Xero Beautiful Business Fund

Xero Beautiful Business Fund now open

Xero Beautiful Business Fund now open for entries

The Xero Beautiful Business Fund is back for 2024. Entries are now open — small businesses that use Xero are invited to enter.

Last year, Xero launched the Xero Beautiful Business Fund, which offers more than AU$700,000 in funding to Xero customers across Australia, Canada (excluding Quebec), New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, the UK and the US.

If you haven’t applied yet, here’s how to get started:

Step one

Decide which of the four funding categories you’ll enter. You can submit an entry in each category if you wish.

  1. Innovating for environmental sustainability: How are you taking the next step on your environmental sustainability journey?
  2. Strengthening community connection: How are you serving your community and making a positive impact?
  3. Trailblazing with technology: How are you seeking to innovate and set pace using emerging technologies?
  4. Upskilling for the future: How are you overcoming a skills gap and preparing for the future?

Step two

It’s easy to enter. All you need to do is complete a short online form and record and upload a 90-second pitch video. This can be as simple as a self-recorded video on your phone.

Step three

Submit your entry by 27 August 2024; winners to be announced at the end of October.

For more information, please visit the Xero website »

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BUSINESS ADVISORS

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Changes to Xero plans from July

Xero’s New Subscription Plans: Enhancing Small Business Efficiency

Streamlined Plans Tailored for Small Businesses Users from 1 July 2024.

Xero wants to make sure the needs of small businesses are met well into the future — and that means providing Xero users with easier access to tools that help you run your business efficiently. That’s why they’re refreshing subscription plans for small businesses users, which will be available from 1 July 2024.

According to Xero, much consideration has been put into creating streamlined plans with bundled tools and features, to help users solve their most important accounting and people management tasks. 

Find out more about the plans and what’s included for small businesses »

Introducing Xero’s small business plans 

Xero is launching three new streamlined business plans for Australian users, as well as enhancing the Ultimate plan. 

  • Xero Ignite plan — accounting basics made for businesses starting out
  • Xero Grow plan — accounting tools for self-employed and growing businesses
  • Xero Comprehensive plan — streamlined accounting and payroll for businesses with employees
  • Xero Ultimate plan (enhanced) — accounting, payroll and forecasting tools to help businesses scale for future growth.

With the new plan line-up for Australian small businesses available from 1 July 2024, existing Xero Payroll Only, Xero Starter, Xero Standard and Xero Premium plans will no longer be sold. Existing add-ons can no longer be purchased separately from this date.

The new plan line-up has more key features included — with fewer plans and add-ons to navigate. That means easier access to the tools and features users are looking for, so you can spend time on things that count, like running your business.  

Find out more about how new business plans compare with existing plans and what’s included.

Moving to a new plan

With the launch of these new plans, your existing plan will be moved to a new plan in a phased approach. Your current plan (and any add-ons) will be taken into account as part of this, with the migration of all plans projected to be completed by March 2025. 

Xero will continue to keep users updated during the plan change process and you’ll have at least 60 days notice before any changes are made.

How Xero is supporting users 

Xero understands that these new plans may feel like a big change, but please know that you’ll be continually updated during this process. In the meantime, Xero recommends familiarising yourself with the new plans so you can consider the best option for you when the plans are launched. 

Innovative, efficient bookkeeping

Keeping up to date with the business’s accounts payables, receivables, account reconciliations and ATO requirements can be very demanding for any business owner or financial manager.

At Allan Hall, we are committed to providing tailored comprehensive bookkeeping solutions that are comprehensive and long term, freeing up your time so you can focus on running your business. Whether you need support to manage your cash flow, forecast income and expenditure, or simply provide more detailed financial reporting, our highly skilled team of bookkeepers will assist you to ensure your business is operating as planned.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BOOKKEEPING

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Allan Hall attains Xero Platinum status

Allan Hall Business Advisors is delighted to be formally recognised as Xero Platinum Partners

What does going Platinum mean for our clients?

