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One in a million: Guy Pearson of Practice Ignition

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Bryan Williams

Nov 17, 2020

To celebrate reaching the milestone of supporting one million subscribers across Australia – the Xero team is turning a spotlight on some of the people who’ve made it all possible. From our earliest customers and advisors to the employees and app partners who’ve been there along the journey, we explore how they too have evolved and adapted over the years. And, in doing so, we uncover what truly makes them one in a million.

In this piece, we talk to Guy Pearson, one of the Founders of Practice Ignition. The creators of software that eliminates friction for accountants and bookkeepers by sending clients a single proposal they can read, sign and pay in one place. Guy tells us how Practice Ignition has grown since its early days as a bold startup (complete with space suit-wearing staff), into the mature business it is today.

When did you first hear about Xero?

Back in 2008, I was having a coffee with my best mate and his dad who were both in tech. At the time, I was working in a mid-tier accounting firm, so when they mentioned this ‘cloud accounting software company called Xero’ that had just listed in New Zealand, well, I went straight home and checked it out. 

This was pre-iPhone days for most of us (if you can imagine), so I had to sit down in front of my computer. It’s crazy to think that nowadays I can literally keep Xero in my pocket and be hooked up to 800-plus apps including Practice Ignition.

Tell us about how Practice Ignition has grown in the time since?

The whole reason Practice Ignition was born is that I was searching for a more streamlined way to manage client proposals. I was running a Xero practice, using Xero for the ledger and the ecosystem for clients – and I thought, how can we create a shortcut that works together with this software to make life even easier?

We launched Practice Ignition in 2012 to help accountants and bookkeepers sign more clients and get paid faster. Because it’s specifically designed to work with Xero, from day one you’ve had to be a customer and partner to use it. From then on, we’ve been on a journey that’s taken us to countless Xerocons, Roadshows, product feedback sessions, as well as help launch new initiatives like Xero HQ

We’ve gone from having a big idea and no revenue to looking after more than 200,000 recurring advisor and small business relationships globally. A large number of those are shared with Xero, so we’ve continued to grow alongside our largest and closest partner which is pretty cool to witness.

What has been your biggest learning during this period?

If I’m wearing my accounting hat, my biggest discovery (and that of the entire industry) has been the value of the single ledger and how the real-time flow of information has totally changed the game for small businesses.

If I look to Practice Ignition, it’s the understanding I now have that the transition between being an accountant and running a software company was always going to be a huge learning process. The most important part of software development is always being cognizant of the problems you’re trying to solve – and those you’re not – all the while staying true to your own journey.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Probably the mindset shift needed to move from working in an accounting firm to following the ideation of a software product through to execution. I’ve always loved using tech as a tool to eliminate admin, but figuring out how to scale up a software company was definitely a whole new world for me. I used to get really frustrated when I was told that something wouldn’t work, but I’ve since come to understand that not everyone wants to run their business – or accounting practice – in the same way that I do (and that’s more than OK).

What has been the most rewarding aspect?

The people. Without a doubt, the most rewarding thing has been being able to grow a team. I can’t get enough of that sense of curiosity and excitement that the Practice Ignition staff share. I also love that we’ve built something that really helps my former accounting and bookkeeping brethren and sisters execute better with small businesses.

Watching Practice Ignition arrive at each milestone along the way is really special. I had so much help in those early days and being able to give back to those people is the ultimate reward.

In one sentence, what makes Practice Ignition one in a million?

Practice Ignition brings all of the joys and efficiencies of how software and ecommerce companies run to the services market – starting with the accounting segment. In doing so, we enable accountants and bookkeepers to focus on helping their clients (something that has been all the more important this year).

Also, in the early days we used to wear space suits to industry conferences. That definitely made us standout. 

Read more ‘One in a million’ stories from people making a mark in their industries, including Aris Allegos of Moula and more to come.

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