Zoho ONE REVIEW: The Next Big Thing For Small Business

Zoho software for small business

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I was just about 10 feet behind them as we headed toward the meet and greet event being held outside. 

The next thing I knew, the executive team of Zoho; Sridhar Vembu, Vijay Sundaram, Raju Vegesna and a few others were holding the door for me and dozens of other analysts and media folks who come to Zoho Day 2020.

I have to admit, it didn’t feel like a business event.  It felt more like coming to a family event with the hosts nudging you to eat some more and running to refill your drink.

Why am I impressed?  Well, imagine being invited to a Google event or Microsoft event and having the CEO hold the door for you, and offer you a drink.  You know, like you were friends or something.

Scale Your Business with Zoho’s Unified Platform

We’ve all been there. Where a new startup is your best friend until they get bigger and more popular.  Then they ditch small business customers for more profitable enterprise customers.

Zoho isn’t like that because they started with enterprise customers and are now creating platforms like Zoho One just for small business. 

Get ready to see and hear about Zoho all over the place.  

Zoho is NOT new to small business. They have been around the small business space for more than twenty years.

In 2020, Zoho will be disrupting the small business software space in a way that a company can only do when they have the vision, the will and the resources.

And Zoho has all of these in spades.

Providing High-Value for Your Business at an Affordable Price

Why am I sharing this with you?  Well, this was not my first rodeo with Zoho.  I’m not especially important enough to be treated any differently than you and, this is just who they are and what they do.  All. The. Time.

I’ve been a Zoho user on and off for at least fifteen years.  And, I’ve had both good and bad experiences with the platform.  

In 2019 they launched Zoho One; an all-in-one business operating system that currently runs $30 per month per license. By the way, this price has just come DOWN $5 since last April.  

So, would you like to cut your software expenses from $350 per month to $30 per month?  Yeah, me too!

But you and I both know that it’s not just about the price.  

Of course, you want a good price.  But what you really want is value. And what’s value? Well, to a small business owner, value often means the following:

  • See me!  Acknowledge that I’m important and that my time matters. 
  • Help me!  I don’t have a staff of IT people who can just take care of the software while I’m doing something else.
  • Give me big company features that my customers expect at a price I can afford to stay in business.
  • Protect my privacy and my customers’ privacy

And, when we find another business that shares these values — it’s a match made in heaven.

Throughout ZohoDay 2020, we could see these values personified in every new product or service they introduced:

  • To be independent and and only beholden to their customers.  That means they aren’t taking any investment money or going public — ever.
  • Invest in people not bots. 
  • Customer Privacy. Zoho is not interested in tracking your links for their marketing or any other marketing platform.
  • The price of software should be coming down over time, not going up
  • Keeping the cost of business “inputs” as low a possible, so small businesses can get and stay profitable.

What Small Business Needs to Know About Zoho

Zoho One - Start Your Free Trial

What is Zoho?

Think of Zoho as the Apple of small business software.  

Zoho One is an entire ecosystem of more than 45 apps that you can use to run your business. It’s like a combination of Google and Microsoft and every other app you might use to run your business all in one place, for a low price and all sharing information seamlessly and privately.

The big benefit (and why I compare it to Apple) is that it’s a vertically integrated system.  

It is like Legos for your business.  Each app is a block and these blocks can fit together to create a customized business system to use however you like.

It’s a business operating system that doesn’t cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to use.

How does Zoho One compare with Google Apps?

It’s important to note that Zoho plays very well with Google. And, at the same time, you can replace Google Apps or G Suite  with Zoho One.

Why would you want to?  Just one big reason — PRIVACY!

The Zoho promise to customers

Google, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms make money by selling ads and data.  They track your usage, your clicks and your attention.  

Google, Facebook, Twitter platform icons

Zoho has made a powerful commitment to customer privacy — even on their free platforms.  They will NOT put any third party tracking on your account.  This includes Google Analytics for their websites.

If privacy is something that is important to you and your customer base.  You can absolutely move from Google Apps or G Suite to Zoho.

Everything on G Suite is Also on Zoho:

  • Google Sites to ZohoSites
  • Google Drive to Zoho Drive
  • Google Docs to Zoho Writer
  • Google Sheets to Zoho Sheets
  • Google Slides to Zoho Slides
  • Gmail to Zoho Mail
  • Google Calendar to Zoho Calendar
  • Google Analytics – Zoho Reports

What is Zoho One and how can I use it for my business?

Zoho One helps with Sales, Marketing, Support, HR, Accounting, and Operations

Zoho One is a collection of 45+ apps that you can use to actually RUN your business.  That means that you can REPLACE additional apps that you are paying for with apps from Zoho One

Here are a few examples of typical third-party apps you might use in your business and the Zoho One apps they translate to:

  • QuickBooks to Books
  • Zoom to Meetings
  • OnceHub or Calendly to Bookings
  • Evernote to Zoho Notebook
  • SurveyMonkey to Surveys
  • Hubspot or Salesforce to CRM
  • InfusionSoft to MarketingHub
  • CrazyEgg to PageSense
  • HootSuite to Social
  • Constant Contact or MailChimp to Campaigns

What are the pros and cons of Zoho?

