Our practice has grown with Xero!

Why this blog?

Someone suggested we nominate ourselves for the regional Xero partner of the year. Why not I thought so here goes…

Our commitment to Xero – the company and the product

  • Early adopter (2007)
  • Early investor (2009)
  • We are passionate about Xero and are always working to improve the product – ask departed Xeros Andrew Tokeley or Daren Riley, current Xeros Matt Barnett, Mark Blundell, Chloe Jackson
  • Regular attendees at Xerocon
  • Martin is a member of the Xero Global Advisory Council
  • Baubre has presented at Xero road shows and Xerocon and was on Xero homepage 2009 and 2010!

Snip20160623_1

We work the Xero way

  • We are a Xero Gold partner and 100% Xero
  • We use Xero Practice Manager
  • We use Xero addons
  • We are paperless and cloud based
  • We bundle Xero with our pay monthly packages
  • We have online checklists
  • We provide free Xero support for our clients, friends and strangers
  • It is a KPI for our staff to be Xero certified
  • We run free seminars for clients and the public

We have a great Xero partner website

While there may be prettier sites around (but it is arguable) ours is 100% Xero and really useful for clients, the public and anyone using Xero

How do we find clients?

Actually we don’t go looking for clients – they find us. They find us through word of mouth, through our website and through the partner page on the Xero website.

A lot of them come because we are a Xero practice.

What sets us apart?

We’re here for our clients and they’re what get us out of bed everyday. We listen, and solve their problems, whether its overdue taxes, cashflow, succession planning, or just gnarly transactions. We’re with them when they start up, making sure that they have the best operating structure, cloud based accounting , payroll and workflow management systems; we’re there when they have their own babies or move onto bigger things, we feel pride in their successes as if they were our own, we understand the late nights, and the lonely decision making that only another business owner can really understand, and we’re there when they sell their “baby” (the business not their physical babies!) or wind it up because they’re moving on to something else.

We’re about quality not quantity so although we’ve grown organically year on year we won’t win awards for being the fastest growing. But it’s very rare for a client to leave. Not only is it personally rewarding helping people grow financially it’s also an awesome privilege to be part of so many great people’s lives/ happiness/ success.

Trivia

  • Biggest regret – missing the first Xerocon in Hawkes Bay as we were overseas
  • First post on the Xero community – (I think I got that link right)
  • Our son was an intern at Xero and spent his time there fixing the unreconcile button
  • Rod was the guest speaker at our office opening
  • Winner of the inaugural Xero website of the year award (our old site probably this version)

website award 2009

A final word

We are committed to Xero and recommend it to our clients because we absolutely believe Xero makes their lives easier, improves their business and is great value. And time and time again clients have told us they love Xero.

As of now there isn’t anything else out there that comes close to Xero but rest assured – if or when there is a better product then we will absolutely recommend that product!

Thank you Xero – we have grown with you!

 

PS We are recruiting – if you are CA qualified come and talk to us

Getting paid faster

Reprinted from our April 2016 newsletter!

Cash flow is critical for small businesses and one of the best ways you can maximise your cash flow is to get paid faster and leave less sitting there in unpaid invoices you have issued.

Currently the average time it takes for a small business to get paid is around 40 days, although for business using Xero for invoicing this is less, closer to 30 days. That is consistent with what we experience.

getting paid

There are some simple things you can do to get paid faster:

  1. No surprises. Make sure your client knows what it will cost up front and when you will do the work.
  2. Invoice as you go rather than once a month. If you have finished the job then send the invoice while it is fresh in your, and the clients mind.
  3. Date your invoices appropriately. Larger organisations and government departments tend to pay on the 20th of the month after your invoice date, so using 30 April as an invoice date could result in you being paid a month earlier than if you used 1 May as the date.
  4. Make it easy for your clients to pay. Make sure you bank account number and payment instructions are easy to find on your invoices. With Xero it is straight forward to connect a payments gateway to take online payments.
  5. Regularly follow up your overdue invoices. You can use aged receivables reports or in Xero the Overdue invoices dashboard to see at a glance who is overdue. In Xero you can set automatically emailed invoice reminders triggered when an invoice becomes nearly due or overdue. For some clients though a phone call may work best. Around the 23rd of the month is a good time to follow up the overdue invoices as a lot of businesses have invoice runs that pay on the 20th.

