Category Archives: iQDesk Small business

Tasks Management Module

Managing your daily tasks often gets postponed. One of the biggest problems business owners face today when it comes to their daily management is knowing how to prioritise their workload.
How many times have you started to do something , just to realise that you have just been spending hours on something which is not the highest priority. How many times times have you forgotten to do something that was actually quite important. How many times do you postponed and reschedule , meetings, calls, even work? and how many times you should have delegated something and you didn’t? This is what this module is all about. Those daily tasks you need to do, those little daily struggles of how to manage your time properly. All can be resolved by using this Tasks Management module we developed to tackle those very same issues.

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Add New TaskManage your day to day and put a reminder

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Add New FolderSort your responsibilities

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My TasksSee what you need to do and prioritise

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Team TasksLearn to delegate

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See your tasks automatically feeding into the Project Management Module

When you assign a task to a specific project, this same task is going to show in the project management module, this means you don’t need to enter the same task twice.

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Best Tip that your Business Management Software can give you

There are certain facts that we all know about small businesses;

Most of us small business owners work hard. It’s a known fact.
Most of us small business owners have little time for leisure , it is also a known fact.
Most of us small business owners put a lot of effort into our business, this is also a known fact.
But, most of us direct many efforts in the wrong direction! This is actually not a well known fact.

Is it really true? Do many of us direct our efforts in the wrong direction? How can these efforts be channeled into a better direction?
This is something I myself realized only after we at iQDesk decided to add a new feature to our own Business Management Software. The feature we added was a way to quickly see which one of our clients were the most profitable ones and which ones were the least. Once we added that feature, what an insight it was!

It turned out, that most of our efforts have been directed at our least profitable clients. Our mistake was the clients who shouted the most, got the best service and most of our efforts. In the Business Software, you can also easily see the hours you invest per client and compare your efforts vs. profitability.

This holds true I am sure, to many other small business owners. As business managers ourselves we didn’t realize this fact,it could be down to the fact that while being so busy, you sometimes miss the big picture. We needed a Business Software, to give us this insight.

Business Management Software, do help us in running the day to day, but they also, give you valuable insights into your business. Knowing which clients to keep and invest our efforts in , is a huge benefit for any business owner.

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Another huge advantage of using a Small Business Management Software

Managing a Small Business is no walk in the park. The hardest thing, apart from working and promoting your business, can be keeping up the motivation to work, day in and day out.
Since you don’t have a boss that checks on your progress and since you don’t really have any year-end appraisals or year-end bonus to work for, often finding the motivation to work, especially if you are working from home, can be very difficult.

People find motivation in many things, it could be the potential earnings you are going to make. Some can find it by feeling that they actually fulfilling their life goal. But having worked and analysed many small businesses, we have come to the conclusion that the strongest motivator is in fact external and by this we mean someone or something that monitors and encourages you to do better.

It could be in the form of a boss as mentioned earlier, a bonus or a positive appraisal. These motivators work well within the employee sectors, but what if you are a business owner? What can motivate you? After all, you don’t want to have a boss, and giving yourself positive year end appraisals is not very fruitful (some may disagree :)) The fact is , that we need something or someone to tell us when we are doing well, how we progress and where we’re behind.

Here comes the huge advantage of using a Small Business Management Software, apart from running your business, it can also act as your “boss” as a great and constant motivator. It will show you when you are doing well, if you are behind, where you need to improve. The best thing about using this kind of motivator is that it is completely free of any politics and other interests, it has purely your best in “mind”.

Using a Business Software, can do wonders to your motivation. All you need to do, is open it up and see how you are doing at any stage of your work 24/7 seven days a week.

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What do most Business Management Software forget to do??

If you are here, you have most probably been searching the net for a good Project Management Software. If you are a freelancer or own a small company and have been looking for some time for a good Project Management Software, you must feel a little bit frustrated.
We have been looking for a Project Management Software for many years and have used many of them, some were paid for and some free, but we have always ended up ditching them and going back to old habits of not monitoring our projects properly, a thing which often resulted with not keeping deadlines and left us in situations where the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing.
You will be surprised how often this happens. Having worked myself for top organisations, I have often come across these situations. Some of these organisations had the most expensive Project Management Software in the market!
In our experience and from talks we have had with other business owners, they all want the same basic things from a Project Management Software. What they are basically looking for, is a software that doesn’t take a lot of time to understand. A Software that monitors in a clear way the deadlines and tasks ahead. A software that states clearly who is doing what and when, and most importantly, a software that tells you how much money you will earn from this project.
Bottom line, people kept looking for a Project Management Software that gives you clear information and tells you how much you are going to profit from the project.
Pretty logical no?
What people didn’t want to see was a Project Management Software that had a very long learning curve, that was not user friendly, that had many tools and features they didn’t need.
Many projects end up getting delayed because of pure management issues. Issues where business owners assume that the work was being done and it hasn’t even started. Deadlines that kept stretching endlessly. Invoices that had not been sent in time and payments that never arrived. The thing is, that all these problems could have been easily avoided by using a good Project Management Software which actually monitored payments and progress.
Knowing how much this kind of Project Management Software was in need, we set out to develop an entire module dedicated to Project Management tool that does just that.

