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Bill Bennett


Xero for Dummies

After a working lifetime struggling with small business accounting, I settled on Xero.

I’m no accountant and none of this comes naturally to me yet compared with the other accounting applications I’ve used over the years, Xero is dead simple.

Simple, not foolproof. I constantly make errors and there are at least three Xero things I struggle with.

Xero for Dummies


That’s where Heather Smith’s Xero for Dummies comes in. It’s a hefty paperback book with advice, tips and essential information on using the software.


Smith wrote the book in Dummies’ style. Her chirpiness and repetition might be irritating if this was a reading book. It isn’t, Xero for Dummies is a manual, primer and resource for people who don’t live and breath accounting or cloud software. The writing is just right for the job in hand.

It works best if you dip in and out learning how to do certain tasks and how things that aren’t immediately apparent work. My favourite sections are those that tell you how to make better use of the software. I learnt two useful lessons this morning.

A printed book for dummies?

It feels anachronistic using a printed book to navigate a cloud application, in truth print is precisely the best tool for this.

Xero is a cloud application. Cloud software tends to throw users in at the deep end. There’s often support, but it’s usually hidden from sight while you’re working. The only realistic way of achieving the same effect as having printed pages open while checking some aspect of the software would be to have a second computer. Paying NZ$40 for a book is far cheaper.



3 thoughts on “Xero for Dummies

  1. Great to hear that Xero for Dummies is helpful Bill – we’re getting lots of positive feedback. Your comment that support is hidden when you’re working is right, although multiple tabs really help – in case anyone doesn’t know this tip, hold down ‘Ctrl’ and click on help (or any other menu item) and it opens in another tab in your browser. Now you can have, for example, bank rec open in one tab, plus invoicing, plus “help for this page’ open in another tab, and the Dummies book open on your desk.

    1. Yes, I often use multiple windows in Xero and have been known to print reports so I can manually check difficult reconciliations.

      Sometimes I have help open on my iPad while Xero is on the computer.

      I don’t see not having help on the screen as a big deal, but I’d prefer to a printed copy of the Dummies book while I work to having an electronic book on yet another screen.

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