Announcing Zoholics 2013, Zoho’s Annual User Conference

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Zoholics is back. The Zoho user conference we started last year received great response, so we are making it an annual event.

This year, Zoholics will be held at Hyatt Regency, San Francisco Airport. Based on popular demand and feedback from last year, we are expanding the event from one day to two and a half days. This will give us plenty of time to cover a plethora of topics and have enough time to interact with you through various sessions.

So, what can you expect from this year’s event?

You will have an opportunity to learn a lot about our apps through our
training sessions, interact with the Zoho team through various
workshops, learn about the trends in the industry and interact with
fellow Zoholics. We have listed some of the topics we will be covering
at www.zoholics.com. The event will feature three parallel tracks – one general session track and two training tracks.

If you are planning to attend the event, you may want to take advantage of
the limited number of Early-Bird tickets available at a discounted
rate.

For more details about the event, please visit www.zoholics.com.
The website will be updated as we finalize topics and add speakers to
the event. If you are traveling, you may want to book your hotel rooms
early with the discounted rate, before we are sold out.

As we continue to finalize sessions at the event, please do let us know what you would like to see at this year’s event.

 

Context Is Everything: Introducing Zoho Mail Contextual Gadgets

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zmail-contextual-gadgets

Keeping focus on users’ information and its context in connection with other applications and services has always been the Zoho way of developing apps. We have after all been altruistic to have integrated our top apps like Zoho CRM, Zoho Projects and Zoho Invoice with external applications such as, for example, Gmail for the benefit of Google Apps users with whom we compete in some market segments.

Considering the fact that Zoho’s own portfolio of apps is one of the broadest around, developing tighter integrations between Zoho Apps tops our list of priorities. The goal is to move towards a ‘one Zoho’ experience so that whichever app a user happens to be, it pulls relevant information from other apps, and displays it in the right context.

Today, we are happy to announce contextual gadgets in Zoho Mail. You will now notice an uncanny strip with action icons at the bottom right corner of the Zoho Mail UI (can be disabled/enabled under Zoho Mail settings), when you open an email message.

These action icons provide connections to Zoho CRM, Zoho People, Zoho Contacts, Zoho Tasks and Zoho Notes, right when you go through your daily dose of emails; your mind fresh and ready to take action in context to the messages received. Here is a quick summary of how each gadget action can help:

CRM:
We are confident that Zoho CRM users will love this Zoho Mail gadget. From within a message view in Zoho Mail, users can view existing tasks, events, notes and potentials related to the sender from the associated CRM contact records and also add new items.

Let’s say you are an ardent sales person, ever ready to garner information about your prospects. When you click the CRM gadget action, all existing notes, events, tasks and potentials relevant to the contact will be automatically pulled from your business’ Zoho CRM account and displayed without you having to navigate away from the email view. Loaded with additional relevant information in seconds, email interactions with your leads and prospects can be fine tuned for better impact to close more deals in less time.

In combination with the MailMagnet feature in Zoho CRM, this means a 2-way handshake between the two services. And stay tuned for more news on the CRM+Mail friendship.

Info:
Have you realized that a simple phone call or a quick face-to-face meeting with someone within reach could save you a lot of time from having to go through frivolous exchange of emails? Ever sent classic one liners like “Hey, coffee at 4pm?”, to someone 3-4 cubicles away? In Zoho Mail, you can now rather use the info gadget to load the direct contact details of your peers, prospects and colleagues and communicate naturally during situations where exchanging emails is in fact redundant.

Notes:
If you are not in the habit of taking quick notes while perusing emails, you have no idea how many key points, cool ideas and crucial information you are allowing to evaporate into nothingness. We do understand that it can be nagging to scribble away on paper or switch to a notepad app now and then. Well, using the Notes gadget, users can fire up a simple notes editor in seconds from within the email view, making it downright easy for users to cultivate the habit of taking notes. All notes can be accessed later from the Zoho Notes app.

Tasks:
The most productive way to deal with email overload is to convert incoming requests, suggestions, discussions that require action into tasks. With the Task gadget action, users can add tasks without having to move away from the email view. So not only does this make it easy to compile a list of tasks but also helps in defining tasks with utmost clarity with the context of the original email retained during task creation.

This is just the tip of the ice berg towards providing a tightly integrated experience while using multiple Zoho apps. Contextual gadgets for more Zoho and external services on the way; because context is everything.

As always we humbly request you to spare some time to share your opinions and suggestions to fulfill our appetite for feedback.

Customer Spotlight: Jeb finds freelancing absolutely ‘brilliant’!

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Jeb Brilliant - Freelancer using Zoho InvoiceIf you could choose again, would you rather be an employee or a freelancer?

I would choose freelancing again!

Jeb Brilliant answered that question with no pause for thought. He does occasionally think about the regular office and the merits of being an employee. However, the freedom to do what he wants and the time he gets to spend with his family trumps the thought of being a regular employee any day.

When he’s not busy being a Community Manager for Phone.com, he runs a personal blog, ‘The Mobile Perspective‘ where he expresses his opinions on everything mobile. A voracious reader, he chanced upon an article on our iPhone invoicing app. Being a Zoho Invoice customer since 2009, he quickly downloaded the app and found all the invoices already created (thanks to recurring invoice), queued up and waiting for his approval before being sent. He checked and instantly emailed all the invoices to his clients.