In Xero you can add the accounts receivable days to your business performance dashboard to track how you are going.

business performance

The weather station, the Raspberry Pi and the ESP8266

In a previous post going back to 2012 I talked about how I used an Android netbook running Linux and wview to post data from my WS 2355 weather station to Weather Underground. Such a long time ago, things have changed a lot since then.

First up I replaced the Linux netbook with a Raspberry Pi running Raspbian and using pywws to upload the weather info for IWELLING61.  The netbook was ok but getting Linux on it had been a kludge so as soon as I found out about Raspberry Pis I got one in. Cost – around $60 NZD.

ws1Then a second weather station to go at the bach. This time I was pretty confident that I could get away with a cheaper variant so picked up a WH1082 from Trademe for about $185 and another Raspberry Pi from nicegear.

trademeA year or two rolled by and the original WS 2355 base station stopped communicating with the sensors – I tried cables and wireless without luck so I went hunting on Trademe for another weather station – this time it was a WH108x for $135 NZD from debra101 in Taranaki.

 

Another year and the $185 WH1082 at the bach stopped working so back to debra1010 for a $135 replacement.

That leaves me with a set of spare gauges from the WS 2355 and WH1082 lying around.

In between times I started playing with the cheap (< $10 NZD on ebay)  ESP8266 Internet of Things devices.  esp8266So much fun to be had here! The ESP8266 has a large fan base now so lots of resources around – it is  bit like a dumbed down Ardunio that you can use as a single purpose thing to do stuff. I had a choice between programming it in C using the Ardunio IDE or LUA using nodemcu firmware. I decided on nodemcu as although I hadn’t used Lua before it looked easy, especially if using the cloud firmware build service that has a lot of APIs to common sensors and devices built in.

So what do do with it? Well first up I  connected the ESP8266 to my Macbook Air and flashed it with a custom cloud build using esptool.py. I could then use a terminal program (I used zterm for the Mac) to talk to it at 115200 baud 8N parity. It seemed to work better with no flow control. Next up I created a small init.lua script to start the wifi and connect to my network. To transfer the script to the ESP 8266 I used luatool.py. The ESP restarted and was on the network. All good but I wanted a smarter way of transferring files and running adhoc commands. Some googling and I built Lua scripts for tftp and telnet servers for the ESP (thanks to whoever I stole bits of scripts from), loaded them up and then unplugged and I could access the ESP over wifi for most things I wanted to do.

You can download copies of the scripts here. There are also a few shell scripts in there to automate copying files, restarting the ESP etc;

espThe last thing I did was to hook up a very cheap and inaccurate it turns out DHT11 temperature sensor and post the results to thingspeak.

I’ve now ordered the better DHT22 (and another ESP, and a 4 line LCD display, and a relay … all up less than $20 NZD delivered) for my next project – that is get the ESP talking directly with my leftover rain, anemometer and wind direction gauges.

thingspeak

A couple of things to watch out for:

  1. You can only  run one TCP and one UDP service at a time on the ESP so if my telnet server is running then the ESP won’t be able to use https posts to update thingspeak.
  2. There are a lot of variants of the ESP around – you can buy them cheaply on ebay and probably a few cents cheaper still on Alibaba. Go for a 12E or better variant, apparently the newer ones have more flash and better wifi reception.

Google has solved the photos problem

It is a long time since I’ve written anything here – its been busy! I wrote about this in our June 2016 newsletter and it decided it was worthy of expanding on.

The problem with photos (and videos) is we take a lot of them, they take a lot of space and often they are spread over multiple devices so we don’t always back them up properly (understatement). Also the photos are hard to find – I don’t know about you but I never seem to get around to organising them into logical albums all in one easy to find place. And the other problem is I occasionally like to show someone a photo or two and my phone just doesn’t have enough storage to keep a decent history of photos.

