The problem with recommending an app off the bat

Linkedin is a great tool for building connections, sending and receiving referrals, and even getting news updates relating to the industry you’re in. However, I have seen a few ‘boo-boos’ (as I would refer to them) recently.

These ‘boo-boos’ happen when someone innocently posts something along the lines of ‘I’m looking for a project management app, can anyone make a recommendation?’ Linkedin, as I said is great for referrals but when people make recommendations and list app names in the comments section, the geek inside me cringes a little. It’s a great idea to learn the names of the apps that are available but you can’t truly recommend a product without first understanding the client’s business… in a LOT of detail!

meter showing arrow pointing to 'a lot'

As my colleague Jonathan said “It’s like people recommending what car they drive or what house they should buy based on very limited knowledge”

Imagine if you were recommended a 2 seat Porsche Cayman by someone who owns it and can vouch for it. Sound good? Well it might be an awesome car but it’s not ideal if you actually have 3 children to fit in the car and prefer a front wheel drive. It’s important to fully evaluate the businesses requirements (4+ seats) and wants (front wheel drive).

And before you ask, yes I did have to Google ‘sports cars that have two seats’ – no shame. Proof below!

In all seriousness

(and from experience), there are lots of potential problems with listing which apps might help as you could end up wasting a lot of time. There might be an important integration or feature requirement that gets overlooked for example. But instead of venturing down the wrong path with the wrong app, think about this… The real opportunity is to lay the existing processes bare and look for the opportunities for transformation. This is where long term success lies and we see these opportunities all the time! 

You can read about the successes that can be achieved by business transformation here.

We recommend starting by mapping out the processes in the business so you can see where your existing issues are. You’ll also be able to see workflows that could become an issue if not optimised. Based on this information, you can define a set of functional requirements and rate them using MoSCoW (must have, should have, could have, won’t have). It’ll now be much easier to create an accurate shortlist of apps that might be a good fit. With the process maps and functional requirements you can have more meaningful conversations with the various app vendors. And they can build and deliver customised demos using the workflows you have mapped – so it’s much easier for you to see if that software system is missing anything you need. 

If this is something you need guidance on then please do get in touch with us.

Bethanie

Google Workspace tips

You all know by now that every couple of weeks I share my favourite features updates from Google Workspace. There are so many new features brought out regularly that it is not difficult to find some really awesome tips to share with you.

So here’s my most recent roundup

Out of office information will now display when replying to or mentioning a user in a Google Docs comment

In Google Docs, you’ll now see out of office information when replying to or mentioning other users in a comment.

When mentioning a single user in a new comment or thread, you’ll see the OOO banner and information on when they plan to return.

For multi-person threads, you’ll see condensed out of office information. You can select the info icon to view more information on each specific person. 

No action is required, this is now active.

Gmail email suggestions

This feature has been out for a while now but you may not be aware of it if you haven’t turned it on. Which is silly as it’s really cool! As you type an email, Google’s smart compose will make suggestions for the rest of your sentence. The suggestion will appear as a lighter text and you just need to press the tab button to use the suggestion.

To turn it on,  open Gmail and in the top right corner,  click Settings and then See all settings.

Under “General,” scroll down to “Smart Compose.” Select Writing suggestions on or Writing suggestions off. 

Create tasks in Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Docs, Sheets, or Slides

You can now create tasks when you are in any of the above applications. When a to do item comes to mind, you can just click on the task icon at the right side of your screen and add a task for yourself there.

Google Task Icon
Google Task Icon

What I particularly like about tasks is that you can create one directly from an email:

  1. Open Gmail and drag an email into the Tasks window. The task is the email subject.
  2. In the task, a link appears so you can easily reopen the message.
Move a conversation to create a task

In addition to this, you can add a task directly into your calendar. That way, if you don’t get round to completing a task at the planned day and time, it still remains an open task that you can reschedule. Click on a slot in your Google Calendar and just click ‘Task’ to switch it from an event to a task. There you can define what the task is, when it should be done, and which task list it belongs to. You can create your own task lists e.g. Admin, Project Work, etc.

So that’s it, I’d love to hear how you get on if you try any of these features!

Until next time.

Bethanie

WorkflowMax vs Xero Projects – What’s the difference?

The software ecosystem can be a minefield can’t it?

If you’re a business owner and a Xero user stuck on whether Xero Projects or WorkflowMax is the best fit for you, then you’re in the right place.

I have spent the last five years of my career helping businesses get started with Xero and WorkflowMax. I have spoken to hundreds of small and medium sized businesses in almost every industry to help them establish if these apps are a good fit for them. And guess what? I’m not stopping!!!

So, let’s take a look…

Both software apps are marketed as project management. At a top level, these types of systems are used by businesses that need to track jobs and time sheets. For that reason, they can be used by lots of different industries including professional services, architects, creative agencies, and engineers.

The great thing about Projects and WorkflowMax is that they are both Xero owned products. This means that:

  • They both have a native integration with Xero Accounting
  • They both hold the same Xero privacy policies
  • You’ll receive a consistent experience with their support teams
  • You can contact support in the same way for both systems
  • They’re both hosted on AWS (Amazon Web Services)
  • They have similar interfaces/usability

WorkflowMax user interface:

Screenshot of WorkflowMax's Job & Staff Management from www.workflowmax.com

Xero Projects user interface:

Track Jobs and Projects with Xero Projects | Xero US

There are some very big differences between both Xero Projects and WorkflowMax, that will mean that one of them will be a much better fit for you. I recommend mapping out your job management processes and comparing each stage of your process against the feature offering of each system, as well as considering your budget. 

I’ve listed some differences between Xero Projects and WorkflowMax below.

Xero ProjectsWorkflowMax
Quotes and Estimated Costs at task & cost levelQuotes/Estimates and Budgets at project and task & Cost level
3 user permission levelsGranular user permission levels (we’re talking 52 tick boxes!)
Attach expenses against a project but not purchase ordersTrack expenses – but also track & receipt purchase orders in a job – PO’s and receipts sync to Xero
Integration to Xero Expenses for expense claimsNo integration to Xero expenses
Invoicing from Xero Invoicing from WorkflowMax or via integration with Xero
Bills, spend money and expense linking in XeroPurchase order receipts and sales invoices link with Xero
Task billing rates per projectCustom billing rates per client or project, per staff member or individual task rates
Manage job due datesManage job/task due dates and milestones, automated notification reminders to staff
3 reports – Project Details, Project Summary, Detailed Time – no WIP reportingDozens of reports (including WIP) and the ability to build your own customised reports
Mobile app allows you to create a project and record information such as time and expensesMobile app allows you to add time and expenses to an existing job in WFM. No ability to create jobs in app
Time entries can be GPS tracked/automatedNo GPS tracking
Time entries can be pulled into Xero payrollNo payroll integrations

This is just a quick insight.

The great thing with software is that it’s often customisable. If Xero Projects is a great fit for you but you need staff billing rates, then you could set up staff as inventory items. If WorkflowMax is a great fit for you but you need capacity planning, then you might consider a third party app such as PlanRight. There are so many options and routes to find the best app stack.

But, in essence, Xero Projects is best for smaller businesses from sole traders upwards. Workflowmax is best suited to small to medium sized businesses. 

The most common business industries to use Xero Projects are construction businesses, creative agencies, IT support teams, and 1-2 user accounting practices, among others. From my time at WorkflowMax, I mostly onboarded architects, creatives, construction businesses, and engineers.

If you’re a Xero user interested in using Xero Projects, speak to your accountant to see if it’s the right fit for you.

If you think WorkflowMax (or even another project management software) might be a better option, then book a call with me or email hello@foxability.com. I can help you assess your businesses requirements and uncover opportunities to improve your processes. This will enable me to assist you in fully evaluating the best suited apps.

Hope this helps!

Bethanie

Xero app integrator badge

WorkflowMax Certified Advisor badge

More Google Updates!

Happy Friday one and all! Here’s a couple minutes of Google Workspace updates I think you should know about.

You can now create a new Google Meet video from your browser. 

Just type in meet.new and hit enter and you’ll be in a meeting that you can invite people to.

