingly dynamic and challenging global economy. It is also the one vital element that generates the greatest amount of resistance, and throws up the largest number of obstacles to success, than any other business necessity.
Reading a book, finishing a project. Baking a cake. Playing with your kids, throwing a stick with your dog, discussing eastern philosophy with your cat, raising money for charity, writing that novel, painting the house, building your own boat, learning a language, Netflix & chill, making your own jam, mowing the lawn, playing Tetris on your cellphone, discovering an ancient Mayan treasure ...
With many products and services you can increase sales and attract large numbers of new clients by using personalisation.
Personalisation just means you modify what you are selling so that it has more value to a particular type of customer.
Mobile-friendly simply means that your website is compatible with a range of devices that aren’t desktop or laptop computers. This includes smartphones and tablets, which in themselves cover a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions. These smaller devices, especially smartphones, need a website to be attractive and brand-relevant while being functional and easy to use with one hand, a thumb, or several fingers. Multi-touch technology means that users often have a range of ways they interact with the screen, and your site must make it simple to navigate and interact to cover all bases.
We all know by now that it’s essential for a business to have an internet presence; a company website is the mainstay for anyone doing business in the 21st century.
But what about a company Facebook page, Twitter account or LinkedIn profile? Are you losing out on potential customers by ignoring these social networking heavies? Do you panic when you think about how your lack of social media savvy has caused you to miss out on reaching your sales goals?
One of the most frustrating things in life is when you get all fired up and decide to make some big improvements in your results.
So you set goals to get in great physical shape, improve your business results, spend a lot more time with your family etc.
Writing a fantastic blog is just the first part in the process of channeling more traffic to your site. To be of any value, it needs to be read and shared by your audience and beyond. Below are five of the most common and effective ways to give your content exposure.
What do Elizabeth Holmes, Sara Blakely, Linda Avey and Arianna Huffington have in common? They are all female entrepreneurs who have successfully built billion dollar businesses. But what does differ dramatically is their age.
If you are a business owner, moving your accounting software from “on-premise” to “the cloud” can bring huge benefits. Not only could you save bucket loads of time, but cloud accounting software is cheaper, more secure and accessible anywhere.
It could be one of the most asked questions by trade contractors: should I be focusing on my cash flow or my profits? It can be a difficult question to answer, as cash flow and profit both play critical roles.
Every business wants to make each year better than the last, and at Vend, we’re all for helping retailers do exactly that. So for this post, we’ve put together some action steps that you can implement to help make 2016 your best year yet.
Whether last year’s performance could use a lot of improvement, or you did extremely well and want to break your own record, the pointers below will help you kick off the year strong:
If you’re a busy business owner with lots on your plate, it can sometimes be overwhelming knowing where to begin. But if you try and do it all, things will undoubtedly get neglected, or you’ll find yourself dreading those painful hours when you have to trawl through hundreds of unread mails.
Here’s ten ways to make sure that you start 2016 with purpose, vision and the courage to super-charge your firm!
Does your business have a story? The kind of story that demonstrates your business is committed to upholding its values? This may be key in retaining staff and making them happy.
Surveys are great. They often provide you the down and dirty data needed to develop or validate a hypothesis.
Market research is another fantastic tool. It provides the broad net needed to understand the intricacies of who your target customer is, and what their pain points and needs are.
Businesses that boost the technical skills of their employees lift their productivity and profits, as well as improve worker satisfaction. Despite knowing this, most firms still suffer from skill gaps.
A recent survey in the UK found that while most companies accepted the business benefits that would flow from improving their staff’s digital skills, only 14 percent felt their staff training was adequate.
Effective and supportive management is a key ingredient in making sure your employees love their jobs. And one of the most important aspects of being a good manager is giving clear feedback to your team members. This is something you should be doing consistently throughout the year. But yearly performance reviews are the perfect opportunity to reflect holistically on what went well and what could use some work. Here are some tips for how to conduct constructive and effective yearly performance reviews.
Christmas is a great opportunity to relax and recharge, but if you’re like us, you might find it hard to just drop everything and take it easy.