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What do most Business Management Software forget to do?

As small business owners, I am sure most of you have stumbled upon at least one Business Management Software that you thought would be a good idea to use.
I think that if you have been in business for a few years and you are serious about your business you will have soon found out that you have to use some sort of automation.
It doesn’t have to be a complete Business Management Software solution, but at least some automated tools. If you think about your business, I am sure you will find that you are in fact using some automated systems. It could be as simple as using Macros on Excel sheets, or using automatic feeds on your Facebook page.
The idea behind automation is to reduce some of the pressure on us as a business owners to do everything manually by ourselves.

Bottom line is, that we all agree with, is that it is imperative to automate the business, But, there is one thing about us business owners, that we all tend to share, when it comes to using Business Management Software, we all seem to tend to stop using them after awhile.

Reasons could vary from , no time to use them, too much hassle to handle, the interest in them wore off…
But what still remains, is the actual need to use them.

After many years of using other Business Management Software ourselves, we have noticed that the main thing they forget to do, is to feed automatically with data. The idea is , if a business owner, doesn’t need to spend a lot of time inputting data into the system, they will probably tend to go back again and again to this Business Management Software.
It is not enough just to automate your business processes, it is also very important to make sure that the Business Management Software, is automated itself!

Since, we couldn’t find a Business Management Software that actually did that, we developed one ourselves :). As a development house we had the advantage of using our own very skilled developers and our technical analysis knowledge and most importantly our own business experience, to come up with a Business Management Software that is extremely automated, takes no time to master, and is still very comprehensive.

In conclusion, a good Business Management Software, needs to be the one that you spend the less time on…

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Why is it always better to sell a solution ?

What most small businesses struggle with is putting the right price tag on their services or product.
The problem with selling your products, is that you are very limited with your own resources. For example if you are a consultant, you can only charge so much for your time, and there is also a limited time you can sell, as we are all limited to x hours of work a day that can’t exceed 24 hours of course. If you are selling a product you are pretty much limited to the market value of this product, so you can’t really significantly increase your income by pure selling of these core products of your business.
So, when can you really charge more? Where is the loophole that can change the whole idea of selling your products?
Selling a solution rather than a product, means you can now sell your product plus extra services for which you can of course charge extra.
When you position yourself as a solution provider for a more general problem that the client faces, you can proportionally increase the amount of services you give the client.
For example, if you are selling cakes, you can offer a more comprehensive solution to the client’s problem, in this case, the need for a birthday cake. You can do this, by giving baking workshops, baking tips, selling related items. You can also build an online course and sell it, you can create packages combining all your services for different price tags. When you sell a solution, you can be a lot more creative and you are able to stretch your income upwards in many ways. When you are just selling your product, you are limited to a certain amount of income. From the client’s perspective, when a client feels that he is provided with a solution, clients will be willing to pay extra as they are getting a better and a bigger value for their money.
Going back to our example, instead of selling a birthday cake for $30, you can increase your income significantly, from the same client, by providing a more comprehensive solution.
As you have probably noticed, many successful businesses offer extras on their original products. If you think about it, it can be applied to many other small businesses as well.

Can you be a solution provider as well?

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Own a small company? Be ready for a change

Our iQdesk software has a little bit of history that goes hand in hand with the history of our own company. In the beginning, we developed iQDesk Business Management Software back in 2007, for tiny companies which needed basic tools to manage their day to day business. We believed that although it was very practical, it still offered relatively basic tools, so we offered it for free. Since than, it was a real hit with more than 15,000 downloads and many happy customers.

But we didn’t stop there. Many of you wrote to us and asked for more features which we gladly added for them.

For the last two years our company has developed and grew a lot and we found out that we needed additional tools to manage now, the bigger company.

So we started to develop iQDesk Business Management Software 2.0 and we put all of our experience,problems we had to resolve,needs into it. The result? more than a year of development, and many new tools and features that only people who have been running their own small company know they need. We are happy to say that, now we are on the final stage of debugging and we can also proudly say, Be ready to be amazed!

