Software

Nine Reasons Why your Business must have a Live Chat on your Site

A Website is an online identity of your business. It ought to be interactive to hold a customer’s attention. Live chat helps reckon a human touch to your digital website.

This interface acts like a Consumer Relationship Representative available for everyone and everywhere across the globe.

A Survey of American online customers shows that clients prefer sites containing live chat. According to the survey, 68 percent of the visitors engage in live chat and 63 percent come back for repetitive purchase.

As a part and parcel of live chat, many advantages come live with it.

1. Guaranteed convenience.

Customers are comfortable with Live Chat rather than Phones. With Live Chat, customers can be assured of immediate attention which is practically not possible with Phones. For Online purchasing, customers love the idea of immediate help and assistance.

The hassles of finding phone numbers, dialing them, waiting for busy lines, long IVR Input processes and many more puts the customer off of his shopping experience. Thus, Live Chats are essential to have a smooth interface.

 2. Cost effective interface.

Phone calls require one-on-one attention, whereas during a Live Chat, one candidate can manage multiple clients simultaneously. This helps cut cost and, thus save the company’s resources. Maintaining a separate call center can be an expensive affair. The firm needs to hire executives, purchase phones, pay phone bills, even incorporate a call routing software.

On the other hand, a Live chat on the site helps save on these expenses. All that needs to be done is to install the software and you are ready to go.

With this businesses can keep directly in touch with their customers. Moreover, it is cheaper for the customers as well. They need not worry about their phone bills while talking to you. This helps instill goodwill among customers.

3. Synthesizing multitasking.

With Phone calls one needs to bear the pain of holding the receiver, waiting for the reps to pick up call. This process captures all time and attention of an individual. The automated responses overcome the hurdles of waiting.

Live Chat facilitates other variant tasks like Email updates and other Project Tasks. The Customers are notified by a beep sound when the representative is available for chat. Customers can get into the discussion with them right away.

4. High-tech solution. 

In this fast paced world, everyone loves speed. Your customers too ! In Live Chat, a customer can be addressed more speedily than a traditional call system. This yields better customer satisfaction by  eliminating the waiting in a Queue. Customers can get access to the reps whenever the need arises.

5. Providing 24/7 service. 

The Offices can be closed for holidays on the weekends or other public holidays. Online live chat can be utilized to provide 365 days service to the customers. With live chat, queries can be answered from anyplace, anytime.

With some inbuilt replies, customers reach can be maximized even for non-office timings. This round the clock availability will help build trust among the customers.

6. Storehouse of data.

Live chats facilitate storage of data for future reference. Vital information about the customer: his history, his path of landing, activity status during a chat, and so on, can be stored. This information can be utilized for better functioning of the sales department.

If a problem is arising simultaneously with multiple customers it can be tracked and one can arrive to the solution by utilizing the stored data. Further steps can be taken to curtail these problems in the future.

7. Burgeon the conversion rate.

Leveraging the availability of users in real time and persuading them to purchase products is a sale technique that can be used with a Live chat.

This serves as a boon to the business. Personally convincing the prospects to buy from your company facilitates gaining their confidence and helps in up-selling and cross-selling.

Trained Reps can advise the customers about the benefits of buying from them, they can also provide discounts/ free gifts persuading prospects to become actual customers.

8. Cut-throat competition. 

To survive the rat race in this competitive world, one always needs to introduce new strategies. Nevertheless, with changing business trends live chat has become an integral part of any business.

Yet, there are many companies who refrain to introduce it. This gives an edge of being a preferred choice to your customers over your competitors who still haven’t incorporated Live chat.

9. Customer retention.

Live chat helps to increase the satisfaction level of customers. Satisfied customers promote repetitive sales. Furthermore, the customers tend to become less concerned about what they are paying, a long as they feel comfortable.

That means comfortable with your company and the products. It helps to develop a long-term relationship with the customers.

Live chat, the most viable and essential business trend, provides an unmatched potential to your business. Still not convinced? Take our advice and  give it a shot. Setup a live chat and you will be surprised to realize how it provides wings to your business!

No comments
Jeremy WebbNine Reasons Why your Business must have a Live Chat on your Site
read more

Business to Interface Translation — BIT

Smartphone and tablet innovation is exploding. The potential of mobile apps is yet to be realized to its full extent. We are still researching and innovating on various ways to put the interface on digital touch screens to use.

Some of the interfaces and businesses that exist today are already phenomenal. That said, we are not just limited to screens on your phones or tablets, you have watches, HMDs, TVs, IOT and other smart devices; there’s a whole new world being built in these spaces.

There’s a huge no. of people wanting to build and need help with apps to run a business on and for most already established businesses, it has become a need. There are costs & time commitments involved along with acquiring & retaining skill to build and keep your app running.

