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Partner Pages 2020: Strength in numbers


Feb 6, 2020

By Karen Bussing, Owner, Kazron Bookkeeping and BAS Services, New South Wales and Fee Bonhote, Owner, Elite Bookkeeping Solutions, New South Wales.

Welcome to Partner Pages: a magazine made up of stories from the Xero Partner community, for the Xero partner community and shared as part of Roadshow Australia each year.

There’s no underestimating the transformative power of community. Together, we have the potential to learn, grow, and succeed, both professionally and personally. Nowhere is this more evident than in the career-defining relationships our diverse network of partners continue to form, whether they meet on the Xerocon floor, at a roadshow lunch break or on the Xero partners AU Facebook wall. While technology may facilitate doing the work, nothing is more important than people connecting with people.

But don’t just take our word for it. Meet Xero partners, career confidantes and friends Fee Bonhote and Karen Bussing, and allow them to introduce each other.

Fee on Karen 

Karen and I met at a Xero luncheon about eight years ago and connected instantly – when you know, you know. While we’re both serious about the work that we do, we try not to take life itself too seriously. From that first moment, we became a constant source of support to each other. I can actually call her one of my closest friends now.

Navigating change together

Working in the cloud has allowed our profession incredible freedom. But it can also be quite isolating at times. Both Karen and I work remotely from home offices and run small practices. In an industry that’s constantly changing – from new technologies to new legislation – it’s essential to form relationships outside of your own business. The people you engage with will become your sounding boards, and they’ll help ensure you’re on the right path, time and time again.

Whether it’s in person or on the Facebook page, I often look to members of the Xero partner community for advice. And it’s certainly paid off. With their help I’ve done everything from switching my job management system to implementing new strategies, mastering new apps, and streamlining my processes. We’re all on the same path, and everyone is more than willing to share their experiences, both good and bad.

Leading and learning by example

At times, the complexity of the work we do can be quite daunting. The main thing Karen has taught me is that education is key. Her in-depth knowledge of all things payroll and constant drive to upskill has really pushed me. My business has grown as a result, as have the services I can offer to clients. Now, dealing with complex payroll scenarios is an integral, revenue-boosting part of my day-to-day.

Karen is incredibly supportive and non-judgmental, which is especially welcome when things get tough. Sometimes, our interaction is as simple as just checking in and asking, “How did your day go?” Karen’s helped me build much more confidence in myself. Without a doubt, my business would not be where it is now without her in my life. I’m incredibly grateful for her support and beautiful friendship.

If there’s one thing the Xero partner community has taught me, it’s that no matter what stage of our careers we’re at, we’re all equals, and we all have something to offer. It’s truly a special thing that we’ve created together.

Karen on Fee

I met Fee through our partner manager back when I was quite new to Xero. It was weird – we weren’t even sitting next to each other, but I just knew there was just something about her. We hit it off instantly. There was a conference coming up and we decided to go together, and we’ve done so ever since.

Encouraging growth and gains

When it comes to on-the-job advice in what is a fairly complex industry (to say the least), Fee’s my number one. We both have different skill sets, which makes her opinion invaluable – especially if I’m struggling with an area that she specialises in. 

Like Fee, I check the Xero partners AU Facebook page daily. I’ve been in the game for over 25 years but I still find that I’m constantly learning. Before discovering the support of the partner community, I used to bill entirely differently. By asking questions and discovering how others do things, I was able to make a change for the better. Honestly, I couldn’t believe how generous everyone was with their information.

As bookies, we tend to work late and we tend to work solo. But the Xero partner community has entirely transformed my professional (and social) network and become a vital source of support for me. First, I met Fee. Then, we formed a group of 12 of us, hailing everywhere from Perth to Port Douglas. We bounce ideas off each other, make sure we’re staying up-to-date with what’s going on in the industry, and compare the latest systems and processes. Everyone contributes.

A push in the right direction

Each year, we get together and rent a house for Xerocon. This year, we were so inspired by everything we’d learned that we stayed on and held our own development day. We went through our businesses and our challenges, and discussed what we’re good at and what we need help with. To be honest, I was originally planning to just chill out on the couch. But, as always, my community pushed me to grow in all the right ways.

The incredible thing is that Xero partners don’t tend to see each other as competition. The number of people who are happy to give their time to help and encourage others is truly inspiring. By bringing us all together, Xero hasn’t just made our jobs easier, they’ve become infinitely more fun.

And the same applies to Fee. Beyond advancing my career, our friendship has made me happier to go to work every day. You can’t beat that.

Five practice-changing tips we’ve learnt from each other

  1. Network, network, network: Attend all of your nearby Xero events, put yourself out there and ask someone for coffee. Better still, call your Xero account manager and suggest a lunch with your local partners. 
  2. Facebook is your friend: There’s plenty of learning to be done within the Xero partners AU Facebook group. Join up and consider it your go-to place for on-the-job advice.
  3. Don’t be afraid to question your peers: The Xero community is more than willing to share their experiences, so reach out and call on your fellow partners for guidance.
  4. Grow your profile: If you can offer any insights, don’t be shy! Sharing your point of view is a great way to grow your profile.
  5. Education brings knowledge: In our industry, it pays to become a lifelong learner. So go to that seminar, sign up for that course, and don’t forget to compare notes.

A Xero expert says:

Wherever in the country you might be, the Xero partner community is ready and waiting for you to engage – in person and online. All you need to do is come armed with a generosity of spirit: share your experiences, offer your tips, and trade your stories (the good, the bad, and everything in between). In return, you’ll discover a trustworthy source of advice, support and endless conversation that’s available to you any time, anywhere.

Amanda Newton, Head of Community, Xero Australia

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