Soon you will be able to see it launched into the free market, on the web and on your iPhone.

Send us a message if your would like to see a preview of it!

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As always we appreciate any comments and ideas.

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The Art of Quoting a Job

I am sure you have been in this situation before. A client calls you about a job and asks for a quote. You want to give this client a good service and also nail that job. You know that the provider who gives the first quote has the highest chances to be hired and you quickly calculate in your head, the scale of the job and the hours it will take you to finish it. You multiply with your hourly rate and give this client your quote. The client seems happy enough with it and you are hired on the spot.

You are jumping for joy, and you start working on the project. When you are finished with the job, you get paid and the deal is done.

At the end of the month when you go over your cash-flow you realize that you spent so much time on this project, in fact, a lot more hours that you had initially thought it would take, and that’s not even including the endless telephone calls, the adjustments you had to do, and all the add-ons the client requested you to put. To your horror, you come to the understanding, that you actually ended up losing money and have not earned a thing this month.

This happens more often than you think, and this especially happens to freelancers or small businesses which are constantly hungry to get more work.

Let’s look at the obvious mistakes in the situation ahead.

First, when a client calls about a job and gives you a brief general description, the best quote you can give at this point is a general estimate only. This is the case, until you get the detailed specification of the job from the client in writing.

Once you get the detailed specification document, you can actually sit down and calculate calmly the amount of time it will take to deliver this job, multiplied by your hourly rate. The best way to do this is to go through the specifications and break down each task to mini-tasks, then write down the amount of hours it will take to execute each one of them. At this point most freelancers that have gone through this process stop, and hand over their quote to the client.

What most people neglect to add to the quote, may actually sum up to a substantial number. The cost of meetings hours, support time, testing hours, adjustments to the project, add- ons the client requested, research time, traveling cost. Even things like shipping and handling or storing when you are dealing with physical goods, often get left out.

In addition, always charge a markup percentage to cover the operating costs of running your business. Things such as administrative costs, materials, phone calls, and other overhead expenses. These should all be proportionally factored in the price you give to the client.

The worst thing to do to a client and to the reliability of your business, is to keep changing the quote and ask the client to pay extra to accommodate these extra costs.

It is also important to research the market standard for a similar job proposal. This way you will never be way off the mark. In case you have done all the above, and you came up with a price that is significantly lower or higher than your competitors, you need to thoroughly check your costs as they may be too high which in this case you will need to find ways to be more cost effective and competitive. Or worse, your costs may be undervalued or missed entirely.

It’s always better to turn down a job or to be turned down for a job, than spend your time losing money and damaging your cash-flow. In our experience, clients who have been around for some time, will not naturally turn to the cheapest provider, but to the more professional and reliable one. They will prefer the one who gives them realistic quotation for the work and stand by his or her word. Most have already done their due diligence and know what to expect.

As a business owner, you know best which costs you need to add to the quote. Hours worked multiplied by hourly rate is only the basis of the quote on which you need to build up the other costs, in order to get a final and accurate quote for the job, that will not dwindle your cash flow, and will enable your business to remain profitable and viable.

Another advantage you get by giving proper quotes time after time, is that you are building an honest reputation for your business. Clients will perceive you as a hassle-free and professional business and will keep coming back to you.

We, at iQdesk will soon be launching a new version of our free iQDesk Business Management Software for small businesses with a new detailed Quote Tool module, which any business owner will be able to use. The tool is designed to help the user to calculate the best quote for a job and will also generate the expected profit for the project, so you will always know where you stand financially.

Try to avoid “ off the top of your head” quotes, take your time to do it right and don’t undersell. If you treat your business with respect, others will do the same.

 

 

 

 

 

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Why you need to read this if you are about to hit 40

When you are in your 20s you are a hot commodity in the business market. If you are smart, hard working, university graduate, and if market conditions are good , you will probably be snapped up for jobs. You will most likely have a few offers on the table and all you need to do, is choose one.

During the interview, you promise the world to your employer. You happily agree to work during weekends and public holidays if necessary, and you also have no problems agreeing to get a global pay regardless of how many hours you spend in the office. Employers like these young employees because they have no family obligations, no problem working into the night and the main thing is, most will take an entry level salary for the benefit of getting work experience.

You spend 10 years working for the company and quickly enough, you are well into your 30s. Your salary and benefits grew significantly, unfortunately well in line with your financial commitments. You are probably mortgaged up to your neck and you have two little ones in private nurseries that cost the earth. At this point, you are still putting in as many hours as you can, but then again, you are a parent too and you do want to see your children at least once a week before they are in bed. Your work experience can also play against you, if you are not in a leading management role by this point, you are most likely too expensive for your employers and they will probably look to replace you for someone younger and cheaper sooner or later.

