Posts Tagged ‘freelancer timesheet’

The Strength of the Billable Hour

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

stockvault_9143_20071213The headline for an August 2009 article in the New York Times read “‘Billable Hour’ Under Attack.”  As authors of hourly billing software, we’ve seen this debate before, but usually in blogs or forums, living in obscure corners of the Internet.   However, considering the economic climate, it wasn’t that surprising to see the topic show up on the New York Times front page.  

The debate is usually centered around competiting incentives.  The argument goes that if ethics are removed from the equation, then the biller has the incentive to take longer to complete the work so they can bill more money.   As someone who used to bill by the hour, I’ve always found this argument stupid.   Restated it sounds like this:  The vendor will try to exploit you.    Even when the argument is stated using cool-headed economic and psychological verbage, it still always comes across as paranoid and hateful to me.    Just because a business has the possibility of ripping you off, they will? 

In fact, one could make the argument that the client is the one with unreasonable expectations here.  After all, the cilent is looking to have his or her risk completely mitigated.   What if the vendor provides a flat rate and then the client “scope creeps” the case or project to entail more than was originally discussed.   Billing vendors need to mitigate their risk as well.  

Yes, you should protect yourself.  I check my restaurant take-out order before I walk away, because people can be sloppy.   And certainly hourly billers are capable of being sloppy.   But that’s not the argument made in most of these op-ed pieces.  The argument is usually black-and-white.  “Billing by the hour is flawed.”  “It can’t work.”  “It’s a racket.”   I agree there should be auditing.   A client should feel comfortable asking about any particular line item, and the vendor should provide a lot of detail.   I also feel there should be auditing in any business transaction.   Even when a flat rate is provided, a professional services company might look for ways to cut corners and reduce the time spent to bring the over all “revenue per hour” amount up higher.  

Hourly billing can work.  When all the chips are distributed, it comes down to the people.   You need to trust your vendor to protect your interests across the board.   As a vendor, I was happy to give a flat-rate to a client I trusted not to pile onto the list after the work was completed.   But I truly believe that the system has it’s own built-in check and balances.   A vendor who pads hours or charges unfairly will simply find themselves out of business because businesses who bill fairly can compete better.  A long established company is almost always a safe bet, and when done correctly, hourly billing is one of the few ways to protect both sides from getting ripped off.

What makes good business software?

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

save time small businessA good choice in software can make a large difference in business productivity. Often times I find myself and others taking basic necessities for granted. Business software is no exception. I recently had the experience of dealing with very shoddy software. The interface was clunky, data entered into it would often be lost, and the program would constantly crash. After several frustratingly painful hours of using the software, I nearly hurled my laptop off the balcony of my third story apartment. Not only does poorly-designed software lead to an uncomfortable computing experience, but also profit loss through decreased workplace productivity.

When choosing business software, reliability is of utmost concern. Software that is glitchy, buggy, or otherwise unreliable should be immediately scratched from the list of possible software candidates. While cutting edge software may prove to be exciting for home-based consumers, it is less than ideal for business. The tried-and-true is more financially safe.

Flexibility is another important aspect when selecting the right software. Does the software you have in mind allow you to easily accomplish basic and complex tasks? Does it have a sensible development team providing a software reference database, updates, and excellent customer service?

If you are unable to find software that meets those requirements, then you may want to consider contacting a custom software development company such as Vazkor. Custom software offers extreme flexibility. Whatever your business needs may be, custom software development companies offer unrivaled customer service and support.

Immediate Action

Sunday, September 27th, 2009

small business ownerTaking immediate action when problems arise is very important for those in management positions. When a person is running a business, there is no time for procrastination. Whether it may be a working on a new deal between the company and a client, updating inventory, or hiring new staff, there is always something that needs to be done. However, quick but careless decisions may have harmful consequences. That is why thoughtful immediate action is so important.

Recognizing the root of a problem is the first step to taking immediate action. The 5 W’s are very handy when discerning the cause of a problem. Who keeps racking up long distance and internet usage fees  on the company cell plan? Where are the new reports? Why hasn’t our shipment arrived? When is the client expecting his product?  By asking these type of questions, businessmen can discover and mitigate inefficiencies within company infrastructure.

