As Xerocon London inches closer we got in touch with some of last year’s award winners to talk everything Xerocon and why they continue to go year after year.
Emma is Managing Director at Fresh Financials. As Xero’s UK Bookkeeper of the Year in 2016, Emma is on a mission to help businesses better understand their own story through the numbers.
What do you enjoy about Xerocon?
From the very first Xerocon I went to, in 2013, it was an absolute game changer for me.
It completely changed how I decided to run Fresh Financials. Back then, I was dabbling with the cloud and I remember at that first Xerocon being just blown away by everything that everyone was talking about – from product development to roadmaps; and even just meeting so many other people who were doing the same kind of things as me. It is always a great feeling to be there.
I’ve heard Xerocon described as the Glastonbury for accountants and it really is. It’s a mini festival and everyone gets so excited about it. This year I’m definitely taking the whole team.
Why do you chose to go?
Because it’s a really important team building, and shared learning experience. It also means that our team has another opportunity to spend time with each other outside of the work environment. But it’s also about validating why we do what we do as a team, and seeing how others are doing it. To me, that’s ROI immediately.
As a manager, it’s also valuable for my team to hear from someone other than me – to see that what I am passionate about is reiterated by everyone else they’re meeting. Then there’s the add-ons. I say to my team, ‘Go and look at the add-ons and have the conversations that you want to have.’ Xerocon is definitely worth the investment on that level alone.
What was one memorable experience for you at Xerocon?
That’s a really easy one. It was at my very first Xerocon, when I was watching Dennis Breen talk about the importance of brand and making yourself stand out. He spoke about the fact that this is a continual learning process, where we need to adapt to change and always remain pliable. After hearing his talk, I completely rebranded my business. It was the start of a new name, new website, a new everything for my business. He showed me that branding was really fun – and to not be afraid of being who I am, when it comes to my brand.
What have you learnt at Xerocon?
I think the biggest learning for me is to not see everybody else as competitors. It comes very much back to the ecosystem concept, and enjoying networking with likeminded people. You can help each other and learn from each other – these relationships have come from Xerocon.
You really have to experience this ecosystem to understand it. For example, I might be upstairs talking to a bookkeeper and saying, “Oh we had that issue too, but we tried this and it really helped us”. Then someone might say, “Why are you giving away all our secrets?!” But I’d explain, it’s not like that. We all pitch in the Xero ecosystem and help one another. It’s like a community.
How has winning a Xerocon award helped your business?
It was a complete shock! I guess, because we’re such a small business. There were only three of us then, so we never saw ourselves as competitors who were up for an award. But winning gave us the validation and confidence to know that what we’re doing is right. This recognition has been great – and our win has helped to motivate other like-minded bookkeepers – to know that they can achieve this too.
Who are you most looking forward to hearing from at Xerocon 2017 – and why?
I’m really looking forward to seeing Andrew and Pete speak on Day Two at 12.15pm during the breakout sessions. They talk about the power of creative content for small business, and they are just brilliant and so much fun.
But most of all, I’m really looking forward to hearing from the Xero team. Their talks always blow me away. The one thing that they really put across to me, is that – yes, they are a part of Xero and they’re on the Xero team – but they are genuinely trying to make all of this stuff better and as easy for us as possible. There’s onboarding tools, videos, and so much information available – and it’s up to us to put that into our own businesses.
Xerocon is such an amazing experience – it’s very hard to explain to someone who hasn’t been there. You have to go and experience it. (I even flew to Australia for Xerocon Melbourne this year!) I’m not one to enjoy networking events, or to get up for a breakfast business meeting, so I was really nervous in the first year. But everyone is so friendly, and we’re all in the same position. One thing that links you all is this accounting software. But don’t forget to wear comfy shoes!
Xerocon London will be at ExCeL London, 4-5 October. Register for tickets today.