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My longest software relationship

When it comes to software, I’ll admit I’m a bit of a flibberdy gibbet.

I’m a sucker for a free software trial.
(AppSumo has a picture of me on their office wall titled ‘Best Customer’.)

Show me a whizzy app that does a cool thing, and I’m entering my credit card details quicker than a damp otter slides down a tube.

But it doesn’t last.

I either forget to log in, never have time to do the tutorials, or discover that in truth it’s not as good as it was cracked up to be.

Pretty much all of my software relationships have been one-night stands.

Apart from Xero.

I’m proud to announce that Xero and I have just celebrated our five-year anniversary.
(I got it a framed picture of me entering my user details into its login screen. I’m still waiting for my anniversary gift. *Hard stare at Xero*)

Several years ago I wrote a post about how Xero saved my marriage.
(It wasn’t an affiliate post – just something I wanted to write.)

But since then my business has changed a lot.

Back then I was working as a copywriter. Now I have three different businesses, shops, directories, courses and memberships.

My bank balance has grown, but so have my financial requirements.

And Xero has grown with me.

So to celebrate this momentous occasion (and with it being Valentine’s Day having the chance to write a headline based on an Ella Fitzgerald song), I thought I’d write a quick post about the nine Xero features I like best – and the areas we need to work on. 

PSST: This isn’t an affiliate post, I don’t earn any money from you clicking the links in this post. However, as I’m big on transparency let me explain that Xero has come on board as a sponsor for The Copywriting Conference in Sydney on May 5th. But while this is a bit of a backscratchy post, I haven’t said anything I don’t 100% believe and stand by.  




Kate Toon CFOEvery morning I walk my dog. On the surface I look like a lovely pet owner, but in truth it’s more about my burning desire for a coffee.

Before I settle in to a great podcast, I check my Xero.

Any relationship expert will tell you that time together is important, and I find our daily time together very constructive. (We take a break at weekends.)

I can swiftly reconcile all my accounts in a few minutes using only my thumb while holding a dog lead and a coffee.

If that isn’t a testament to the app’s good usability, I don’t know what is.





During my day I do a lot of complex writery things—planning courses, writing presentations, recording podcasts—all of which use up my creative juices.

And I find one of the sweetest ways of relaxing at the end of the day is to grab a wine (or a nice cup of tea) and reconcile my accounts.

It’s so utterly satisfying and wholesome.

It makes me feel good right down to my wiggly bits. And I love the little message of achievement at the end.

xero success message


These days I have oodles of small payments coming in from various different websites for courses, books, consults, and soon a range of SEO teatowels. (Yes, it’s happening people.)

Setting up rules has saved me heaps of time.

Rules let you match certain payments according to business rules. If you have something of a certain price, Xero knows to record it as this type of payment for this bit of your business.

Which means I don’t have to enter the same information again and again.

Psst: I actually got my bookkeeper to set up most of my rules for me. But here’s where you can learn how to do it yourself.


At the start of the year I decided to follow the Profit First method of accounting after seeing a great talk by Laura Elkaslassy at the Artful Business conference.

This basically involves setting up different bank accounts for

  • Tax and GST
  • Expenses
  • Personal
  • Profit

You then work out what percentages should go into each account, based on the past few years of income and your forecasted revenue. (Laura did this for me.)
Then, as money comes in, you use these percentages to divide your cash and put it into the right accounts.

Xero made it pretty easy to set up these accounts, and gives you a pre-completed form you send to your bank to set up the bank feeds.

The Profit First methodology has been pretty life-changing for me. I finally know what money is mine and have stopped overspending.


After years of using PayPal, grumbling about their fees and their annoying habit of making you prove who you are every three months. I finally discovered Stripe.

Stripe lets you take secure payments on your site via credit card. The fees are similar to PayPal, but the money is automatically transferred to your account a few days later.

Here’s a little comparison chart from a great comparison blog post.

paypal comparison

Again, it was super easy to integrate into Xero. I can now see all my dosh in the same spot, and don’t actually need to log into Stripe.

In a relationship it’s important that your partner gets on with whoever you need them to. Especially your business buddies.


Recently I discovered you can bring some of your accounts onto the front page as ones to watch. I have my revenue lines here, but also some of my expense lines – the ones I tend to overspend in.

It helps me keep track of my money without having to dig for the answers.

xero- home screen


I like that you can now set invoices up with automatic reminders. These overdue reminders pop out without you having to do anything.

Xero knows I hate chasing invoices, so it does it for me. That’s love, people.


I have two Xero accounts and I think I pay around $60 a month to use the software.
In terms of the time it saves me, the ease of use, and the professional touch it gives my business, this is great value for money.

Especially when compared to other software. (Some of the SEO software I use is CRAY CRAY expensive.)


After nine years in business, I’m finally moving towards setting up a Ltd company.

This feels a little daunting and scary. But with my fab accountant by my side I feel it’s doable.

I’m not sure how doable it would be if I was still in spreadsheet land.



I know some of you will be wondering why I dedicated a whole post to such a boring subject.

I mean, it’s accounting software, right? It’s not sexy.

But while it could be considered a little dull, in my mind dull is good. Dull is safe, dependable and trustworthy.

I’d love to write something about Xero’s customer service, but the truth is I’VE NEVER USED THEIR CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Why not? Because I’ve never had a problem with the site. Not one.

With so many things in my business life uncertain, it’s good to have something I can rely on.

It probably sounds like my relationship with Xero is perfectly harmonious. But of course every relationship has its cracks.


kate toon xero




Perhaps it’s just me, but I still don’t understand the reports. I have no idea why I should look at the cash report rather than the profit and loss.

Xero has tutorials on this. But ain’t nobody got time for that.


They may have tried to help me. But when it comes to actually learning about accounting I take the ‘fingers in the ears la la la’ approach.

Thank God I have a good relationship counsellor (accountant) to help us communicate.



One area I think Xero could improve is in its microcopy. I notice that other software platforms are more playful with their success and error messages.

I know money is serious and a touch dull, but sometimes I wish Xero would lighten up a little.


A few copywriters in my community have mentioned that the lack of assignable job numbers in Xero makes it tough.

It would be great if each invoice could be given a unique ID that could be used to track and search for invoices and payments.

But I believe Xero is working on this.

In it for the long term

Xero has been with me since the get-go. (I signed up early on in my business life.) We’ve shared a lot of tough times, such as when I forgot to pay my tax one year, and when a client demanded a refund that I’d already spent.

But we’ve shared some great times: when I started charging GST, my first 100k day, and the first book I sold online.

And although it was just the two of us when we started, we now have Paypal and Stripe and accountants and bookkeepers. And Xero takes it all in its stride.

Sure I take it for granted some days. But today I wanted to give it a gentle but loving pat on the bottom.

Thank you, Xero. I like you — just the way you are.

Over to you

Do you have a software you love? Or would you like to pass on some feedback to Xero about their software?  Pop your thoughts in the comments below.

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confessions of a misfit entrepreneur with Kate Toon

You might like my book ‘Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur | How to succeed despite yourself’ – buy it online here.

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