We’re Nominated for the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards!

Shoeboxed has been nominated for the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards for the second year in a row. We would really appreciate your support (and votes)!

Shoeboxed is proud to announce our nomination for the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards in the Apps category.

The Awards are designed to recognize the unsung heroes of small businesses – those who support and encourage entrepreneurs and small business owners, and help them achieve success and stay successful. The winners are chosen based off of popular vote and a panel of 14 hand-selected judges.

This is our second time being nominated for the award and we would love all the support we can get! Voting lasts from August 29 at 3p.m. Eastern time through September 15 at 2:59 p.m. Eastern time. Stay tuned for instructions to vote!

Thank you all for your continued support of Shoeboxed!

The Definitive 2014 Small Business Toolkit

Free time is hard to come by as a small business owner. With tax season right around the corner, it’s more important than ever to rely on specialized tools that save you time and make your workday more productive. Check out this small business toolkit from our friends at BoostSuite to find your new favorite small business app!

This guest post is brought to you by BoostSuite, the easiest way to increase your website traffic and earn more marketing conversions.

Can you believe that we’re already more than halfway through January? Seems just like yesterday we were talking about the holidays and New Year’s resolutions. Speaking of, are you sticking with them so far? I hope so, but if you need some encouragement, let me know! :)

Free time is hard to come by as a small business owner. Things are only going to continue picking up speed this year. With tax season right around the corner, it’s more important than ever to rely on specialized tools that save you time and make your workday more productive.

That’s why I’ve prepared the definitive 2014 small business toolkit for you. Try using these tools this year, and you’ll be able to grow your business and find more free time in the process.

1. Constant Contact

If you’ve got a business, that means you have customers, and you have to stay in touch with your customers on a regular basis.

One of the best ways to do that is with email. Think about it. How many times do you check your email every day? It’s often the first thing people do when they wake up and the last thing they do before going to bed.

This habitual checking makes email marketing of the easiest and most effective ways to alert your customers of company news, specials, promotions, events and other items, all at once.

Constant Contact offers an awesome email marketing software tool that allows you to easily build beautiful email newsletters. They have thousands of templates for you to choose from. They also have some powerful social media integration, analytics and survey features that keep your finger on the pulse of your dedicated customer base without taking up too much of your  time.

2. Hootsuite

With more and more people actively reading and posting on social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, it makes sense that the need for social media marketing in the B2B and B2C spaces is growing rapidly.

You may already be active on social media. That’s great! If you’ve never used a tool like Hootsuite, you probably know from experience that you’re always having to switch from one account to the next, just to post the same info. This means your efforts can quickly become disorganized, disjointed, time-consuming and ineffective.

That’s no way to run a social media marketing campaign.

Hootsuite allows you to plug all of your social media accounts into one aggregated area, and easily post and monitor social activity across them all. You can even save time by scheduling posts in advance during the times you know your target market is most active.

Social media marketing with Hootsuite is a great way to engage and collaborate with your prospects, customers and other people interested in your company!

3. BoostSuite

If you have a website, an email newsletter and social media accounts, you have to constantly publish content and promote said content to build awareness and drum up new business. This is called content marketing. And yes, you guessed it, it takes a lot of time and effort to be effective.

To make things harder, you usually have to work on your marketing all by yourself: a tactic that just doesn’t work.

Luckily for you, there’s BoostSuite.

Besides actually writing your articles, newsletters, social media posts and other nuggets of knowledge, one of the toughest things about content marketing is figuring out what topics to write about.

BoostSuite analyzes your website’s marketing strategy, identifies your most valuable keywords, helps you fix on-page SEO errors, optimizes your conversion funnel, and allows you to collaborate with 13,000+ other small business marketers to collectively build your authority.

These benefits are all extremely important for small businesses that need to streamline their marketing and generate real results.

Bonus: BoostSuite integrates easily with Bigcommerce e-commerce websites allowing you to easily promote and sell your products!

4. Shoeboxed

I’m sure as a small business owner you’re constantly fighting a war of attrition for deskspace with mounds of paper and receipts. Oh, and tax season is here, so now you’ve got THAT to deal with too!

With Shoeboxed, you can fight the paper clutter battle and win the deskspace war. Their service helps you go paperless, allowing you to generate and send expense reports with receipt images right from your computer or mobile device.

You can also virtually manage your contact list without having to keep that unsightly Skechers box full of business cards on your desk. Just send them in with their prepaid envelopes and they’ll take care of the rest.

Don’t stress over taxes either. Their tool organizes your receipt data making it ready for export in case of an IRS audit. Need some extra financial help? Shoeboxed gives you access to unlimited tax advice through 1800Accountant (select plans).

Bonus: Shoeboxed has an awesome Evernote integration!

