If you’re a freelancer or small business owner, you’ve probably encountered several challenges when trying to manage your prospects or clients all at once.
In order to keep things organized and ensure your cash flow is well managed and flowing in as it should, you need a customer relationship management mechanism (CRM) that caters to all this and more.
A CRM tool can help you stay organized while maintaining a presentable and professional image before your clients and make a good impression on your prospects.
Such tools come with features like task and contact management, time tracking, invoicing and payments. This way, busy solopreneurs in different industries and with various needs can relax knowing such administrative tasks are taken off their plate and they can focus on creating value for their customers.
One of the best CRM tools on the market is Hello Bonsai (formerly Bonsai). This tool promises freelancing on autopilot so you can streamline your administrative processes without having to get worked up about not having sent out invoices, or received and/or made payments, and the like.
We’re going to review the Hello Bonsai tool, how it works, and the pros and/or cons of using it.
What Is Hello Bonsai?
Hello Bonsai is an online CRM platform that helps solopreneurs like freelancers and other small business owners to streamline contracting and invoicing processes.
The tool claims to help users receive payments quicker than those who use the manual way of processing invoices and payments.
It offers core features you’d find in a good CRM, such as proposal and contract management, pipeline management, freelancer-specific features like freelancer rate, time tracker, self-employment tax calculators, plus more that we’ll see later in this post.
It’s full-featured and fairly comprehensive so you can stay focused and on top of your tasks while the tool handles your administrative processes. The tool is also robust, affordable, and easy to use, and is designed with freelancers and solopreneurs in mind.
What Does Hello Bonsai Offer?
Hello Bonsai offers several things that freelancers and solopreneurs look for when shopping around for a good CRM. We’ve broken this down into six criteria as follows:
Ease of use: Hello Bonsai is an easy to use platform with features and options that don’t require much technical expertise if any.
Price: The tool is budget-friendly for freelancers and individual business owners or solopreneurs.
Core CRM functions: Hello Bonsai offers core CRM functionality such as pipeline and high volume contact management, plus specialized features that freelancers and solopreneurs need.
Freelancer-specific features: You’ll find niche-specific features for solopreneurs such as invoice creation, time tracking, payment and invoice management, proposal and contract creation and execution, and so on.
Payment processing: Freelancers or solopreneurs need quick payment and Hello Bonsai makes sure this is done fast.
Automation and workflows: Hello Bonsai helps automate repetitive tasks so you can focus on your work and increase productivity.
Project and task management: The tool helps you stay on top of your pipeline activities and deadlines.
Customer support: Hello Bonsai offers an excellent level of customer support to freelancers and solopreneurs. You can send an email or go through the Frequently Asked Questions section to get more information and quick fixes in case you’re experiencing any troubleshooting issues. You can also get in touch via their social media pages on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Hello Bonsai Features
As we’ve already seen, Hello Bonsai is an all-in-one tool that helps solopreneurs with their administrative tasks such as client and project management, accounting, and many others. Here are some of its powerful features for freelancers and small business owners.
Project Creation and Management
Hello Bonsai offers tools that let you keep information on all projects you handle in one platform through the dashboard.
Here, you can add details such as website, social media, contacts, notes, and other project details for each client you manage, and even start new projects and assign them accordingly. They’ll all be displayed on your dashboard on the client panel.
You can also name the projects, add the currency of choice that you’ll receive payments in, and set whether you want to be charged hourly rates or not. With the hourly rate, there’s a native time tracker that lets you track the time you’ve spent working on each project. You can do this by clicking the Start Timer and set the hourly rate and define the project you’d like Bonsai to track time for.
For users on the Premium plan, you can add collaborators to the projects. This helps where there are multiple steps or pieces of the project such as creation, design, and more.
Contract drafting and execution
You can create contracts the same way you create projects in Hello Bonsai.
When creating one, you’ll respond to similar questions before using the contract creation wizard, where you’ll key in details like what you’ll do, the cost, and the length of the contract.
The tool then creates an automatic invoice, once the details are all there, and you can choose to send the invoice automatically on the completion date or do it yourself from the dashboard.
Once you’re done with the setup, close the wizard and you’ll have your complete contract with the details you entered in the wizard. The tool also changes the legalese based on your location, though it currently creates valid contracts for U.S., UK, Canada, and Australia.
Before sending it out though, you can edit any details to refine the contract, and add an e-signature before hitting send. The contract will be added to your dashboard and when your client signs it, it’ll be updated on your dashboard.
The process is easy, fast, and you get a detailed contract that Hello Bonsai can track.
