As the days get shorter here in North America and we celebrate this year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, it gives me an opportunity to reflect on the experiences from the past few months. This summer, we made the decision to appoint Jackeline Velez as the Director of the US Hispanic Market. This is an exciting decision for us, as it allows Xero to provide resources for our partners who serve the Hispanic community like never before. As one of the fastest growing business segments in the US, Hispanic businesses are eager to embrace the digital transformation to improve the lives of their families and local communities.
But first, a little bit of background
I started with Xero in 2014. Back then, the incoming class of new Xero hires was greeted by a staff of 60 or so employees in our Denver office – a far cry from the hundreds of employees we would have in our state-of-the-art headquarters just a few short years later.
My journey with the company began in our Customer Experience team, helping our partners and clients troubleshoot common processes. As a bilingual representative, this also meant I had plenty of opportunities to help our Hispanic clients, who often needed just a little bit of information in Spanish to get the most out of Xero. Over time, I traveled to more conferences and Xero events, and continued to meet business owners with Hispanic clients that were eager to move to the cloud, but were unsure of how to take that first step.
Our 2017 Xerocon gave me a peek into the real power of the Hispanic business community. Leading up to the event, we expected to experience Austin’s mild weather throughout the week of the conference. However , we were faced with a whole new set of challenges overnight as Austin experienced a once-in-a-decade surprise snow storm.
Fellow Xeros and partners alike braved the snow-clad sidewalks and huddled under blankets and heaters to learn from our featured partners, Xeros, and industry experts. Among them: a group of 30 or so Latino partners, attentively jotting notes and sipping hot coffee under the blue glow of the Xero stage. These partners had come from all over the country, and abroad, but they were all attending for the same reason: they knew there were better ways to help their clients, but didn’t quite know where to start.
That week would form the start of a long and fruitful journey in better understanding these partners, and more specifically, the needs of the Hispanic clients they serve.
What would you assume is the biggest hurdle for Hispanic small businesses operating in the US?
(Hint – nope, it’s not language!)
It’s visibility over cashflow.
Our partners consistently tell us that the number one challenge for these clients is that many don’t know how their business is doing, and whether they need to make any operational changes, until well after their financial year is through. Commonly, many Hispanic small businesses wait until the end of the year until they dutifully report to their financial advisor with a shoebox (or, gasp – a plastic shopping bag!) full of their expenses, receipts, and bank statements – and only then do they find out where their business stands.
We’ve found that a primary reason for this is awareness. With fewer large software providers catering to US Hispanic businesses, many of them simply don’t know what the latest cloud tools can allow their businesses to do, and how much information they can now access at their fingertips to help them make decisions.
As big believers in helping accountants provide real-time business information, we find this anathema, but also a challenge that we’re very experienced at solving.
Si se puede
That’s why we’re excited to launch the US Hispanic team at Xero. We’re looking forward to bringing the same efficiencies that we’ve seen in the broader marketplace, but with tailored content to make sure the partners and small businesses in the Hispanic community are also able to take advantage of the benefits that cloud technologies have enabled.
One of the primary ways we’re getting involved is with training and information. We’ve kicked off a series of monthly events in Spanish that dive into what Xero is, how clients can use it to streamline workflows, and feature industry experts sharing the latest tips, tricks, and tools. We’ve also started offering our Xero Partner Certification class in Spanish, giving new partners additional options for receiving their certification in the language they’re most comfortable with.
Additionally, we’ve increased the number of Xero agents that are hispanohablante. This gives us more flexibility in supporting our partners while they help their clients adapt to the cloud.
For our team, these past two months have been a whirlwind of activity as we develop this Spanish content and continue to work with our existing partners to better understand how we can best support them. With such a large undertaking, it’s been nothing but non-stop meetings, content development and brainstorming. Supporting this underserved community is something that Jackie and I are very passionate about and we simply wouldn’t have it any other way.
Now that the stage is set, we have a number of exciting things to share in the coming months, so stay tuned here for more information. ¡Bienvenidos!