Remember, you can also type docs.new, slides.new, forms.new, and sheets.new to create all kinds of Google documents in your browser.

Google has released a files tab within Google’s chat rooms. 

If, like us, you use Rooms to communicate with staff or clients, then it’s likely that you’re sharing files with one another there. You can now click the Files tab at the top of the Room screen and search through all shared files there.

Google Chat will automatically suggest 1:1 chat based on your Google Calendar

In Google Chat, you’ll now see suggested 1:1 chats based on current meetings on your Google Calendar. You’ll see the suggested conversation shortcut at the top of the Chat section in Gmail on mobile and web and in Google Chat on mobile. Suggested chats will appear at the top of the Chat section in Gmail on mobile.

Video of Google Chat suggestion

The chat will be visible ten minutes prior to the 1:1 meeting and ten minutes after the meeting ends. This feature makes it easier to share information and files before a meeting begins, let meeting attendees know you’re running late, or share quick follow-ups once a meeting has concluded.

Sign in to RSVP via hyperlinks in Google Calendar email invitations

In order to prevent unauthorized users from responding on your behalf to Google Calendar event invitations, you’ll now be required to be logged in to use any of the RSVP hyperlinks in invite emails. Previously, organizers or anyone with a specific invitee’s invitation copy could respond on behalf of that invitee. Anyone without a Google account won’t be asked to login and can RSVP as normal.

Screenshot of meeting invite

We LOVE Google

We almost can’t keep up with all the new features they’re introducing. You can trust that I’ll be regularly compiling the best new features and posting them here on our blog, so keep an eye out and give us a follow on LinkedIn and Facebook.

All the best!

Bethanie

Recent Google workspace updates you should know about

With the age of working from home, Google workspace (formerly G Suite) has worked on bringing you a whole host of new features to make your experience even better. I’ve listed 3 of my favorite recent updates below:

You can now disable the use of backgrounds in Google Meet for your staff 

Had enough of your staff joining an important meeting with a pub scene as their background photo? (I miss the pub too, I get it) You can now disable that ability! It’s super easy, just see this article.

When sharing your screen, web notifications’ content will be hidden.

We all have had the issue of pops up when we’re screen sharing on an important meeting. There’s nothing you need to do, the content is hidden automatically for you!

You can now choose to share Google Drive files with specific groups within your organisation (think finance, sales, etc) 

You’re no longer stuck with just the sharing options of ‘individuals’ or ‘anyone with this link’ – ensuring better control and security on important documents. See this article for how to set this up.

Google are regularly releasing new updates so check back here to see more!

Bethanie

Digital transformation, what is it and what does it mean for you?

You may have heard the term digital transformation, but I’m here to break down what it really means for you and your business. 

At Foxability, we prefer to call it Business Transformation.

Moving to digital is transformational, yes, but ultimately, the biggest transformation is to your business, and your experience of working within the business. 

With the current new way of working, it’s really important to have the right tech implemented so that productivity is as optimized as possible and your business can continue to thrive.

Many businesses (maybe even yours) are using legacy systems or desktop software. Some businesses, dare I say, have no systems in place at all! This results in inefficiencies in all kinds of areas of the business.

Digital transformation means going from any of these:
  • Departments working in isolation
  • Duplicating data entry
  • Costly maintaining and updating of desktop systems
  • Unable to track detailed business metrics
  • Single user access systems
  • Can only access data from one computer
To this:
  • Departments collaborating on the same software, working in real time
  • Single data entry, automatic flow of data between systems
  • Automatic software updates
  • Access to business data on performance and profitability
  • Access software from anywhere on any device at any time
  • Enhanced data security
  • Foundations laid for business scalability
  • Increased client engagement
  • More free time to work on the business

This is not an exhaustive list – there are hundreds more reasons that moving to cloud based software is a good decision and there are thousands of cloud based systems in the market.

You can find everything from accounting software, to inventory management, point of sale, document management, job management, reporting, CRM, and many many more. Holding your important business data in the cloud is going to give you the visibility you need to make informed business decisions and enable you to grow. 

Clouds apps can also be integrated so if, for example, you want your CRM system to push opportunities into your job management system as a project, this can happen! As the cloud marketplace is always evolving, the opportunities are quite literally endless.

Moving to the cloud is not as expensive and time consuming as you may think. In fact, you’ll likely be saving money in the long run, and utilising software data to earn even more money. 

So how do you get started?

There are 4 main steps I’d recommend:

  1. Document your current processes to identify the process gaps and the issues you would like to solve using software
  2. Using this information, create a list of all the features you would like, scoring them on a nice to have to a must have basis
  3. Research and test apps that have the features you need
  4. Choose your software, implement, and train your staff

Business transformation is not always this simple

Especially if you’re a growing business who needs multiple software systems. That’s where Foxability comes in. I’d really recommend our process mapping workshop. This is a 90 minute meeting for you to talk us through your processes and current systems. We’ll use our knowledge to help identify the opportunities for transformation. Let us know what your vision is for the business, and we’ll do all the research and let you know which software apps can help you achieve this. We can also assist with customised demos, implementation and get the right onboarding and training in place to achieve successful change management.

This is our speciality, and we love what we do.

So, if you have any questions, need advice, or would like to dedicate a professional app advisor to lead this project for you, then please feel free to get in touch.

Welcome Bethanie

So I finally did it. I’ve turned Foxability into a team. I’ve taken someone on to help me. And it feels like the timing is perfect. That someone is Bethanie and she’s just finished her first week at Foxability as our new Business Transformation Consultant.

I’ve been ready for a while now to take someone on. Enquiries have been steadily increasing. I’m busier than ever before, as businesses want the best apps to automate their systems. The challenges of Covid and the benefits of cloud tools have meant that more and more people are realising there is a better way to work. For lots of people, the tech they use to get their job done just isn’t doing the job. People know there’s a better way but aren’t sure where to start. They know they want to change and thanks to the power of the internet and our connected communities, some of those people have found Foxability. And wow have I been busy!

I bet my career on the cloud

I started Foxability because I’m really excited about the future. I’m really excited about all the opportunities that the internet and the right software can help people to do amazing things. I bet my career on the cloud. I predicted that almost all work involving a computer would be easier if it could be cloud based. So people could work from anywhere on any device. It would be more secure and the opportunities to collaborate would be endless. Collaborate with people and get systems talking to each other so you can collaborate on data too. It’s how ideas spread and change happens. That’s what creates an exciting future! 

Connect with like-minded people

When a business gets in touch to see how Foxability can help them get their systems talking to each other, I’m all ears. My face lights up. Because I know I can help. But I always knew I couldn’t do this just on my own. That’s why I’ve been building the Foxability team – To help me achieve my vision of systems just talking to each other and people securely accessing data from anywhere. I had to choose which systems to learn first, which systems would be the best for collaboration and open connections. First came Google Apps (changed to G Suite and now Google Workspace) and then Xero. Both platforms are built with collaboration, accessibility and security at their hearts. Then I found strategic partners to outsource the parts of my business that weren’t my areas of expertise or strengths. Bookkeeping & accounts, marketing, legal, HR and others too. I joined some wonderful communities full of generous and just lovely human beings spread across the world. I count myself so lucky to have made some great friendships through my work.

I’ve developed relationships and partnerships with software companies that share my vision for the future of work. And actually the ‘now’ of work, because that future is here and it’s been here for a while. So many people are unaware how life could be easier right now by using the right tools to connect their systems and automate the boring stuff. Not just the boring stuff but all the stuff that could be automated, should be automated. Then we humans can focus on the work that can’t be automated or shouldn’t be automated. This is the people to people work. The relationship stuff. That’s the important work. 

The irony

I help people with change and I thought I was good with change. But I’ve been nervous about looking for someone to help me. I’ve been scared of the next chapter for my business. I was really nervous about hiring Foxability’s first person. It’s a huge move in the journey of a business. It’s risky and it’s unpredictable. Well that’s what it felt like. But it was also essential if I wanted to help more businesses harness the power of apps. And, I know I work better in a team, so a team I better create, especially if I want to enjoy my work more! 