When it’s about building an app, we mean business, Essentially building out a system that can communicate and manage a business process with an app as front end. And, when it’s business, it means money.

Driving digital products from idea to implementation involves building the product, carrying out various processes needed for sustaining, managing the business, ensuring profitability.

Most content that you read online is about idea validation, design and development/build of the app but, there is more involved than just this for turning successful. It’s quite complicated to understand and do it right and hence, there are failures.

Start

Your journey as the owner can start anywhere based on the understanding you have and it completely depends on the your background and profile and the competence of your team.

Driving digital products from idea to implementation involves building the product, carrying out various processes needed for sustaining, managing the business, ensuring profitability. Most content that you read online is about idea validation, design and development/build of the app but, there is more involved than just this for turning successful.

It’s quite complicated to understand and do it right and hence, there are failures. Failures are not the end of the world, they could be handled by thinking through with a clear detail.

Plan

How detail can it be? Really!!

If you go out and order pasta at 10 different restaurants, it would definitely taste differently at different place. We’ll a place has full right to define how their dishes should taste but, you are the one eating it. You wouldn’t like all the 10.

Or may be you will not like any restaurant at all. Working with people and getting a product out is also the same. It’s not easy to get it right. It call for the owner to be more aware and mature with thoughts and operations.

You approach someone or put together a team and define the product to get some help. Would it match what you need without your involvement? Are you clear on what needs to be expected at a sharp visual and functional details covering all the cases possible?

Well, are you completely aware of the details involved?

Videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO5sxLapAts and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zc4bGkU05o should help you get the context of it. 

Things to note from the meme

There was a presentation done that exactly misses out key detail. Most Product Requirement Documents(PRDs), UI mockups, wireframes, functional descriptions, system definitions have bazillion such details that don’t come out clear!

And, one cannot define these detail unless they are clear about what is needed and a deeper understanding of various lines of work involved in building and turning profitable.

“There’s more thought while production than while conceptualizing the solution.”

A Case

For example, A button to book a Stay with an aggregator service/app:(the label of a button, state changes and transitions). Most common first thoughts about such buttons are size, shape and position but, there’s more..

A whole lot more than what just meets the eye:

  1. Label

  2. State

    1. Pressed/Touched,

    2. Idle

    3. Being Pressed

    4. Force Press

    5. Duration of Press/Touch

    6. Before Press

      1. Active

      2. Disabled

      3. Hidden

    7. After Press

      1. Success

      2. Fail

      3. Something else happened

        1. Error ? What’s the error ? What should we say to the user

          1. How do we say it ?

            1. Modal ?

            2. Toast ?

            3. Something else ?

        2. Was it really an error ?

        3. Internet went off ?

        4. Server went down ?

        5. App crashed ?

        6. Was that a bug ?

  3. Style

    1. Padding

    2. Margin

    3. Border

    4. Border Radius

    5. Shadow

    6. Icon

    7. Background Color

    8. Text Color

A label:

Let’s cut down and focus on the Label

The possible labels in the this case are Book Now, Reserve, Request Booking for the various kinds of reservation options that the business has.

At the Designer’s Desk:

It’s not anybody’s fault that our dear designers use the word Book Now on their designs. Their job doesn’t really include a responsibility for adding a dynamic label for such simple point of interaction. There are some good designers who think this through and leave a comment about it on the developer handout or a PRD.

At the Developer’s Desk:

Our dear developers on the other hand have a whole lot of action going on trying to build functional aspects, dealing with engineering challenges, killing the bugs that show up every now and then. They obviously have their own problems to deal with, relating to the product again.

With so much going on, there’s a very good chance that a developer would ignore such detail about what’s written on the button. They’d rather focus on what the button does.

To get to this point in discussion, the designer on the project had to be good, not just visually. This is where the difference between UI and UX is.

Or, the developer had to take some time to think and call this out for discussion and most good programmers do. FYI, programmers are very good thinkers… They think, they write logic, they relate things that’s their everyday job.

So, Is a product manager to be blamed?

At the Product Manager/Owner’s Desk:

Well, a product manager’s job is never complete nor the responsibilities can be thoroughly defined. But they are assumed to take the ownership of the product and any aspect related to it. In a way, this is the responsibility of the product manager to address this issue. It might be too late by the time someone identifies this issue and it would be in most cases of the startup world.

In fact, Product Managers do not exist in early stage ventures probably because the value for such a role is not understood and then, there are very few good product managers around and a good product manager can happen only with great experience with how things are actually built. Some mature companies have PM roles split across different people viz.

  • Product Marketing

  • Product Operations

  • Product Development/Technical Product Manager

But regardless, there are many chances for details to be missed:

#What if the designer didn’t have enough information about the business?

