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8 Xero Tips and Tricks Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know

Billie Anne Grigg

Billie Anne Grigg

Billie Anne Grigg has been a bookkeeper since before the turn of the century (yes, this one). She is a QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor, Xero Certified Advisor, LivePlan Expert Advisor, FreshBooks Certified Beancounter, and a Mastery Level Certified Profit First Professional. Billie Anne started Pocket Protector Bookkeeping in 2012 to provide an excellent virtual bookkeeping and managerial accounting solution for small businesses that cannot yet justify employing a full-time, in-house bookkeeping staff.
Billie Anne Grigg

One of the joys of working with any software is learning the little tips and tricks that make using it easier. Xero users lean on many shortcuts and little-known tips, and we’re sharing eight of them here.

Xero Tips for Small Businesses

Xero tips

In this article, we explore the eight Xero tips every business owner should know. Since this article is geared toward the small business owner, I do not include any tips that are only available to Xero users under the Advisor (accountant) role.

1. Create Customized Roles

One of my favorite Xero tips is the ability to create highly customized roles for each Xero user. This lets you fully collaborate with everyone who impacts your business without giving them access to sensitive information you don’t want them to access.

Here’s how to set a user’s role when you add them to your Xero organization:

  1. Click on the Settings tab, then select General Settings.
  2. Click the Users link, and then click Add a User.
  3. On the next screen, you will see options ranging from Advisor (which is the role you want to assign to your accountant so they can fully advise you on your finances) to None for six different categories. You can also allow access to payroll administration, the ability to edit bank account information for customers and suppliers, and grant the ability to manage users and change permissions.

At the very bottom of this screen, you will see a link to “Understand user role details.” This link takes you to a page that fully explains what each role can access, so you never have to wonder if you are choosing the correct options for a new user.

2. Make the Most of the Plus Icon

For our second of eight Xero tips, we’re diving into the icon. When you log in to Xero, you will see a little plus icon at the top right of the screen. Clicking this icon lets you quickly create a number of different transactions, such as a quote, an expense, or an invoice.

3. Publish Reports for a Snapshot in Time

You can publish your financial statements and other reports and save those directly within Xero. Though your accounting information changes daily, it’s sometimes helpful to have a frozen snapshot of this information at your fingertips. Publishing these reports inside Xero lets you securely save this information right within your accounting software.

To publish a report:

  1. Simply click the green Publish button at the bottom of the screen.
  2. On the next screen, you can either publish the report or save it as a draft.
  3. To access the report again, click the Reports tab at the top of any screen in Xero, select All Reports, and then click the Published link at the top of the page.

4. Rewind a Reconciliation Mistake

It happens to all of us: We start zooming through our bank feeds, and before you know it, you’ve incorrectly matched a transaction. “Unreconcile” lets you fix this quickly. This Xero tip will save you a ton of time.

To unreconcile:

  • Click on the three little dots to the right of the account name on the Dashboard.
  • Go to Account Transactions under the Find header.
  • Click the transaction you want to change to open it.
  • On the next screen, click Options and then select Unreconcile.
  • Click OK on the pop-up window to unreconcile the transaction.

5. Save Time with the Inbuilt Calculator

Here’s another great Xero tip that most users don’t know. You can perform basic math functions right within a transaction in Xero. This decreases the chance of an entry error, not to mention it saves you time looking for your calculator app on your phone.

To use the inbuilt calculator, just type in an equation—like 15 * 1.12—right into a field. Note not all fields accept math functions, but the ones you would expect to do not disappoint.

6. Test Out the Demo Company Feature

Have you ever wondered how a transaction would affect your books, but you didn’t want to risk messing up your financials? Xero’s demo company lets you test out transactions and features on a made-up set of books.

To access the demo company feature, click the list icon to the left of your company’s name on any page, and select My Xero. At the very bottom of the next screen, you will see a link to Try the Demo Company.

7. Open Multiple Organizations

Tired of Xero tips yet? Neither are we!

It’s not uncommon for a small business owner to have more than one business, or for their spouse to also own a business. If the businesses have different tax ID numbers, it’s important to have separate bookkeeping files for each one.

However, money often flows between the two (or more) businesses, so you need to make sure the transactions are properly recorded in each business’s accounting. Viewing both bookkeeping files at once can make sure this happens … but logging in to multiple Xero organizations at the same might result in your work not being saved or being saved in the wrong organization.

Unless that is, you use a different browser for each organization. For example, you can log in to Company A’s file in Firefox and Company B’s file in Safari. You can also set up multiple Chrome identities and open a Xero file in each one.

I wouldn’t be a very responsible bookkeeper if I didn’t warn you to be very cautious about working in multiple organizations at once. It’s so easy to record a transaction in the wrong set of books, and you might not catch it until the end of the year.

8. Set Up Invoice Reminders

Our last, and certainly not least Xero tip is setting up invoice reminders. Do you hate following up on your accounts receivable? Let Xero do it for you! Under Settings > General Settings > Invoice Settings, you will see the Invoice Reminders button. Here, you can configure Xero to automatically send reminders based on how far an invoice is past due.

Choose from the predetermined days past due parameters, or create your own reminder. You can even customize what each reminder email says by clicking on the Edit link.

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While these eight Xero tips will help you use Xero more effectively and efficiently, this list is by no means all-inclusive. I had a hard time choosing which eight tips to include, so I chose those that have lit up the eyes of the small business owners I have worked with. I invite you to share your favorite Xero tips in the comments!

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Billie Anne Grigg

Billie Anne Grigg

Billie Anne Grigg has been a bookkeeper since before the turn of the century (yes, this one). She is a QuickBooks Online ProAdvisor, Xero Certified Advisor, LivePlan Expert Advisor, FreshBooks Certified Beancounter, and a Mastery Level Certified Profit First Professional. Billie Anne started Pocket Protector Bookkeeping in 2012 to provide an excellent virtual bookkeeping and managerial accounting solution for small businesses that cannot yet justify employing a full-time, in-house bookkeeping staff.
Billie Anne Grigg

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