6 Keys to a Successful Business

Millions of people dream about starting their own business, but only a few go further than their thoughts. Many people are unsure of the keys to a successful business, especially when today’s business world is full of unknowns, twists, and turns. 

While there are always procedures you need to follow in your business and industry, there are also certain keys to a successful business that apply to any venture. Check this article to find out what they are! 

Key #1. Know your competitors

No matter what type of business you’re starting or running, you’ll have competitors. Even if there’s no other business offering exactly what you plan to sell, there are likely to be other products or services your target customers use to satisfy their needs. Moreover, other businesses may be doing something right that you can implement in your business to make more money.

To succeed, you need to research the competition and find out as much as possible about what they sell and how they sell it. Competitive research is something you should plan on doing on an ongoing basis, too. 

If you’re running a coffee shop, you can visit your competition’s cafes, ask other customers what they think, and gain helpful information. However, if you’re running a business with much more limited access to your competitors, such as a chemicals company, you can take a different approach to research your competitors. For example, you can consult with a business professional and accountant to go over their financial information, not just what the business presents to the world. 

Key #2. Do market research

Market research is one of the main keys to a successful business. Entrepreneurs should never throw their caution to the wind and start businesses based solely on personal opinion. Business success depends on many factors, with data being one of the most fundamental. And data comes from research. What is the size of the possible customer base, and what are their characteristics? It is important to understand what drives and motivates the buyer personas to target them efficiently.

Key #3. Have a detailed plan

An accurate and precise business plan can help you focus on your goals. You’ll refine your business idea as you create your business plan, and you’ll have a roadmap to refer to before making major decisions. What do you expect from your business? How long will you take to achieve your goals? What is your monthly or quarterly target? 

So, whatever your goals are, write them down and put them somewhere where you will see them every day. Then take each goal and break it down into smaller steps. You can set a certain time to review your plan and mark what you have completed. Having a clear direction will bring you closer to your goals. 

Key #4. Provide great products or services at a reasonable price

In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, your business’s products or services need to be good enough to meet or surpass the clients’ expectations once the customers are there. This is how you turn your customers into brand ambassadors, which is one of the best and most cost-effective ways to get a small business on the map.

The first principle to consider in establishing any new product or service is to determine if it meets an actual, existing need that customers have right now. No product or service can succeed unless it’s somehow unique and superior to its competitors’ products or services. A new product or service must solve a consumer problem or improve the client’s life or job in a cost-effective way.

The safest strategy here is to start with a common product that already has a widespread market and then figure out how to improve it (e.g., provide faster delivery, produce higher quality, or lower the price of the product or service.) It’s a good idea to start with a product or service that people are already using and find some way to make it more desirable, instead of trying to invent a whole new thing. 

The second principle for any business success is offering good quality products or services at a fair price. Your business must have a unique selling point (USP) if it competes with other products or services. It is one or more features or benefits that make your products or services unique, different, and superior to any competitors.

Key #5. Keep your records organized

All successful businesses keep detailed records. Proper bookkeeping helps you know the business’s financial status and what could potentially become a problem moving forward. Knowing this helps you visualize future projections, create strategies to overcome those challenges, and assist in business planning. 

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Most businesses are choosing to store their records physically and digitally. By constantly backing up digital information, especially when it comes to financial data, a business owner no longer has to worry about losing their data. If you choose to keep physical records to ensure that the digital information is correct, keep specific folders for each aspect of the business appropriately labeled and organized so you and anyone in the company can access them easily. 

Key #6. Be consistent

Consistency is a key component of a successful business. Being consistent means understanding that your business will not likely make money immediately, but you still stick with your goals and never give up. Consistency creates long-term positive habits and produces the results you were hoping for so that your business will eventually make some money. 

The bottom line

Once you know the main keys to a successful business, you’ll have a strong foundation to grow your business. 

In summary, to succeed in the business world today, you need to be flexible and have good planning and organizational skills. Being a business owner means being in a state of constant learning and adapting.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Shoeboxed blog for more helpful entrepreneurship and success stories for small business owners! 

About Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed is a receipt management application that turns your receipts and business documents into a digital format in just one click by taking a picture straight from your smartphone or scanning a pdf. It automatically extracts, categorizes, and human-verifies important data from your receipts so that you can go over and check your records anytime with ease. Shoeboxed ensures you will always have your receipts securely stored and ready for tax purposes.

Access your Shoeboxed account from your web browser or smartphone app. Stay audit-ready with Shoeboxed for FREE now!

