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Hello Bonsai Review: The #1 Freelance Product Suite?
Updated: 2022-06-15 / Article by: Timothy Shim
Company: Bonsai Technologies Inc.
Background: Hello Bonsai is a competitively priced workflow management solution for freelancers and small businesses. It is an all-in-one suite of tools with automation that helps take the load off your paperwork to help you focus better on running your business.
As a freelancer or a business owner, most of your time is on paperwork and tracking documents; this is where Hello Bonsai comes in to take this load off you. Its interface is intuitive, super clean, and sleek. You’ll find it easy to locate the relevant functions.
Hello Bonsai is best suited for freelancers. However, if you own a small business and need additional users, you'd be glad to know that you can add them for free but with limited access and functions. If you need them to have full access to everything, you will need to pay a fee.
User-friendly and intuitive interface
Tons of free templates
Automates most tasks (time-saving)
Can potentially be expensive
Lack of phone support
Pros: What I Liked About Hello Bonsai
As a freelancer myself, I sometimes find my work everywhere that I don’t know where to begin. Using Hello Bonsai helps manage and streamline my contracts, proposals, projects, expenses, invoices, tasks, accounting, and taxes. It also helps me track them and keeps me on top of things.
1. Simple Onboarding Process
When you first sign up, you will find that the onboarding experience is pretty seamless. The steps are minimal with clear instructions. You will have to answer several questions that typically surround your business and needs, after which you will arrive at the main dashboard. At first glance, you will notice that the layout is clean and well-organized.
You get an overall macro view of everything in one place – project timelines, upcoming and overdue tasks at hand, any recent activities, and others. Locating the features is not rocket science, as the tabs and menus are self-explanatory on the left side of the screen. Last but not least, if you hit a bump, look to the bottom corner and chat up with their support team.
I love that Hello Bonsai has numerous types of templates I can choose from, and they are free! Ranging from invoice, proposal, contract, agreement, the scope of work, quote, and credit note to estimate templates, you name it, they have it all mostly covered.
Hello Bonsai's contract templates are vetted by experienced lawyers. Hence, feel free to use them; they come in very handy.
3. Comprehensive Features
Even as a solo freelancer, I find Hello Bonsai’s features comprehensive and sufficient. While the list is pretty exhaustive, here are some of the more practical and functional features you’ll likely use.
A crucial aspect of being a freelancer is getting paid on time. Hello Bonsai’s Invoices function is comprehensive. Everything from creating your invoice (you can use their existing invoice templates) to getting it to the client on time is handled and automated. Also, Bonsai issues reminders to the client, and any late fees incurred will be included.
As of current writing, Hello Bonsai offers three payment options:
Bonsai Payments – their internal payment platform with ‘Instant Payouts’ feature where you can receive a fast payment within an hour for a small fee (available to users in the US, Canada, UK, and Australia)
Stripe – credit card and ACH payments
Another feature that is worth mentioning is the recurring payment. All you have to do is configure the setting of the client to ‘recurring’, and you’re all set. Your client will receive the invoice every month. You don’t have to keep track because Hello Bonsai does it for you, freeing you for other tasks.
In any work you do, having signed contracts is a must. You can use their existing contract templates or create your own, then e-sign them while storing any copies for your reference. Hello Bonsai’s contract templates are vetted by lawyers, so use them confidently. Also, their e-signatures are legally binding.
Just input the relevant information into their contract generator, and Hello Bonsai will do the rest and draft a professional contract for you. It is that easy!
Hello Bonsai also tracks the status of the contracts and sends reminders to your clients. Additionally, you can auto-create an invoice and link it to the client for the said project. However, you can do otherwise and opt for manual invoice creation.
Building proposals from scratch is time-consuming. With Hello Bonsai, you can write them using their templates and customize them accordingly. Hello Bonsai can automatically send your drafted proposal to the client, or you can manually send the secure link yourself.
You also have the choice to offer multiple service options to your clients and maximize your earnings through upselling.
Hello Bonsai tracks your proposals' statuses and allows easier approval via their electronic-approval function.
If most of your tasks are time-based, you will find their time tracker robust enough for most workflows. Hello Bonsai offers an all-in-one time tracker, timesheets, and billing. You set an hourly rate for the project, and Hello Bonsai tracks it for you with your collaborators (if any) and invoices the completed timesheet to the client.
It makes sense to have your time-tracking incorporated together with your invoicing tool. Everything becomes more synchronized in one place.
If you sorely dread that time of year to do your taxes, you will find Bonsai Tax helpful. It does all the necessary calculations for you and gives you an overview of your tax estimates. You won't have to worry about upcoming filling dates, as Hello Bonsai will remind you. I find the online storage useful for safekeeping my receipts in case of an audit.
Hello Bonsai tracks your expenses and automatically imports from banks and credit cards for you. You also enjoy write-offs as Hello Bonsai will locate those deductible expenses to help you save money. You will find Bonsai Tax a time-saving feature, but this feature costs you an additional $10/month.
4. Good Customer Service and Support
Hello Bonsai reviews in G2 rate the platform as “near excellent.” Most pointed out that their contracts, invoicing, and proposal features were spot-on. They have email support, in-software live chat, and a comprehensive help center that is well-organized in clear and separate categories.
You can check out their helpful freelance blog and resources too. However, they do not have phone support, and some may find this a bummer.
Cons: What I Disliked About Hello Bonsai
1. Projects and Client Management
There is a project management function, but I fail to see it as a wholesome and full-fledged project management tool. Although I have a bird's-eye view of the whole project and can manage my clients in one place I somehow feel that everything ‘project-related' goes back to time tracking and invoicing per se.
I can add tasks and review notes, but overall there’s not much of an actual project management aspect to Hello Bonsai. Also, there is no timeline option which makes managing multiple projects difficult. Simply put, you can use it more like a task manager rather than a full-fledged project management tool.
Unfortunately, Hello Bonsai does not provide many third-party integrations. They have a Zapier integration which allows task automation between multiple apps like Quickbooks and Slack. There is also the Calendly integration. Both integrations are only available in the middle-tier paid plan. Sadly, this is where Hello Bonsai lacks significantly.
Hello Bonsai Plans and Pricing
Hello Bonsai pricing is straightforward; the three plans start from $24/month. If you’re a freelancer and just starting, you can opt for this package as it should have most of everything you need. If you own a small business, the Professional plan will do you justice.
However, if your business is growing and you require unlimited subcontractors, you would need the highest tier. Take note, you can still go for the lowest plan and add-on collaborators for free, but if you need to add partners, there is an additional fee of $9/month.
Those who need Bonsai Tax would need to add $10/month. You can upgrade or downgrade your plan anytime via the “Settings.”
They have a 14-days free trial where you enjoy full, unlimited access to all of Bonsai's Workflow features, but they need your credit card information. Overall, I would think that Hello Bonsai’s fees are fair and reasonable, especially for a start-up freelancer.
If you are like me, a freelancer with not many complicated projects, Hello Bonsai would suit you well. I have to admit that with a modest fee charged by the Starter package, what I get in return is truly value for money with a load off my back. Its interface is well laid out and easy to use, even for newbies.
However, if you are a rapidly expanding business with lots of massive projects, you may find Hello Bonsai insufficient to meet your needs. So, ultimately, it all boils down to your current business needs and your future ones.
Timothy Shim is a writer, editor, and tech geek. Starting his career in the field of Information Technology, he rapidly found his way into print and has since worked with International, regional and domestic media titles including ComputerWorld, PC.com, Business Today, and The Asian Banker. His expertise lies in the field of technology from both consumer as well as enterprise points of view.