Instead, you are just as likely to spend the first half of your long-anticipated break worrying about an unfinished project, checking your emails, and stuck with your brain in the office while your body is on leave.
The latest you need to know.
In today’s competitive marketplace, there is little room for error for owners and operators in the field services industry. Businesses are under more pressure than ever to deliver an exceptional service that aligns with what customers expect.
So you’ve made a New Year's Resolution. Several in fact. You’ve declared next year is YOUR year. Your business is going to triple, you’re going to be more productive, manage your teams better, nail time tracking on its head, and finally learn all those collaboration tools and apps you’ve been meaning to. You’ve got it sussed...or so you think until February rolls around, you’ve started none of the above and the year is about to slip past as it’s always done.
If January 2016 mirrors the years that have gone before, it will be the busiest month in the calendar for people starting a business. Returning from Christmas to an unfulfilling job and a burning idea to turn a hobby or passion into a way of making a living, people in their droves will take steps to become their own boss. Will you be one of them?
When building a business, it is important to learn as much as possible from industry leaders and people with experience. Fortunately, many of these people have written about their experiences and distilled their most influential and successful ideas into books. There are thousands of business books, each claiming to teach you something vital to your success. Below are some of our favourites and ones we find genuinely enlightening.
In a competitive market, customer loyalty is everything. Keep your customers coming back for more and encourage them to become loyal brand advocates, and profitable growth is a given.
Where to in 2016?
Customers. Without them, you wouldn't be in business. But sometimes they are the sole cause of all our stress and woe. That's especially true during busy times of the year, which for many industries is the leadup to the holiday season.
We all know that cash flow is king. But just how much sway does it have? Well, you might want to ask the nine out of 10 small businesses that have failed because of cash flow problems. That’s, right, according to D&B, 90% of small businesses close their doors because of poor cash flow management.
One of the biggest troubles small business owners face is access to capital. So activities like theft or fraud can cripple a small business in a heartbeat.
I received some excellent marketing advice recently from Lori Nash Byron the founder of Famous in Your Field. Lori was talking about the power of content marketing. And here a few of the tips she shared with me about content marketing.
When you sell an expensive or high priced service there are three marketing challenges you need to solve…
One of my favourite marketing experts is my good friend Troy White in Calgary Canada. 7 years ago Troy had an epiphany. He realized that the best marketing promotions he had done for his clients involved some wacky themes.
Blogging is one of the most valuable tools that a business has to engage with customers; it’s a direct communication channel to share timely and relevant information, plus, it fuels SEO for your business website.
Want to succeed as a small business owner? Have a mentor or an accountant. Our recent Make or Break? report shows that asking for help from mentors and advisors, and having a good relationship with your accountant, means you have a leg up. The research was timed to coincide with Global Entrepreneurship Week which kicks-off today.
The promise of free-shipping can seem too good to be true, and often it is suspected that the shipping costs have been absorbed into the price of the goods. This can sometimes be true, but with products that are available online direct from the manufacturer, it makes it harder for retailers to add their own mark-up. Competing on price becomes impossible and retailers have to find other ways to set themselves apart. Free shipping becomes the next logical step.
Technology has changed business as we once knew it… And it’s not stopping either. The changes are quickly advancing. In order to thrive and succeed in today’s fast paced environment, your business not only needs to able to adapt, it needs to remain one step ahead.
Are you thinking of starting a retail business? Do you already have a brick and mortar store and have been thinking of making a switch to ecommerce? Operating an online-only store has many advantages, and if you can learn the fundamentals of online marketing for retail, it can be a very fulfilling and liberating endeavour. Let’s consider some of the advantages of trading purely online:
There is never enough time in the day to do everything, which is why it is important to make the most of the time you do have. The biggest hurdle to efficient time use is a lack of planning and structure. Follow these tips and you will find yourself being more productive and less stressed.
Entrepreneurs will often say you’ve got to fail fast and learn faster if you want to succeed. It’s these learnings which not only make you a better business owner but also increase your chances of establishing a successful business.