Creating a realistic plan on how to deal with the problem will help prevent rash decisions. Brainstorm for possible solutions to the problem, then carefully consider the consequences of each action. This type of thought process helps not only in dealing with problems, but also planning for the future.

The most important and last step in taking immediate action is the action step. Some managers do extremely well in recognizing problems and planning but fail miserably in execution. The action step is what gets real results. A correct decision, even if it is made by mistake, is better than no decision at all.  Without the action step, nothing is accomplished.

Engineering Profits

Saturday, August 15th, 2009
eyh
eyhEvery November thousands of eager shoppers begin to gather outside retail stores in anticipation for Black Friday — the nationwide sales event that economists herald as one of the most largest revenue generating days of the year. What exactly drives teenagers, parents, and grandparents to camp around stores and weather the cool November chill? Some say its the whole “experience”. Others say its the good deals. Regardless, the orchestrated event generates revenues that exceed all of the other sales each year. So, how exactly can a company engineer profits like those made during Black Friday?
Sales are one method that many businesses use to move inventory. For the most part, anything that looks convincing while being glanced over in the local newspaper will lure customers and potentially increase sales. Weekends are usually preferable when holding a sale because most income earners have the days off. However, if the sale is rather lackluster and does not appear to have any good deals prepare for disappointment.
Loss leaders are another way of engineering profits. A loss leader, more commonly known as a Door Buster, is an item that is offered at a reduced price (usually at cost or below cost) in efforts to stimulate profitable sales. Loss leaders effectively draw customers to stores.
Above all, the single most important factor in generating profits is making customers feel as if they are getting a good deal. If customers are happy and satisfied with a product, they will often overlook flaws and continue to buy from that business.

eyhEvery November thousands of eager shoppers begin to gather outside retail stores in anticipation for Black Friday — the nationwide sales event that economists herald as one of the largest revenue generating days of the year. What exactly drives teenagers, parents, and grandparents to camp around stores and weather the cool November chill? Some say its the whole “experience”. Others say its the good deals. Regardless, the orchestrated event generates revenues that exceed all of the other sales each year. So, how exactly can a company engineer profits like those made during Black Friday?

Sales are one method that many businesses use to move inventory. For the most part, anything that looks convincing while being glanced over in the local newspaper will lure customers and potentially increase sales. Weekends are usually preferable when holding a sale because most income earners have the days off. However, if the sale is rather lackluster and does not appear to have any good deals, then prepare for disappointment.

Loss leaders are another way of engineering profits. A loss leader, more commonly known as a Door Buster, is an item that is offered at a reduced price (usually at cost or below cost) in efforts to stimulate profitable sales. Loss leaders effectively draw customers to stores. Just take a look at your local retailers during the after thanksgiving mania.

Above all, the single most important factor in generating profits is making customers feel as if they are getting a good deal. If customers are happy and satisfied with a product, they will often overlook flaws and continue to buy from that business.

Can Rewiring the Infrastructure of Your Business Improve Profits?

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

organizationLaying a strong foundation for a business to be built upon is very important. Although ignoring inefficient processes may not be a detriment to small businesses, a poorly wired infrastructure will begin to rear its ugly head as business increases. One way of demonstrating this paradigm is by using a balloon and a sharpie marker. Write a few words on a deflated balloon. At first glance, the words appear to be sharp, clear, and crisp. However, try inflating the balloon. As the balloon expands, faults in the handwriting grow and grow until the original words become incoherent and unrecognizable. In the same way, inefficient processes and other faults in business infrastructure become more recognizable as a business expands. So, how exactly does an entrepreneur ensure that his business possesses excellent infrastructure?

One of the best ways to do so is regular evaluation. How is a business supposed to fix poor practices if it is unaware of them? Similarly, how is a businessman supposed to accomplish anything if he doesn’t know what he wants? By regularly asking what goals they wish to achieve, wayward entrepreneurs and businessmen will begin to discover the direction in which they must direct their business. Once the objective of a business is clear, the processes in which that objective is completed can become refined.

Another way an entrepreneur can improve his business’s infrastructure is by seeking the help of other trained professionals. EYH offers legal billing software that helps improve efficiency and take some of the guesswork out of payroll.  There are careers entirely dedicated to improving business efficiency. Be open and receptive to suggestions provided by reputable individuals, but at the same time skeptical towards unsupported claims and evidence.