#We might want to call it common sense to know these. But, common sense is not common. It’s one’s own perception of things. If somebody working had such clear understanding, they would definitely be in a better position to create a business than the guy trying to use somebody else’s efforts to build.

#What if the developer did not pay attention to details mentioned?

#What if the product manager or the acting product manager is not capable enough?

#What if the team is so busy trying to do things with an assumption that everything is clear?

These are the kinds of issues that would fail a product during initial phases of launch. Good products are the ones that are well thought through.

Digital products deal with dynamics of design on the Front End and multiple layers of complexities data collection, available data, correlations, background jobs, various sorts of intelligence across data available, involving framework limitations, and a lot of learning and understanding across design, engineering, architecture, communications and end user experience management(UX).

“Simplicity is ultimate sophistication.”

That comes from Leonardo da Vinci. One of the best designer, engineer and an artist that has ever lived. It’s not simple to design, engineer and build something simple. It involves a lot of thinking and a deeper understanding across verticals and most importantly, sitting down and building.

What we’ve discussed here is just about a label on a button. When you are actually venturing into running a business from a screen, there would be a million other factors that play a role. Please be aware and get right help when needed.

It’s always a good practice to have consumer journeys first and a PRD that talks about various key UX specs and decisions involved by a consumer. It’s completely okay to keep things open and call out things that you do not have clear thoughts about on PRDs and figure out a way to deal with them later.

If neglected they will call for one’s own imagination, turn into disasters, wasting the time and resources involved and it hurts. You wouldn’t want to do that.

No comments
Jeremy WebbBusiness to Interface Translation — BIT
read more

The Ultimate Arsenal of Growth Tools for Startups

Thanks to the developments in digital technology, it has been increasingly easier for entrepreneurs to take charge of  their own  growth trajectories. Wherever you are in your startup journey, you can get your hands on the most helpful software applications and platforms just by knowing where to look. However, with thousands upon thousands of options laid out, you might be asking: which ones will give me the best possible outcomes?

Use the right mix of tools.

The right mix of tools will certainly make a difference in your pace, employee productivity, and performance. To get you on track, here are some of the top tools for different functions in your organization such as idea generation, marketing, and collaboration. You will also find additional recommendations further down should you decide to use any third party services.

Idea Generation

Curator

This tool is made for visual thinkers. With Curator, you can collate your ideas as images and turn them into a visual story.

Mindmeister

This mind mapping tool helps you brainstorm and present ideas in map form. And as you connect your ideas visually on the platform, you and coworkers will be able to see the connections clearly.

Design & Development

Canva

The Canva website or mobile app provides a user-friendly interface to people with little to no design background. It starts off as a free tool, which means you can play with its features and create visual content without an upfront cost. For more advanced applications, however, you can choose to upgrade to its enterprise plan for an affordable monthly fee.

GitLab

GitLab is a wiki-based Git repository tool that helps programmers conduct tests and deploy their code efficiently.

Team Communication & Collaboration

Basecamp

Basecamp is a broad platform for team and project management. Members can collaborate, share notes and documents, and track their and others’ progress regarding certain projects.

Trello

Trello’s minimal setup of boards and cards is perfect for agile teams. With this program, you can organize ideas, to-do items, and tasks in a simple format. If you are working with a small team, you need not avail of the premium version. However, you need to shell out some bucks to unlock additional features and include more team members in a project.

Outreach/Lead Generation

Mailshake

Balanced follow-throughs signal that you care about your customers. With Mailshake, these can be deployed more efficiently and effectively. You can build relationships with customers from scratch using its features such as automatic follow-ups, calendar, and message customization options. Further, the app removes the stigma of sending cold emails.

Leadfeeder

What if you know which companies are visiting your website? Then you will have the information needed to personalize your outreach tactics. Leadfeeder lets you do that, and then some. It allows you to contact leads with perfect timing. You get automatic reports including visit data to your CRM and email inbox. Best of all, you get to set up custom filters based on parameters such as referrer, company size and lead warmth (as determined by their on-site browsing patterns), to identify which leads to sell to next.

Marketing

SproutSocial

This social media management software makes it easy for you to engage, publish, and analyze. Its product specialists will tend to your needs, so you can get the most out of your plan.

Narrow

If you want to amp up your Twitter marketing, Narrow will help you find relevant users, interact with them, and attract them to your profile. It also tracks the performance of your keyword, so you can adjust tactics accordingly.

Sumo

Sumo is the place to find free tools to automate your site growth. If this sounds like something you need over the long haul, you can then opt to unlock the pro versions of its suite of useful apps such as the List Builder, Heat Maps, and Content Analytics. It also works seamlessly with your chosen email service provider.

