Domain Names. Big Deal.

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A domain name is to a website, what SSN is to you; no two websites can have the same domain name. It is to uniquely identify you in the online space. It is essential that you do it right the very first time, because it is the only best time to do it. So, what factors should influence you in choosing a good custom domain?

1. Subdomains Vs. Custom Domains

www.yourbusiness.someotherbusiness.com is a subdomain. www.yourbusiness.com is a custom domain. Where you host your business website is the last thing your client is bothered about. He needs credibility (She needs even more). Which of the two domains look credible? Which of the two websites above would your visitor feel comfortable in sharing credit card information with?

2. Keyword-laden domains Vs. Brandable domains

Every domain name translates to an IP address that machines understand better. But domain names are for us; humans.

Domains that are easily remembered are the ones that are easy to remember. Straightforward? Short and Brandable domains create an excitement; domains like apple.com. Keyword-laden domains have their advantage as well. If you are a multi-product company, then you might want your domain to be generic, so that all your products can be marketed with the same brand value. But for single-product organizations, having a relevant keyword or an industry-jargon, in combination with a brandable name could be a great bet.

But the best part is, that there are exceptions. And plenty of room for creativity. What would you call a domain name that is an entire sentence, and is about 30 characters long? A bad domain? Before you answer, check this out!

When it comes to SEO, Google says it will treat both kinds of domains equally. So algorithmically, it really doesn’t make a big difference. Watch this Google Video. It is a year old, but should be relevant.

3. Extension

The importance of extensions is immense in Google searches. The results vary depending on you being signed in to Google or not, your region settings on your browser, and lately, the +1′s of your friends and contacts on Google. It is all a measure to display the most relevant results to a searcher.

yourbusiness.com isn’t the same as yourbusiness.org. Each extension has it’s meaning. .com is widely used; .org is for non-profit organizations; .gov the government; and there’s more. If your business is serving a global audience, it is best to pick a .com domain name.

4. Brand Establishment

As and when you choose a custom domain name for your business website, you also need to ensure that the same name is available on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other viral social media platforms. It would hurt your brand if one of them does not belong to your organization, and is posting stuff that is not just appropriate.

5. Business email hosting

When you have your own domain name, you can host your business email too, so that it reads, you@yourbusiness.com, and not you@gmail.com or you@zoho.com. The former promotes your domain name and helps in establishing an identity.

These are why picking a domain name is one of the first things you should do when setting up a business. Like falling in love, all the worse when you do it late. The one in your mind might be taken already. Hope this helps you in picking a great domain name for your business website. And business email, because business website building and email hosting always go hand-in-hand.

Top 4 Start-up Fears and How to Conquer Them

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This is a guest post by Lindsay Holloway, writer and editor of small business trends and technology. To read more from Lindsay, check out her articles on The Examiner.

Whether you’re building the next iPod or launching a new social network, one of the biggest steps in getting started is facing the fears that most entrepreneurs deal with. To get an idea of what fears they face, we polled a handful of hardworking entrepreneurs, who despite any fears and looming “what ifs” managed to make it through and build their small businesses. More importantly, we asked them how they conquered those fears.

  1. Finances: From start-up capital to monthly budgets, managing money – whether you have it or not – can make anyone’s head spin. “They’re afraid of budgeting and cash-flow projections; they’re afraid of reading their financial reports and all that financial voodoo,” says Chellie Campbell, author and instructor of an eight-week financial strategies course. But don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the numbers, because managing your business’s finances is probably one of the easier fears to conquer. Courses like Campbell’s, books and online programs can be a big help. If you have the funds, hire a bookkeeper or assistant.
  2. Time: Whether you’re afraid of having to dedicate all of your time to your business, not having enough time for your family or needing more time in the day, time isn’t always going to be on your side. Though it’s common for business owners to wear many hats, there are companies, people, software and web tools that can take some of the load off. “Be willing to let go and not micromanage everything,” says Kristopher Jones, CEO of Pepperjam, a full-service Internet marketing agency. “And hire people that complement [your] weaknesses.” It’s also important to set boundaries. Dedicate specific work hours and spaces. If you work from home, make sure your office is separate from your living space. Being able to close up “shop” at the end of the day makes a huge difference.
  3. Customer adoption: Your product, service or business idea must have stemmed from an unmet need or unfulfilled market that you discovered, right? So you just need to confirm the need is really there and that it can sustain a business. Do this through research, study groups, polling peers and evaluating other companies in the space. “It’s always possible that customers won’t react to your value proposition the way you anticipate,” says Romney Evans, co-founder and CEO of online jean retailer TrueJeans.com. “But improve your chances by listening to your customers and potential customers. They know what they want and need.”
  4. Failure: The granddaddy of entrepreneurial fears is failure. It’s also the reason many ideas never make it off the ground. Starting a business is risky, time-consuming and lots of work; these reasons contribute to the 50 percent of small businesses that fail within the first five years. But know that you’re not in it alone. “Faith in yourself and the support of others play huge factors in moving forward,” says Ken Wisnefski, founder and CEO of WebiMax.com. “Success is not guaranteed, regardless of the most tedious planning. But connecting with people who have been through it can be positive and helpful.” And don’t forget to acknowledge accomplishments. “Celebrate the small successes,” says Drew Stevens, business author, speaker and consultant. “Small wins count more than the largest. Small wins stroke the ego and keep the focus on the present.”