So I made the decision. That’s normally always the hardest part, the next hardest part is choosing the next step. And if you make the next step small and achievable, it’s always easiest. I didn’t always know that though. That’s something I’ve learnt from people much smarter than me.

The Doorstep Mile

I run, I love running, it’s changed my life but that’s a whole other story! I find it hard sometimes to find the motivation to go for a run. Especially when it’s dark, or raining, or cold, or only me, or all of those as it is right now. But I’ve never had a bad run. I’ve never regretted going for a run. But when the motivation to go is tough to find, it’s often because it’s a change from the status quo, which in my case is a warm, dry, cosy home! Deciding to go for a run is the hard part, then leaving the front door is the next hardest. The Scandinavians call it the ‘Doorstep Mile’. Thanks to Alistair Humphreys for teaching me that. But once you’re out, the change has happened and then good things happen. I mention all of this because good things happened once I made the decision to hire.

Making the decision

The hardest part was making the decision to hire. Then putting the job advert together. Then making it public. The rest was then just good things happening. It was a whirlwind. Hundreds of applications. I was blown away by the response. People shared what I was doing and the type of person I was looking to help me. And many people wanted to help me do this work of change. Helping our small businesses. Wow!

Making the decision about who to hire wasn’t easy, I won’t lie. But I made a decision and straight away I knew it was the right decision. I offered Bethanie the role. I couldn’t have asked for more and I was over the moon when Bethanie accepted the offer to join Foxability. You can read a little bit more about Bethanie here, in her own words.

What happens next is really exciting

For now, it’s early days, it’s one week into Foxability’s new chapter. Foxability is now we, not just me. What happens next is really exciting. So I would like to say, welcome to the Foxability team Bethanie, I couldn’t be happier!

New Year, New Team!

2020 was a rollercoaster year to say the least. I heard both positive and negative stories about how it impacted businesses. Although it’s been a tough time for many, it has given business owners time to reflect on their business processes. That’s why I’m super excited to be joining Jonathan at Foxability.

So what’s changing?

So many businesses are now investigating how to streamline their processes and use more appropriate tech to enable them to be as productive and profitable as possible. Enter me… Bethanie Hawkins. I’m the new Business Transformation Consultant at Foxability. Yes that’s right, there’s two of us now! Double the people means double the time to service all of the incredible customers we speak to.

My role will be to hold workshops with businesses to explore possible areas of transformation and help implement the right tech. I can provide product demos and you’ll also see my face popping up in training videos too.

So who am I? Where did I come from?

Well… I come from a five year tenure at Xero accounting software where I worked with business owners and accounting practices to implement both Xero and WorkflowMax. I have known of Foxability for a few years now and met Jonathan a couple of times at Xero events, so I had been aware of his great reputation for helping businesses when I found out he was looking to grow his business. Jonathan and I share a passion in both the geeky product side of things, as well as enabling businesses to function well and ultimately grow.

In my spare time (when such events were allowed) I like to attend concerts and food festivals, and steal cuddles from my kitten Dimitri.

If you’d like to have a chat, please reach out to me at bethanie@foxability.com

Introducing Google Workspace (formerly known as GSuite)

G Suite just got better — introducing Google Workspace

I love this new rebrand and I think you will too. There are no immediate changes to pricing. It’s going to benefit you with new collaboration features and better integrations. And the rebrand will help more people move to a better way of working.

Thank you Google!

I really mean it. Yes I’m a Google Cloud Partner and yes I make my living by helping businesses move to Google. But I’ve been around long enough to know that not every change is good. But this one is. I like it.

It’s early days. I only found out this week. I had no advance notice of this, (and I understand why), so I’ve been busy reviewing the info Google has sent to it’s partners. As far as I can tell, it’s all good news. There’s going to be added features, better collaboration tools and useful integrations. I’ve just come off a Google partner webinar and there’s a lot of exciting stuff coming.

I’m an existing G Suite customer. Is it going to cost me more?

Right now, the important question you may have is around cost. There are no immediate changes to pricing. You have time to make the switch to the new Google Workspace plans and there’s more info on Google’s website. As far as I can tell, other than existing Vault users, there is no price increase for the foreseeable future. If you are using Google Vault it looks like you will need to upgrade to the new ‘Business Plus’ edition but you will have several months to transition. Or if you are on an annual plan your subscription will remain unchanged until your renewal date. Some of the new features are available by upgrading subscriptions. I will be reviewing all these upgrade options in a further blog post once I have had time to evaluate them.

Why is the rebrand a good idea?

Google’s apps like Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Sheets, Meet etc have just been getting better and better. How they integrate with each other has been improving with new feature releases all the time. When I sign in to do my work, I sign in to a ‘workspace’. Everything is just there. My email. My calendar. The stuff I’m working on. And I can do this from anywhere. And millions of people are doing similar all around the world. It just works. It’s a workspace and it’s managed by Google. Much better to call it Google Workspace yeah?

And I guess Google want to get more customers? Obviously yep? But wouldn’t the world of work be much better if more people used Google’s tools. We would all save so much time, let alone increase our security. It’s so much easier to collaborate on a Doc or a Sheet. Or quickly jump on a Meet. Being able to do all your work in a browser has been the way forward forever, for most people. Yes, some people have different needs, like video editors. Not everything can be done in a browser, yet. But most people’s work can be.

I can sign in to my ‘workspace’ from any device, from anywhere in the world. I don’t have to have Outlook or Word or Excel. I don’t worry about losing my laptop. a) I’m not going to lose any work or compromise my client’s data (it’s all encrypted). And b) it’s a cheap Chromebook. And more importantly my work is all on the cloud.  I don’t have to send Word documents or Excel spreadsheets back and forth to people. I could go on and on about the benefits!

But how do you help more people work this way? Easy, you give them the tools. That’s easy if it’s just you in your business. But the bigger the organisation, (i.e. more than one!), there’s politics involved. The decision to move away from traditional tools like MS Office has the perception of more risk. And changing is perceived as too hard. The easy way is to evaluate the change first. But that still means getting people on board. And much easier if it’s simpler to explain to people what a new tool does. Calling it workspace makes sense to me. And bringing back Google’s name into the product helps massively too.

I had to explain what G Suite was before. Most people are still used to old ways of working. Their email is only on their laptop. Or their accounts package is only on a desktop in the office. Or their quoting system is inaccessible from outside of the office.  Using Word or Excel and sending files back and forth by email. Such a bad idea on many levels. Basically, the systems needed to get their job ‘done’ are not all cloud based. You get the picture.

Calling it Google Workspace will make it much easier. More decision makers will understand and ‘get it’. They will make the decision to evaluate new tools. And my hope is that more people will benefit from a better way of working.

What do other people think about the changes?

I sent a brief email out to my clients this week about the rebrand. I’ve always been blown away by the response I get from people when I help them ‘Go Google’. It seems obvious to me that working with Google’s tools is the best way for most people but I know we are all different. I never persuade people it’s a better way. I show them and let them decide for themselves. But I still had trepidation when sending out the email about the rebrand. Within 30 seconds I had the following reply:

yea – it looks great!!! Gsuite was a stupid name so i’m excited about Google Workspace

thanks very much for the heads up on costs. We are loving Google and so thankful for it

This made my day! I love my clients!

For me, this was also further validation of why choosing to Go Google was a smart move.

Why am I excited about this change?

I discovered Google Apps back in 2007 and went all in with it when I started my first tech business back in 2008. Gmail along with Google Docs, Sheets, Slides and Forms seemed a much better way of working than using Outlook, Word, Excel etc. The files lived in the cloud and you could access your work wherever you were. Plus you could collaborate with anyone. You didn’t need to worry about versions or sending copies to people. You also didn’t worry about having the data on your laptop or whatever device you were using. Everything was cloud based – perfect! Just made sense.

Google Apps shortly became Google Apps for Business, then G Suite and now it’s Google Workspace. Google have continually led the way and I feel the competition has always been playing catch up. 

We have all experienced huge changes this year, in how we work and where we work. I don’t need to explain to anyone anymore the benefits of cloud based tools. Google have been continually improving and integrating their suite of tools/apps. 