Fund Raising

Gust

Formerly known as AngelSoft, Gust lets you apply to accelerators or raise capital for your company. It connects founders to investors, giving you access to the people who will help you start, run, and grow your startup.

TrustLeaf

TrustLeaf is an alternative crowdsourcing solution for small businesses and startups. Unlike the usual crowdsourcing platform, its campaigns are private. It only allows you to borrow from people with whom you have an existing relationship, such as family and friends. It also keeps track of loans like micro-financing institutions would.

Admiral Markets

Aside from the two above mentioned options, you can also try investing. Foreign exchange markets provide you with the opportunity to put and grow some of your money in another money-making vehicle.

Admiral Markets offers forex trading tutorials that will help you achieve the best results. In trading, you need to set a goal such as what will your return be in n years. Then, you need to ensure that the return will go to the business or get reinvested in another project.

The top tools listed are only for five components of a business. You will need more for market research, product demos and presentations, analytics, and productivity. Check out this Reviews XP infographic for a more comprehensive list:

Third Party Services

The question of whether to outsource or not is common among startups. Of course, the primary condition that necessitates the use of third party services is when the business is short on budget and people. Requirements for flexibility are another reason.

Still, not all startups are created equal. You may encounter issues that are unique to your company. The following examples, then, are based on the most outsourced components — those outside the core competencies and capabilities of a business. But before you start hiring contractors, you should ask if the tasks fall into three general categories:

      highly skilled, or executive, expertise;

      highly repetitive; and

      specialized knowledge.

Accounting Firms

Business process outsourcing firms often provide startups with a variety of services ranging from accounting to support. However, you can also find companies handling limited and well-defined tasks such as bookkeeping, payroll processing, tax return preparation, and business registration.

You would want to go for the latter as they have a financial focus. They even allow you to enlist individual services based on your current state.

Boutique Digital Marketing Agencies

Boutique agencies are smaller creative firms that cater to set clients. Unlike their multinational counterparts, they are mostly local, employ fewer people, and lean toward lesser-known brands. The advantage of using their services is that you can rely on their expertise in your area. Instead of offering a cookie-cutter marketing strategy, they can tailor it to your industry and business needs.

For instance, a digital marketing agency for law firms understands how different content and social media marketing is for its clients. A boutique agency catering to retail brands know that it has to specialize in just a few product types since peddling food is not the same as selling apparel.

Headhunters

In the Forbes article “The First 5 People To Hire For Your Tech Startup”, the author cites data that puts the average recruitment cost for small to medium enterprises at  $7,645 per new hire. It is an insane figure for those who are only starting out. If you are not planning to get more than five people onboard during your first year (or before you score a satisfactory Series A funding), then channel your resources to a headhunter. This person or group has specialized skills in finding the perfect fit for companies. The recruiter also has the network to look for the employees you are searching for.

Virtual Assistants

If you are aiming to move the needle in an industry, you will be busy developing the product or service that will bring you the best results. In this case, you will not be available to handle the tasks that are not important to product development yet are crucial parts of day-to-day operations.

If you cannot afford to hire an additional employee or an executive assistant just yet, you can turn to a virtual assistant (VA) instead. A VA can cover tasks that are not tied to the office. If you know where to look, you will be able to find one who is experienced and charges reasonably.

No comments
Jeremy WebbThe Ultimate Arsenal of Growth Tools for Startups
read more

Top 10 Pointers To Consider for a Real Estate CRM System

​If you are in real estate industry and most probably a real estate agent, you must be well aware of your excessive busy schedule of your life. Meeting new clients, maintaining their records as well as other related tasks determines the success of real estate agent. Undoubtedly, it is tough to deal with each and every clientele efficiently and maintain their records manually. So, in order to simplify this process and with the aim of making it efficient and flawless, majority of the agents choose to use Real Estate CRM system.

If you too fall into the same category and are planning to use Real Estate CRM software for your business, then there are some of the important things you need to mull over:

  • Very rapidly, the real estate business is going mobile. Look if your CRM is mobile compatible and is it flexible enough to be integrated with your business.

  • Is mobile CRM working efficiently in offline mode?

  • Is it easy to implement and set up with your working environment?

  • How efficiently it manages the tasks and workflows? The CRM you choose must remind about the tasks and its deadlines.

  • Choose a CRM that can help you out with easy email marketing.

  • Prefer the CRM that is cloud-based. This will allow you to access your system from any location of the world having fully updated data and latest information.

  • Look for third-party integration that helps you in capturing leads. This could ultimately save double entry leads from any websites.

  • Filter out and gather the most pertinent data about leads. This would be better if enabled with adding notes feature for capturing finer details.

  • Test the CRM before purchasing it. For that, you need to check if its free trial version is available or not.

