Unbound – Freelancer’s bliss

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The age old adage that invoicing is boring is slowly replacing to the ‘fun thing that you do to get money on time’. Customer base is growing. Demands are at an all time high and you need to be on top of your business to stay ahead.

Previously it was enough to store customer data and create invoices from there. But now, when the ‘other guy’ (or gal) is doing a great job, you want to be nothing short of excellent. It’s advised from time immemorial to steer clear of factors that bind you to mediocrity and find avenues that lets you show off your skills better.

Imagine invoicing clients from a train! That’s what Mr Iwasaki does on a regular basis.
Mr. Iwasaki

Mr Iwasaki is a part of the growing phenomenon called ‘freelancers’ whose definition of office is home and work is fun. They enjoy what they do and adopt those softwares which help them do what they love doing the best.

Zoho Invoice had come into his life at an opportune moment when he was looking for respite from Microsoft Excel. Customer information is the key to any organization and managing them efficiently is important.

 

Mr. Iwasaki says,

Such data is supposed to be relational database and I was forced to manage it by Excel which was not efficient.

We are no longer a part of closed economy. Why restrict us then, when freedom is just a few clicks away!

Read ahead to find out more about this talented entrepreneur who wears multiple hats at his company.

Zoho in Website Magazine’s Top 50 List

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In its February 2012 issue, Website Magazine prints the list of the Top 50 Software Solutions to Explore in 2012. Guess who holds the #3 spot? Zoho. Well, I guess that’s where we disagree with Website Magazine – we think we should be at the top. But, who’s counting?

Website Magazine notes (emphasis mine)

Web workers used to (and many continue to) struggle with the wide variety of software that was necessary to gather intelligence, engage in all manners of Web marketing and online advertising management, and communicate digitally. That’s a lot of responsibility, but thankfully it’s getting simpler. If there is one trend that will define 2012 and beyond, it is that of a more unified platform. 

A unified platform – that’s exactly what has been driving us at Zoho since we started in 2005! We believe there’s a lot of value in having everything work together, seamlessly, to having everything under one roof. And that’s what you’ll find here at Zoho.

You can find Website Magazine’s 50 Top Software Solutions to Explore in 2012 in their February 2012 issue and you can also find it online.

Making it easier to edit tasks and move task list in Zoho

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Creating a task list is nothing but planning your day to make it a more productive one. What matters most is how well you can manage your task list and how much work you put in to make sure you finish your tasks that makes you feel delighted like, you’ve achieved something when you get done with your task list each day.

Today we’re introducing a couple of features to help you better manage your tasks as best as you can in Zoho Projects.

Inline editing enabled for your tasks
Editing tasks is super easy with the inline editing option. Previously, you can edit priority, owner and status, starting today we’ve extended this to edit the start, end date and percentage completed for a task.

Editing Tasks

Moving task lists across projects
Feedback comes in waves from customers. Moving a task list from one project to another is one of them. With this, you can instantly move a task list from project into another in quick time.

Last but not the least; move tasks in bulk
Now move bunch of tasks from one task lists to another that saves ample effort in repeated task entry. This is a great time saver for actually keeping on task and finishing it off which makes you feel happy about working towards your goal.

Hope these features are useful and helps everyone! Learn more about them at Move Tasks

Send us your feedback at support@zohoprojects.com or let us know what you think :)

Zoho Reports: Email your Business Dashboards as PDF

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Creating business dashboards have always been easy with Zoho Reports. Dashboards thus created can be shared and accessed from web URLs. But you may have clients (or colleagues) who would like to view the dashboards as PDF files. Now, how nice would it be if your dashboards were to be emailed as beautifully formatted PDFs with your own company’s logo?

Till recently, it was possible only for individual reports to be exported/mailed as PDF. Now, dashboards can be exported/emailed as PDF too.

You can even schedule the dashboard PDF files to be emailed at regular intervals using the scheduled emailing of reports feature.

