Xero: A Cloud-Based Dashboard Trying to be the Best

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Xero is an accounting software that aims to be the dashboard for your small (or larger) business. If you’ve decided to get serious about technology, Xero is worth a try, especially with a free 30-day trial period that gives you plenty of time to kick the tires.

You spend your time running a business, and keeping the books is probably the last thing you want to do at the end of the day. However, it’s essential to monitor your finances – a fact that becomes especially clear at Tax Time. You can either do everything manually, reinventing the wheel (and customizing a system that works for you), or you can use software. To free up your time, software is the obvious choice.

With Xero, you’ll have a cloud-based system for:

  • Good old-fashioned accounting
  • Invoicing customers and receiving electronic payments
  • Sending payments to suppliers
  • Tracking inventory
  • Handling payroll

There are plenty of other features, many of which only apply to certain industries.

Why Xero?

There are numerous accounting packages available. So why is Xero worth your time?

Making an effort: Xero is really trying to be the best. Some products have stagnated, while Xero boasts of over 1,200 product updates in the last year. The company was also named the World’s Most Innovative Growth Company by Forbes in 2014 and 2015. If there’s something to improve, they’re on it.

Works on the cloud: instead of a program that runs on the computer at your desk, Xero runs on remote servers. That means your system requirements are minimal, and all updates are handled for you. You can access Xero on a desktop, laptop, tablet, or even mobile phone.

Connected: Xero is connected to your bank accounts, cards, and PayPal accounts. As a result, much of your data entry is automated. That makes it easy to reconcile accounts and make sure every penny is accounted for. You can even do reconciliation on your mobile phone (that’s a good way to spend that time waiting at the dentist’s office or on the train).

Online invoicing: tired of handling payments, and the inevitable problems that arise? Send an electronic invoice and be done with it. Xero allows customers to pay you with a credit card, PayPal, or more traditional methods. With an online invoice, you can also track whether or not the customer viewed your invoice (so you can tell who’s dragging their feet).

You can get help: don’t want to do it all on your own? There are plenty of consultants available to help with the initial setup, and you can even have a bookkeeper or accountant handle your finances on an ongoing basis. Spend your time on the most important activities: running your business, adding customers, and managing people.

Who is Xero?

It’s always scary to try a new company, especially when sensitive financial (and personal) information is involved. Xero is a New Zealand firm that has been around since 2006 and has over 800,000 customers around the world. Xero is linked with 16,000 accounting and bookkeeping firms globally, so if you already work with somebody, it’s worth asking them about Xero.

To get a better idea of what it’s like to be a Xero user, check out the user forums (known as the Community). You’ll see what questions people ask and how they solve any problems.

Pricing

For small businesses, price is always important. Xero offers several different packages at a variety of prices. Depending whether or not you need payroll and other services, the cost ranges from $9 to $70 per month. For the first six months, you’ll get a price on pricing, and there’s also a 30-day free trial, so you can ease into things and decide if it’s worth it.

All plans provide ongoing reports, invoicing (although the quantity is limited on less-expensive plans).

Xero strives to “make it beautiful,” which isn’t typical of most accounting programs. Keeping tabs on your financials is a necessary task, and some people just won’t do that unless the systems they use are intuitive and easy-to-use (not to mention attractive). If Xero makes you enjoy keeping the books – or hate it just a bit less – it will certainly pay for itself.