  • Check-out for the reviews of the CRM you choose. Also, see if it has good customer support for handling your business.​

The above-listed were top pointers you need to be concerned before choosing the Real Estate CRM for your business. You must be thinking, sufficing all the above points, could be possible or not. So with an aim to help you out with all these hassles, we have juggled down some of the tips to make you opt for right Real Estate CRM.

Let us have a quick look at these tips that can save you from taking any wrong decision.

  • Research.. Research and more Research: The most important one

    • Are you implementing a CRM software for the first time? You need to research!

    • Are you going to change your existing CRM with a new one? You need to research!

Spending a little time on research can help you save a lot of time, and after-implementation pains. Take some time and decide on the best-fit CRM for your business. It is best to invest in the right tool for your business by considering factors like- mobile capabilities, cost, implementation and many more.

  • Create a checklist of your business requirements

Keep in mind- Your business is not equal to theirs. Every real estate is different, has something new to offer to its clients based on the client preference. So it is on the safer side to be more engaged, more informative and more available as well, for your clients. Stay connected to your clients, identify their needs and update your business with the same satiating their requirements. A checklist must be updated with every new engagement of the ideas from the client’s end.

  • Identify the perks of Real Estate CRM Software

CRM helps to solve challenges at your business, propel leads through the funnel.

But how to achieve all of these and much more! This requires picking up the right CRM software from the market. It is better, you first look at the perks of the CRM software and then filter out the solution that ultimately fits your business needs.

  • Shortlist real estate vendors

There is a wide array real estate CRMs out in the market. Choose a system that can fit your requirements the best way. Usually, there are different types of software pertaining to commercial, residential or other types of real estate arenas.

  • Compare Features, Pricing and ask for free trial

By looking at the feature of the CRM software you choose, look at the pricing of the software. If your budget is low, then price could be a deciding factor. Give priority to the cloud-based system. Besides this, give priorities to the features like- mobile accessibility, tech support quality, email marketing and tracking, property listings and others. Ask for a free trial of the software. This will help you to get an idea of anything lacking behind the scenes.

Thus, after going through all these processes, finally, you can go with your first campaign. Create a list of content and add some recipients who wish to receive your email. Test your campaign with some free trials before going live and see how they turn out for your business.

No comments
Jeremy WebbTop 10 Pointers To Consider for a Real Estate CRM System
read more

Everything You Should Know about Time Management and Productivity

Many of us frequently feel that we don’t waste time at all during office hours or at the workplace. In general, we come across a lot of people who say the same phrase “I was too busy.” But the fact is that we never ever actually count the number of working hours that we spent on those specific tasks.

The reason why I am saying this again and again is because, if we knew how much time we are actually spending on stuff is much less than the time we always thought we spent on those tasks, and there is a hell of a lot of scope for increasing our work productivity in a day to accomplish our targets in a faster and improvised way.

As someone once rightly said, “The first step toward change is awareness.”

If really you are aware how much time you spend on each of your daily duties or tasks, you can strive hard to increase your efficiency and productivity. Calculating tasks such as how much time you spend on completing a specific job or assignment will add up quickly. You need consciously be thinking how you will do this? Well, it’s simple. By deploying some kind of time management software or time tracking.

Time Management Software

Keeping a tab on time spent on the each and every job you did in a day is not building a satellite. All that you need is a good, efficient time tracking application that perfectly calculates the time you spend on each job. If you have a business that  based on employees’ working productivity then a time tracker system not only assists you in increasing productivity but also gives the encouragement to finish the given assignment within the stipulated timeframe.

This software will give you a good effect on your overall work productivity in a day. It keeps well-performing employees encouraged all the time so that they can keep themselves as good performing employees all the time.

In addition, it brings not-so-well performing employees to the organization’s attention. Management can then keep a track on them too. For instance, one of the team members may be finding difficultly with a particular job. You can help train them sufficiently so that they can perform their work better. If self-employed, you can introduce the training and professionalism to yourself to evolve into a developed business.

Track What’s is Essential

There’s no such thing that you cannot track by using this tracking application but also it is important to keep in mind that whether it is worth to track or not. Right from your resting time to your workout, you can track every little thing that you do in a day.

However, what you need to think about is whether tracking such things will help you in increasing your productivity or not? Personally, I am not a bit interested in knowing how much time I spend on some tasks or assignment at my office. So check what’s essential and track those things.

Transparency Matters

If you are a freelance professional and usually your work depends on per hour basis, then clients certainly would want to see how effectively you spend on each assignment or job. This is one of the hard things to not only explain to clients, but also trust issues come in the relationship if you are not utilizing a time tracking app.