Jeb says,

I could be sitting in a meeting or a conference without my laptop or walking down a street or attending a trade show and remember that I need to send an invoice. Now I don’t have to send a reminder to myself anymore. I can just open the app and do it at that very moment.

Jeb’s advice to freelancers and small business owners,

“Whether you are a graphic artist , a community manager or an accountant, if you are a small business owner, you shouldn’t just be squeezing by just to get through the month. As time goes by, you may get a partner, get married and have a family and things will get more expensive than the days when you were single. Value yourself more. Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you have to struggle all the time.”

Read Jeb’s story in our Customer Spotlight where he talks about blogging and freelancing.

Get Paid Online With Stripe!

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accept-payment-through-stripe-gatewayYour customer has a credit card and as a freelancer or small business owner, you would like to make the payment process as simple as possible. Our solution to you – Stripe.

Zoho Books and Zoho Invoice is now integrated with Stripe online payment gateway. A feature which was much requested by our customers is now available for users in US and Canada.

 

Integrating with Stripe was a bliss in itself, thanks to their extensive documentation and well thought out simple API. Configuring Stripe to receive payments for your invoice is straightforward and absolutely painless.

  • Head over to the Settings section (Zoho Books and Zoho Invoice)
  • Click open the ‘Online Payment gateways’.
  • Choose the currency and mention the ‘live secret key’ from your Stripe account.
  • Click Setup and you are good to go.

Accept online payment with Stripe

We are hoping this addition is going to bring our customers one step closer to getting paid faster. With Stripe on board, our invoicing software and accounting software now allow customers to receive online payment through five different payment gateways.

If you haven’t tried the online payment option yet, this is a good time to send out your first invoice with the online payment link. Then sit back and enjoy the Benjamins rolling in.

Infographic: Your Essential Tools for a Modern Business

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What tools are imperative in running a successful business? We asked you just that on Facebook. Interested in what your peers had to say? To help you visualize the insight you and other professionals provided, we’ve collected responses from our post and created an infographic with the results.

Are the responses what you expected? Are there tools that you haven’t thought of utilizing? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

 

Rethinking On Typography With Google Web Fonts

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“Big type, even huge type, can be beautiful and useful. But poise is usually far more important than size — and poise consists primarily of emptiness.” – Robert Bringhurst

Picked that up when researching web fonts, and realized how very true it is with typography, just as it is with anything else. Typography is the easiest decision you can make towards achieving a dramatic difference in website experience.

We experimented with web fonts on our own websites and blog, and found that the outcome was indeed much better than what we had been shackled to. As a measure of passing on the goodness, we integrated select fonts into Zoho Sites, and plan to expand. Every website created on Zoho Sites will now have the web fonts edge.

Another good thing about it is that, unlike most other font libraries, it is open source. And, they can be downloaded for use locally as well. Google’s deep library of web fonts are reported to be used in well over than 100M web pages already, and is well on its way to becoming the new standard. We believe this is a refreshingly new way to rethink on overused conventional fonts.

Tracking and Filing of 1099

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1099 – Is it the year Crusaders struck or something else? It is January and in the United States this could mean only one thing – a form that IRS requires all businesses send to its independent contractors whose services were engaged last calendar year. Typically, these would be people who are paid on a per job basis like artists, web designers, legal consultant, videographers and others. 1099 comes with a dizzying array of variants and 1099-MISC being the most common. This post is all about 1099-MISC.

Is this meant for me?

Did you pay anyone more than $600 towards rent or other services provided? If the answer is yes, then you need to issue a 1099 for them. There are other reasons you might be required to send a 1099. Head over to IRS website and read the instructions carefully.

What is the Deadline for Filing?

As early as January 31st, 2013 you need to send your vendors a copy of the 1099-MISC. You should send a copy to IRS by February 28th, 2013 if you send it by snail mail or by March 31st 2013 if you file electronically. The IRS uses 1099s to match income reported and needless to say there are penalties if the deadlines are not complied with. Don’t be a Johnny come lately here! Remember your vendors/contractors will need this information to file their income taxes on time!

Okay, tell me how do I track these 1099-MISC vendors in Zoho Books?

Before you start tracking 1099-MISC vendors in Zoho Books, you need to request your vendors to complete a W-9 form. Once your vendor’s information is received, then enter it in your accounting software. Here is short guide on how to track 1099-MISC vendors in Zoho Books.

Now! Tracking is fine, but how do I send them to the contractors and file with IRS?

To get your information from Zoho Books and file it, you need to export your vendor from Zoho books into an excel or CSV and import that into the 1099 filing service of your choice.Click on 1099 guide for detailed instructions. You can use the services of any online 1099 filing and delivering vendors that have been approved by the IRS. Here is the link from the IRS website that lists the various providers approved by the IRS for delivering and filing 1099. (See below). You should ideally choose a provider that can file your returns online AND deliver it online to your vendors/contractors thereby removing paper from the process.

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Information-Returns-(Forms-1042-S,-1098,-1099,-5498,-8027-and-W2G)

As I had mentioned earlier, 1099 Forms are used for matching reported income and IRS is very serious about it and you should be as well.