The backup issue is the big one – every year or so a friend (not usually the same one) calls up to say their PC has died and they have lost their photos. Everything else you can probably replace even if there may be a cost, but if the hard drive is gone and not recoverable and that’s your only copy of your photos then they are gone forever. Even if you do back them up say to a USB hard drive – how many of these do you have and where do you keep them? If you have a house fire do you still have a backup?

Google Photos solves all these problems in a free and easy to use way. It’s brilliant!

You go to the Google Photos link and follow your nose. Download the app onto the devices where your photos and videos are (PC/Mac/Phone), point it at your photos and let it go. If you have a lot of them it can take many hours but at the end of it all your photos and videos will be uploaded to google photos and they will be searchable and shareable.

There are just a couple of things to watch out for when uploading:

  • Take the option for high quality uploads (free unlimited storage) rather than original quality (limited storage). The high quality photos and videos are absolutely fine.
  • If you have a lot of photos/videos and you are not on an unlimited internet plan it may use up your data allowance during the upload – keep an eye on it. If you are on a phone do it over wifi.

At the end of the process all your photos/videos are backed up into the Google cloud – for free – and you can search them from your PC/Mac/Phone. I’d still keep a copy of the them on a USB drive in their original resolution just in case – in case your account gets hacked perhaps, or you delete some by accident.

For me the backup is the boring but necessary bit. The real power of Google photos is that it gives me access to all my photos anytime (that I have an internet connection) from any device, in particular my storage challenged phone – and the search is freakishly good.

It takes a few days for Google to analyse the photos but when done you can search on location, date or things like cat, car, beach etc;jm. You can also find people by clicking on a mug shot that Google generates. The search identified a person in a full face motorcycle helmet taken from 20 feet away. For the article on ANZ in the newsletter I knew I’d taken a picture of the ANZ sign being added to Hotel Intercontinental (when they should have been spending the money on their IT systems) but I couldn’t find it on my phone. A search of ANZ found nothing but using the term “hotel intercontinental” found it second in the list in Google photos.

No problem finding photos of the late and dearly loved Mr Cat either.

cat

And from my phone..

sky

So what have the Romans has Google ever done for us…?

  • Search
  • Gmail
  • Chromecast
  • Now Google Photos

 

Seminar Series – October 2015

We are running the following three FREE lunchtime seminars:

 

Seminar 1: The key numbers for your business
Tuesday 6 October 12:15 – 1:15 pm  – this seminar covers the following:

  • Accruals vs cashflow
  • How to get your money out of your business – drawings, dividends, salary
  • Shareholder current accounts –  drawings and funds introduced, what they mean and how they work
  • What can the financial statements tell you?
  • Effect of closing stock figures
  • Key ratios e.g. debtor days, gross profit
  • Effects of small movements
  • How to increase your income without working more – the power of leverage, claiming all costs etc

 

 

 

Seminar 2: Your Personal Finances
Tuesday 13 October 12:15 – 1:15 pm – this seminar covers the following:

  • Your approach / personality
  • Types of investment
  • How to get ahead
  • Budgeting – does it work?
  • Reducing your mortgage
  • Where to from here?

 

 

 

Seminar 3: Xero Update
Tuesday 20 October 12:15 – 1:15 pm – this seminar covers the following:

  • Using Xero to claim expenses paid for personally
  • On charging expenses to clients
  • Find and Recode
  • Inventory
  • Payroll
  • Repeating invoices, email templates and email reminders

 

Your presenters:

 
Baubre Murray FCA – Director of Dowse Murray Chartered Accountants – an accountant with more than 25 years experience working with business owners.

Martin Dowse BSC (Hons) – Technology specialist with more than 25 years experience working with technology systems

All seminars are being held at Level 1, 166 Featherston Street.  Note that this is in the meeting rooms on the first floor of our building, not in our own office.

Bring a friend but please RSVP as soon as possible as we have only a limited number of seats for each seminar.

RSVP by email to martin@dowsemurray.co.nz or phone us on 04 971-1600.

Looking forward to seeing you!

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