Our primary goal is to build a successful accounting and business advisory firm that provides a high-quality, tailored service to business owners and individuals on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

We didn’t set out with the goal of becoming a Platinum Partner but, looking back, becoming Platinum with Xero is something we’re really proud of. It’s recognition of our hard work and all that our team has done to help our clients and subsequently grow their businesses.

It’s also a great stepping-stone as we continue to work in collaboration with our Alliott Global Alliance colleagues worldwide to extend our capabilities beyond Sydney.

Being a Platinum Partner means a lot to our team.

Going Platinum boosts our capabilities in really unique ways. We’ve worked hard to achieve this goal, and the status shows our efforts have paid off.

As accountants, becoming a Xero Platinum Partner offers several benefits to our clients. Xero is a popular cloud-based accounting software platform, and achieving Platinum Partner status indicates a high level of expertise using the platform as part of our tech stack. Here are some of the benefits:

  • Expertise and Training: Platinum Partners have a deep understanding of Xero’s features and capabilities. We have undergone extensive training and certification, which means we can provide expert guidance and support to our clients.
  • Efficiency Improvements: Accountants who are Xero Platinum Partners are naturally more efficient in using and optimising the platform. This translates into skills we can pass on to our clients.
  • Enhanced Reporting: Platinum Partners can often provide more advanced reporting and analysis capabilities within Xero, helping our business clients gain better insights into their financial data.
  • Customised Solutions: Platinum Partners are better equipped to tailor Xero to the specific needs of our clients. We can create customised solutions and workflows that align with the unique requirements of different businesses.

At Allan Hall, we’re experts in Xero cloud accounting software that’s easy to love. Find out more about using Xero in your business here or drop us a line to get started.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BUSINESS ADVISORS

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Xero research reveals business mistakes

From working for free to hiring the wrong staff

Xero research reveals 83 per cent of business owners admit to costly mistakes

Xero, the small business accounting and bookkeeping platform, has released research revealing some of the most common learnings shared by Australian small business owners. The findings highlight that hiring the wrong or inexperienced staff and working for free or at low cost are considered the most costly business mistakes, impacting more than one in five (22%) small business owners.

The ‘Do Better Business’ research, which surveyed more than 1,000 Australian small business owners and leaders, not only sheds light on the challenges faced, but offers invaluable insights for businesses embarking on a new financial year, and provides helpful learnings for aspiring entrepreneurs.

“We know running a small business can be incredibly rewarding, enabling people to pursue their passions or achieve greater flexibility. But, as our research has highlighted, it also comes with its unique set of challenges, which have only been exacerbated by a turbulent economic climate,” said Will Buckley, Xero Australia Country Manager.

“As the new financial year commences, it’s a timely opportunity for business owners to reflect on the year that was and embrace key learnings that will pave the way for future success.”

Taking risks and learning from setbacks

Owning a small business is a constant learning process, with the majority (83%) of those surveyed admitting to making costly mistakes over the course of running their business. In addition to hiring challenges and working for free, working with the wrong partners, suppliers and investors (18%) and working with family and friends (12%) were other blunders. Additionally, nearly one-fifth (19%) reported spending every dollar of their personal savings in the early years of running their business.

Among the biggest learnings was a need to implement strong financial management practices, with nearly three-quarters (73%) of those surveyed rating this as the top three priorities they believed small businesses starting up should focus on. This was followed by building a strong network of industry contacts (63%), working with an accountant or bookkeeper (46%), and asking for help when struggling (46%).

Greater flexibility driving business ownership

There are many reasons driving Australians to business ownership, but the survey revealed a desire to be their own boss as the number one reason for 64 per cent. This was followed by seeking greater flexibility (61%) and wanting to pursue a passion or dream (41%). Nearly three-quarters (71%) of small business owners, however, admit to delaying starting their own business, with financial concerns being the number one reason holding them back (35%), followed by a fear of failure (21%). Despite this, 65 per cent of business owners surveyed by Xero say there’s never a perfect time to start a business, but they wish they’d done it sooner.