Note: The PDF generation is optimized for charts. Just make sure that the dashboards you convert as PDF don’t contain large data tables.

12 Business Resolutions for 2012

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What better way to start the year than with a list of resolutions that can help your Business grow and prosper in the New Year. We’ve put together a list of 12 such resolutions that you can pick and choose from.

So, here’s wishing you a Happy and Productive New Year 2012!

#1 Prioritize

“Start every day with strategic clarity by spending 10 minutes reviewing what one-to-five things you want to achieve this year, what your strategic priorities are for achieving them, and (most importantly) what businesses, activities and opportunities you have decided to say “no” to because they distract you from what is truly important.” – Kaihan Krippendorff, author

More Resolutions from Business authors

#2 Focus on Less

When it comes to focussing your attention, energy and business resources, less is certainly more. The best example of this, is Steve Jobs’ approach to Management.

#3 Sell More

We’re guessing ‘Sell More!’ is already among the top of your Business resolutions for 2012.

To make it even easier for you to achieve this, the all-new CRM Interface comes with…

  • Simplified user actions designed to reduce the time your CRM time, so you can focus on selling
  • Pulse. Taking sales tracking to the next level, by letting you follow what’s (not) happening in your Business
  • Social CRM Integration with LinkedIn so you can associate LinkedIn profiles and engage your customers better within the CRM system

And More.

#4 Watch your Cash Flow

Are you keeping an eye on your cash flow yet?

Effective cash-flow management is essential to the growth of all businesses. Simplify your accounting process, choose an accounting solution that helps you stay on top of your finances. And start making financially informed decisions today!

Optimize Time

The time and energy you (and your team members) spend on your Business projects is perhaps your most valuable resource. Make the most of this resource, by using time-tracking tools to track the time spent on your projects. Another way to do this, would be to integrate time-tracking into your invoicing process.

Remember, time saved is money earned!

Streamline your Support Process

Great support means repeat business. And thats reason enough to streamline your Customer Support. Customers now look forward to proactive and participative support. Your support process should take into account multiple channels and should be easily trackable and measurable.

#7 Get Paid Faster

An automated invoicing process can help track time and expenses while you focus on other aspects of your business. Work with an invoicing tool that comes with additional features such as reports, mobile accessibility and integrated online payment capability.

Create a Customer Community

Do you have an online customer support community where your customers and employees can interact, share feedback, discuss ideas and brainstorm?

If not, set up a forum where you can engage them and gather valuable insights.

#9 Go Social

Social media is more than just an extension of business ethics. Your customers are out there,having conversations about your Business (or your competitors). It’s all up to you to be a part of those conversations, engage your customers and prospects, provide support and share content that matters to them.

So does your Business have a clear social media strategy linked to your overall Business objectives?

If not, now might be a good time to start! Here are more reasons why.

#10 Don’t be afraid to talk Pricing

The price of products and / services that your Business offers is probably not the main decision-making factor for your prospective clients. But, it certainly is important.

Here’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to list prices on your Business website.

#11 Collaborate

Foster an environment that encourages employees across various teams and locations to collaborate effectively. Online tools for Project Management, Discussion forums and Web-Conferencing can help you on the way to achieving this.

#12 Stay on top of your numbers

In order to make informed Business decisions, it is critical to keep an eye on your Business reports. An online reporting and Business Intelligence tool can make it easy for you visualize and analyze your Business data.

All the best with your resolutions!

It’s 2012! What’s in store for you this New Year?

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We’d like to take this opportunity to give our best Happy New Year wishes from everyone at Zoho, and may all our users have a great 2012.

The first thing to look at is what positive changes we could bring this New Year for our customers to get things done faster with Zoho Projects. On a similar note, we worked on THIS most crucial and missing functionality in Zoho Projects. And of course it happens to be the most discussed and popular topic of our customer forums too.

Yes, you guessed it right. Presto ! Subtasks got integrated into Zoho Projects as part of the existing task management module.

