Building a Community to Launch and Connect Global Small Businesses

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by Rod Drury, Chief Executive Officer of Xero

As the world becomes more tribal, global platforms, which enable the flow of global commerce, will help build communities, foster understanding and deliver economic prosperity.

It’s a concept which Facebook CEO and Founder, Mark Zuckerberg emphasized in his F8 keynote this year.

“This is an important time to work on building community. We live in a time when society is divided, and we all have a lot of work to bring people closer together,” he said. He explained that communities give us a sense of purpose, make us feel needed and secure.

“For the past decade, Facebook has focused on connecting friends and family. And now with that foundation, our next focus is on building community,” Zuckerberg told the crowd, saying the key is going to be building common ground between groups. While there’s a lot of work to do, he’s confident that technology will be the tool which unlocks this vision. And we agree.

Working to build a vibrant, global community, the common ground is business. We need to teach small businesses how to export and trade globally so that they can service markets beyond their geographical vicinity. Leveraging technology, a small business in the Rust Belt of the US can provide services across the world, from Asia to the Pacific, Europe, Africa and the Americas. By collaborating, we can build that understanding which will make the world a better place.

But to do it, we need to improve productivity within these entities and open up lines of capital - something technology is already doing.

Hilary Clinton said recently that “way too many dreams die in the parking lots of banks. In America, if you can dream it, you should be able to build it.” Clinton explained that for entrepreneurs’ business dreams to come true, they need to be able to access the capital they need to grow.

Small Business cloud software is where the rubber hits the road. The data-driven nature of the financial web, where information flows between accounting and global banking systems, is starting to unlock productivity and growth in small business markets, especially when it comes to accessing capital. A small business in Middle America can connect their bank account to the platform, transact with a customer in Asia, another in the UK and have all the information flow into one place.

We have the ability to use all this data to help small business owners access capital, make smarter business decisions and drive economic growth. At the heart of this change is a fundamental shift in the way financial services are created, delivered and managed. Before the power of open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), connected platforms and free-flowing data were realized, information was tightly held by institutions, making it difficult to understand a business’ true financial standing.

For the past ten years, Xero has been establishing itself as a small business platform, connecting the dots between small businesses, their financial institutions, and enterprise. As a cloud accounting platform, Xero acts as a connector for the highly fragmented small business market, helping owners derive true value from their data. By providing a clearer picture of small business performance, new services can be provisioned, products accurately served, and compliance commitments met.

Brexit, the US election, and global immigration reforms are examples of events this past year that have taught us that globalization hasn’t evenly distributed jobs or enhanced inclusion. While the world is becoming increasingly divided, technology is becoming more global and connected.

For us at Xero, this is a work environment where all people, beliefs, genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations are respected, accepted and supported.

We work hard to be a positive global citizen, and a cornerstone of our approach is to embrace an environment where diversity is supported and celebrated, it’s critical to our success and helps us build a small business platform which connects entrepreneurs right around the world.

Zuckerberg’s comments this month make it clearer to us that small businesses must take the lead to create employment opportunities, be champions of diversity, inclusion, and social progress. Global businesses, particularly those in technology, provide a unique opportunity for people all over the world to collaborate and better connect and understand each other.

Working with tens of thousands of accounting partners using Xero and recently surpassing one million subscribers, we are uniquely positioned to show others how businesses with strong values can address some of the big social challenges many countries are facing today.

Growing the small business economy is the best way to materially address major social issues like youth unemployment, economic disparity, and discriminatory practices, making the world a better and more prosperous place. But we can’t do it on our own; we need to work with like-minded companies to establish a global ecosystem.

About the Author: Rod Drury is the founder and CEO of Xero, the leading international cloud accounting solution for small business. Rod was 2013 EY New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year, NZ Herald Business Leader of the Year in 2012, member of the NZ Hi-Tech Hall of Fame, NZ Hi-Tech Entrepreneur of the Year in 2006 and 2007, World Class New Zealander for ICT in 2008, and Honorary Fellow of the Institute of IT Professionals NZ. Connect with Rod on Twitter.