There’s been a lot of back and forth this week following the news that Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer, had invoked a company policy change which in general terms required all Yahoo’s remote workers to relocate back to the company’s headquarters and other primary locations.
If the first part of the edict wasn’t interesting enough, the implication of not relocating – regardless of the basis upon which you were hired by Yahoo – was that employees would be advised to seek alternate employment.
The key paragraph from her memo says:
“We need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”
The general reaction to this news has ranged from:
- A confirmation of a long lingering suspicion that working from home is the productivity equivalent of The Emperor’s New Clothes and Mayer is right to call it thus.
- Yahoo has totally lost it.
I think there’s another, more plausible justification which I’ll share in a paragraph or two’s time.
I distinctively remember my first job out of college, the start of my career, the start of my adult life. I had taken a sales representative position at an up-and-coming online payroll company known as PayCycle Inc. (US version).
In those days there was still a large contingency of people who viewed the Internet as a scary black hole where your lifes deepest secrets can be easily exposed. Needless to say, I was a little skeptical as to how in the world I was going to sell anything related to the internet, nevertheless a payroll product.
Turns out that when you have a pretty great product that really can help improve the lives of small businesses owners, it’s more convincing than selling. We were fortunate enough to convince quite a few people and with the success of that product, the landscape of what a payroll product is in the US, began to change.
A payroll market absolutely saturated by the large full service companies now had a chihuahua biting at its ankles. As technology began to bloom so did the DIY payroll solutions. Small business owners previously forced into a price arm wrestling match now had the might to win; they had other options. There was finally an answer to a niche market of small business owners looking to save money on payroll. The market now provided solutions that could fulfill all the payroll needs of a small business but at a quarter of the price. Creating a DIY product that is easy to setup, use, keeps the IRS at bay, and is inexpensive are all major challenges but many companies were still looking to cash in on the new movement.
Fast-forward to 2013 and I find myself embarking on a new adventure but with the same challenge, to alter the landscape of US payroll yet again. This time as a product marketing manager with a few more gray hairs and some great insight on what it takes to deliver a top-notch service. It becomes even more ironic knowing that Xero purchased Paycycle (Australia), a DIY payroll solution designed to fulfill the needs of Australian small businesses. Although the Australian Paycycle has no relation to US PayCycle, both have the same core value of the customer experience being a number one priority.
The backbone of a great payroll product is already there but so is the challenge of localizing it for the US. Xero’s core focus is to revolutionize small business and that is exactly what we intend to do by adding a US payroll feature. Provide an all in one accounting and payroll solution that instantly makes a small business more efficient and productive. Gone are the days of exporting and importing, logging into separate services and double entry. Xero is poised to deliver one solution that will revolutionize the way you run your small business.
Xero has already delivered a revolutionary, customer centric focused accounting and payroll product in Australia. Duplicating this established brand value in the US is no easy feat, especially given all the complexity that US payroll introduces. As we take the initial steps in building a Xero payroll product here in the US, we understand the necessary features required in order to be successful, but the number one thing we understand is that we need to stay focused on our customer and their experience.
Guest post from Lisbeth Jacobs, Director International, The IceHouse
What does it take to be a successful international business and how can we help companies become more successful faster? These are questions The IceHouse has been working to answer as part of a new initiative which has been running for the last three months.
Last week during Xerocon, Xero CEO Rod Drury referenced our initiative when discussing the entrepreneurial challenges businesses face, so we thought it would be good to share some of our insights with you.
Since its inception in 2001 The IceHouse has strived to work with entrepreneurial companies to help turn them into international successes. We do this by getting alongside people who want to transform their organisations, helping to grow both their talent and the local economy. The ultimate goal for The IceHouse has always been to increase the number of internationally capable owner managers and entrepreneurs and their organisations. More recently we made this goal even more explicit. We set forward the aspiration of enabling 1,000 such firms in New Zealand by 2020. With around 300-350 companies enabled over the last 11 years, we realised this will require a significant ramp up. In order to achieve this ambitious goal we started the IceHouse Business of International Quality project.
My social group doesn’t have many (or any) furniture enthusiasts, so I was surprised to see an Ikea promotional video collecting “likes” on my Facebook feed a couple weeks ago.
