What technology has done for small business

Our aim has always been to make life easier for small business owners with the help of technology. So when we hear that one of our case studies has been recognised for the Most Inspired Use of Technology, we feel proud.

This week Made4Baby, a small business producing a natural range of skincare products for babies and children, won the above category in the David Awards. The David Awards recognise the unsung heroes in home and small businesses throughout New Zealand. (And yes the unassuming young David slaying the giant Goliath is paralleled with so called entrepreneurial Davids who punch above their weight.)

“We do try and push web based services (i.e. Xero) as much as possible as an extremely cost effective way to minimise overheads and control our business from anywhere, so to be recognised for this strategy is very satisfying!” says Made4Baby founder and mother of two, Rebecca McLeod.

Watch the Made4Baby Xero case study below:

Using Yammer to keep the startup spirit strong

As a company, we’ve grown from a small team – all in the same room – to dozens of teams all over the world. Along the way, there were signs we’d started to change culturally, from a tight knit group of co-founders into a soulless org chart. We weren’t going to let that happen, but we weren’t sure how to solve the problem. Then we found an app called Yammer.

Yammer works better than we hoped. We’re tighter than ever – even though we keep growing, with more and more staff all over the world. We use it to share ideas, discuss tactics, reach out for help when problems pop up, and celebrate our triumphs. We openly discuss serious business, plus – amongst it all – our outside interests and daily lives make its way into the discussion, in a way that our personalities shine through. The soul of our company has become a very active and shared experience.

We wanted to let the people at Yammer know how much we love their product, so we shot a little video to share our experience and to let others know how much it’s helped us. Obviously their product means a lot to us…

15% GST has arrived NZ

Waking up this morning came with a realisation of how fast September had flown by and how quickly the change to 15% GST in NZ had arrived. Many were predicting a spike in sales for retail businesses in September with consumers attempting to beat the GST increase, but it’s not certain that retailers saw this.

It would have been interesting to see council staff scurrying around hurriedly emptying parking meters, or large buckets of change from pokie machines being banked – so that the cash takings could be returned at 12.5% instead of 15%. Instead the most notable signs last night that things were about to change were the queues at petrol stations and supermarkets.

Talking to several business owners about the GST changes yesterday highlighted the fact that while many of us are on top of the change, there is still confusion as to what it means for businesses after 1 October and beyond. For businesses returning GST on an invoice basis, it’s generally a simple change, but it is important to determine ‘time of supply’ and be aware of exceptions. A handy place to look for answers to specific questions is on the GST Advisory Panel website – scroll down on their site for working examples.

Businesses on a payments basis need to enter invoices into their accounting system to make the ‘GST rate change adjustment’ based on total invoices outstanding. This adjustment is simply to make up for the difference in GST that will end up being paid for monies received from today (at 15%), where the initial invoice was issued at the old GST rate. For those still blissfully unaware or even slightly confused, we’ve put together a quick step by step working example.

Download the PDF

The rate change calculation is automatic for those on Xero, but for others on less intelligent software this will have to be a manual adjustment. Overnight we also adjusted the default GST rates to 15%, which you will have already seen this morning when you logged in. To see this and the other work we’ve done for you, watch our short video.

It’s not too late to switch to Xero and take the hassle out of the GST changes. Talk to your accountant or sign up here.

Tax changes show power of moving to cloud systems

Article published in one of our  local papers The Herald yesterday. Part of a GST series covering the rate change in New Zealand from 12.5% to 15%.  I wanted to talk about the benefits of the Government to make changes and bring up the Single Business Number …

It’s good that the Government has lowered income tax and raised GST – moving the tax base to be more consumption-based and rewarding those that save. But the big cost of the change the Government doesn’t see is the effort required by our 480,000 small businesses to manage the migration and the complicated transition rules.

The GST change has been a watershed event for cloud-based software in New Zealand. Cloud computing is where your business applications are hosted on the internet and you access them through any standard web browser. This is instead of managing your own software that’s tied to your local PC on the desktop. The GST change has highlighted a difference between desktop and cloud-based software.

Rather than every one of our busy small business owners having to find the right software update and then work through a complex set of steps, cloud based providers can make the changes on behalf of all their customers.

Cloud based solutions are often called a software-as-a-service model. Not only is software delivered over the internet, but services such as back-ups, upgrades and security are looked after for you by your own virtual IT department. What’s more the cost is spread over tens of thousands of users.

At Xero we were able to have a few of our smart people work out the GST rule changes, develop and test migration tools and then at midnight on September 30, and at a number of key times, customer data is updated automatically so that the GST change just works. Across New Zealand that saves productivity.

The GST change is just the beginning; the IRD’s Making Tax Easier initiative to move from paper-based systems to customer-focused online technologies, and other policy work, will result in a number of other accounting changes over the next few years. As the Government sees that cloud solutions take the pain out of change we hope it will move faster in making things easier for New Zealand business.