Let us see more about sub tasks in Zoho Projects :

Create subtasks to stay focussed on what matters
Starting today, you’ll be able to create subtasks in a single click. For this, mouseover a particular task you can see a double-headed arrow, click Indent Button to indent the task, making it a subtask or click Outdent Button to outdent the task, making it a summary task in quick time.

Easily import sub tasks from MS project
Before you can only import tasks from your MPP/MPX file. After this update, now you can import tasks along with its sub-tasks i,e all your work break down structure is carried right from your MS project into Zoho Projects.

Sub TasksGantt and dependency view gets better with subtasks
With this update, you can see sub tasks appearing right on your gantt chart. This gives you an easy way to view and print sub tasks from gantt view. Furthermore, you can find sub tasks in  task dependency which lets you better organize your tasks in dependency view for an effective task management.

Finally, sub tasks as part of your templates
Just like normal tasks, you can capture the sub-tasks as part of your project as well as task template in Zoho Projects.

So how do you get started ? Easy ! Here’s the link to Subtasks and ofcourse a short video

What editions is sub tasks available?
Sub tasks are available for all Premium and Enterprise customers i.e., $299 & $599 annual plans and $35 and $80 monthly plans. It is also available for existing Valuepack 3 customers. See Plans and Pricing

Login to our Project Management Software, start exploring the subtasks and don’t forget to leave your feedback as comments here or mail us at support@zohoprojects.com

Coming up next is Task duration in hours. Stay Tuned !

What’s Missing From Your Holiday Shopping List? Better Customer Service

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This is a guest post by Shabana Shiliwala, who owns The Financial Sort, a financial planning company based in Austin, Texas.

While you’re shopping for holiday gifts, pay attention: if you’re impressed or frustrated by the customer service you experience from a business, chances are other people are too. There isn’t a better time than the crowded and hectic holiday shopping season to observe how you can improve your business’s customer service:

Short response time. It seems the rarest commodity these days is courtesy. Can you even
remember how many emails you’ve sent that have been ignored? It’s become de rigueur to call
multiple times if you ever expect to receive a response. Want to really surprise your customers?
Call them back right away. Customers will be so blown away by this uncommon act of common
courtesy that they won’t know what hit them.

Real people. Is there anything more infuriating than not being able to talk to a real person?
Give customers a shock by having someone actually answer the phone. Instead of sending an automatic response to emails saying you’ll respond in 24 hours (but no one ever does because there’s no system in place to deal with emails), designate an employee who will have the responsibility of promptly responding to emails personally. Talk about standing out from the competition.

Well-trained employees. Have you ever been told by an employee at a store that they don’t
carry a certain product you’re looking for, only to find it on your own while browsing? Or
discovered that an employee gave you incorrect information about a product, so you can’t help
but wonder if it was on purpose just to make a sale? Staffing your business with
unknowledgeable employees is a surefire path to frustrating your customers and compromising
your business’s professional image. Employees represent your business to your customers, so
it’s worth spending extra time and effort to ensure they can explain your business’s products and
services as well as you can.

100% satisfaction guaranteed. How you treat customers after they’ve made a purchase is
possibly the most important interaction you have with them. Have you ever been made to feel
guilty or ashamed while trying to return a product? Or felt frustrated and angry when your
complaints about a product or service fell on deaf ears? Most importantly, did you continue
shopping at that store? The true test of good customer service is how you deal with a dissatisfied
client. Can you make every customer interaction a positive one? When customers feel that they
are heard and respected even when they express dissatisfaction, they’ll be more likely to
continue doing business with you. A “no questions asked” return policy and responding to
complaints with immediate refunds, discounts or bonuses go a long way towards fostering
goodwill and building brand loyalty among your customers. Not only will they feel comfortable
continuing doing business with you, customers will also be more likely to try new products or
services since they know there’s no risk.

All you have to do is open your eyes while doing your holiday shopping to find the best gift you
can give your customers this year–better service.