Organizing the World: The Faces of Shoeboxed part V (featuring the one and only FreshBooks!)

While Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in helping clients from all around the world stay organized, we’re also reminded daily that much of what we allow our hundreds of thousands of users to do wouldn’t be possible without all of our great integrated partners and the myriad of services they provide.

With that in mind, in this issue of “Organizing the World” we are thrilled to team up with our good friends at FreshBooks, who have turned the once time consuming and daunting task of invoicing into a simple, painless and automated process.

Users from far and wide use Shoeboxed and FreshBooks together to effortlessly transform piles of paper receipts into professional-looking invoices. The end result is that individuals and small business owners get paid faster, look professional and spend more time focusing on what they love to do.

An Officeless, Paperless, Accidental Magazine Business
… and how we’ve managed to keep it going with Shoeboxed and FreshBooks

“If it wasn’t for companies like Shoeboxed and FreshBooks our original idea and business would have crumbled into an unorganized void of obscurity and dysfunction many, many years ago.”

-Russell Eggleston

Introducing: Russell Eggleston

Profession: Magazine Publisher

Location: British Columbia, Canada

Website: www.northerngroove.com

Twitter: @NorthernGroove

 

About Russell:

Russell Eggleston is a magazine publisher and “accidental” small business owner of Northern Groove, a magazine that promotes the local art and culture of Fort St. John, British Colombia. He started NorthernGroove.com with the goal to promote local artists, events, and get people involved in Fort St. John community more than they ever had before.  In essence, he created an arts and entertainment scene where one didn’t exist.

SBX & FRESHBKS: Before you started Northern Groove, you said your background was as a musician and a student. How did you come to “accidentally” start Northern Groove?

When I was young and filled with overly-ambitious ideas and a wicked haircut, a series of unfortunate events took place all at once (many of which I’m still trying to make sense of):

  1. I ran out of money…
  2. I dropped out of school…
  3. I moved back to my hometown…
  4. and I somehow accidentally started a business.

The thing about accidentally starting a business is that you don’t really know that it’s a business until it’s too late.  It sneaks up on you.  Just like that damned parking meter person.

It all starts with an idea. Probably an idea that you’re really excited about…and then before you actually realize what’s going on, you’ve got yourself the start of a business, and a pile of paperwork.  And receipts.  Delicately filed.  On the floor of the passenger side of the vehicle.  Under an old pair of shoes.  And some other stuff that is…well, who knows what it is.

My big idea started very small indeed.  Maybe that’s why it took so long for me to clue in.

SBX & FRESHBKS: At what point did you realize that your small idea was, in fact, a successful business venture?

The idea of Northern Groove started innocently as a small local blog, and through the suggestion of a friend grew into a magazine promoting local events.  As the smoke cleared at the end of the first year, I was left with the sudden realization that the simple idea of making the town a more fun place to live came with a mountainous pile of receipts, bills to pay, invoices to send, and some confusing thing called taxes.  Oh, and did I mention paperwork?

In that same moment I realized that my idea wasn’t actually an idea but had somehow accidentally morphed into, what others soon told me, was called a “small-business”—a small business that, if I was interested in keeping it going, was going to require some serious help! I’m sure the folks at Shoeboxed.com hear this all the time, but I literally had multiple shoeboxes of receipts and documents related to Northern Groove.

SBX & FRESHBKS: Whoa! Sounds like you needed some help getting organized! How did you come across Shoeboxed?

Simply enough, I found Shoeboxed through a Google search.  The search term was probably something like “I need help with receipts!”. When I discovered that Shoeboxed shipped to Canada, I was literally so excited I packaged everything up and sent them out the same day.  Biggest relief ever.

Thinking back, it’s a big risk sending all of your receipts and information to a company that you’ve never heard of. But I was desperate.  And if they got lost in the mail, what a perfect excuse for not dealing with any of it.  I had zero experience running a business and didn’t know where to start!