Small business ownership is also not without its sacrifices, with one in five (20%) small business owners from the survey reporting they missed a significant life moment like the birth of their child, a wedding or a birthday in the early years of running their business. The majority of those surveyed (86%) also wish they could prioritise their personal boundaries more while running their business, especially around their physical and mental health (43%) and spending time with their family, friends or partner (40%).

“Fostering an environment where Australians feel confident to pursue business ownership and are supported throughout their entrepreneurial journey is essential to ensuring a prosperous small business community and a resilient economy. We hope that by understanding some of the challenges facing small businesses, together with industry and governments, we can provide the right tools and technology to ensure businesses have the best possible chance to thrive this financial year and into the future,” said Buckley.

The generational divide and young small business owners holding back

The survey revealed it’s tougher for younger people to get into business ownership, with Gen Z reporting they were more likely to face negativity and discouragement from friends, family and associates about starting their own business venture (77%) compared to Baby Boomers (60%).

The fear of failure was also more common amongst young business owners and entrepreneurs with 29 per cent of Millennials saying they delayed starting their business because they didn’t want to fail, compared to just 12 per cent of Baby Boomers. Despite this, the flexibility of being a business owner was a central reason for 68 per cent of Gen X business owners, with 60 per cent saying they are now achieving this goal.

Considering Xero for your business? Alliott NZ’s Xero Certified Advisors in Auckland are here to answer any questions or to help your business upgrade to or optimise using Xero.

About Xero’s research: The research was conducted by YouGov of 1,022 owners and key decision-makers of businesses with fewer than 50 employees in Australia. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22-30 June 2023.

At Allan Hall, we have extensive experience using a wide variety of accounting software packages and can provide advice on which software is right for you.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BUSINESS ADVISORS

Moving to new Xero Reports

Moving to new Xero Reports

Xero is retiring older versions of their reports on 31 July 2023

In coming weeks, Xero will be transitioning some favourite ‘starred’ reports from the old version to the new version.

When users click on these reports in their favourites list, they will be automatically redirected to the new version of that report. This change is being made because Xero is retiring older versions of their reports on 31 July 2023 and they want to ensure that Xero users are prepared.

The new versions offer more flexibility and customisation, quicker access to insights and deeper analysis of business performance. Xero is aware that this change may take some time to get used to and is giving users plenty of time to make the switch.

Using new Xero Reports

Xero is urging users who haven’t yet switched to new reports to start moving their work across now. This way, there is time to adjust before older versions are retired:

  • Users can take a product tour of some of Xero’s most popular reports, such as the new Profit & Loss or Balance Sheet reports, and find a tips and tricks panel on the right-hand side showing links to support articles and how-to videos
  • Check out Xero’s reporting playlist on YouTube for help on tailoring reports in Xero
  • Start using Xero’s layout importer tool in the Profit & Loss, Balance Sheet and Budget Variance reports to bring saved layouts across to new versions
  • If needed, users can return to the older versions via the overflow menu in the Report Centre until 31 July 2023.

At Allan Hall, we have extensive experience using a wide variety of accounting software packages and can provide advice on which software is right for you.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL BOOKKEEPING

invoice

Why businesses should embrace eInvoicing

eInvoicing is a new way to send and receive invoices electronically directly between accounting systems

How? It’s all done via a secure platform called the Peppol network.

Not only does eInvoicing help facilitate faster payment times, but it’s also more efficient, accurate and – importantly – safer. In fact, everyone from enterprises to software providers and government agencies are jumping on board. And it’s easy to understand why. 

In Australia, eInvoicing represents a $28 billion opportunity thanks to increased efficiencies. What’s more, its security features make it a no-brainer for businesses of all sizes, particularly in today’s climate where cyber safety is a top priority.

