Executive Spotlight: Jamie Sutherland of Xero Reminds Small Businesses to Never Stop Fighting

Jamie Sutherland, US President of Operations for the accounting software Xero, isn’t afraid to take on a challenge, even though he realizes that they “are David in the David vs. Goliath battle.” I recently had the opportunity to speak to Sutherland about Xero, a cloud-based accounting solution created with small businesses in mind. Xero accounting software may be a great option for your small business, but even more – his story may inspire other small businesses who are fighting their own battles with industry giants.

Sutherland has an interest in start-up companies and a history of growing them into successful million-dollar businesses. Before he joined Xero, he spent years running the North American branch of Sage, also a global accounting software provider. Under his leadership, Sage expanded. His team developed two new cutting-edge SaaS applications and eventually grew to serve over 500,000 small businesses. In 2010 Sutherland also created an app called Taxi Now, which allowed users to hail a cab from their mobile device. His creation was later acquired by FastCab.

Making the Move to Xero 

In 2012, Sutherland decided to join Xero as the head of US Operations. As a whole, Xero is an incredibly successful business. It was founded in 2006 in New Zealand, later expanded to Australia and the United Kingdom, and currently is one of the hottest companies in the New Zealand stock exchange. However, if you think Sutherland signed up for an easy job – think again.

In the US, Xero is relatively new – they joined the market with a US version of the software in 2011, and because of this, many small businesses are not even aware they exist. When Sutherland joined the Xero team in January, 2012, he knew he was gearing up to battle the biggest name in US accounting software – Quickbooks. Most small businesses in the US know and use Quickbooks accounting software, but to really drive in the point, consider that Quickbooks has a long history in the US (launched in 1998) and has always been extremely popular with small business owners who have little accounting knowledge. In fact, a 2008 Intuit press release stated that over 3.7 million small businesses use the software, a 94.2% share of the business accounting market.

“We are David in the David vs Goliath battle,” Sutherland said. A pessimist may have concluded that there was no room in the US market for Xero, but Sutherland is determined to spread the word about Xero, including the unique benefits for small business owners. To capture some of the main points:

  • Xero was custom designed for the mobile business world of today, which is great for small business owners who are on the go
  • Xero is a 100% cloud-based solution. Since it’s not tied to a physical location, it can be used anywhere, anytime and on any device that has an internet connection
  • The software has a ‘beautiful’ interface that is eye catching, fun and easy to use, no matter your level of accounting knowledge
  • Since it is a cloud accounting option, you can check bank balances, make payments, send invoices and more – even if you’re away from the office. Also, to keep track of expenses you can take a picture of your receipts and log them immediately
  • Over 200 other cloud providers and apps have integrated with Xero, allowing you to run your entire business – from payroll to inventory and beyond – in the cloud
  • Flexible pricing options start at $19 per month with no set-up fees. Sutherland says the $29/month package suits the needs of most small businesses. Your subscription also comes with free, unlimited online support, 24/7

Gearing Up For Your Own Battle

With a strong belief in the merits of Xero over other accounting software options, Sutherland is intent on spreading his message through professional networking, attending events, and partnering with other companies. His efforts seem to be working too, as Xero now has over 200,000 users worldwide and is seeing exponential growth in revenue.

Are you a small business who is also fighting a David vs Goliath battle against an industry giant for a share of the market? Follow Sutherland’s lead by making your product or service stand out from the competition. Focus on the benefits, the unique features, and market like crazy to get the word out. Sutherland’s work at Xero is a reminder to all the “Davids” out there – never give up the fight, no matter how big that giant is.

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Jennifer Peaslee

Jennifer has a Masters in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame. She is currently working as a freelance writer, editor, blogger and researcher.

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