SBX & FRESHBKS: Well we’re thrilled that you chose to trust us with your receipts! And we imagine it wasn’t long after this that you began using FreshBooks?

As we’ve grown, our need for better organizing and bookkeeping has grown with it. After Shoeboxed scans all of our receipts we use FreshBooks for all of our invoicing. It’s just so simple. We also use Batchbook to store all of our client information and Google Apps for document collaboration. And all of our files are stored through Amazon, JungleDisk, and Carbonite.

So, as you can see, we pretty much live on the Internet (hence the officeless environment). At any time, any one of us could be working from a laptop in a coffeeshop downtown, halfway around the world, on a beach, on tour with a rock ‘n roll band, or on the couch in footy pajamas.  All of our work is done through an internet connection. Our income and expenses software is no exception.

I could definitely talk about Shoeboxed and FreshBooks more… and there are some great technical things about how they work together. But really, it’s not what they do that makes me so excited about the products: it’s what I don’t have to do.

SBX & FRESHBKS: Wonderful! That’s the kind of feedback we love!

Your success with Northern Groove is inspiring to all of the people out there who dream of starting their own business. Do you have any advice for fellow entrepreneurs?

The story of how I accidentally fell into this situation might apply for those who might one day (or already be in) a similar situation:

This might apply to those if:

  • you live in a small town (possibly in the middle of nowhere),
  • have big dreams, want to change the world, don’t want a real job, don’t want a desk, and,
  • are hopelessly unorganized (like me), easily distracted, and are looking for help

I started out with all three, and am currently perfecting the last one.

Left to our own devices…our original idea and business would have crumbled into an unorganized void of obscurity and dysfunction many, many years ago. Today it still circles a blackhole of “WTF”, but that’s more for pure enjoyment than anything else. If it wasn’t for companies like Shoeboxed and FreshBooks I would have either given up or had been forced to stop doing what I love to do and roll up my shirtsleeves.

Our little group works well as a team. As a team, we all share a mutual, bitter hatred of paperwork, organizing, or anything else that gets in the way of the fun stuff we do. Not saying paperwork isn’t fun. There are those who love it. They work at Shoeboxed. We love them and someday might send candy hearts with our receipts.

SBX & FRESHBKS: Well we’re just honored to contribute to the continual success of Northern Groove, a true emblem of how you followed your passion and pursued the things you love.

Myself and a small crew of very funny, slightly insane, and very caring community minded folks have managed to pull together an independent monthly arts and culture magazine called Northern Groove.  We did this in the most unlikely of situations and places; a city built more upon industry and “roll up your shirt sleeves” work rather than “let’s all drink lattes and discuss fresco and the latest Wilco album”.

We love what we do, somehow manage to make a decent living from it, and are positively affecting the quality of life for thousands of people who dig our growing and evolving local arts, culture, and music scene. I love ideas and people, but hate paperwork.  I work with some of the best people on the planet, and am so extremely happy to be doing the work I am doing.  I love working with artists.  Shoeboxed loves working with receipts.  FreshBooks loves working with invoices.  I love what I do, and love working with people who love what they do.

SBX & FRESHBKS: And we love reading your magazine! Thank you, Russell! We wish you all the best and will be anxiously awaiting your next box of receipts and batch of invoices!

Shoeboxed and FreshBooks would like to extend a special thank you to Russell for both his time and willingness to be the one of many featured success stories on our blog. The teams at Shoeboxed and FreshBooks sincerely admire Russell’s dedication and hard work and are thrilled to better enable him to spend more time focusing on his passion and not on the paperwork that goes with it!

Are you a Shoeboxed user who has a success story and would like to be featured on our blog? Then we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to Carolyn at carolyn@team.shoeboxed.com for more information.

Until then, stay tuned… and stay organized!

Author: Emily Farrar

At Shoeboxed, Emily focuses on keeping our users happy and engaged. She is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a degree in Public Relations and an avid Tar Heels fan. She enjoys traveling, staying active and spending time with her six-year-old Maltese, Madam.