To help learn more, Xero talked with Xero advisors Caryn Hill and Gabrielle Crooke to discuss their experiences and the benefits they’ve seen for small businesses. 

What convinced you to look into eInvoicing? 

Caryn: What excited me most about eInvoicing is the security aspect. Invoices travel straight from one accounting software to another via the Peppol network, meaning an email or PDF can’t be lost or tampered with. Everyone who uses it also has to register for the network (as eInvoices can only travel between registered entities), which offers peace of mind in knowing all the information is verified. 

Gabrielle: I have a few clients with quite a high turnover of Bunnings invoices. After I learned that Bunnings is a Peppol-registered company, I talked to my clients about eInvoicing as a potential solution. It’s awesome to see companies like Bunnings leading the way. Especially as research shows that more small businesses would register for eInvoicing if big business suppliers (e.g. Telstra, Woolworths, Officeworks) sent invoices directly to their accounting systems.

Why should small businesses embrace eInvoicing? Tell us about the benefits. 

Gabrielle: Alongside the security features already mentioned, the greatest benefit I’ve seen for small businesses is how quickly invoices appear in their accounting software. It’s faster and more accurate than any other system I’ve seen before, which makes reconciliation and paying bills easier for clients. As a Xero advisor, this reduces manual processing errors like double-ups or wrong dollar amounts – I have complete confidence that all the data coming through is correct. 

Caryn: In all my years as a bookkeeper, I don’t think I’ve ever had a month where every single invoice is just there. But eInvoicing has changed this. Business owners no longer have to scroll through their phones to find a blurry photo from weeks (or even years) ago or try to decipher the numbers on a faded receipt. It’s so easy to verify, reconcile and approve everything at the end of the month because it’s guaranteed that the data has been exchanged. This minimises processing time for me, as an advisor, and my clients, meaning we can both focus our energy on more important tasks.

Walk us through the registration process in Xero. 

Caryn: It was amazing how quick the registration process was for my clients. Everything was just there. For those with a Bunnings Trade account, we didn’t even have to notify them – the invoices immediately started coming in, which was fantastic to see.

Gabrielle: I found the registration process in Xero to be self-explanatory. After I had authorisation from my clients to sign them up, I followed the prompts; it was as simple as that. 

Where can small businesses go to learn more about eInvoicing? 

Gabrielle: My tip for anyone interested in eInvoicing is to do your research. According to Xero’s data, one of the top barriers to adoption for small businesses is not knowing enough about it. This is why Xero has its Resource Hub with plenty of helpful information to get started. And Xero advisors can also guide you through the process.

Caryn: Advisors can be a great source of knowledge when it comes to eInvoicing – after all, many of us are big advocates as it makes our job easier. I’d also recommend talking to your small business peers. If we can get the word out there, we’ll see more registrations which means more people will benefit!

Gabrielle: Ultimately, eInvoicing reduces stress. We all have busy lives, and no one needs more to do. So be sure to register now and thank yourself later.

Considering eInvoicing for your business? Head to Xero Central for a step-by-step guide on how to register in Xero in just a few clicks. And remember, your Allan Hall Xero Certified Advisors are available to answer any additional questions.

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payroll

Time to transition to STP Phase 2

All three stages of Xero’s STP Phase 2 rollout are now available

Over recent months, Xero has been keeping us updated on Xero’s Single Touch Payroll (STP) Phase 2 rollout.

This will see businesses build on their existing STP reporting to share more information with the ATO and other government agencies whenever you process a pay run.

Xero has now announced that all three stages of the rollout are available, meaning you can get your payroll data STP Phase 2 ready today. 

Not sure where to start? Xero has compiled all the information you need.

Xero’s STP Phase 2 reporting deferral is through to 31 March 2023, meaning Xero Payroll customers will have until the New Year to activate STP Phase 2. However, we strongly recommend getting your payroll data ready as soon as possible to stay ahead of this important compliance deadline.