Proposal creation and management
Hello Bonsai provides an option for proposal management using a form that you can key in the client and the name of the proposal. If you don’t have clients yet, you can always use the drop-down column to add one and select from generic to other types of proposals based on your industry.
Once you make the proposal choices, you’ll see a template that is broken into several sections such as an overview of the project, fee structure, and why us section, all of which you can rename and change their positions with a single click.
There are also additional options to add text or attach files so you can build your customized template and see previews of the final template draft. You can even download templates as PDFs or just send them directly to the client via email.
The process is simple and doable in a matter of minutes. If you want, you can add quick reminders to follow up with clients in case they don’t respond to the first proposal you send.
Invoices and Payments
Hello Bonsai provides features for invoicing and payments through which you can invoice your clients and get your payments directly via PayPal, wire transfer to your bank, or Stripe.
The invoices are straightforward and very simple, plus you can add your own branding if you’re using a paid account, assign invoices to clients and projects, and add line items like discounts, taxes, and expenses if necessary.
A new nifty feature in Hello Bonsai is the recurring auto-payments that you can offer clients who prefer paying for a subscription service than paying for multiple invoices. However, this only works if you’re accepting debit or credit card payments with Stripe.
Hello Bonsai generates invoices automatically, once you create contracts, so you can get paid faster, but you can always change this from the invoicing dashboard. But you can still create new invoices without creating contracts, and edit them too.
As you’ll see from the invoicing dashboard, there are paid, outstanding, and overdue invoice sections. You can also add your Stripe or PayPal accounts so it can process payments on your behalf.
This feature helps you with your fluid projects that don’t have specific payments or deadlines.
Hello Bonsai offers a time tracker from which you can add hours, by selecting the project you want and adding the hours you’ve worked on it. If you want, you can choose the collaborators who worked the hours you’ve entered if more than one person is attached to the project, and have different hourly rates.
To view the collaborators you’re working with, simply go to your account settings and click Partners, and then select Collaborators.
Plus, the timer button lets you start a timer that records all the time you’re spending on the project, and with one click you can stop the timer, and it’ll add time to the project.
If you click it by mistake, you can still delete the unintended hours. The only drawback with this is your clients can’t keep tabs on your hours, so you may find some questioning the hours and want proof of how they were spent, which Hello Bonsai doesn’t help you do.
This is where you’ll see an overview of all your projects so you can always know what’s happening. The dashboard also shows you the following:
- Notification ticker: Shows the recent changes you’ve made to the project
- Clients tab: Here, you can add and/or remove clients as you want, or even click individual clients and see the projects you’re working on for each and payment status on invoices sent
- Accounting tab: This feature lets you add a W-9 form from the profile tab
- Expenses tab: Here, you can track expenses and automatically add those results to invoices
You can also manage subcontractors in Hello Bonsai through “Client Mode” in the platform. This lets you manage subcontracting documents all in one platform and also allows you to:
- Onboard contractors by inviting them to custom onboarding flows with a variety of to-dos like collecting contact information and connecting PayPal or Stripe
- Create and send custom contracts
- Create projects with contractors, which are useful in organizing their contracts, files, and invoicing
- See your total expenditures across all subcontractors
To add new vendors to your private list, just head on to the vendors’ page and click ‘Invite A Vendor.’
Here, you’ll enter the vendor(s) email address to invite them, and select whether you want them to complete the onboarding process or not.
Most basic client actions like accepting proposals, countersigning contracts, paying invoices (except ACH payments and setting up recurring but automated charges), viewing your projects, paid timesheets, and/or reporting doesn’t require a Bonsai account to set up.
You just need to create an account if you’re going to use Hello Bonsai to manage your subcontracting tasks including, but not limited to:
- Create projects and invite subcontractors
- View total spend on all your projects
- Send secure messages and files on projects
- Send custom contracts to subcontractors
- Add or manage subcontractors with custom onboarding flows
Not everyone loves dealing with numbers and following up on expenses like taxation and the like. In fact, it’d be much easier if you didn’t have to deal with stuff like tracking your tax payments, income, and expenses, among others.
Hello Bonsai may not do what a professional accountant would for you, but it can keep your accounts (income and expenses) organized before tax time.
What to do to verify your bank account with microdeposits
Your bank may or may not allow you to sign in, so as to authenticate yourself. If the latter is your situation, you can sign in through micro-deposits.
Once you enter your account and routing number, Hello Bonsai will send transfers of $0.01 and $0.99 (only two), which can take anywhere between 3 to 5 days to hit your account.
After these two separate amounts reflect in your bank account, you need to go to the Payments section in your account settings and click the green “Click here to verify your micro-deposits” link, and then enter your micro-deposits.