Freelancers very frequently don’t get full credit may be because of their working style and sometimes it could be because clients think that they don’t spend enough time working on a particular project. So by deploying a time tracking software, you can send it as proof for how many hours you spent on each of their tasks and assignments.

Here are some of the essential things that may happen if you maintain this level of transparency.

— You don’t have to defend yourself. Your tracking software will speak for you. You shouldn’t have to do this, but you will have the information if you do have to prove it. Many companies have no idea how long some tasks should take. They assume it’s easy because they are not doing it and don’t know. 

Maybe you just want to push yourself and you can use time tracking to motivate yourself to be your best self, be faster—and make more money. And you’ll be able to see it.

— They may offer more business as you are making things easier on them.

— They may likely recommend your services to other businesses because they know how you work.

It Will Let You Grow Globally

Right from the day of inception of your business, you need to keep maintaining strong business processes such as time tracking invoice practices, etc. This is not just productivity wise, but the your entire business enhances efficiency and productivity more than you think. Whether your business is a freelancing type work or a business (Small or medium). In addition, you can utilize your data to make smart steps in your business and your systems to decrease the minimal errors that frequently take place in an administrative work.

Simplifies Your Client Billing Processes

No matter what kind of services you offer, whether it is web design or accountancy services, the number of working hours you generally spend on your clients’ work should actually let you generate revenue for your company.

You may be memorizing or copying the time spent on each assignment from your random notes. This will only make a loss for your business in some or the other way, but it takes copious amounts of time. Because most of the times, you either would be over calculating or under calculating the hours spent — and sometimes you lose the note you wrote on and then you can’t charge your client. A couple of those unfortunate events and you can lose a lot. 

See the Change for Yourself

Once you figure out after several months of time tracking, you can sit and analyze thoroughly those hours and see what can be changed. When I first tracked time of my tasks it was a complete unknown what the results would be. But once I knew what was going wrong, where I could improve and where I was spending more time — I was immediately able to change this for my own personal benefit.

Tracking time is as important as tracking your money. You will know the time all of your activities take. You will get a helpful data that gives you insights on various aspects and whether you really want to spend you valuable time in the ways you have been.

You will immediately see if you are making profit or loss. Find out the toughest projects that are giving you hard time so that you can know how much time ideally you should spend to get the desired results and what kind of niche you should interact with frequently.

I personally believe that the main hurdle that is stopping all of us from achieving a certain goal or dream can be solved in the finding of the correct amount of time to pursue them. As far as tracking time is concerned, it is an effective way to find out where your time is going and in which direction.

Let us know what methods you have used to help yourself in improving your work efficiency. Leave in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you.

No comments
Jeremy WebbEverything You Should Know about Time Management and Productivity
read more

Latest E-Invoicing Trends For Your Business In 2017

In a world where businesses are rapidly going global, E-Invoicing provides an efficient solution to several challenges ranging from taxes to compliance to late payments. Organizations across the world have begun adopting E-Invoicing now because of its obvious benefits.

What is E-Invoicing?

Simply put, an e-invoice is the electronic form of an invoice. It is a part of the electronic billing process. Electronic billing makes billing convenient for all the stakeholders involved.

In case of E-Invoicing, the invoice can be swiftly circulated among the stakeholders via email. Approvals happen faster and so do payments. Even if there are errors, they can be rectified easily and quickly. It not only saves a lot of time, but also expense in terms of paper and postage.

Latest Trends in E-Invoicing

1. Automation

In simple terms, E-Invoicing offers automation of the billing process. Automation of the process makes it more efficient. It simplifies the process of invoicing and requires far less resources. With automation the number of staff required to perform invoicing and billing can be significantly reduced. It leads to faster payments which in turn improves cash flow.

With faster payments, businesses can save precious time that is lost in chasing late payers through emails, phone calls, etc. As payments get delayed, secondary memos have to be generated with new invoices for a late payment surcharge. This can also be eliminated with e-invoices.

With the automatic changes in errors and better protection against frauds, it offers more financial security. Moreover, most of the E-Invoicing solutions also offer SSL (Secure Sockets Layers) encryption which adds an extra layer of security to the invoices.

Although paper invoices still rule, more and more businesses have come to realise the benefits of E-Invoicing and have started transitioning into Automated E-Invoicing processes.

2. Mobile Apps for E-Invoicing

As the trend for E-Invoicing continues to rise, another trend that has ushered in is E-Invoicing becoming mobile. Apps are becoming common for every function and invoicing is no exception. With the development of a mobile app, E-Invoicing will become further simplified providing instant access round-the-clock and from any location.

Many IT organizations are already putting their sweat and blood together to develop an app that enables businesses to submit tax documents using smart phones.