Don’t Blame Zoho for Apple’s Wall Street Miss

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Yesterday after the bell, Apple reported financial results for their fiscal third quarter. And although impressive, they fell below Wall Street expectations. Apple’s stock is so far down about 5%. Many would say that’s well deserved after they delivered a net income increase of only 21% – for a total of $8.8 billion.

In any case, Zoho is not responsible for Apple’s earnings miss.

Let me explain.

Over the past few months, we at Zoho have bought about 2,000 devices for our employees – computers, phones, tablets. Yes, all of them Macs, iPhones and iPads. Although that’s one big order, that’s of course a drop in the bucket for Apple. In any case, we didn’t do it to help Apple either. So why?

Well, we did it for two reasons:

First is that we’re on a quest to create products with better look, feel and usability. Our new Zoho CRM which we launched some time ago and our new Zoho Sites products are two examples of this. Our earlier UI efforts were nascent, but some time ago we became “religious” about it. But… if you spend all of your day sitting in front of the ugly Windows UI, you’re going to feel less inspired when it comes to creating your own product. So we have upgraded most of our team to Mac. Yes, of course we are keeping some PCs around for testing purposes.

Second is that as we launch more and more mobile apps for our products, we want everyone in the company to be able to use them and test them in real-life. So that’s why we gave people a choice between iPhones and iPads.

I was just walking by the “Apple” room where our IT people are preparing the products for handing off to employees. They actually had to camp on a conference room as we don’t, well, do this often.

Yes, all those boxes in the back are full of Apple products. So – don’t blame Zoho for Apple’s earnings miss!

Rodrigo

 

 

Is your response quick enough? Here’s how to find out!

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Today, a colleague showed me results of a survey that almost threw me off my seat! It was from a study conducted by CMO Council on how end consumers use social media to connect with brands.

Amongst several things, I noticed that about 47% of respondents had said they expected a response from brands within 24 hours. About 19% expected a response within an hour while another 22% expected an instant response! This goes on to show how important it is for support teams to track their turnaround time.

Helpdesk Turnaround Time

Courtesy: CMO Council

Using SLAs, Zoho Support already lets you track if a ticket has taken too long to close. However, now, you can even track if the first or any subsequent response has taken too long to happen.

Here’s how:

  • First, create a custom field.
  • Then, set a time-based rule to update it, when a response is delayed.
  • Additionally, you can compile a daily report using the same custom field or setup an alert associated with that custom field.

Sounds complicated? Not really!  Let’s look at a Zoho Support scenario.

Zoho Support Helpdesk Time Based Rule

Suppose a customer had raised a ticket and our first response was delayed beyond 24 hours, for some reason. Our helpdesk coordinator immediately knows that we’ve not satisfied that customer enough. So, he can easily ensure we make amends with that customer. It’s really convenient for helpdesk coordinators.

So, the next time a response is delayed, you know about it instantly. And, when you compile a report, you know how many times it has happened as well! You can effectively keep an eye on your support team’s turnaround time and optimize it wherever necessary.

We really hope this would be of use to you while you try to deliver the best support experience to your customers.

So, what’re you waiting for? Respond. Track. Optimize. Improve.

Announcing, Password Protected Pages on Zoho Sites

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Here’s announcing another update to Zoho Sites; Password-Protected Pages. You can now restrict access to pages on your website using passwords. This lets you share relevant content alone, with a closed group of people.

Password Protection:

There are two types of passwords to use based on the instance:

  •  Site Password
  •  Page Password

Site Password is ideal when you want to share multiple pages with a group of people. One password for all the pages, so you share only one password with everyone.

On the other hand, Page Password lets you set separate passwords for each page. With each page having its own password, there is no possibility of accessing such pages with one common password. Read our help section on how to protect your webpages.

Linking External Pages:

Another feature that accompanies password protection, is linking your pages to external links. You can now link your pages to any other external websites. Particularly, if you own multiple websites, you could link to each of them from every other website.

Both these features have been repeatedly asked for, so we are eagerly looking forward to hearing your comments on them.

4 Simple Steps to Getting Organized

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This is a guest post by Lindsay Holloway, writer and editor of small business trends and technology. To read more from Lindsay, check out her articles on The Examiner

You may have missed National Get Organized Month in January or perhaps didn’t quite finish spring cleaning, but it’s never too late to get your home office or home-based business organized. And since we’re halfway into 2012, now is a great time to reorganize and cross a few items off your summer checklist.