But I didn’t have to watch it for very long to understand why it was getting shared. It wasn’t really about Ikea furniture. It was about how Ikea furniture made a young family’s life better. Have a look:
Ikea’s video is a great example of content marketing, which is the main tactic we use to spread the word about Xero: tell a good story and distribute it. The content we produce– blogs, videos, e-newsletters, slide decks and more – is all about telling a compelling story.
Which brings me to Webstock 2013, an annual web design conference here in Wellington. I went to see Garr Reynolds present on how storytelling principles can help you avoid the “death by powerpoint” so common in large organisations.
UPDATED with 2nd ASB video below.
ASB is New Zealand’s most tech savvy bank. ASB were the first bank in the world to support ‘automagic’ bank feeds into Xero. Their leadership has transformed accounting software globally, with bank feeds now an expected feature in all small business accounting software.
ASB has watched us grow and been very supportive as we achieved scale. Today ASB announced a Technology Innovation Alliance with Xero.
Xero Business Essentials is a range of video tutorials carefully designed to be easy on the eye, and even more importantly, easy to learn from.
Have you ever tried to learn from video tutorials only to find yourself getting lost in the detail, trying to figure out what the bigger picture is? Or getting frustrated because there’s too much overview and not enough coverage of the finer points? These videos aim to change all of that.
Each topic is introduced with an animated story to help you visualise the concept, and then move into step-by-step instruction in the software at a nice leisurely pace so it’s simple to follow. Nervous to try out what you’ve learnt? Just give it a go in the demo company first – no harm done!
We’re pleased to announce that the latest version of Xero Touch is available for download from the iTunes App Store today, meaning that Apple fans can reconcile their bank statement data on their iPhones. This follows the release of bank reconciliation for Android two weeks ago.
Since the Android release, our users have already used the convenience of their mobile phones to reconcile thousands of statement lines. The bank reconciliation feature finds possible transaction matches, suggests possible transaction categorisations, supports transfers and allows you to leave notes on those statement lines that you’re unsure about.
lt’s great to see this focus on behalf of small business on these issues. It is also great to measure ourselves up against expectations. We are heavily engaged with the Institute of IT Professionals’ Cloud Computing Code of Practice and as a leader in cloud computing for small business we are committed to protecting our customers’ data.
The point of the Commissioner’s checklist is to help businesses weigh up the benefits of using cloud services with any concerns they have about privacy, trust and legal obligations. The Privacy Act covers “personal information,” which is any information which can be used to identify a particular person, but you may also have confidential or sensitive information that you may find it useful to apply the checklist to.
- Figure out which cloud services will work for you and what your current risk level is
- Know what information you’ll be sending to the cloud
- Recognise that the responsibility is ultimately yours
- Security – lock it down
- Check out your provider
- Know exactly what you’re signing up for
- Be as upfront with your clients as you can
- Location – where will the information be
- Use and disclosure – who sees the information and what will it be used for
- Ability to exit, and deleting information
The first point in the checklist notes that, while it means holding your customer’s data with a third party, using the cloud can be safer. We often talk about the comparison of a poorly secured server in an office versus a heavily secure data centre as used by Xero, noting that your data is also encrypted between the browser and the server.
AffinityLive is an integrated platform for managing your client work. It brings all the various projects, issues, contracts, and clients you work with into one application:
- Handles planned projects as well as reactive client service in one place, meaning you have a single view of all of your client work and timesheets.
- Supports retainers and ongoing service contracts, including keeping track of usage, balances and then automatically handling renewals and invoices in Xero.
- Is a centralized client database that synchronizes between Google Apps, Office365, your smartphone and, Xero – update once, update everywhere.
- Automatically captures all client-related emails and attachments in a central, searchable system.
Who is it for?
AffinityLive is great for organisations that provide professional services to their clients. So, whether you’re a designer, a consultant, a lawyer or anyone else who charges for time, it is created for you.
Running a business is all about information. The more you know, the more informed your decisions are. And when your decisions are better-informed, your chance of success is higher.
Financial statements are the best way to get this information. They open your eyes to potential pitfalls or alternatives you can explore when making a decision. However, I often meet small business owners who don’t use this valuable tool, so I’ve put together a quick guide on reading the different kinds of financial statements and figuring out what they’re telling you.
Let’s start with the income statement. It’s a basic breakdown of your sales less your expenses for a given period (let’s say last month). This is pretty simple math: if the sales over the last month are greater than the expenses the income statement will report a profit. Good. If the expenses are greater than the sales, they’ll report a loss. Not as good.