3. Moving to Cloud

We are rapidly headed towards a cloud-based world and invoicing isn’t far behind. Pretty soon, user access will be provided for E-Invoicing via cloud-based software or SaaS (Software as a Service). The cloud based invoicing software trend will allow users to access the invoicing data anytime and from anywhere just by using an internet connection.

It can also bring in automation in several tasks by the generation of payment reminders and scheduling of recurrent payments. There will also be a possibility of adding more features like digital wallets which will bring uniformity in the process.

The move to cloud will further reduce expenses, improve relationships with customers and streamline the cash flow.

4. Big Data comes into play

Several large companies and even tax authorities have shown keen interest in ramifying big data into E-Invoicing. With the implementation of big data, organizations will be able to make the most of data in the invoices. It will lead to better management of invoices and reduce tax fraud. It will also give better insights into consumer behavior.

5. Integration of Blockchain

Blockchain means recording each and every transaction happening using bitcoin or other cryptocurrency. Several industries are already using the concept behind blockchain for their transactions for the fact that it speeds up processes by eliminating third parties and makes transactions completely secure. Banking and finance industries could also tap the potential of blockchain and apply it to invoicing.

6. Unified Platform

While all these above trends bring their own advantages of improving accuracy, costs, and speed of the invoicing process, a unified platform can do a lot more. This trend is rapidly catching on.

With more and more businesses moving towards E-Invoicing, the invoicing services will be able to consolidate the market into a unified platform. It has begun with a few large vendors joining the move towards the evolving landscape of E-Invoicing.

In about 4 years, there will be a lot of promotion for a unified platform and market consolidation with E-Invoicing companies becoming global.

7. Global Acceptance of E-Invoicing

E-Invoicing is leading the world towards a real-time economy by providing accurate real time data which can be confidently used by businesses as well as governments. It offers instant access to information on various aspects of inbound and outbound invoices.

In fact, governments across the world are making E-Invoicing mandatory. It is expected that by 2018, the European Union and the US will have issued directives for making E-Invoicing mandatory in B2G processes.

There are already 14 million companies in EU alone, who have started using E-Invoicing and the volumes are expected to grow by 10-20% annually.

Latin America has surprisingly been in the lead in terms of E-Invoicing – with Brazil being at the top. Brazil has gone beyond B2G in applying E-Invoicing and applied it to personnel, inventory management, accounting etc.

Other Latin American countries like Peru, Mexico, Uruguay, Colombia, Chile and Ecuador too are not far behind. They are also taking initiatives to improve the existing scope of E-Invoicing. They are taking measures for the reduction of tax evasion and fraud through e-invoicing so that revenues can be maximized.

While North America and APAC (Asia-Pacific) regions have so far remained on the sidelines, they are expected to leap towards the trend of e-invoicing this year.

Bottom Line

The benefits of E-Invoicing are manifold. The only step that needs to be taken is its collaboration with third-parties.

It also needs to be in alignment with your business process and must have an efficient design. With evolving trends and new technology being developed, the issues of implementation can be easily addressed and it can lead to a bright future for your business.

No comments
Jeremy WebbLatest E-Invoicing Trends For Your Business In 2017
read more

5 Moves You May Not Have Considered for Your Tech Startup

Startups are known for the speed at which they convert an idea into a viable product. That is the exciting part. This bigger picture tends to eclipse the part where founders have to deal with day-to-day operational issues. But this part matters, too.

With so much ground to cover between conceiving an idea and launching your product into the market, you might have only considered these five things in passing, or not at all:

Working with a developer using the hybrid model

If you aren’t a developer, you’ll need to find someone else to help you turn your idea into a product. But should you hire or outsource this talent? Having in-house developers has its advantages, chief of which is working with the same member or team during iteration.

However, it can deplete your funds more quickly.

The hybrid model lets you hire developers on contract from an outsourcing agent or partner. You can manage the developers directly, pay them for the period agreed on, and choose not to renew the contract if the first version of the product fails. This model allows you to avoid obligations you aren’t ready to meet, including a monthly salary and employee benefits.

Finding unlikely co-founders in your support group

In other words, delay finding a co-founder. That is if you’re down to searching for interesting candidates on Google Search. If this is the case, then you might not have the right kind of relationship yet. Doing it alone seems to go against conventional wisdom in building startups. But it’s the same wisdom that says you and your partner should invest equally in the project. 

At this point, you are better off with your existing support group. Some startup founders stress the importance of having a spouse, partner, or best friend who can provide you with emotional support during hard times. Chances are you can rely on the feedback from someone close, too. You’d want someone who won’t mince words when your test product isn’t living up to its promise.