Fortunately you don’t have to do it alone. You don’t have to ditch your cluttered filing “system” cold turkey. You don’t have to learn a new complex spreadsheet program. And you don’t have to hand over your paycheck to an assistant or professional organizer. There are myriad resources, tools and experts out there to help you, and we’ve put together four essential tips for getting your office or business organized this year:

1. Take control of your inbox. Small-business resource SCORE suggests creating e-mail folders to organize your messages. We all know what it’s like to have an inbox overflowing with both old and unread messages, so get ahold of the message madness from the get-go. Create working folders that make sense for your business, whether they’re based on urgency, task, contact group or department.

2. Stop clutter before it starts. To battle clutter, you must have systems and routines for dealing with it, says certified professional organizer Lorie Marrero. Aside from avoiding situations where “clutter cravings” can arise, she stresses the importance of dealing with things as they come and not letting clutter like mail, bills or filing stack up until it becomes a problem or wieldy task. For example, when you get the mail, immediately discard the junk mail; then organize and open the remaining pieces by importance.

3. Leverage free productivity tools. There’s an app for everything, right? Whether it’s on your smartphone, notebook or in the cloud, there are endless tools available to help you organize your schedule, documents, projects and more. Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to mentally coordinate your daily tasks and appointments, so at times it’s necessary to let technology do the work for you. There are various calendar and scheduling apps, tools for conducting and tracking surveys, and project collaboration and management apps available.

​4. Organize your files and documents. While it may be essential to have physical copies of some documents, others are better made digital and others still could really be thrown out (safely, of course). And for these steps, there are convenient home-office and small-business gadgets. Consider a Xerox DocuMate scanner for taking those paper forms into the digital realm, or the handy yet robust Swingline Stack-and-Shred line of shredders for proper disposal of those dinosaur-aged files you’ve been too scared to throw away.

An organized space – and workflow – is necessary for maximum efficiency and productivity in the modern workplace. When work piles up, things get messy! So keep the above tips in mind this summer as you clean up your space and keep your productivity going. Happy working!

10 Reasons Why Tracking Time Matters

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‘Time tracking is such a waste of time!’

I’ve often heard people say that. Honestly, if you are a freelancer, you’ll know that time accounting is a serious task  as you get  paid by the hour. So why is time tracking all that important?  Top of the mind, this is why I think:

1. Albert Einstein had only 24 hours. So do youTime-Tracking
No one is saying you are not a genius like him. Of course you are! But when you are heading a project, you cannot whip out extra time in the last minute.

Quick Tip: PLAN. Go back to the basics. Make a task list and stick to it.

2. Energy Drainers – Count them in too
Your mobile, email, internet and staring at the clock itself will eat away your carefully planned time. They have a unique way to disrupt your carefully planned time. Tracking your time helps to keep them at bay.

Quick Tip: While planning, set aside some time for energy drainers.

3. Bill your time right
Would you like to be paid by the hour for your expertise or by fixing a rate for the ultimate finished product.  As a freelancer your time’s worth should be estimated carefully before you bill your client on the basis of project hours, staff hours or task hours.

Quick Tip: Spend some time to know which project billing method suits you the best.

4. Heard of umm ‘delegating’
Ever noticed the amount of time you spend on actually doing what you love and the time spent on administrative tasks to get to do what you want to do? Share your workload.

Quick Tip: Add more people to the project and let them track their own time.

5. We all procrastinate – No exception
“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday”. Ahem I didn’t say that…Don Marquis did and I kind of agree. We procrastinate filling up those timesheets that when the day dawns to send the invoice, we rush and do a shoddy work of essaying the work we did.

Quick Tip: Do it small bits like once in 3 days instead of once a week.

6. ‘I don’t remember ‘ – syndrome
Not everyone is blessed with exceptional memory. As a freelancer, chances are you will be working on multiple projects and for many clients. The simple things might skip your mind when you finally get to your timesheets.

Quick Tip: Use the notes and write it down when it’s fresh in the mind.

7. Busy bees are awfully busy all the time
“I’ll fill it when I’m not so busy”. Well THAT… somehow never happens. Even if it does, then point no 5 and 6 pitch in and the rest is history. Prise out some time everyday to keep track of what you’ve achieved and where you are headed.

Quick Tip: Keep your mobile handy. Before starting the task, click start the timer. Let the app do the tracking.

8.My client ‘KNOWS’ the work I do
I know he does. But let’s be honest, you might be the best person working on the job but you are not the only one. Why make your client track your work when you can do an awesome job of it yourself. Remember… clients observe.

Quick Tip: Send out an immensely detailed invoice of the tasks accomplished with description. It’ll speak a lot about your professionalism.

9. Increased sense of accomplishment
Don’t know about you, but I love the happy fuzzy feeling that comes when a task is complete. It lets me know that I’m almost close to that finishing line and gives me that additional motivation to get the rest of the job done.

Quick Tip: Track your tasks and their progress regularly. Nothing disturbs the mind like a pending task.

10.It’s a friday job
It’s friday today and I know for a fact I have far more interesting things to do than fill up timesheets. So do you!   You often have to reverse engineer your way to noting down what you did the entire week.

Quick Tip: Spend 5 min a day to write down the key tasks. Elaborate later.

Well these were some of the reasons why I thought tracking time is so crucial. Would love to know why you track time. Share your inputs right here in the comments below.