How to complete each step of your transition to STP Phase 2 in Xero 

To start your transition now, head over to the STP Phase 2 Portal in Xero Payroll to progress through each of the following steps: 

Step one

The first part of this process is transitioning your existing employee profiles to be STP Phase 2 compliant. This means providing new details, like whether they’re an employee or contractor. Step one also includes providing additional information when onboarding new employees to Xero Payroll. More information can be found here.

Step two

You’ll need to identify and update certain pay items with the new earnings categories defined by the ATO for STP Phase 2 reporting. This is because gross amounts for each income type will now need to be reported as a separate itemised amount, like overtime or allowances. Head to Xero Central for more details, including a breakdown of the different earnings categories.

Step three

This is the final step in the STP Phase 2 transition which will break down paid leave into additional subcategories. Xero supports users with a guided experience in payroll so you can easily update existing paid leave types to meet the new ATO reporting requirements. You may also find that some of your leave pay items already have the correct reporting category assigned. Visit Xero Central to learn more about this stage.  

TIP: Remember to mark each step as complete in the STP Phase 2 Portal before moving forward. This ensures your payroll data is accurate and could help reduce filing errors later down the line.

Reporting all purpose allowances

With STP Phase 2, all purpose allowances must be disaggregated, meaning they’re reported separately to the employee’s hourly or ordinary earnings rate. 

In Xero Payroll, you can create a separate allowance pay item with the appropriate type for each allowance included in the all purpose amount. You will also be able to select an option for the allowance to be included in the calculation of overtime and paid leave rates.

This is intended to reduce the manual burden on payroll admins to calculate and adjust an employee’s overtime or paid leave within their payslip. This occurs when an employee’s award states that both the allowance is to be paid for all purposes — including when calculating leave and overtime. Head to Xero Central for more information on these changes.

There’s no time like the present – start transitioning your payroll data today 

Now that all three stages of Xero’s STP Phase 2 rollout are available, it’s time to transition your payroll data. As we come closer to the deadline, the sooner you can tick this off your to-do list, the more prepared you’ll be.

Remember, all employing Australian businesses must become STP Phase 2 compliant. So if you’re working with Allan Hall to make the transition, keep in mind that our accountants are also helping others to do the same. Stay patient as we work through the process, and in the meantime, check out Xero’s Resource Hub or Xero Central for more information.  

Further support

To help you navigate the transition to STP Phase 2, Xero has created a comprehensive guide. This has what you need to know (and do) to make the move, from step-by-step instructions to detailed explainers on leave, earnings and reporting categories. 

Looking for more information? Head to Xero Central or refer to the ATO’s employer reporting guidelines.

What’s more, Allan Hall’s Accountants are also here for support, so reach out if you need further guidance from our team of Xero Certified Advisors.

CONTACT ALLAN HALL

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Changes to multi-factor authentication coming for Xero customers

Over the last few years, our lives – and businesses across the world – have moved online at a rapid pace.

Unfortunately, cybercriminals have followed and are using new, digital methods to target Australians. As custodians of your data, Xero does all they can to protect the information held in your account.

One of the ways is through multi-factor authentication (MFA), a process designed to secure how you log in to Xero and verify it’s really you. An upcoming Australian Tax Office (ATO) update to MFA regulations means anyone that accesses an Australian organisation globally needs to re-authenticate their device every 24 hours when logging in to Xero.

What’s changing with MFA?

Many of Xero’s Australian customers would have started using MFA back in 2018 when it was first introduced by the ATO. Throughout 2021, Xero rolled out mandatory MFA for users in all other countries. Today, every Xero customer must use MFA when they log in.

Recently, in response to growing cybersecurity threats, the ATO updated its regulations around MFA for software providers like Xero. This means that the length of time a device is trusted for must be limited to 24 hours for cloud-based business applications, such as Xero. 