I’ve worked on hundreds of remote projects over the years and it just wouldn’t have been possible without the technology. Rebranding the G Suite offering into Google Workspace feels to me like an obvious next step. This new brand makes much more sense to me and I’m so excited to see where it leads.

Contact Foxability to talk to us about how Google Workspace can make your life easier

Free Webinar for Accountants & Bookkeepers: “How to help your client get the most out of the Xero ecosystem” – Sept 22nd 2020

Skore Foxability Webinar

Are you frustrated at not knowing which apps to recommend to your clients?

Join me and and Craig Willis from Skore where we show you:

‘How to help your client get the most out of the Xero ecosystem.’

I’m really looking forward to sharing my tried and tested process for helping small businesses with digital transformation.

This webinar will show you:

  • Why the best place to start is a process mapping workshop
  • How to easily do this in hours not days
  • How to get everyone engaged and excited about change
  • How process mapping completely transforms app demos

 

Click here to find out more and book your place

 

 

Do you know a business that wants to get paid faster?

“How do you get most of your new business Jonathan?”

“Mainly from referrals” I replied.

“Do you ask for referrals?” 

“No, hardly ever” I responded. Cue cliché light-bulb moment! 

Very few people know what I actually do. 

“Computer stuff”

“He’s always banging on about how good Xero is, I know that” 

“He’s my go to G Suite Guru”

“Cloud stuff but not sure exactly”

Few people know how I help others

“He can work from anywhere, I think he helps people do that”

“Magic”

“Software stuff?”

“Apps”

“Geekery”

Etc, etc.  I don’t like shouting about myself. And because I help in so many different ways, it’s hard sometimes to describe what I do. 

I want to learn how to tell people what I do

But it’s time for my big boy pants. I want to learn how to tell people what I do. I want to teach others that there’s some amazing tech out there that will transform their lives. I want to grow my business. And I want to create jobs.

Now is the time. I can help so many more people. And I believe that lots of us now want to make changes in their businesses and how they work. Life has changed for everyone.

What do I do?

I love helping people get time back in their lives by automating the boring stuff. I help businesses go paperless. And I help businesses get paid faster.

How? By getting all your computer ‘stuff’ to talk to each other. It starts with having accounting software like Xero. This can ‘talk’ to other systems. And the magic happens when all your data just flows between everything. Whether that’s quotes, customer details, management reports, invoices, emails, website orders, etc, etc. All you have to do is choose which apps to setup and then connect them all together. And this is what I do best. I help people with the choosing, the setup and the training.

What are your ‘must have’ apps on your phone?

How many apps have you got on your phone that you couldn’t imagine life without? They’re like invisible digital robots.  Maybe they store and remember your favourite music. Maybe they store all your fitness data. Maybe they keep you connected with friends and family. Maybe they keep an eye on your personal finances. Maybe they help you meditate. You get the idea.

Are you missing a massive trick?

Well. If you’re not using apps in your work life too, then you’re missing a massive trick. There’s an app for almost everything. And these ‘invisible digital robots’ will save you money, save you time and ultimately make your job and your life easier. I promise.

I’ve been helping companies of all sizes use better systems, apps and tech for decades now. And I’ve got a ton of experience. And I’m keen to help.

If your business is using Xero, or thinking of moving to Xero, and you want to know which apps will help you, get in touch. 

If you know someone who’s looking for help, send them to me. I’ll be massively grateful and so will they!

I can really help automate all the boring stuff, go paperless and best of all, help businesses get paid faster!

Schedule a free 15 minute call with me to see how apps can drive your business forward.

VIDEO: How to add a password to an already scheduled Zoom meeting (5 mins)

TL;DR add a password to your all your scheduled meetings to stop criminals ‘gatecrashing’ your call. This will also block the meeting topic field being made public to anyone who has/has guessed the meeting ID (and doesn’t have the password).

  • Sign into Zoom
  • go to ‘My Meetings’
  • click the meeting you want to add a password to
  • scroll to bottom of page and click ‘Edit Meeting’
  • go to ‘Meeting Password’ field and tick ‘Require meeting password’
  • Zoom will generate an updated link you can send to attendees so they don’t have to type the password in
  • or you can send the attendees the new password
  • the old link will still work but attendees will need the password if they don’t have the new amended link.

 

To find out more about ZoomBombing: What is it and how to keep your Zoom calls safe

To get help with this for your business or organisation contact me here

ZoomBombing: What is it and how to keep your Zoom calls safe

***UPDATED 6th APRIL to reflect Zoom’s response****

I’ve learnt 2 new phrases in the last 2 weeks – social distancing and ZoomBombing.

More and more people are stuck at home now and they’re finding different ways to communicate. Video calling tools like Zoom are becoming really popular because they’re pretty easy to use, and it doesn’t matter if you’re on a laptop, tablet or your mobile phone.

What is Zoom and what is ZoomBombing?

Zoom is a bit like Skype or Facetime. It’s been around for quite a few years and has lots of fans in lots of different businesses. But sadly now it’s being abused on a large scale. And that abuse is being called “ZoomBombing”.

Criminals, scammers, time wasters, bullies and other unwanted ‘guests’ are gatecrashing video calls, sharing offensive content, spreading malicious information and digital viruses and making people feel even more anxious and victimised.

How can this happen?

Every Zoom call has a unique ID made up of 9-11 digits. And this forms part of a URL – web link, that can be shared with guests.  These links are then shared by email, or via social media, or websites etc etc. And the ‘gatecrashers’ search for these links online or trade them and then wreak havoc.

The good news is, that this can be avoided. You can make sure your attendees are the only people you invite, by changing some of the settings and using some of the tips below.

1st rule of Zoom Club*: Don’t give up control of your screen

Protect your Zoom event

Gatecrashers to your Zoom meetings could share offensive content, they could also be just listening in and monitoring for opportunities to scam people.

Some simple tips to help:

1 Be really careful who you share your meeting links with.

  • Sharing your meeting link on social media or other public forums, makes your event … extremely public. ANYONE with the link can join your meeting. Unless you’ve changed the default settings

2 Familiarise yourself with the settings options

  • Have a look at your settings and think about turning on the Waiting Room feature

3 Enable “Require a password” for all meeting types

  • If you don’t set a password for your meetings, then potential ‘gatecrashers’ can see details of your upcoming or recurring meetings.
  • As meeting IDs are only 9-11 digits long – they can be guessed by programs and tested to see if they have open or scheduled meetings linked to them.
  • Information that can be gleaned from the ‘open’ IDs can include; the link needed to join each meeting; the date and time of the meeting; the name of the meeting host; and any information supplied by the host about the meeting topic.
  • You can set a password for instant meetings, your personal meeting ID, scheduled new meetings and all previously scheduled meetings
  • see Zoom help article here
  • “Zoom strongly encourages users to implement passwords for all of their meetings to ensure uninvited users are not able to join,” the company said in a written statement recently shared with security consultant Brian Krebs
  • ****UPDATE 5th April 2020**** “We’re always striving to deliver our users a secure virtual meeting environment,” Zoom said in a statement to The Verge. “Effective April 5, we are enabling passwords and ​virtual waiting rooms by default ​for our Free Basic and Single Pro users. We strongly encourage all users to implement passwords for all of their meetings.”

4 Disable “Join Before Host”

5 Prevent guests from sharing their screen during a call

  • using the host controls at the bottom, click the arrow next to Share Screen and then Advanced Sharing Options. Under “Who can share?” choose “Only Host” and close the window. You can also lock the Screen Share by default for all your meetings in your web settings.

6 Turn off file transfer

  • In-meeting file transfer allows people to share files through the in-meeting chat. Toggle this off to keep the chat from getting bombarded with unsolicited pics, GIFs, memes, and other content.

7 Disable “Allow Removed Participants to Rejoin”

8 Disable “Anyone Can Share Screen”

Your data is worth something to someone

We are living in ever changing times. Now more than ever, your data is worth something to someone. Criminals and scumbags do not care who they hurt.