Safety In Knowing

Saturday, July 25th, 2009

windowrainRegularly updating and communicating with clients builds and maintains consumer confidence in your business. Nothing is more stomach churning than uncertainty and fear. Communicating with clients eliminates any doubt in your business’s ability to deliver.

One of the easiest and most common tools used to keep in touch with customers is the phone. A simple five minute phone call can lie to rest the doubts of a worrisome customer. Through polite and accommodating phone calls, customers can be won over to your business.

Weekly newsletters are another great way to keep those who are interested in your business updated. Whether they be postmarked through USPS, or sent out as mass emails, newsletters help supply potential and existing customers with the information they need to know.

Maintaining a Help Desk and a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ for short) page shows that a business communicates with and provides help for its customers. Help Desks allow for people to inquire about a business, its services and products, or any other help related topics. Questions and answers are displayed on the help desk page for everyone to see. Similarly, a Frequently Asked Question page is a dedicated to answering commonly asked questions. These two forms of provider-clientele communication are extremely useful in winning over skeptical or doubting prospects.

Regardless of whichever method is used to reach an audience, successfully communicating with customers and prospects builds trust and confidence in your business.

Three Helpful Habits

Friday, July 17th, 2009

small business ownerStarting a business is often a very rewarding experience, but it is not always a profitable one. Some people have the guts to set up their own business, but few possess the wisdom required to be a successful businessman.  Here are a few business friendly habits that will help you along the ladder of success.

1) Commit to a plan

If you want to reach any level of success in business, it is crucial that you set goals and make plans. Planning requires schemers to understand what exactly they want and reason how they will get it. This helps provide a general overview of how to accomplish any task. Committing to a plan is the first step to controlling the direction a business is headed.

2) Focus

Successful entrepreneurs focus their attention and see projects through until they are finished. If a hunter tries to chase two rabbits, both will get away. In the same light, pursuing two business goals is much less effective than reaching each goal one step at a time.

3) Embrace Adversity

Sooner or later, all businesses experience especially difficult and challenging circumstances. How businesses deal with adversity is what determines their success.  Accepting tough challenges and pulling through are two parts to the growth of a promising business. Listening to feedback and gleaning from tough criticism will help a business improve it’s services.

Cost Analysis

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

organizationWhen approaching a new business project, a cost-benefit analysis can aid in deciding whether the new venture is worth the investment. Many successful businesses fully utilize this simple technique. By implementing this method, you can save money.

A cost-benefit analysis is a technique used for deciding whether or not to implement change. In laymen’s terms, a CB analysis is a mathematical way of answering the question: “Is the project worth my time and money?”

A simple cost-benefit ratio consists of two measurable varables. For example, Tycoon Tim wants to know whether or not building another Lemonade stand on Bullington Avenue would be a worthwhile investment. A simple cost benefit ratio would be the cost of developing the 2nd stand subtracted from the profit gained having another business location.

However, cost-benefit analyses can be much more sophisticated.  Some analysts in attempt to simulate the real world, place a price on intangible costs and benefits. Although attaching a value to intangible goods can help simulate real world costs, the process is extremely subjective. But no matter which method is chosen, a cost-benefits analysis can greatly benefit your business.

EnterYourHours allows customers to analyze the payroll costs of each worker. The extra feature can be especially helpful when analyzing business costs.

Keeping things Simple and Easy to Understand

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

freeimages.co.uk techonology images

An artist can be abstract and complicated in his work, but a businessman must be clear and concise. In other words, keep things simple. By making a few adjustments, thousands of dollars can be saved.

When running a business, it is important to do things as efficiently and effective as possible. Sometimes even the simplest of tasks can transform into managerial nightmares. That is why it is important to eliminate unnecessary steps and streamline all aspects of your business. By removing wasteful practices, money can be saved.

Complex and hard to understand instructions can be big turn off for employees and customers alike.  Albert Einstein once said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. Keep the simple parts simple, and the more difficult parts as easy to understand as possible. Sometimes companies completely miss the mark, and as a result, end up losing many customers. For example, if a customer struggles to find a product or service your business offers, they will more than likely become frustrated and leave before they buy. EnterYourHours.com offers software references to avoid such pitfalls.