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.

There’s A Better Way To Share Sales Documents: Introducing the Zoho CRM Document Library

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One of the most common requests I get from the Zoho sales team goes like this: ”I am working with a hot prospect who is evaluating our product and X & Y competitors – can you email me all the UPDATED documents asap?”.

Does this sound familiar?

This is really common across any sales & marketing organization. So over time we’ve started using solutions like Zoho Docs, Google Docs, Dropbox or SharePoint, which work really well for general sharing, but they’re missing a critical thing: they don’t talk to your CRM system.

That makes it hard to make sure everyone is using the latest version of the document they need – and also important is the fact that you can’t control who has access to what according to their role and access permissions. Plus, rather than searching for existing documents in computers, mailbox and other places, wouldn’t it be great if our salespeople spent their valuable time on developing a strong sales pipeline?

That’s why today we’re excited to announce the Zoho CRM Document Library, which makes it easy to manage your library of sales collateral, materials, proposals and more, right within Zoho CRM.

Folders & sharing
You have a broad product portfolio and large sales organization spanning across different regions. It’d be a nightmare to try to replicate this structure, with the right permissions anywhere else other than your CRM. The Zoho CRM Document Library uses the same role-based security you’ve defined for your accounts & leads, CRM administrators can easily update the access control permissions.

You can also of course create multiple sub-folders, for collateral, training, legal, etc. to keep all your files organized.

Email documents to prospects
When you send an email to a prospect, you can easily search and attach the required files from the document library to email and save time. You can also link the documents to keep a record of what you’ve sent.

Reviews & Versioning
You can not only maintain collateral up-to-date, but also periodically receive feedback from colleagues and improve the quality of documents. Additionally, you can refer the previous versions and compare the changes.

More Storage Space!
Now that you have this, you’ll be using a lot more space in Zoho CRM. Well, we have good news for all our existing Professional and Enterprise Edition users. From today, you will get 250 MB per user (or 500 MB/user in Enterprise Edition) storage space instead of 250 MB storage space for the whole organization in Professional Edition. So, for example, if your company has subscribed to 20-user license, you will get total 5GB common storage space for all users. We’ve also increased the file storage for free users. I hope that this additional storage helps you centralize your sales collateral.

Gopal

Hear ye! Hear ye! Direct Signup for Customer Portal

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Whenever I talk to customers about their customer support operation, one topic creeps into our conversations. “How can I continually reduce load on a given support rep?”. My sarcasm kicks in and I go, “Why don’t you hire more reps?”, followed by a wink.

The real solution takes a little more time and effort than just hiring reps, and it costs far less. Some call it old-fashioned, some call it impersonal. But, whatever you call it, the customer portal is the quintessential way to reduce ticket load on your support reps.

Building an extremely detailed, success-focused knowledge base can be a tricky affair. But, you’ll get your gratification when you open it to your customers and create happiness instantly.

When we reach this point in the conversation, customers often say “Yeah. But then, they still have to raise a ticket to get access to the customer portal!”. Today, I have some good news on that front.

Till now, for a few reasons, security and otherwise, support reps had to give customer portal access manually to customers. Not anymore. Today, we’re really excited to announce direct signups for customer portals. You can simply point your customers to your customer portal. They can sign up directly and start using it immediately.

We think this would take you one step closer towards creating more happiness per ticket, and even when no ticket is raised!

Your customers who are currently using your customer portal will see nothing unusual. Their login credentials will work seamlessly. If you have any more questions, please feel free to check out this page.

This is our first announcement in the new year. But, you can expect a few big announcements in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for more happiness!