We’re all in this together

We are not working from home, we are working at home during a crisis. If you know how to secure the software tools you’re using, please show others. If not please ask those of us that can help. We’re all in this together 🙂

If you want to book a call with me, get in touch here

Useful links

  • Official video from Zoom showing you how to change settings to stop digital gatecrashers ‘ zoom bombing ‘ your calls:
  • Zoom’s CEO writes ‘A Message to Our Users‘ – commendable and positive response from Zoom detailing what they have done and what they are going to do to improve their service

***UPDATE*** Zoom’s response to the above research Response to Research From University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab

***UPDATE**** Zoom has now renamed this blog post to “How to Keep Uninvited Guests Out of Your Zoom Event” because:
“We’ve also changed the name and content of that blog post, which originally referred to uninvited participants as “party crashers.” Given the more serious and hateful types of attacks that have since emerged, that terminology clearly doesn’t suffice. We absolutely condemn these types of attacks and deeply feel for anyone whose meeting has been interrupted in this way.”

  • Very good “… conversation about Zoom, security, and privacy in these times of social isolation.” Published April 5th “Zooming to Conclusions”

Echoes a lot of my thoughts about Zoom, and technology and privacy in general at this moment in time

*Thanks to the EdTech team at UC San Diego for the quote about 1st rule of Zoom Club 🙂

Confession time

I’m gutted. I’ve just had my holiday next week to Lanzarote cancelled and also a trip to New Orleans next month. As the news has been unfolding about Coronavirus, I knew this was likely. But I’m still gutted. Emma and I were looking forward to spending time together away from work. And relaxing on a warm beach or by the pool. But life changes and there’ll be another time to go.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out how I can really help people’s businesses and organisations. ( I’ve also been trying to work out how I’m going to keep my business going.)

But I’ve been stuck. I just didn’t know where to start. I’ve been completely overwhelmed with how I can help others best. So I’ve been reflecting…

  • I’ve helped setup really easy backup systems
  • I’ve helped people connect systems together so they can work from anywhere
  • I’ve helped people get faster and more reliable connections to the internet and improve their WiFi
  • Since 2008 I’ve been helping businesses move to G Suite
  • Since 2013 I’ve been helping people save time by integrating apps with Xero
  • I’ve helped organisations become paperless
  • And I’ve helped companies use apps to get paid quicker
  • And I started doing this nearly 30 years ago!

After more reflection I realised that not only have I been helping people use technology to save time. I’ve also been helping businesses and organisations plan for worst case scenarios when it comes to their data and their IT systems. And that’s bloody hard! Because worse case scenarios don’t happen, do they?! And also what do they actually look like. I could not have predicted a global pandemic like this, especially how it is playing out.

So I didn’t sell business continuity or disaster recovery planning. People switched off if I used those words.

SO I LIED TO PEOPLE!

I found and learnt all about systems that had business continuity and easy disaster recovery built in. I then talked to people about the other benefits of these systems. Mainly it meant talking about making their lives easier by using systems that didn’t upset them everyday!

Over the years I have learnt that the worst case scenarios can always be limited if you change the way you work and the tools you use. Generally that means moving systems to the cloud so you can access information from anywhere. And it means using systems that you can access from any browser and any mobile device. The main benefits are you can collaborate really easily. You also don’t wake up in the middle of the night panicking about what happens if you can’t get to the office, the office has burnt down, your laptop has been stolen, your systems have a virus or data breach etc etc

I’ve written very little over my career and I’ve always wanted to but never made the time. Maybe the same reason why people have put off creating and testing a business continuity plan – “I’ll do it next month”.

I’m going to write every day and share tips on how to work from home easily, how to use tools and apps to make life easier. If you have any questions, fire them over to me @JonnyFoxability or send here

I don’t know how the next few weeks and months are going to turn out, but if you know anybody that you think I can help, please give them my details 🙂

Perfect timing and cunning plans!

I’ve just finished setting up another happy business with G Suite. It’s fun work, I find it easy to do and the best part, it’s immensely satisfying!

One of my favourite TV programs when I was a kid was the A Team. After a successful mission, often fraught with mayhem and craziness, John “Hannibal” Smith, would state with a big smile on his face “I love it when a plan comes together!

The A Team

Now I’m not saying that what I do is as exciting as an episode of the A Team, there’s no explosions or car chases! But I do get immense joy when I help people find a better way of working.

Often the first conversation is because something is broken or some-one thinks – there just must be, a better way. Either by referral or thanks to Google, the business owner ends up on my website and if they like what they see they get in touch. I organise a quick chat to find out some more info.

Strong Foundations

To be honest, most businesses would see a bigger and more beneficial impact by just getting some foundational technology systems in place.

Like:

  • a decent email system like Gmail
  • an online quoting tool like Quotient
  • cloud accounting software, Xero of course! Please, please, please, no more invoices in Word, it’s 2019!
  • 2 screens on every desk – why do people squint and hunch over such small screens still?
  • everything accessible, securely of course, on mobile phones. Most people work outside of the office and if they don’t, one day they will need to for any number of reasons
  • a password manager like LastPass. Most business’s information security is terrible and crappy passwords, often shared, is a disaster waiting to happen
  • instant messaging like Slack because email is not for conversations!

Anyway, let’s assume they have the foundations or want my help with that too, then my brain goes into overdrive. And I can’t help but start putting together a cunning plan! (No I don’t wear a disguise like Hannibal for 1st contact!)

We’re not quite ready yet

Sometimes it’s too early, my potential client doesn’t want a cunning plan to be rescued. They’re just thinking about changing. They don’t know what’s possible, they don’t have the time, the money needs to be invested elsewhere, they’re anxious of changing, they don’t know who to trust, the current system’s not perfect but it works (most of the time), etc, etc , it’s a minefield! And I try and remember all of this. So I answer their questions and try not to scare them off with too much enthusiasm. My starting point is always, let’s assess your current systems and then we can start putting a plan together. And if now’s not a good time, then I’m keen to help when the time is right.

It’s all gone to sh*t!

Sometimes it’s too late, the worst case has happened. The current AKA ‘ancient’, not perfect system, has crashed. It’s one time too many, or at the worst time possible. Or there’s been a compromise of the current (who would want to hack us?) system and the proverbial has hit the fan and pebble-dashed the room, or even worse, their customers! And that’s when you really need a plan. But that’s another blog post. I really don’t like those kind of projects because it always feels like you’re charging money for helping when it’s all gone to shit. There’s so many unknowns, time is against you and you have to charge by the hour, often out of hours, and no one is really happy at the end of it. No thanks. But by all means, have a plan for when it does happen, who will you ring, what needs fixing first? etc etc. Again another blog post.

Perfect timing

BUT, when the timing is right, boy is it satisfying. The client is ready to change. They have the time to tell me about everything I need to know to do my job properly. They have the time to introduce me to other people in their team that can help. They have the time to review the plan I come up with. Normally cunning I might add!

They have the time to get excited about a new way of working. Best of all they want it to happen. And there’s nothing faster or more impactful than a business owner making a decision, shit actually happens! And even if the plan turns out to be going wrong or sideways, guess what, you can work out why. Because now you have more info. And it’s easier to make another fast decision. This is how change happens.

And then after the dust settles and everyone feels like they’ve been part of the journey, we all get to smile and say “I love it when a plan comes together!

Digital transformation, business transformation, new systems, workflow efficiency, app integrations, “I want a system that just works”, “there must be a better way” – whatever change you are looking for in your business, if you’d like a chat about putting a cunning plan together, I’d love to help!

VIDEO: How can a Xero partner benefit from a Foxability workshop?

Technology is available to make life easier for your staff and clients – but where do you start? Which apps are best for your business? Which apps should you be recommending to clients? As a Xero partner, you’re already well ahead of many accounting firms BUT this is just the beginning….