From early October, ‘remember me on this device’ will change. Currently, you can skip authentication for 30 days when signing in to Xero via MFA (such as through the Xero Verify, Google Authenticator or Authy apps), which remembers the unique device you’ve logged in with. With this update, you will need to re-authenticate your trusted device (such as a laptop, tablet or phone) every 24 hours.

When will this happen?

The 24 hour change to Xero’s MFA trust device frequency will start from early-October. From then, you’ll need to authenticate daily when you log in to your account.

Why is this being changed for Australian customers?

This is a regulatory change from the ATO and is to support cybersecurity measures to protect users’ valuable data – just think of all the critical information stored within your Xero account. It’s important to keep this safe.

You’ll likely remember when MFA was first mandated by the ATO. Just like last time, Xero is updating its platform to comply with this change and make it a smooth transition.

What if I’m in another country, like New Zealand, but access an Australian organisation in Xero?

This change doesn’t just apply to Australia but to anyone globally that accesses an Australian organisation – even if it’s just one account in Australia that you log in to. This is because you are accessing information (including personally identifiable information) that falls under the ATO’s remit.

Do I need to make any updates myself?

No – rest assured that the Xero platform will update automatically in early October. Since all Australian customers already use MFA, you won’t have to change anything about how you log in to Xero – except for daily authentication. This means you can continue to use your usual verification tool, whether it’s Xero Verify or a third-party app like Google Authenticator.

Why is cybersecurity so important and should I be worried?

Security has always been important at Xero and we want to keep your valuable business data safe. Since the start of the pandemic, activity by cybercriminals has been on the rise in Australia. As our lives have moved more and more online, so too have the approaches of cyber criminals.

They’ve continued to evolve and use increasingly sophisticated ways to entrap victims online. One of the most common types of cybercrime is phishing, which tricks you into clicking on a fraudulent email, text message or web link to then access your online accounts and steal your personal and business information.

How does MFA help protect me against cybersecurity threats?

MFA is one of many important tools used to safeguard against cybersecurity threats. It’s a security process which uses at least two different factors, something you know (your password) and something you have (mobile device), before you can enter your account.

This second layer of security is designed to prevent anyone else from accessing your account, even if they know your password. In fact, research shows that MFA can prevent up to 80% of data breaches.

What does this mean for Xero’s mobile apps?

Xero’s suite of mobile apps, such as the Xero Accounting App, Xero Expenses and Xero Projects, will also be impacted by these new regulations. When the new versions are introduced, you will no longer be able to choose the lock device option ‘Don’t lock it’. You will either need to use a security code, which will be available on Android for the first time and is currently available on iOS, or use Face ID.

What if I normally share my login with members of my team?

Shared logins reduce the security of your Xero account. The more people who have access to a login, the more likely it is to be compromised. Everyone who accesses an organisation in Xero should have their own login details (as per Xero’s terms and conditions).

If they don’t already, now is the time to make sure everyone is set up with what they need to securely use Xero. 

Read more about MFA here and troubleshoot any possible issues here »

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Xero offers for Allan Hall clients

2021 cloud accounting incentives for Allan Hall clients 

As a result of Allan Hall being a Xero Platinum Partner and as part of our continual business modernisation and enhancements, we are pleased to offer the following Xero specials to all new Xero client subscriptions: 

  • MYOB to Xero conversion, or
  • Up to 50% off Xero subscription fees  

Both are strictly limited offers. To find out if your business qualifies, or to have an exploratory discussion, please contact Allan Hall’s Xero Certified Advisor, Debra Fraser, on 02 9981 2300.

Allan Hall business technology update 

To be at the forefront of technology innovation in order to optimise our client service, we have been moving forward and are well-placed on our journey to modernisation in 2021.

We upgraded and launched our internal modernisation applications late in 2020. We are excited to continue and believe that our client experience will be enhanced significantly when we have fully implemented our program.

If you have any questions about your specific circumstances, please call or email your Allan Hall accountant or one of our partners.

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