Following on from my previous article where I wrote about the success of Team GB cycling I thought I’d take this opportunity to follow up on one of those success tips, the successful capture and use of data.

In business the value of data can be the difference from survival or failure, with recent research showing that only 50% of all new start up businesses survive to their fifth birthday, I was intrigued to see that this number increased to 88% for those businesses that used Xero accounting software to help run their business.

So what makes this incredible difference to survival rates? I believe one of the major reasons for this success is the information that real time data provides and Xero helps you capture this.

So what is it about Xero that helps businesses be more successful?

Right here, right now

Possibly the best thing about cloud accounting software is that you can access it from anywhere and Xero is no exception, whether it be desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone you can simply login and access your data and run your business in real time, not tomorrow or at the weekend.

Imagine you are meeting with a customer and you cannot remember if they owe you money, not a problem tap your smartphone app and check out how much money is outstanding and you are now in a position to request payment for any amounts overdue.

Create more time

OK so Xero haven’t invented a time machine, but what it has done is create a solution that dramatically saves time; time is precious, so why waste it when it comes to pulling together your accounting records. Xero was the first accounting software to launch direct feeds from your bank straight into Xero, this allows some amazing time savings when reconciling.

Automation functions such as bank rules where items are automatically reconciled, coupled with Xero’s clever way of learning how to match payments and receipts to outstanding sales and purchases, helps save a significant amount of time. Xero recently announced that coming soon will be the predictive coding of invoices saving even more time.

Want to save even more time? Why not add ReceiptBank to your armoury and simply scan in your receipts and let OCR do its magic and reduce manual inputting even further.

Collaboration and real time decision making

Many business owners find it hard to make decisions on their own and often appreciate the support from their trusted advisors. I frequently get asked about capital expenditure and whether the business can afford it. Before Xero it would be difficult to answer this question, with desktop backups going backwards and forwards often it would take weeks to be in a position to move forward with advice.

As I have access to the same Xero information as my clients, collaboration can happen quickly by simply logging in and assessing their current position. This enables quick and accurate advice to be delivered.

Reporting and KPI improvement

Once the bookkeeping is up to date we can then take a look at the Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) of the business and set about improving them, whether this be reducing the number of days it takes for customers to pay invoices, increasing the conversion rate from quotes to sales or increasing average spend etc.

Regular review of the businesses KPI’s can make a real difference to ensure you are still around to celebrate five years in business and maximise the financial position of the business.

App Marketplace

The app market place is a list of software providers that fully integrate with Xero. This is an area that has allowed small businesses to access software normally only available to large businesses. Areas include retail point of sale providers such as VendHQ and Shopify or stock control systems such as Unleashed or Tradegecko.

These apps are on a monthly subscription basis that allow easy access for small businesses without large up front capital costs.

These in turn allow small businesses to get further control over their financials.