Digital Transformation Workshop

Create a pathway to truly unlock the benefits of going online

This workshop will help you:

  • Create the plan for your firm to become one of the digital pacesetters
  • Get your staff onboard
  • Bring your clients along with you
  • Identify low cost, easy to implement opportunities for automating processes
  • Find out how tech advisory can help you win more business

 

Top benefits include:

  • Clarity & confidence to communicate what can be possible for your team & clients
  • Significantly improved efficiency
  • Accelerate change to attract better clients and new staff
  • Transform your client relationships
  • Peace of mind that you are on the path to becoming a cloud mature firm

 

Sounds good?
Where? You choose! I’ll come to you, or we’re practised at doing these remotely.
Who? You and as many of your team as you’d like to involve.
How much? For the full day workshop and production of your plan: £895+VAT plus travel expenses.

Call me to find out more – I’d love to have a chat about how I can help you.

Our 4 Step Process

Making a change is no small feat. In the same way that your website is always evolving, the tech you use will always be in beta.

But the best way to create change is to understand how everything fits together, so that you can prioritise and make a decision as a team.

That’s why we created this four-step mapping process. It’s designed to show you how you can easily change, assess new systems, evaluate new processes and new apps for your firm and your clients. It’s about being a pacesetter, not a firm chasing the shiny objects.

Who this process is for?

Change management isn’t just for one person, or one team – it’s business change. The transformation isn’t just about all things digital, but instead it’s about a new way of working and transforming your entire firm.

What I’ve seen is that if you don’t have everyone working that way, using the same processes and systems, you’re on a path towards things failing. Everything is going to keep changing, and the four-step process has been designed for firms facing these issues:

Gaps in systems

You’re struggling with internal processes, and want them to be more defined and scalable for future growth.

Client apps

You want to find the best apps for your clients, without fear of recommending the wrong tech.

Where to start

With all the tech out there, you don’t know what approach to take, and where to begin on your digital journey.

Internal change

Perhaps there’s resistance from the team – there’s a fear of changing from what’s there and you want to tackle it.

Our Approach

We start by assessing where the business is right now. We ask – why do you want to change? Then we help you define where you want the business to be.

1. Assess

You can’t make a change without identifying where you are now.

Together we’ll assess your current business processes, explore what successful change management looks like for you and identify areas where we can help you.

3. Evaluate

With your goals identified, it’s time to put the plan in place: What will help you get there and who can educate your people on the tech that’s available.

Once we’ve identified the solutions that meet your requirements, we’ll introduce you to app partners and cloud integrators who can do the “heavy lifting”, as well as agree and define an implementation plan for your firm.

2. Define

Once you’ve identified where you’re currently at, the next step is to discuss where you want to be.

This involves discussing future requirements of your business, and defining the top things that would ultimately make the biggest difference.

4. Change

Change is now a fundamental part of your culture, and you’re on a path to a better way of working.

With everything we’ve discussed, we’ll help you move to your new digital workflows, and also identify plans to help you evaluate and review how the new processes are working. We may do this is tandem with one or more app partners that we have identified earlier

How you’ll benefit

When you go through the process, you’ll learn how everything integrates and how change management involves your entire team. The firms we’ve worked have said the benefits of the process include:

  1. Clarity & confidence to communicate what could be possible to their team & clients.
  2. Significantly improved efficiency with their internal workflows.
  3. Accelerate change they’ve been trying to make for years, leading to attracting better clients and new staff.
  4. Transformed client relationships by identifying new opportunities to help them.

Having people like Jonathan helps us provide solutions that bonds us even closer to our clients. It’s not just about the numbers.

–  Peter Timothy, Bloom Accounts

Let’s have a conversation

If you’re serious about making a change, I’d love to hear from you.

What is Ransomware and how can you protect yourself?

computer_security Ransomware is extortion. Pure and simple. It’s a cyber security attack that aims to take control of your computer, rendering it inoperable. In other words – your powerful PC or Mac has turned, very quickly, into a very expensive desk ornament. Before you know it you’re locked out of your system. Relief is promised by paying a ransom to the hackers who have infiltrated your machine.

Ransomware is an evolution of the more common Scareware attacks that you’re probably familiar with. If you’ve experienced annoying messages that inform you that your computer is riddled with numerous evil viruses – you’ve experienced Scareware. They scare you into buying fake software to remove fake viruses.

Typically these threats will be presented as pop-ups, many of which look like authentic Windows or Apple alerts. This form of malware, while annoying, is usually easily fixed. If you find yourself in this situation, your local computer specialist should be able to help you with this.

Although Ransomware is less common, it is far more dangerous.

 

How do you get attacked?

A Ransomware attack will start with a phishing email or by opening an infected document, usually in the form of a Microsoft Office file. It’s not unusual for would-be hackers to target different people within the same organisation. They only need to get lucky once. And of course, if the computer is networked, the Ransomware could spread across all machines on the network.

 

How can you defend yourself?

There are a number things you can do to limit your exposure to a Ransomware attack.

 

Security Software

Your virus software and any other security tools you have at your disposal are useless unless you keep them updated. To help the process make sure automatic updates are switched on.

 

Software Patched

It’s not just your security software that needs to be kept up-to-date, it’s critical that all your software is updated. This is especially true for your operating system. Again, you should have the option to automate this process. Remember though that any of your software products could have vulnerabilities, especially if they connect directly to the internet.

Don’t Use Your Computer As Admin

Where at all possible, avoid logging onto your computer as an Admin user. Doing so opens up more access points to your system. If you must use your system in Admin mode, do what you need to do and log out as quickly as possible. Resist the temptation to ‘save hassle’ by remaining logged in as Admin.

 

Educate Your People

The vast majority of Ransomware attacks have one thing in common – people. There’s no getting away from it, human error is the leading cause of most cyber attacks – including Ransomware. Educating your team on what a Phishing attack looks like and why they should never open an attachment that looks suspicious would be a good starting place.

If you don’t have the skills or knowledge in-house, find someone you can get honest, expert advice from. They’ll be the go-to-guys you turn to if you’re ever the victim of a Ransomware attack,

 

What not to do – Sucker List

In the early days of Ransomware, the attackers were quite greedy – looking for thousands of dollars to release your computer. Now, though, they’ll regularly look for anything as little as $15. The logic being, people, will be more likely to pay up, to avoid the embarrassment associated with being a victim of cyber crime.

Of course, that’s the worst thing to do. For a start, your computer will still be compromised, even if it appears to have been released back into your control. More worryingly, you’ll be added to a ‘suckers list’ and will find yourself targeted by other cyber criminals on an almost constant basis.

 

The Reality

It’s worth remembering that even organisations with hefty cyber security budgets fall victim to Ransomware attacks. The truth is, no matter what you do, you can still become a victim. That’s right, even if you do everything we recommend, you can still fall prey to attack. There is no such thing as a guaranteed defence attack against Ransomware or any other cyber attack for that matter. Your aim shouldn’t be to build an impenetrable fortress – it should be to build a resilient business.

 

Ultimate Resilience?

Your best defence is to be setup so that you can wipe any affected machine clean at any time. Then, all you need to do is reinstall your system from your last clean backup. To do this, you’ll need to have a proper backup process in place. The good news is that this has never been easier. There are dozens of backup solutions that can be trusted to store your precious data.

And if you’ve already made the shift to G Suite, you can log onto your account from any machine and be back working on the report you promised your boss.

 

Final Thoughts

Your goal has to be business continuity. There’s no guaranteed defence against Ransomware. You have to build a resilient business that isn’t dependent on your local or networked machines.

Follow this advice and you can sleep safely in the knowledge that whatever happens, you can have your core IT systems back up and running in no time at all.

Take back the power; ignore the fear and eliminate the risk to your business.  

Your Peace of Mind Checklist:

  1. Is your software and operating system up-to-date?
  2. Are you logged in as admin?
  3. If you are logged in, do you know how to logout and use a non-admin account?
  4. Do you know how to wipe your machine?
  5. Do you know how to restore your machine?
  6. How quickly can you be back up and running?

 

If you can’t answer these questions yourself, find someone who can. You’ll sleep much easier.

It’s not just the tech, I’m going to Xerocon 2018 to learn about change

I had a conversation over dinner last night that made me really pause and reflect on why I’m attending Xerocon London this year. Emma and I were having dinner with Damien Astolfi from Fidbox – Switzerland’s only 100% Xero Accountants. We were fondly reminiscing about when we met at Xerocon London in 2015.