You are now in your 40s and you find yourself working with eager -to- please 20 something colleagues, who have the energy to work 12 hour days and then go out for drinks every night. But all you are hoping to do , is finish your day and go home as quickly as you can to get some rest. You may find yourself with little or no common interests with your ever changing colleagues and you have no energy to socialize as before. Your salary and benefits are now almost as twice as your colleagues.

If you are currently employed in a company do a quick check and look around you. How many gray heads not in senior management positions do you see? If none or very few, then you are advised to continue reading this post.

Finding work after 50 in today’s market place is hard and some people will say impossible. Even though, it is now illegal to ask for your age when you are sending your CV due to age discrimination, any employer can easily deduce this from your work experience and the year you graduated from high school. Most, will never hear back from these potential employers and if you are not lucky enough to have strong personal connections somewhere that may help you find a new job, you find yourself competing against hundreds of young, eager, fresh, equipped with the latest technology and much much cheaper applicants. Recent studies show that the minimum time for people over 5o to find new work is over a year!

But, there is another option for people who are headed in this direction. The option to plan their career path carefully, while still in their early 40s. Thankfully, people can start they own businesses and take their destiny in their own hands. Starting 10 years ahead of what’s bound to happen gives you the chance and time to grow into a prosperous business when you are in your 50s. Starting a frantic business in a mad rush when you are 50 and freshly made redundant ,without giving the business the time to grow organically, will eventually end up in a disaster.

There is a clever old saying “Who is wise?” The one who sees the future.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Prophets of Doom

Setting up a business can be an emotional journey. The fears and doubts about even communicating your business idea out loud to people, are everywhere; they lurk and attack the business owner from both internal and external circles. The external circle is mostly your immediate circle of family and friends. Many times it is this immediate circle that doesn’t really support your business idea. It can be your mom or dad, your partner, friends and acquaintances. Even one little negative feedback can knock down the idea of the business. A business idea is almost like a man standing on a tip of an iceberg, the faintest wind blow can drop him crashing down.

How many times did you want to set up a business, or just had a business idea you thought was excellent, and you discussed it with your family and friends just to hear the following:
“It will never work..”
This advice many times comes from people who may have your best interest in mind, but also from people who have never tried to set up a business in their life. Many times you hear this warning from people, that the mere idea of going solo in business intimidates them greatly.
The internal circle and the more important one, is the business owner/entrepreneur himself. The internal dialogue inside the entrepreneur’s mind is crucial for the very early stages in a life of a business. a negative dialogue such as ,I don’t have the money/skills/time/energy/knowledge..etc..etc.. ,can rapidly kill a business idea.
Moreover, it is often the fear of failure that prevents people from daring to make the move.
There are in fact, some business owners who failed in the past, but moved on to eventually build a new and successful business. But these people have got this entrepreneurship spirit in them. They learn from their mistakes and change the reality in the next business.
But to be completely honest, how many people do you know out there, who wanted to set up their own business and had never dared to, just from fearing failure. And even more than that, how many people out there you know, tried and failed and then swore that they will never try again? Some of them became the prophets of doom and gloom for all the potential small businesses owners, and keep discouraging them by saying statement like,
“Been there it is no picnic”
“It is pure slavery”
Better be an employee”
“You will end up losing lots of money”

They actually make this sound like mission impossible!

Let me tell you a small story about one small business that should never have failed, if only the business owner had better prepared for it, and took the time to manage it properly. This business owner named Jerry, ended up being one of those Prophets of Doom among our circle of friends.
Jerry once owned a little business in South London which he loved very much. The business was about manufacturing manikins for theaters, retail, and for private collectors. It was truly a niche business. The manikins were handmade and Jerry really enjoyed the creativity and his studio. It was his dream come true. Customers started to flow in, orders were booming. His business had the huge benefit of word of mouth marketing, and suddenly there was a very high demand for his product.
Jerry soon found himself lost in a sea of orders, handling numerous telephone calls. He worked around the clock at his studio, days and nights, weekends and holidays. Hardly took a break from the business. But the business eventually never took off. Jerry lost control! He didn’t know how much money he owed and how much money he was owed. He couldn’t keep track of the orders. The business was headed in one direction only.

A Free Fall!

The business eventually collapsed, the studio was shut down. The dream was over…
Jerry is now working as a network technician for a distribution company, and if you ever ask Jerry about his business, you will surely hear his doom and gloom prophecy.

 

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