So cloud solutions solve some problems, but what are the other exciting opportunities that arise from having large and small business connected electronically? Already your bank transactions arrive automatically in your accounting system each morning and you can see real time gains and losses on foreign exchange transactions as currency rates are updated automatically each hour. We see a world not too far away where your invoices just arrive in your accounting system. No rekeying, no errors, invoices are already loaded ready to be approved.

We also see the ability for a plumbing company in Christchurch to benchmark themselves against an anonymous peer group of similar plumbing firms across the country. Your accounting system will automatically file your taxes and submit your statistics reports or ACC returns.

One of the next items of work the Government needs to consider for small business productivity is a single business number. In the online world having a unique identifier for each business is a key step in electronically connecting businesses large and small. Australia and most other countries already have a number. It’s likely to be the GST number and it would be great to see NZ continue its lead in small business technology by implementing this.

Small business contributes 38 per cent of New Zealand’s GDP. That’s $50 billion. Using cloud technology to improve the productivity and survivability of this vast but invisible sector is important for New Zealand. We can be proud that we already lead the world in small business software.

Simple inventory

Coming up with a solution so you can record purchases as well as sales has been a much requested feature. It leads the pack among a bunch of new things we’ve got in today’s release.

To help you monitor your inventory we’ve revamped Price List Items and given it a new name Inventory Items. Check out Help Centre to learn about using Inventory Items on invoices, bulk exporting and for importing. There’s also a brand new report.  Or for a quick overview have a look at the video below.

While Inventory Items isn’t intended to replace a complete inventory management system (check out these Xero Network Partners for that – Unleashed and SimPro) it does provide a simple means to track the movement of inventory in your business.

We’ve also released a whole raft of changes to support the increase in GST in New Zealand – a complete list of what we’ve done and what’s left to do is here . We’ve even created a handy FAQ to answer some of the questions that might be on your mind. For the Australians the killer feature is Westpac bank feeds.  For a full list of the changes see our  release notes.

Footnote: Don’t forget the Cheesecake

A few weeks back when we were discussing the features to include in today’s release – including the makeover of Price List Items. Craig our CTO bravely announced this would be a piece of cake (oh the irony) and that he would personally deliver this feature. What’s more, he’d stake his reputation on there being no more than 10 bugs raised by the QA team. The wager – a cheesecake.

The good news for Xero customers is Craig completed everything in record time. The bad news, for Craig, is that 12 bugs were raised. Unlucky.

Craig and QA Tester Susanne

Simple UBL

As the SaaS accounting world matures a number of us have thought about how we send electronic invoices to each other.  It’s kinda crazy that you take an invoice out of an accounting application, flatten it into a pdf, and then someone has to retype it in to their accounting application.

We imagine a world where invoices and other business documents just appear in your accounting system.  No retyping, no errors. Major time saved.

We already have Xero to Xero transactions but it would be great to send invoices to any system.

It’s not just small business to small business.  Having small businesses using online systems makes it viable for large businesses (like Telco’s and Electricity companies) to produce electronic invoices that small businesses can now receive. That saves big business a lot of money.

One of the building blocks of business to business data interchange is to come up with an standard format.

Fortunately, other people with large brains have already done a lot of this work in the OASIS Universal Business Language specification.

Practically though, this is a big specification with lots of business documents. It’s hard to get your head around it.  And we really just need a simple subset to get started.  We could start again, but that would mean reinventing the wheel.

So what we’ve done is create an industry website for vendors to navigate through the UBL specification, starting with invoices, and to collaboratively define the minimum invoicing standard we should support.

You can check this out at SimpleUBL.org.

Please let us know what you think, if this is useful and what we should do next.

Great quote

Just love this quote on business models …

“If you are not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold.”

From I hope iAd fails

I think that replaces my past favorite quote …

I hope that when I die people say of me ‘Man, that guy sure owed me a lot of money

Galway Bookkeeper

At Domybooks one of our core services is Bookkeeping. Below I have listed our the main  services this covers.

  • Processing of VAT returns
  • Recording purchase invoices
  • Preparing sales invoices
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Sundry Reconciliations
  • Accounting data entry
  • Payroll preparation
  • Processing of expenses
  • Debt Collection

Outsourcing your book keeping to an expert can save you time and money allowing you to focus on your business.

With our online service you can also access your accounts online.

If you would like to speak to Domybooks about outsourcing your business please do not hesitate to email


or Call 086-3336665 / 091-442882

This is the Blog of an Galway Accountant providing Bookkeeping services and accountancy software

Your business can help flood victims

I’ve had this nagging helpless feeling for the last week or so. The problem is I live in Ardrahan, and every day driving to and from work I see houses and farms flooded. What annoys me is, what I can do to help?

This morning I read the following post on Ruairi from KRO’s blog

This hit a nerve with me, I actually can do something.

I have replied to Ruari’s blog and pledged 24 hours of my time to assist a flood damaged business.

Can your business offer something?

If you dont own a business and would still like to help, there will be scope to work with another business in an administration support role so please reply.

Please use #flood2help to tweet about this campaign.