We were there for the same reasons. To find out about Xero’s solutions for the future of small businesses and to meet the people behind the technology. But we were there for another reason too. We believed that there is a better way to work and we knew that the people at Xero believed that too. Being able to choose where you work, the tools you use and who you work with is massively important.

Changing the way you work is not just about new technology

Xerocon2015The right technology can help with this but it’s a mindset change that is needed and for me, learning how to change was the opportunity that was on offer. And Xero wanted to share their thinking with us. And several hundred other people wanted to learn too. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to explore the future and there’s nothing quite like being on a journey with like minded people!

I found some of my notes from Xerocon 2015:

  • Rod Drury told us the “nature of work is fundamentally changing.” And online accounting gives us for the “1st time a real picture of what is happening in local economics, globally.”  – and this gives us the power to make meaningful change.
  • Karren Brady suggested business owners should “find out what is wrong about your business before your competitors do.” And we should “have everyone asking ‘How do we make this business better?’” – this only happens when you involve everyone and embrace change.
  • Gary Turner asked “How can we transform small business?” – What a question to start the day with – love it!
  • Andy Lark told us “The early adopter eats the late majority and the laggards for lunch” and “ it’s more efficient to outsource things to the algorithm.” So true – goodbye manual data entry and duplication of effort!

Karren Brady CBE at Xerocon 2015
Karren Brady CBE at Xerocon 2015

 

And we all spent a couple of jam-packed days learning about the tools of transformation. Fast forward 3 years and the growth of Xero has been phenomenal. But, is that a surprise for many people? Not for me and many people I know!

The reason I paused when reflecting was I realised more than ever that it’s not just about the technology. What Xero have done over the last 10+ years, is enable people to work the way they want to work. It may not be for everyone. But for those of us who want to be our true-selves at work, we now have an opportunity to work the way we want to.

When people connect with you because you believe in a way of working that they are looking for

We can now choose who we work with and how we work with them. It is a hugely liberating feeling when we say no to potential clients because they are not a good fit. When potential clients search for people like you because they know there must be someone out there that can really help and transform their businesses. And then they find you and connect with you, wow, it’s unbelievable!

And when you come to Xerocon and listen to other people’s stories of how they have changed the way they work along with their plans for the future, it’s truly inspiring!

Luck doesn’t get you a seat on a plane

And it’s not about pure luck. Damien told me last night that he’d said to me when we first met that he felt really lucky to be at Xerocon. He kindly reminded me that I’d replied to him that it wasn’t luck that put him on that plane from Switzerland.

I feel very privileged to be spending the next couple of days with people who are shaping the future of small businesses across the world. It’s an amazing community to be part of and I can’t wait to catch-up/meet you. And what makes me smile even more is thinking about how we might be reminiscing about this years event over dinner before Xerocon 2021 🙂

Case Study: Driving Value from Apps for Bloom Accounts

The firms that I see doing really well are the ones that offer daily bookkeeping. They have an incredible relationship with their clients because they understand the daily flow of money through their clients businesses.I strongly believe that the power of Xero apps is only realised when you use them to capture or analyse real time data. This makes daily bookkeeping key.

Xero partners getting the most benefits from App Advisory, know exactly what information the business needs. They know where the duplication of effort is happening. They understand where the time is being wasted. And because they’ve implemented Apps in their own business, they have the time and experience to ask the right questions to help their clients explore which apps could automate manual processes.

And a Xero partner who is doing this really well is Bloom Accounts.

Bloom are a Xero silver partner based in London and the West Country. And they’re a fantastic example of a firm that gets it:

  • They’ve fully embraced cloud accounting and want a world where systems talk to each other and where data flows freely.
  • They have a shared vision of systems that talk to each other.
  • And because they offer daily bookkeeping, they have the time to understand where they can help their clients the most.

They’ve engaged Foxability to enable them to provide effective app advice to their clients.

“We immediately knew we were in the right place in terms of technical expertise, commerciality and client skills. This gave us confidence and sufficient knowledge to communicate what could be possible to our client. Having people like Jonathan helps us provide solutions that bonds us even closer to our clients. It’s not just about the numbers”

Peter Timothy – Bloom Accounts

And this from Peter’s perspective from Bloom Accounts is the real benefit of working with the right people. This is what working with an App vendor, partner or advisor should make you feel. It’s your relationship and App Advisory is too important to get wrong:

“The relationship is about collaboration with a like minded professional that shares a vision that digital accounts is just one element of supporting growth oriented entrepreneurs/businesses. We have learned a huge amount in the process. This instils confidence in our team and makes our digital proposition, in collaboration with Foxability, more attractive to our clients.”

Sound Interesting?

Schedule a free 15 minute call with me to see how Xero can drive your business forward.

Book my call now

Case Study: Developing a Strong Working Partnership with Fresh Financials

Some Xero Partners are not just their client’s trusted advisors for finance. When they recommend the right technology for automating time-consuming processes, they can be trusted advisors across the business operations. I love helping Xero Partners learn about the other areas they know they can help.

One of those Xero Partners is the award winning team at Fresh Financials (Ok, yes I’m also married to Emma!). We started collaborating by only recommending solutions to our respective clients, if we are using it ourselves in our businesses. Some people refer to that as “eating our own dogfood”, Emma and I prefer to say “We drink our own champagne!”

Since Xerocon 2013, I have worked very closely with the team at Fresh Financials. We have collaborated on a lot of cloud integration projects, implementing the best technology for our respective clients, and then providing on-going training and support. By offering a world class suite of apps that integrate with Xero, we are able to advise, implement and train businesses with the right cloud solution for their business needs.

“Navigating the enormous unknown world of App Advisory was daunting until we started working with Jonathan. We started with our own internal structure and processes – ensuring we were working the smartest and best way we could – we then started looking at what apps and technology we could recommend to our clients. Having Jonathan by our side made it so easy to understand what was involved in App Advisory. Genius.”  –  Emma Fox  Fresh Financials

[siteorigin_widget class=”SiteOrigin_Widget_Image_Widget”]
https://player.vimeo.com/video/146386572?app_id=122963

Have you recently clicked on a link to a quiz on Facebook?

In the interests of looking out for my family and friends, I’ve jotted down some of my thoughts around these quiz related posts.

My advice is to always think twice before clicking on these types of ‘tests’. Once you click the link, you are connecting to a website outside of Facebook, it could be anywhere in the world and its not always clear who controls it or who is responsible for it being secure.

At best these websites are just clickbait, recording your personal data and potentially selling it to people out of your control, at worst you run the risk of identity theft and/or becoming a victim of other types of scams.

There is a popular quiz being shared at the moment which ‘tests’ whether your brain is right or left side inclined.  The terms of service for the website state they are governed by the laws of The People’s Republic of China ( see screenshot), that should prompt some questions when they are claiming on another page to be a U.S. company.


This is not a ‘test’, the ‘results’ are non-scientific and the best thing that all of us could do is to politely educate our friends, families and colleagues not to click on links to untrusted websites and to be careful what information they share online. This will reduce the risk of them becoming a victim of a future scam.

 

These articles have some more info about other types of links to look out for on Facebook. As a colleague of mine wisely advises “Be selective, be sensible, stay safe.”

Facebook ‘Most Used Words’ game accused of stealing and selling user data

Beware That Facebook Clickbait
If you have any concerns, feel free to contact me.

 

Do you know how secure your financial data is?

Most small businesses can’t afford to spend a fortune on security experts, automated backups and disaster recovery systems.

Small businesses can’t afford around the clock 24/7 security teams monitoring their systems. They don’t have the time or the money needed to securely setup and monitor global data centres.

Luckily Xero looks after all of this for you at no extra cost. They give you all this protection so that your information is accessible at anytime on any device from anywhere.

Xero and Google Docs make real-time collaboration easy

 

Xero and Google Docs make real-time collaboration easy from Xero on Vimeo.

In the past, collaborating with clients in real-time was a struggle for Sabrina Covington, founder of Covington & Associates CPAs. Luckily, Xero’s integration with Google Docs has made it much easier.