You can then verify your bank account and that’s it.
Hello Bonsai also offers a browser extension for Google Chrome, which you can download and use for time tracking, plus it integrates with the invoicing, tasks, timesheets, and other features of the platform.
If you want to get browser notifications for Hello Bonsai, you can go to your account settings, and click on email notifications>browser notifications and then click enable desktop notifications. Finish the steps to enable notifications for your preferred browser.
Hello Bonsai integrates with Stripe and PayPal for invoice payments, which you can see on your dashboard, but it can connect to your Google Calendar to send you reminders for your tasks, appointments, payment due dates, etc.
It integrates with Slack too, which is good if you have a team you work with on any client projects. Relevant Slack team members will get push notifications whenever a project is completed or is due, someone views a proposal or a contract is signed, but this is limited to Premium account users.
How Hello Bonsai Works
The features are pretty simple and easy to use, but you need to know how Hello Bonsai works so it’s easier to navigate the platform.
Once you sign up or pay for the service, log in and answer some simple questions. You’ll find questions like the work you do with options from marketing, design, writing, and others. If yours isn’t captured in the list, use the Other option from the available categories.
Next, you’ll land on the central dashboard where you’ll create a proposal, draft the contract, create invoices, track time, and so on.
Once you create your new and first project, the dashboard will look more detailed with information on your project and how you can manage all projects and clients.
Hello Bonsai Pricing
Hello Bonsai has three pricing plans: Limited, Plus, and Premium.
1. Limited plan – This plan is free and lets you work on one project at a time, but a maximum of three each year. You can access limited features with it, so if you’re juggling multiple projects, you may not get much from this plan. However, it’s a good plan to start with if you’re a newbie freelancer starting to build out a portfolio. It also doesn’t offer branding or reporting like the paid plans do.
2. Plus plan – This plan lets you work on as many projects as you want, with branding options, reporting tools, chat support, and templates for contracts and proposals. It costs $16/month annually or $24 monthly and you can get a 14-day free trial with it.
3. Premium plan – This package offers all the features in the Plus plan, with extras like subcontracting to other people, dedicated product support, ability to invite multiple users (extra cost per user), white labeling, and collaboration tools. It costs $24/month annually and $34 monthly, with a 14-day free trial. It’s good for freelancers or solopreneurs working with a team.
Hello Bonsai may not be able to perform advanced automation without integrating with tools like Zapier, or other third-party CRM tools like HoneyBook. It also isn’t language-friendly so you won’t get multilingual capability, but there are other third-party tools that can get you this feature if it’s a priority for you. It also doesn’t have a website lead capture form.
Most users of this tool like it for its easy and simple to use platform, easy to navigate interface, and robust features. However, some don’t like the fact that it doesn’t accommodate multiple languages and its limited capabilities in customization for the contract creation feature.
Hello Bonsai Coupon Code
If you’re not ready to pay the full price for the annual or monthly subscription on Hello Bonsai pricing plans, you can get a discount using a coupon code.
There’s a coupon code available that gives you $8 off of the original or current price and get 14 days free on Hello Bonsai once you sign up with the code.
Hello Bonsai Pros And Cons
- Contract creation is easy and seamless
- Keeps all your information in a central platform
- Tracks documents associated with your projects
- Clients can pay you through the platform
- The dashboard offers a good general overview of ongoing projects
- Language in the documents is adapted to your country
- You can easily track the time you spend
- Easy and simple to understand
- User interface is easy to navigate
- Was free to use, but now has different pricing plans (free package is limited in features)
- Doesn’t have robust expensing capabilities as those in dedicated accounting software
- Limited contract creation capabilities
- Not available in multiple languages
- Time tracking doesn’t give evidence of work done
Hello Bonsai is a great tool for freelancers and solopreneurs, whether you’re just starting to build your work portfolio or you’re a pro. It may have its drawbacks like it may not offer as advanced accounting capabilities as the top dedicated accounting software on the market, but it still does a good job of keeping track of time, expenses, income, and more.
For freelancers, you can get a host of features elsewhere, but this tool is great at whatever it promises to do, making your work a tad easier. It also has a navigable user interface and templates among other services.
The pricing is also very attractive and affordable, especially the annual plan, but you still get a decent discount regardless of the plan you pick.
The tool does what it says it’ll do, and manages to ease the process of accounting and project management easily. You can create a project and in a matter of minutes, the tool will create the associated documents for it, plus update with your actions and those of your clients.
It may not be available in multiple languages, but we hope it’ll have this in other countries besides the four it currently provides for. This is a minor quibble though compared to what the software can do for you.