Shoeboxed Acquired by Earth Class Mail to Make the Paperless Office a Reality

Today we are excited to share that we have joined forces with Earth Class Mail! After 11 years of helping to organize the world, one receipt at a time, we could not be happier that we have now become part of a larger family – with the very same mission.

Some of you may have heard of Earth Class Mail in the past: they tackle the problem of paper mail and allow you to simply receive your mail digitally – all scanned in for you and ready to forward to the places where you actually need your mail – checks can be deposited straight into your bank account, bills can be routed into your accounting system, and now, we can tackle the problem of paper receipts together as well!

We could not be more happy, proud and excited for this next chapter in Shoeboxed’s history and the strong partner we found in Earth Class Mail. We truly share a vision of creating a paperless office and are committed to make this a reality as one company!

Getting over 250,000 documents mailed to our Durham, NC office every month, we see a strange thing or two every now and then. One thing we see often is sealed mail, addressed to our customer. Now, unfortunately, we always had to return that mail with a little sticker saying “We are not allowed to open mail not addressed to us.” Most of the time our customers turned around, opened that letter themselves and threw it in their next Magic Envelope. Now you will have a much better solution. I encourage every one of our users to check out our friends at EarthClassMail.com. Both products and services will continue to run as you have always used them, but with endless opportunities of what we can do as part of Earth Class Mail in the future!

I want to thank all of our customers deeply for your support, trust, loyalty and feedback over the years! As well as Shoeboxed’s investors who have all been great company builders and helped us every step of the way. And last but not least – the Shoeboxed team: no matter if you worked with us as an internship for a summer, scanned receipts at night, or the ones that spent their last 8 years with us – you have all built this success story and I’m incredibly thankful and proud of each and every one of you!

Thank you all so much for joining us on this amazing journey, and for continuing with us into our next chapter! Stay tuned for some great updates and news to come, and please – try out Earth Class Mail :-)

Stay Organized!

Tobi & The Shoeboxed Team

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    • Tobias Walter
    • An investment banker turned entrepreneur, Tobi studied at business schools in Germany, France, and the US, before working with Societe Generale and Morgan Stanley in Investment Banking. In 2005 Tobi joined “studiVZ” as employee #2 – one of the first social networks in Europe, that was later deemed “The German Facebook.” In 2008 Tobi moved to Durham, NC to help co-found Shoeboxed and currently serves as CEO.

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The Balance of Business and Personal Finances

Like oil and water, your business and personal finances don’t mix. Responsible financial management is crucial to surviving a volatile economy for any company. To keep stable finances, business owners need to be well versed in financial literacy, in their personal and professional lives.

The startup and growth phase

It’s easy to overstretch personal finances to support the startup costs of a business. Trying to compensate for the lack of revenues leads to mismanaging personal finances. Not saving, and borrowing against personal credit, are partly why 30 percent of small businesses fail in their first year.

When your business begins to generate cash flow, the business then supports you. It’s crucial to budget personal and business expenses separately or both will suffer during challenges of downturns in fluctuating markets. The ability to protect your personal assets from business debts and losses should be of the utmost importance for any business owner.

Establish a business credit profile

Putting your business on the map is the first step to separating your finances. As a business owner, you need to apply for an employer identification number (EIN) via the IRS website. The EIN is for tax and credit purposes. Obtaining one allows your business to build a credit profile and maintain a record of business transactions. Until you file your business as a separate legal entity, you are personally liable for all financial business activities.

The advantage to having an established business credit profile is increased borrowing power. Reports show 29 percent of small businesses fail because they run out of money. A strong business credit profile lets you qualify for small business loans with low interest rates, creating the ability to have access to cash without tying up your own working capital.

Finding the balance

So, where do you go from here? Once you’ve legally separated your personal finances from your business expenses, it’s time to open separate accounts. Out of the 65 percent of business owners who use credit cards for business expenses, only 50 percent of the cards are under the small business’ name. Having a business credit card, and using it responsibly, sends positive credit activity to business credit bureaus, and legitimizes your business.

Opening a business credit card is an easy way to draw a clear line between business and personal transactions. Keeping business receipts can be a hassle. Whether you’re buying inventory, advertising, or going to a networking convention for your company, using a small business credit card is a simple way to document these expenses, without much effort.

Business bank accounts

Once your business is ready to start accepting or spending money a business bank account needs to be opened. A checking, savings, and merchant services account are typical business accounts to have. The merchant services account allows you to accept credit and debit card transactions from customers.

Business accounts afford business owners perks standard personal accounts don’t offer. For example:

  • Protection. Business bank accounts offer purchase protection for your customers and ensures that their personal information is secure, while personal accounts offer limited liability protection.
  • Professionalism. According to the IRS, only businesses can deduct business expenses. If the expenses incurred for your business are deducted from your personal bank account, the IRS will have the impression your business is a hobby. If you were to be audited, you will have a difficult time proving your business’ validity.
  • Relationships. As your business grows, having a good relationship with your bank will become increasingly important. The sooner you open the account, the sooner you begin establishing a relationship with the bank, which makes obtaining finances for future business expenses easier.

Managing personal finances

As a business owner, it is easy to lose sight of your personal finances in the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business. However, like a business, your bottom line for your personal finances should be attended to and defined. Are you putting money towards your retirement? Are you adding to your savings with each paycheck? Have you cut out expenses that aren’t adding value to your life? Do you have adequate health or life insurance?

