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Small Business 101 posts:

Don’t Take On That Project!

The following is a guest post by Edward Guttman, Director of User Experience at CodeStreet, LLC and Harvest customer. Ed has been honing his craft as a designer for close to 20 years, and here he shares his thought process behind deciding which projects to take on.

Let’s say your design firm is looking at a healthy sales pipeline and the signs are that you may get more work than you can handle. Everyone should have such problems, right? Should you just hire more people and grab all the work you can? Maybe not. There is a good chance that some of that work isn’t good for your business because it doesn’t align with your goals and your company vision.

Everyone who starts a business does it with some goals in mind and a vision of what kind of company they want to be. Most prospective clients have no idea what these are, so it’s up to you to make sure that you only pursue and take on work that best serves your needs. At my firm, we found that a useful tool was to establish assessment criteria that helped us to filter out work that we didn’t want to take on. These criteria gave us an agreed upon framework for our discussions and allowed us to make decisions efficiently and with confidence. We defined this framework by identifying three key things that an ideal project would provide us:

Venn diagram of an ideal project

Continue reading…

Teams At Work: Creating a South Park Episode in 6 Days

South Park has long surprised me at how they continuously create intelligent material year after year (first episode aired in 1997). Even more impressive is how quickly the show can work in recent events to its social commentary. Current events that happened a week before can easily find their way into an episode the following Wednesday.

60 Minutes recently went behind the scenes with Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of the show, to find out just how they do it. It all starts with a brainstorm session on Thursday morning and results in a completed episode, ready to air, the following Wednesday.

The 5-minute segment below shows the process of how Matt and Trey’s tightly-knit team go from idea to finished product in just 6 days.

Read more at 60 Minutes

Track Finances Better with inDinero and Harvest

Great news! Harvest now integrates with inDinero, an online accounting solution for small businesses. inDinero makes it easy for businesses to track their finances and understand their money. By downloading data across financial accounts, inDinero produces the vital information of any business – where money is going, where money is coming from, and how much money is on hand.

With inDinero, business owners have a real time financial dashboard without the daily manual entry. No more shoeboxes; no more spreadsheets.

Cash Balance View

When you link your Harvest account to inDinero, inDinero will pull all invoices you have entered as well as all expenses in any projects. Every time you login to inDinero, your Harvest information will be updated automatically. You can link Harvest with your inDinero account by choosing Harvest from the “Web Apps” section. If your business isn’t on inDinero yet, you can signup for an inDinero account, and get started on tracking your finances easily today.

Developers: Want to build your own integrations to Harvest? Check out the Harvest API!

Bring Your Base Sales to Harvest

Base (formerly PipeJump) is a small business CRM software package for managing contacts and sales. They recently launched an integration with Harvest, allowing project creation from your “won” deals. With this integration, managing the flow from contact to sales to tracking your project in Harvest is seamless.

See the integration in action, thanks to this screencast provided by Base:

Don’t forget, integrations with Harvest are just an API call away. Do let us know if you are planning an integration, or even if you are just dreaming of one!

#workbetter Roundup: Getting Paid and Raising Your Rates

As a part of our daily ongoing #workbetter series, we’ve been suggesting articles that are relevant to running a small business and productivity. This month we’ve pulled together a few recent articles that help your business raise its rates, and give pointers on how to get paid when the client’s check is late:

13 Serious Mistakes You Should Never Make – Business pitfalls you should avoid, like: do you have a kill-fee for the project? Do you always require a down payment BEFORE you start work on a project? You should!

Lessons in Setting Prices – The delicate art of setting your fee: how to raise prices without sending customers running.

Get Paid: What to Do When The Check is Late – Useful, actionable ways to get that check moving towards your mailbox.

Screw you. Pay Me. (video) – A dynamic video of Mike Monteiro (of Mule Design) about cutting though client excuses, with his own lawyer weighing in as well – a must see.

Follow us on Twitter to get #workbetter tips daily, and feel free to share your own suggestions by using the #workbetter hashtag! We’ll continue to keep you on top of the conversations and topics that are most relevant to you in the world of small business.

Using the Creativity that Surrounds You

Since January of this year, we’ve been steadily suggesting articles of note through our #workbetter initiative, where we spotlight interesting links relevant to running a small business and productivity.

It’s been fun to share ideas and tips from the world at large to help make you and your business more efficient and successful, and we’re delighted that so many folks are following our #workbetter series on Twitter thus far.