In honor of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, we want to celebrate women who are out there working hard on their businesses. We know starting and running your own business presents new challenges everyday. From getting funding, to keeping on top of your cash flow, to trying to be more productive. Every day it’s something new.
We asked 500 small business owners about how the run their business and the things they think about every day. We found that the women in our survey are constantly hustling for their business. Not only that, they tend to only turn to their accountant during tax times. We know that having a great advisor can be the key to maintaining a healthy business.
Take a look at some of the other findings from our survey:
As a small business owner, you should take any edge you can get when it comes to being successful. You never know what piece of advice is going to be the key to breaking your business wide open.
That’s why we launched our Make or Break? report,which looks into what makes businesses more likely to succeed or fail, in honor of Global Entrepreneurship Week. We want to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about your business.
Here’s a quick flow chart to help you decide how to take the next steps in your business.
Branding is the emotional response your business evokes in its audience. It is more than a logo or a series of advertisements, it encompasses all the accumulated interactions your business has with customers. A brand is the core identity of your business and can be a powerful tool in ensuring your customers return, as well as recommend you to their friends and family. Successful branding is about capturing the hearts and minds of customers and turning them from people who use your product to advocates who go out of their way to choose you over a competitor. This loyalty is the foundation of many successful companies, from Apple to McDonalds, Coca Cola and many more.
Developing product and brand names that become iconic is an art, with a whole range of factors that need to come together at the right time. These include things that are in your control, such as the words themselves, and other societal elements that no one can predict. To give your new name the best chance of success, consider the following when creating a moniker for your business or latest product.
A gift guide is one of the most powerful tools you can have during the holidays. It allows you to showcase your products, inspire shoppers, and stay top of mind throughout the season.
But it’s important to note that creating a winning gift guide takes more than just rounding up your products and putting them in a catalogue. Releasing gift guides is a tradition in the retail world, so you have to be creative with how you craft and market them.
The results are in. If you’re not proactively listening to business online reviews, you might be missing out on key insights into how to grow an online business.
This consumer review survey by BrightLocal highlights how customer reviews play a vital role in helping businesses build trust with their audience.
Instagram is one of the big four social networks, alongside Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It took what people loved most about Facebook, sharing photos, and turned it into a global phenomenon. An average of 55 million photos are uploaded to the platform every day, which means a lot of users and a big opportunity for brands that can harness Instagram’s power.
Social media isn’t just about viral videos or selfies. For consumers, sites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are playing an increasingly large role in their path to purchase.
This is why it’s so important for retailers to invest in social media marketing. Having a strong presence in relevant social networks not only gives you an avenue to communicate with your audience, it also allows you to stay in the radars of your customers. This in turn, increases the likelihood of a shopper choosing your brand when they’re ready to buy.
Chances are, at some point in time you’ve probably messed up a spreadsheet. And when we take into account that nearly 9 out 10 spreadsheets contain errors, that’s to be expected! But when millions of pounds are at stake it becomes a bit more important to get your spreadsheet right…
Why not too much, not too little, but just the right amount of inventory is crucial to your business.
One of the biggest and most important challenges many businesses will face is how to successfully manage and control their inventory. It is usually one of their biggest ongoing costs, and often one of the biggest overall investments.
A key area of business directly affects the overall health of a business is how accurate its inventory levels are. For businesses who fail to maintain a finger on the pulse of inventory as it flows through their operation the consequences can be dire – perhaps even fatal.
If your company is project-based, you probably have a framework or system in place for how you manage each project within your team. But even the most robust project management system will occasionally encounter a snafu.
Technology is flipping the way small businesses deal with the world. Everything from automation to new ways of financing your operations, are all transforming the sector.
Here’s what small business owners can learn from the big tech news events this month.
For business owners, upgrading or changing software systems is usually an opportunity to upgrade or change the business itself. A chance to try something different, make things easier or more efficient, or give a fresh interface for employees. However, if not implemented carefully, such changes can turn into costly, time-consuming nightmares, due to the various difficulties involved. For this reason, change management is a critical step when implementing any new software in a business.