Smaller op­er­a­tions can switch on to apps and ben­e­fit in time sav­ings

Hawke's Bay Today - - Business - Just days af­ter cloud­based ac­count­ing soft­ware gi­ant Xero an­nounced that the life­time value of its sub­scribers had grown 41 per cent to a whop­ping $3.9 bil­lion, in the firm’s lat­est half-year re­sults, Xero’s small busi­ness di­rec­tor Nicole Buis­son talks to

an­drew.ash­ton@hbto­day.co.nz

How do small busi­nesses deal with is­sues around af­ford­abil­ity in re­gards to in­creases in the min­i­mum wage?

When­ever there’s an in­crease in the min­i­mum wage it does put pres­sure on small busi­nesses, and there’s a cou­ple of pieces of ad­vice that we do of­fer.

The first of those is to seek ad­vice. It can be pretty lonely be­ing a small busi­ness owner — 70 per cent of our small busi­nesses are sole traders and if you are new to run­ning a small busi­ness as well, it can take a while to de­velop all the skills you need.

The big­gest piece of ad­vice, prob­a­bly, is to seek ad­vice from your ac­coun­tant in par­tic­u­lar — they are the most trusted ad­viser of small busi­nesses. Go and have a chat to them to find out how to man­age pay­roll and bud­gets that can sus­tain your busi­ness.

The sec­ond piece of ad­vice is get pro­duc­tive. So we know at Xero that small busi­ness us­ing four to five apps are more pro­duc­tive than th­ese who are not us­ing any at all, be­cause it saves them time.

Small busi­nesses need to be­come more pro­duc­tive and ef­fi­cient, when there’s things like a min­i­mum wage in­crease. So adopt­ing new tech­nol­ogy can help them do that. An ex­am­ple of that would be if you’re a tradie and you’re not us­ing any soft­ware to­day. If you were to use Xero to man­age your ac­counts, so your ac­coun­tant did that for you, and if you man­age your jobs on the go, you get an app to do that. Sim­ply by do­ing those two things, you would be a whole lot more pro­duc­tive.

How do you make sure busi­nesses get paid promptly for work?

I think if you’re a small busi­ness and you are in­voic­ing by send­ing an e-mail with an in­voice at­tached, many peo­ple will send that with bank ac­count trans­fer de­tails but one of the ways you can get paid more quickly — in fact, we know nine days more quickly — is by adding a “pay now” but­ton to that in­voice.

That makes sense be­cause when the cus­tomer gets the in­voice, rather than say­ing, “oh, I have to do a bank trans­fer, I’ll do that later”, they can just click on the pay now op­tion and the small busi­ness gets paid more quickly, which helps with cash flow.

What sort of things have you seen small busi­nesses do­ing to at­tract ta­lent to re­gions like Hawke’s Bay?

Cer­tainly, we see, it’s not just about wages. Com­pany cul­ture is im­por­tant and life­style is im­por­tant for New Zealan­ders, es­pe­cially for peo­ple mov­ing to New Zea­land from abroad — they want the life­style that maybe Auck­land doesn’t af­ford them.

So more and more, we are see­ing places like Hawke’s Bay and Tau­ranga be­com­ing busi­ness hubs as peo­ple exit ci­ties for a bet­ter life­style. That’s an im­por­tant trend we are see­ing and one I have per­son­ally ex­pe­ri­enced, try­ing to get peo­ple to move to Auck­land. Some of that is driven by house prices in Auck­land.

We do lots of pan­els with busi­nesses about hir­ing, and some of the things they have said re­cently are around it’s hard to find peo­ple be­cause we have pretty low un­em­ploy­ment in New Zea­land, so we’re hav­ing to get quite creative. Some of the things we are hear­ing . . . one lady is hir­ing a lot of part-time mums, who are ex­tremely qual­i­fied but can’t find reg­u­lar work be­cause they just want to do hours be­tween 9.30am and 3pm.

The other way peo­ple are get­ting creative is just find­ing part­timers in gen­eral, rather than full­time staff. So, that’s a pretty im­por­tant trend that we are hear­ing.

Xero is very keen on the re­gions, we opened a Hawke’s Bay of­fice, it def­i­nitely re­quires na­tional sup­port, which is why we are also run­ning re­gional road­shows.

What’s the main piece of ad­vice you are giv­ing to peo­ple at your Hawke’s Bay road­show?

It’s largely around ac­coun­tants pri­mar­ily, so that’s all around how to ad­vise your clients about not only their ac­coun­tancy needs but about the apps they might use to get pro­duc­tive, how you move to more of an ad­vi­sory space as an ac­coun­tant, rather than just a com­pli­ance role.

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