5. oDesk

You probably wear a lot of hats as a small business owner, but let’s face it, you can’t wear them all. You don’t have the time to fulfill every business responsibility, especially if you plan on maintaining a high-quality product or service.

That’s why if you ever need to outsource any work, you can find some first-class freelancers on a site like oDesk. You can get developers to build cool apps for your website, find copywriters to produce powerful marketing content, and procure the right help for pretty much any odd job you need completed.

With their recent merger with Elance, they now have an enormous base of professionals for you to choose from.

Keep in mind that it’s usually more cost-effective to hire a freelancer to make changes to your website than an agency. Plus the agency may try to upsell you or make you pay a retainer for their services.

You don’t have to deal with all that fluff with freelancers. They get in, do their job to your specifications, get paid, get out, and get started looking for the next job. They build their business through word of mouth and referral, so quality and performance usually isn’t an issue.

Do you have any other must-have tools you would add to my small business toolkit? I know there are a bunch I didn’t mention, so feel free to share your favorite tools that save you time and money to this list.

I hope you utilize all of these tools and have an organized, productive year!

About the Author

Ryan Kettler is Director of Communications for BoostSuite. Ryan is an internet marketing zealot, sports fanatic, devoted runner, avid golfer, beer connoisseur, and live music enthusiast. When he’s not helping BoostSuite customers he can be found running 5ks, sampling IPAs, and cheering on his North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Essential Apps for Your Summer Road Trip

Before World War III breaks out in Rhonda the Honda, check out these eight free road trip apps that we promise will make your car ride more enjoyable (or as enjoyable as a family vacation can be).

Nothing ruins the anticipation of an exciting summer vacation like road trip misery.  We’ve all been there: you have grand ideas about how driving to your destination is going to help you save money, as well as bond with the fam.  Cue vision of laughing family playing car games and enjoying each other’s company.

However, 20 minutes into your eight-hour trip you realize that this is not going to be the case.  The kids are already whining that they’re hungry and bored, the driver is distracted from the commotion in the back seat, and you feel a massive headache coming on.  Before World War III breaks out in Rhonda the Honda, check out these eight free road trip apps that we promise will make your car ride more enjoyable (or as enjoyable as a family vacation can be).

1.  RoadNinja

road-ninja“Where’s the next rest area? I can’t wait!”

“I’m hungry!  I want Wendy’s!”

Quell the complaining with the RoadNinja app.  This lifesaver lets you know exactly what is coming up in exits right off of the interstate you’re traveling.  So when your kid needs to go right now or he refuses to eat any fast food except Wendy’s chicken nuggets, you’ll know you only have to listen to the crying for five more miles.

2.  HotelsByMe

You thought you were going to drive through the night, but you literally can’t take one more second in the car.  HotelsByMe lets you find hotels in your vicinity, including ratings from TripAdvisor, prices and real-time availability.  Get some shuteye at a hand-picked hotel for the night and start again fresh in the morning.

3.  RoadTrippers

Mashable called RoadTrippers the “only app you’ll need for the Great American Road Trip,” and we believe them.  A self-proclaimed mix of Mapquest and Yelp, RoadTrippers finds the most adventurous route available to get you to your destination.  Spice up the route you’ve taken a million times in search of something more exciting.

4.  OpenTable

open-table_thumbCar snacks are exciting for the first couple of hours, but after your three-year-old sticks the second Cheeto up his nose, they start to lose some appeal.    With OpenTable, you can read menus, check prices and ratings, and make a reservation at participating restaurants.

5.  BatteryGuru

Whether you forgot your charger at the last hotel or five people are fighting over one car charger, BatteryGuru will help save your battery life with smart changes to energy expense.  In the first few days, the guru learns how you interact with your smartphone and then comes up with a battery optimization plan based on your specific usage.

6.  Sky Map

starzAdd a night of camping under the stars to your road trip and this cosmic app will definitely come in handy.  You can search constellations as you see them with Sky Map’s GPS information about the stars in your location.

 

7.  Postagram

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 2.48.30 PMWith this free app, you can send digital postcards of your trip to friends and family anywhere in the U.S. for $.99.  Use photos from your camera roll, Instagram or Facebook and add your own personalized message!

8.  Shoeboxed

The Shoeboxed Receipt and Mileage Tracker for iOS and Android is a great travel companion for your road trip (which can’t always been said for everyone else in your car).  You can track your mileage and route with the click of a button (okay, two buttons – “Start Trip” and “Stop Trip”).   The app also allows you to snap pictures of your trip receipts and upload them directly to your Shoeboxed account.

All of these apps sound like a great excuse to take a vacation to us!  Which of these apps sounds the most useful to you?

Photo credit: tripwiremagazine.com; postagramapp.com