While it seems like a basic concept, many people lose sight of maintaining a positive cash flow, and preparing for the future. Always spend less than you make. Remember some months will be better than others. When revenue doubles or triples create a flexibility account after you:

  1. Pay taxes
  2. Put away for retirement
  3. Set aside for an emergency fund
  4. Pay yourself a salary

Tools to help

It can seem daunting to balance two budgets while managing your business and personal life. A great way to begin getting your finances in order is to make a spreadsheet. Monitor and track your cashflow like you would for your business. This will make it easier to see where you need to cut back, what bills need to be paid, and whether or not you’re spending your money wisely.

If you regularly use personal items, such as your car or phone for business needs, keep track of how much the use costs you. For example, logging gas used on business trips and monitoring your business calls on your personal phone will allow you to claim those activities at the end of the year. Too often, business owners assume responsibility for costs that can easily be written off.

There are many tools available for personal financial management to make things easier if spreadsheets seem too time consuming

  • Mint. A popular free tool helps track expenses, plan your budget, and sends alerts when you’re close to reaching your limit for spending.
  • Shoeboxed. A fast way to digitize and archive receipts in a single, secure location. Turn receipts into verified data, categorized, organized, and searchable anytime, anywhere.
  • SavedPlus. This app is good for people who have trouble saving. It lets you set aside a percentage of each purchase you make. The percentage is then sent into your savings account with a weekly deposit.
  • Level Money. This is a great app that helps you gauge how much money you have to spend each month based on your income level.

Final thoughts

Of course, every business is unique and as a business owner, you should always tailor your focus and budget to what’s right in your situation. Planning ahead and remaining frugal will serve you and your business well in the long run. This provides a clear roadmap to achieving your business and personal goals.

 

 

 

 

How You Can Increase Customer Retention in Your Small Business

Running a small business can be quite difficult, especially if you are running it by yourself and you haven’t had much experience. There are a lot of things that you’ll need to think about and customer retention is one of these. Running a business is not just about getting new customers and reaching out, you need to keep the customers that you have and make them want to purchase from you again. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep your existing customers like using feedback or business SMS texting so keep reading this article to find out some of these.

Create A Loyalty Program

One of the best ways that you can reach out to your customers and encourage them to come back is to introduce a loyalty program. There are so many ways that you can do this from investing in some loyalty cards or using an online programme that will help you out. If you run something like a coffee shop, this can be as easy as getting some cards and stamps and giving them a stamp each time they visit. Small things like this can encourage them to come back and make use of your business, even if they don’t necessarily need to. These sorts of programmes work really well for small businesses, but bigger businesses are more likely to be able to do more for their customers when it comes to creating an impressive loyalty scheme. Next, we are going to talk about bulk texting services.

Start A Business Texting Service

If you aren’t already making use of bulk SMS texting, then this is something that you need to take advantage of. Even though you might be a small business, you can still see the benefits of using a service like Sakari. Sakari enables you to send hundreds of thousands of messages if you really want to, supports 150+ countries and is incredibly easy to manage. If you want to keep your existing customers, then you can send them updates when you get new products in. You could also use Bulk SMS services to send out information about sales or offers that are coming up and are exclusive to those existing customers. Something so simple as reminding your customers that you’re still there can make a huge difference to your customer retention levels so make sure to use this effectively. Make sure not to overuse bulk SMS texting, however, as you don’t want to put your customers off coming back and using your service or product again.

Use Social Media

Customer engagement is very important and if you are not already on social media then you need to get set up today. You don’t need to be present on every channel as long as you have a strong presence on a few that you can keep up with. If you want to improve customer retention, then you’ll need to post updates on your accounts relatively often. Make sure to post relevant content and engage with your customers. If they post on your wall or send you a message you should make sure to reply in a polite and friendly way. Be helpful and let them know that you will get back to them with any questions.

If you don’t think you’ll be able to post as often as you’d like, you can use social media management tools like Hootsuite to schedule posts and ensure that your presence is kept up to increase customer retention levels. Start the conversation and get chatting with your customers online.

Use Feedback

One of the great things that the internet provides for small businesses is customer feedback. Although you might not always get the best feedback that you’d like, it is important to read it all and take it all on board. Never reply to negative feedback in a negative way, you are trying to present a good image of your company and you need to show that you are willing to change. Taking on the advice of your customers is one of the best ways that you can keep them coming back. If they ask for a particular service and you provide it, you know that you have at least one happy customer. Show that you are understanding and don’t forget to take on board the positive feedback that you receive as well!

Try Your Best

Our final tip seems a little obvious, but it is actually very important when it comes to increasing your customer retention levels in your small business. Your customer service should be the thing that makes you stand out from other businesses. It is likely that there are plenty of other similar businesses to you and so you must make sure that you show how good you are. Train your staff well and encourage them to give the best customer service possible. You must also set a great example for your staff by showing your customers that you care.

As well as being friendly and polite, you could consider throwing in a little extra touch for your customers. Why not offer to help them to their car with their items? Or order in a specific product for them if you don’t already have it when they ask in store? There are so many things that you can do as a small business that will make you stand out against other small and big businesses. Make sure to take note of what you see when you are out and about and try your best!

Final Thoughts

Increasing customer retention is very important and you should make sure not to just focus on getting new customers through your door. There are plenty of ways that you can keep in touch with your existing customers and make them feel valued. Make sure to take advantage of the technology that is available to increase your social media posts and send out bulk texts messages to inform your customers of new products or special offers. If you follow these steps, you’ll soon have a higher customer retention level and a more successful business.