Here’s a quick look at the pro’s and cons based on the attributes small business cares about most.

  • Privacy
    • Pro’s: If you value your privacy and your business’ privacy this is the choice for you.  Zoho is the ONLY option in the small business category price point that will offer you this level of privacy at the price.
    • Cons: You have to be 100% in the Zoho ecosystem to get the privacy they promise. Depending on your business, you may have to use some type of third-party tools.
  • Pricing
    • Pro’s: It’s hard to beat the value of using Zoho One. At $30 per month per user for access to 45+ apps and a fully integrated operating system.  
    • Cons: The integrated concept of Zoho One is relatively new and you will have to figure out how to transition from what you are doing now, to a new ecosystem.  This will take a bit of time.
  • Customer Service
    • Pro’s: Zoho offers a concierge service to get your started.  They also have tons of live events all over the world and within a 90 minute drive of wherever you are. 
    • Cons: Most of Zoho’s customer service folks are in India.  There is some one-to-one onboarding support via their Concierge service. But the best support comes from the chat feature inside the platform
  • Apps and Features
    • Pro’s: There is literally an app for 98% of anything a small business wants to do already inside of Zoho One, and even some you won’t know how to use yet. The best feature by far is “Zia” the artificial intelligence behind Zoho that will help you add predictability in your business such as when to order inventory.
    • Cons: Zoho is IDEAL for startups.  Transitioning to Zoho can feel a bit overwhelming, it’s best to work on it one app at a time.

How well does Zoho work for small business?

Zoho works incredibly well for small business.

Like a lot of software companies, Zoho has cut its teeth with larger enterprise clients.  As a result, they’ve developed systems that are easily scaled up or down for any size business. 

Businesses that need basic website, social, bookkeeping, sales, HR and project management features can easily use Zoho out of the box.

If your business has some unique quirks or twists and turns, you might end up customizing a few things.

At ZohoDay there were several small businesses, like yours, who tipped their toe in with Zoho CRM and then started adding more and more apps so that they can get more and more benefits.

One of the most entertaining and enlightening case studies was by Arctic Spas, a Canadian Hot Tub Manufacturer where every sale ends in a hot tub party and new referrals!

Zoho Customer Spotlight at Arctic Spas

On a serious note, Arctic Spas uses Zoho exactly the way you might — it all starts with lead gen and a lead capture form, then the lead is assigned to a sales rep or a distributor/dealer who closes the lead.  

Zoho even calculates the commissions, coordinates deliveries and automatically delivers a follow-up campaign and closes with a customer survey.  The survey results are then attached to the customer record.

Dealer Experience using Zoho Systems

Arctic Spas also benefits from Zoho Sites and online commerce platform where they can sell their hot tubs online as well as through dealers.

ROI for Arctic Spas using Zoho

Zoho Prefers to Feed People, Not Bots

There is a big difference between “low-cost marketing” and “lowest-total-cost” marketing.

When you think about your marketing in terms of “lowest total cost”, the marketing strategies and tactics you actually choose just might surprise you because what you think is lowest total cost — isn’t.

Let me give you an example that will blow your mind.

At ZohoDay 2020, CEO Sridhar Vembu said something profound, “We’d rather feed people than robots.”

At ZohoDay 2020, CEO Sridhar Vembu

What does that mean?

He continued. “We get a lot of our new users from online marketing.  If we were to pay for clicks in this competitive space, it can cost us $50 per click!  We thought it would be better to have live Zoho events across the country and spend $20 on lunch and actually meet and work with people, answer their questions and help them become better users of the platform.  So yes, we think it’s much better to feed people rather than bots.”

Zoho's 536 Community Meetups in 2019

And that is exactly what Zoho does at hundreds of Zoho community events each year.

There are  “Zoho User Groups” or ZUGs that you can attend at a city near you.

Zoho User Groups (ZUG) - Find one near you

This is the ideal way to meet other Zoho users, ask questions and get answers.

You’ll also meet Zoho partners.  These are people who can help you implement Zoho One in your organization.

Finally, you can attend a Zoholics event.  There are dozens of them all over the world.  The main Zoholics event in the United States is in Austin.

Zoholics 2020 in Austin, April 28-30

If you’re looking to not only save money in your business, to make your business more secure and to save money on the apps and tools it takes to run your business, then check out Zoho One, attend a Zoho User Group and see if it works for you.

But more than anything, consider running your business with a platform that shares your commitment and ideal to independence!

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Ivana Taylor

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