How You Can Benefit From Mileage Tax Deductions

There are many deductible tax write-offs that a self-employed individual can take advantage of to lower their taxes. One of them is mileage tax deductions for your driving expenses. 

In this article, we’ll help you better understand how mileage tax deductions work and how much money you can save from claiming them. 

Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Travel Expenses

What is a mileage tax deduction? 

The mileage tax deduction is what you can claim on your tax return if you use a vehicle for business purposes and meet specific criteria. 

Mileage can be written off in whole or in part. You can deduct 100% of your mileage on your tax return if you have a dedicated car that you solely use for work. If you have a personal vehicle that you occasionally use for business, you can only deduct the miles you drive while working. However, it’s important to remember that the miles driven between your home and workplace don’t count as business mileage.

Who is eligible for mileage tax deduction?

Employees used to be able to claim a tax deduction for mileage and other expenditures not reimbursed by their employers. However, the Tax Cut and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 repealed the deduction for employee business costs and changed the mileage deduction regulations, making it impossible for most employees to deduct mileage and other unreimbursed expenses.

So who is eligible for mileage tax deductions now? Here is your answer:

  • Small business owners. 
  • Self-employed taxpayers who file Schedule C or Schedule F.
  • Other self-employed workers including independent contractors, e.g., drivers for rideshare services.
  • Qualified performing artists, reservists in the armed forces, and fee-based government officials.
  • Individuals traveling for volunteer work or medical appointments.

How to deduct a mileage deduction

Depending on your circumstances, you can deduct mileage from your taxes in different ways. 

For example, you can’t claim mileage as a medical or charitable expense the same way as a business expense. You will need to use different forms, and the amounts you can deduct per mile will vary.

To claim a mileage deduction, you can opt for one of the following methods: 

1. The standard mileage rate

To know how much you can deduct with this method, simply multiply your business miles by the IRS’s mileage rate. 

The standard mileage rate writes off a certain amount for every mile you drive for business purposes. For the 2022 tax year, you can deduct $0.585 per mile driven (up from $0.56 in 2021).

2. The actual expense method

Rather than getting a fixed fee for the miles traveled, this method allows you to deduct the expenses of using a vehicle for business purposes. They may include:

  • Gas
  • Oil
  • Repairs
  • Insurance
  • License fees
  • Registration fees
  • Vehicle depreciation

The actual expense method may necessitate more documentation, but it can result in a bigger deduction than the standard mileage rate.

You should calculate your mileage tax deductions with both methods to find out the one that benefits you the most.  

How Shoeboxed can help you stay on top of your mileage tax deductions

Keeping receipts organized and safe is vital during the tax season as they are your concrete evidence for any tax deductions you claim. 

If you’re tired of spending hours and hours collecting and categorizing receipts by yourself, we’re here to tell you there’s a super easy alternative. It’s Shoeboxed

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About Shoeboxed

Shoeboxed is a receipt management application that turns your receipts and business documents into a digital format in just one click by taking a picture straight from your smartphone or scanning a pdf. It automatically extracts, categorizes, and human-verifies important data from your receipts so that you can go over and check your records anytime with ease. Shoeboxed ensures you will always have your receipts securely stored and ready for tax purposes. More importantly, Shoeboxed helps you track mileage using your phone’s built-in GPS for unmatched ease and accuracy.

Access your Shoeboxed account from your web browser or smartphone app. Stay audit-ready with Shoeboxed for FREE now!

Financial Services Marketing: Definition, Benefits and Best Practices for Small Businesses

Growing a business can be challenging if you’re a small financial services company. Especially with the evolution of digital transformation causing an industry-wide shakeup in the financial sector, digital-savvy customers are expecting more from financial services companies. How can small financial services companies survive—and thrive—in this volatile environment? 

Only using traditional marketing methods won’t bring the best result for your business—try financial services marketing instead. But what is financial services marketing, actually? In this article, we’ll walk you through this term, from the definition, types of businesses that can take advantage of it, and the five best financial services marketing strategies for financial service providers. 

What is financial services marketing?

Financial services marketing is several marketing methods that employ special strategies and techniques to generate brand awareness or drive conversions to a financial firm. By using custom-made marketing strategies for financial services, business owners can turn obstacles into advantages and grow their business effectively.

What kind of businesses can benefit from financial services marketing?

The financial services sector includes many different niches and segments. Here are the main types of financial companies that can benefit from financial services marketing:

  • Auto finance firms
  • Brokerage firms
  • Credit unions
  • Commercial banks
  • Retail banks
  • Credit card companies
  • