Yes, I'm a Xero fanboy and here's why ...
As an accountant, you might expect me to be a fan of Xero. After all, it is beautiful (yep, ‘beautiful’ is part of its tech DNA) accounting software.
But after a few days at Xerocon Brisbane 2018 last week, I not only learnt to love it that little bit more after learning all the latest ‘under the hood’ stuff, I also left with a renewed commitment to not giving a f**k.
Stay with me; that will make sense soon.
But first, some context
Picture more than 3700 accountants in a room. Throw in a few hundred app developers too. What a crowd, right?
Seriously though, it was far from a hall full of accounting nerds. As a tech startup success story, Xero has built a community (even an evangelical one at times) around its service.
Xero is passionate about its clients – the ‘end users’ who are small businesses. And this passion for people is infectious. Sure, there were a lot workshops on Xero products but what they can do for people, and their businesses, always shone through.
And this year’s theme was very ‘non accounting’.
It was about being human; about making, and keeping, warm connections. To paraphrase one of the inspiring speakers, Gill Hicks, who talked about surviving the London bombing: It doesn’t matter our race, gender, sexual preference, etc. What unites us is our common humanity. And I was humbled by her story about learning to walk after she lost both legs, bringing a big dose of perspective to our lives.
The art of not giving a f**k
Xerocon also featured bestselling author Mark Manson, who wrote The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck.
At face value, it sounds like a callous manifesto for a selfish human being.
But really, it’s about choosing what you want to spend time on, and then really spending time on those things. And choosing who you want to focus on.
As Manson says, we always have choices. And this pic of one of his slides explains how less can be more; how we can double down on caring more rather than growing at all costs. And in our personal lives, how we can have more meaningful relationships with fewer people.
A powerful accounting tool
Really! Xero’s research (and our experience with our clients too) says you can distill what matters most to small and growing businesses down to four key things:
- What you owe
- How much is in your bank account
- Are you making a profit?
- What people owe you
And because less really is more, nowhere has this been more applied than in Xero’s mobile app which has turned the limitations of screen real estate into a focus on these four things.
If you live on your mobile like me, you’ll really benefit from the power that this puts in your hand to raise invoices and bills, plus the amazing level of drill down it provides for invoices, bills, cash and profit.
And some other accounting stuff …
Because, after all it was a room full of accountants. There was a lot of under-the-hood accounting stuff, like:
- Project tracking for time, expenses and re-billing
- Expense reimbursement on the go, although the jury’s still out on this for us
And a whole lot more at an accounting practice level that I won’t bore you with but ultimately, stuff that lets us support our clients not only more efficiently, but genuinely, better.
Just like many other industries, the accounting world is seeing more automation and machine learning coming in to help us be more timely and accurate.
And this frees us up to reach out to our clients more because, despite all our differences, we’re all human and we all want to connect, communicate and support each other.
And part of being human is that we should be the same person with our family, colleagues and clients. I know this conference will flow through to my personal life too. It was great to be out of our own business for a little while, and have some time to reflect and be inspired.
Oh … and I did manage to combine a little work and play while I was there too.