Xero Analytics Plus helps small businesses

Xero Analytics Plus helps small businesses

Xero Analytics Plus helps small businesses make confident decisions by providing a greater overview of their cash flow and business performance in an easily accessible and understandable way.

Faye Pang, Canada Country Manager, Xero

A business to make the small-scale businesses even more beautiful? Well, that’s what Xero aims to achieve and we landed the amazing shot at interviewing Faye Pang, who is Xero’s Country Manager for Canada. In this segment, Pang gives us an insight into her own journey in the Canadian technology industry and what has she learned over the span of her career. She also touches upon the various steps that small-business owners can take to make an impact on their individual ventures.

Faye Pang is the Canada Country Manager for Xero, the global small business platform with more than 2.7 million subscribers worldwide that are dedicated to making business beautiful. Faye brings nearly 15 years of experience building businesses from the ground up. Prior to joining Xero, Faye helped launch Uber Freight into the Canadian market. She also helped launch the Uber Eats app in Toronto in December 2015, scaling the business from 80 restaurants on launch day to 20,000 partners by the end of her tenure.

As a leader, Faye prioritizes growth above all else, and practices authenticity, transparency, and empathy in the way she manages her team. She strongly believes that we all have a set of values that we have to live by at all times (rather than keeping our work and personal lives separate), and keeps this consideration top-of-mind when championing her team’s growth, both personally and professionally. She is passionate about creating systems that lift women up while tackling the hierarchical barriers that have disproportionately affected women in the workplace.

What is your mission with Xero Analytics Plus?

At Xero, we believe every small business should have access to trusted, insightful data that helps them understand where they are now, and where they might be in the future. Xero Analytics Plus helps small businesses make confident decisions by providing a greater overview of their cash flow and business performance in an easily accessible and understandable way.

Why do Canadian SMBs need access to trusted, insightful data now – so they can understand where they stand today, and make decisions with confidence based on their future potential?

Small businesses have told us that understanding and managing cash flow is one of their toughest challenges and critical to keep them running.

When COVID-19 first hit, we released our short-term cash flow and business snapshot tools to all customers free of charge. These tools help businesses visually project their potential bank balance 7 or 30 days into the future and get insights on their business performance, so they can spot opportunities and mitigate risks ahead of time.

It can be really stressful for business owners when they employ people and have bills to pay. By using these tools, they can see whether they’re going to have enough money to cover everything, which can reduce their anxiety or empower them to take action.

How can SMBs leverage technology, including AI and predictive algorithms, to derive forecasts and actionable insights that will help them plan for business longevity?

Depending on their business, we know it’s really essential for owners to understand their short-to-medium term, including their runway of cash and the impact of what-ifs. It’s important to get a firm grip on your cash flow baseline — what happens if nothing really changes? At the same time, being able to look at profitability, margins, and trends over time is really important to get a more complete picture.

How can tools like Xero Analytics Plus provide Canada’s SMBs and their advisors with deeper insights into how their business is performing?

We’ve heard from advisors that they want to deliver insights from Xero to their small business clients to help them plan ahead with even greater accuracy. Small businesses want to understand how well their business is performing at a glance.

With Xero Analytics Plus, businesses can now see their future potential cash flow, project the impact of upcoming expenses, and discover opportunities to bring cash into the business by invoicing customers sooner, changing payment times, or requesting a deposit.

Owners can also plan for multiple scenarios by manually adding transactions to see how they might affect their cash position in the future.

A more powerful business snapshot tool gives small businesses a quick, easy-to-understand summary of their business performance to help them have meaningful discussions about their plans with their advisor. In Xero Analytics Plus, businesses can see their performance over multiple years, drill into the details to analyze trends, and identify areas for improvement.

How do you feel the business environment has changed since the pandemic?

Digital transformation has driven the growth of many new small businesses in the past decade. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen new business models emerging and established businesses adapting, relying on the broad benefits that financial systems like Xero provide.

They all have the same thing in common – they need quick access to financials to keep an eye on cash flow and bills. Sole Proprietors like freelancers, gig-economy workers, and tradespeople have all taken advantage of digital business models and cloud-based working.

Our Xero Small Business Insights Pandemic Insights Report showed that more tech-enabled businesses had 40% fewer job losses and those using apps saw revenue declines during the crisis that were 12% smaller than other small businesses.

We know the current environment is incredibly challenging- yet it also provides opportunities for people starting and growing small businesses to do so in a different and more beautiful way. We are dedicated to helping these green shoots develop into thriving small businesses.

Can you elaborate on some of the challenges you faced while mapping this unknown territory and what can other aspiring entrepreneurs learn from them?

We developed Xero Analytics Plus over the past two years by working closely with small businesses and advisors all over the world. When we started, we could not have foreseen the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic would have on small businesses everywhere, so we’re grateful to the members of the broader Xero community for all the invaluable feedback they provided as we put Analytics Plus through the rigorous testing and development that got it over the finish line.

What we learned is that when your project has a larger purpose—in Xero’s case that was building on our commitment to being the most insightful and trusted platform for small businesses—you can weather the storms and disruptions that an uncertain world will inevitably throw your way. I think that’s a pretty powerful takeaway for any aspiring entrepreneur.   

What suggestions do you have for small-scale businesses that are finding it hard to pull through during these challenging times?

In a recent survey that we conducted among 1,200 Canadian small business owners, the data showed that two-thirds (67%) agree that the pandemic showed them the value of remaining flexible and adaptable. Moreover, 73% stressed the importance of mastering digital technology in uncertain times.

In my mind, those two things go hand-in-hand. Staying flexible is certainly important; there’s a reason why so many businesses felt compelled to pivot during the pandemic in order to survive. However, in order to make those key decisions on things like pivoting or cutting back on spending, you need information, and you need it in real-time.

Digital technology like cloud-based accounting platforms can help you get a clear picture of where your business stands, giving you the data you need to keep your business adaptable during times of uncertainty. An online accounting dashboard can provide insight into all of your key information in one place so you can track things like balances, invoices, and bills. This puts you in a better position to prepare for whatever pivots you may need to make.

So, the right technology is important, but don’t forget about that other amazing resource: people. If you’re struggling, tap into your network. Ask your fellow business owners what strategies have helped them get through these tough times, and also what hasn’t worked so well. And, when in doubt, ask your accountant!

Possibly the best piece of advice I can offer, however, is to keep your eyes on the prize and prepare for an occasionally rough ride. As a child of entrepreneurs. I grew up with a front-row seat to all the challenges it can entail—which is why Xero’s mission of supporting small businesses is so important to me.

On any business’s journey, there will be unforeseen disruptions and detours; the best thing you can do is arm yourself with the right tools so you’re prepared to weather whatever comes your way.

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