Here are a few recent articles that put you in control of your creative output:

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to get #workbetter tips daily, and feel free to share your own suggestions by using the #workbetter hashtag! We’ll continue to keep you on top of the conversations and topics that are most relevant to you in the world of small business.

image by A.A.

Resources for Small Business – Guides, Templates, and More!

Since January of this year, we’ve curated and shared #workbetter articles via @harvest on twitter. The goal was to provide you with the very best advice for growing your business. We’re expanding on our lofty goal by sharing our own knowledge and tools geared towards helping you work better. You can find what we crafted over at the new Resources Section, or read on for a quick tour of the section.

Harvest Guides -We’ve started to distill down conversations we’ve had with team leaders, who use Harvest every workday. From these conversations we’ve assembled a series of Harvest Guides that cover how small business owners and project managers can get started with team time tracking, and how to get the most out of it. For example, our Time Tracking for Project Managers Guide will walk you through how to use reports in Harvest to better allocate time on future projects.

Free Templates – We love our in-app timesheets and invoices. They are impeccably designed and powerful. However, for your friends and like-minded strangers who are completely new to tracking time, or are looking for a basic invoice, we’ve created simple, editable versions of both. As an example, our Daily Timesheet template is ready to download and print, and is structured to help you keep track of your day in 15 minute increments. Track time this way for a few weeks, and you’ll have a much better picture of where your time is going. Our Invoice template also comes ready to be filled out, and looks professional. Most of the templates are already available in PDF or Google Docs. If you’re trying to hook your friends on the benefits of time tracking or automated invoicing, the free templates can be their gateway drug.

Webinar Series – Our Getting Started with Harvest Webinar Series covers the basics of Harvest’s core features including time tracking, invoicing, and reporting. The series has been popular, so we’re giving it a permanent home. You can learn more about the series, sign up, and share pre-recorded Webinar clips with your friends or colleagues to get them started with Harvest. Down the road, we’ll be expanding the Webinar Series to include integration tutorials and more.

As we continue adding to the new Resources section, we’d love to hear feedback from you. What else would you like to see? What are you reading or using right now to improve the way you work? If you’re using Harvest to work more effectively, we’d love to know your thoughts, let us know!

Sync Harvest Timesheets and Invoices with Quickbooks Online

Good news for Quickbooks Online and Harvest users! You can now sync Quickbooks Online with Harvest using Syncr. The connector will sync your timesheets, invoices, clients, people, and projects data between Harvest and your Quickbooks Online account.

Sync Harvest Timesheets Invoices with Quickbooks Online

If there are duplicate entries between Quickbooks and Harvest, you’ll be notified. You can even set the sync to occur at a given frequency (i.e daily, monthly).  The connector is built by a third-party company called Mutually Human and costs $99/month. Learn more at Syncr HQ.

Using Quickbooks for Windows? You can easily export timesheets from Harvest into Quickbooks for Windows from within your Harvest account. For more information visit our Help Center.

Harvest in the Wall Street Journal

When you are a small business, getting your clients to pay you on time isn’t always straight-forward. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published a piece on how entrepreneurs are using online services to help with this challenge.

They asked us how we help our customers get paid. Here’s the excerpt:

Marian Phelan, president of Hashrocket Inc., a Jacksonville, Fla., software developer, says her firm started using Harvest in 2009 because it made it easy for company programmers to click a button on their computers whenever they were doing work for a particular client.

The system then compiles that billable time into an invoice, and users can enter additional items such as expenses.

Harvest also offers a less stressful option for managers who hate dunning their customers. “You can set up automated reminders to remind clients if an invoice is past due,” says Danny Wen, co-founder of the New York-based site, whose services start at $12 a month. “Then it’s the application doing the reminder—not the person. It makes things less awkward.”

Check out the full article for all the tips:

Harvest Helps You #workbetter

For the new year, we decided to roll out our new #workbetter initiative, where we spotlight interesting links relevant to running a small business and productivity. We’re excited to share ideas and tips from the world at large to make you and your business more efficient and successful, and we’re delighted that many of our followers have already jumped in on the link goodness.

Here are a few gems from January:

Follow us on Twitter or Facebook to stay informed (in the sidebar to your right), and feel free to share your own suggestions by using the #workbetter hashtag! We’ll keep digging around to find you the best ideas and conversations catching fire in the world of small business.