“Google Docs has been a game-changer for us. There is nothing out there that can compete – together, Xero and Google Docs saves us time and lets my client and I work in the same document, at the same time,” Sabrina explains.

“Google Docs allows us to work as part of our clients’ team – and they never forget you for that. Time is money, so we need to be able to work on the fly.

“It allows me to be a better CPA to my customers – and that’s what I care about.”

Thanks to Xero and its integration with Google docs, Sabrina can focus on supporting her clients anywhere, at any time – whether they’re in the office, or out in the field. Check out the video to hear from Sabrina and one of her happy clients, Jose Pellot Jr. of Pellot Construction Services.

Learn more about real-time accounting software: http://www.xero.com/accounting-software/

Our first Farmflo Xero Event – Oct 28th 2015

Farming Compliance made easy

A unique opportunity for Farmers to get together for networking and to learn how to save time and simplify the paperwork associated with running a farm and meeting compliance requirements – the right technology can help you get out of the office and spend more time on the land.

The presentation includes a short demo and guest presenters from Farmflo and Xero – our partners in providing this tailor made solution for the farming community at a cost that is likely considerably less than your current solution.

Enjoy a few drinks from Longman Brewery, some delicious food by charlotteburroughevents.co.uk and take the opportunity to catch up with other local farmers.

Hosted by Flying Fox IT and Fresh Financials

If you would like to come along and be a part of the conversation, please get in touch.

If you cannot make the event but would like to find out more about the benefits of Farmflo and Xero please get in touch. 


UPDATE:

The event was an incredible success and a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Several more Sussex farmers have implemented the software and are now benefiting from the power of Farmflo after seeing firsthand how it will save them so much of their valuable time. Jonathan & Emma would like to thank Xero and Farmflo for all their help in making the evening a resounding success.

“Given how forward thinking Fresh Financials and Flying Fox IT are, we were really excited to be invited to speak at their first joint event,” says Johnny Moore, Head of Partnerships at farm management software company, Farmflo. “Emma and Jonathan were brilliant hosts, and there was great camaraderie between the farmers who were there on the day.

“We all know first-hand how much pressure farmers are under from regulatory requirements and consumer expectations of quality and traceability,” he adds. “So it was a pleasure to be able to discuss the issues with other farmers and demonstrate how Farmflo and Xero can help their businesses.”

How can cloud-based tools transform the way you do business?

Flying Fox IT are really excited to be exhibiting at BITE 2015: Business, Innovation, Technology, Efficiency.

Carpenter Box along with Xero are bringing a brand new business and technology conference to Brighton on the 29th October. Join us to find out how cloud-based tools are transforming the way you can do business.


When it comes to business and technology, the early adopters are the sharks.

The laggards are the fish and swiftly eaten.

Most business owners wait until software or technology is used on a large scale before they adopt.

BITE gives you the unique opportunity to explore technology that not only makes your business more streamlined, but improves your profits.

The ‘early adopter’ bell curve shown above was first displayed at Xerocon in London this year. This is a reminder that the innovators and the early adopters – like Xero, and Carpenter Box – are the ones who see the greatest and fastest results. We want to make those results available to you, too.

BITE is for you if….

  • You want to run your business better and more efficiently
  • You love using the newest technology and want to get your business fully into the cloud
  • You’d be interested in connecting with an accountant who sees things differently
  • You’re keen to explore the ‘latest and greatest’ Xero add ons and integrations
  • You appreciate meeting other business owners with the same mindset

Register Free Here

Why I am attending Xerocon 2015.

I run a technology support business, I am not an accountant or bookkeeper but I am very excited about Xerocon next week. Why?

 

Getting excited about accounting  has never been a major part of my personality so eighteen months ago when I was asked if I would like to go to Xerocon London 2013, I hesitated. Yes, I was very impressed with Xero. I had moved to it from a clunky desktop program in April that year and yes that transfer went very smoothly and yes I now understood my accounts better than ever before, but an Accounting conference, seriously?!

 

“Please join me, I’d like to know if I’m backing the right horse? I’d like to know more about what you think of Xero from a technical point of view” asked Emma Northcote-Green of Fresh Financials who looks after all the bookkeeping and accounts for my business.

 

“I also think it will be fun”, Emma said. “Sure,” I said “Iet’s go. You’ve helped me so much in my business, I’d love the opportunity to help you more with yours.” At that point I had no idea how much that decision, was going to transform the future of my business.

 “Cloud is the biggest change ever for small business”

Xerocon 2013 London – Rod Dury

For me, the keynote by Xero’s CEO, Rod Dury set the tone for the event.

“Cloud is the biggest change ever for small business”, he claimed and I sat there nodding my head in total agreement. “Online accounting is about connecting. Small businesses connecting to larger businesses, to banks, to governments,” he continued. For me, Xerocon wasn’t an Accounting conference anymore, this was an event about opportunity, connectivity, productivity and transformation. This was ticking all my boxes.

 

The day continued and my enjoyment grew. I was in a room of people who understood the benefits of the cloud. These people weren’t just accountants and software developers, they were disruptors, transformers, innovators, connectors, enablers, interesting and purposeful people. And now I could see what Emma had seen several months previously when she started using Xero, this was software that could really transform business for the better.

 

“work used to be a place, now it’s anywhere, anytime”

In the afternoon, Stuart McLean – Xero’s Chief Revenue Officer, argued that “work used to be a place, now it’s anywhere, anytime.” I agreed but thought only if you have the right tools. Having worked at Google, he certainly knew about technology that worked.

 

As the day went on I was now starting to really appreciate how Xero combined with the right Add-ons could enable you to work anywhere, anytime. And when you are not working, there is no need to worry about losing work, as the technology continues to work without you!

 

For me this was a lightbulb moment. I started in IT support 24 years ago and the amount of frustrating and expensive problems caused by desktop accounting software makes my head hurt just thinking about it. Xero is the answer. It is the better way of doing it and it is only going to get better and better.

 

My mind was buzzing about how Xero could really resolve so many IT headaches for so many people. That’s when I decided to change the direction of my business and focus purely on helping people to move to the cloud.

 

So why am I so excited about going to Xerocon 2015?

 

  • If this event is even half as good as the last it will be so worth it.
  • Listening to the insights and advice from Rod Dury, Gary Turner and the Xero team.
  • I want to learn more about the Add-ons, the excellent ones we already use (listed below) and the others that I don’t know about yet.
  • Hoping there will be some news about a UK Cloud Integrator program.
  • Hoping to meet people who have Cyber Essentials on their radar.
  • Meeting new people to share ideas and ways of doing things better.
  • To have lots of fun!

 

 

I met some incredible people at Xerocon 2013 and I remember saying to Emma, “Thank you so much for inviting me. You have so backed the right horse by choosing to become a Xero Partner.”

 

Since Xerocon 2013, Flying Fox IT and Fresh Financials have collaborated on a lot of cloud integration projects, implementing the best technology for our respective clients, and then providing on-going training and support. Flying Fox IT offers Google Apps for Business, Dropbox for Business, LastPass and other cloud based services, we advise, implement and train businesses with the right cloud solution for their needs. We are then able to have a conversation around the benefits of Xero and then I pass them onto Emma at Fresh Financials.

 

What Add-ons am I currently using?

Xero Add-ons

 

At Flying Fox IT we use several excellent and highly recommended Xero-Add-ons:

 

  • Chaser.io for credit control,
  • Quotient for quoting
  • Receipt Bank for purchase invoice processing.
  • Everything is automated, everything is in the cloud and it all just works.

We are always on the look out for more Add-ons and integrations. After seeing first hand how much time WorkflowMax can save a business, this is high on my radar to look at next and their blog is excellent (http://www.workflowmax.com/blog).

“We drink our own champagne!”

Xero Partners are not just their client’s trusted advisors for finance but when they recommend the right technology such as Xero and it’s Add-ons, they can be trusted advisors for all the technology that runs the business. We only recommend solutions if we are using it ourselves in our businesses. Some people refer to that as “eating our own dogfood”, Emma and I prefer to say “We drink our own champagne!”