Protecting the source code

It is likely that licensees will attempt to request access to the source code and other materials critical to maintaining the software. Without the raw code, they have no guarantee that they can still use or profit from your product should you go out of business. On your end, keeping it secret is about protecting your intellectual property. It can be damaging to your business to let it fall into the wrong hands.

It is best to set up a source code escrow to mitigate risk on either end. In this case, a neutral third party holds the escrow materials and releases them to the licensee if and when a mutually-agreed-upon event occurs. As the vendor, you will gain the confidence of your licensees without losing control over your product.

Offer software as a service

Software vendors are not exempt from the effects of human nature. There exist elements that take others’ digital property without permission. They are freeloaders in a world of hustlers. It’s good to be aware of the threats.

Purchase-and-download product packages are more prone to piracy. These days, most startups feel more secure when they offer software as a service. Through the subscription model, they provide clients packages each with a range of features from simple to advanced. Clients need to enter their credit card credentials to complete a transaction, so the chances of theft are slim to none.

Having insurance for your business

Investing in insurance is a prudent move for anyone who’s starting a business for several reasons. There are several reasons and types of insurance to consider. You may take on a “key person” insurance for employees whose skill sets are very important to your startup. You may also choose to get protected from a potential liability claim. The insurance is useful in situations such as when a client files a suit against you because your product did not perform according to your intentions. (Yes, this has happened.)

 Conclusion

The things pointed out here are supposed to help you avoid mistakes that might cost you not only your money but also your startup. So choose well.

No comments
Jeremy Webb5 Moves You May Not Have Considered for Your Tech Startup
read more

Laboratoria: The Latin American Code Academy Eradicating Female Poverty

One of the biggest obstacles in building startups outside of the United States is fundraising.

Many companies shut down after running out of money. What can entrepreneurs outside of the U.S. do to access venture capital?

Dave McClure, 500 Startups Founder and Partner, advises founders to be resilient and keep getting customers. The money will come if you focus on building products that people want. The following Latin American edtech company is living proof of McClure’s advice. They started with almost no money and recently, they shared a stand with the world’s top tech leaders.

Laboratoria: Empowering Women Through Technology

Four years ago, Latin American social enterprise Laboratoria launched with the hopes of giving young women opportunities for a brighter future through software education. Four years later, Mariana Costa, Laboratoria CEO, joined Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama at GES 2016 to discuss the impact that her program has made for thousands of low-income women in Latin America.

Mariana Costa next to Mark Zuckerberg at GES 2016 (Source: Stanford)

What’s Laboratoria and how did it first launch?

Costa and her husband met in New York City, and decided to open an agency to connect developers in Latin America with tech companies. When they started, they realized that it was difficult to find women developers, though the demand to hire them was high.

Costa decided to return to her home country of Peru, creating what Laboratoria is now – a program to teach young women to code while giving them access to work in the tech industry.

Laboratoria students (Source: Microsoft)

Unlike software academies like General Assembly and Hackbright Academy, Laboratoria targets young women who didn’t have access to high quality education. Once the students graduate, they pay back the cost of the program during their first 3 years of work. The results of Laboratoria in 4 years? See it yourself:

Screen Shot 2016-07-05 at 8.58.40 AM.png

When Costa first started, she didn’t receive much local support for her venture. Then, her team’s hustle and hard work paid off and partnerships and money came along. Now, the courses have expanded to 4 major cities in Latin America and Laboratoria is looking to open more offices.

Tech companies like IBM, Google, Linkedin, and Microsoft have funded Laboratoria to increase the supply of women developers. Laboratoria still has a lot of potential for growth. As the company expands, more young women who previously were making minimum wage will now have access to quality education in the digital age.

Historically, edtech companies have had a more difficult time to raise money and find strategic partnerships than other industries. Why? Many edtech founders are building products that don’t scale to a larger market.

Credit: Laboratoria’s Facebook

The topics of education and edtech are often discussed with a lack of empathy. Many of these products and services are targeting more affluent people. Thus, a lot of founders never truly understand their users and as a result, have growth problems.

The Institute of Design at Stanford teaches “empathy” as a step to create sustainable businesses. Laboratoria’s understanding of their students’ background and stories is an important factor of their business model, growth strategy, and teaching methodologies.

Founders, money is an important aspect of a company’s growth, but as McClure said, you shouldn’t focus on raising money – you should keep getting customers. During the early days of Laboratoria, Costa and her team focused on giving the best education to their students, which ultimately led to partnerships with the biggest tech firms in the world.

My advice? If you are a founder that wants to build an app for 100 million users, go talk to them. You probably see the world very differently than someone who struggles with hidden learning disabilities, or someone who has to work multiple jobs to pay for food. Build a product that people can and want to use. Success will follow.

No comments
Jeremy WebbLaboratoria: The Latin American Code Academy Eradicating Female Poverty
read more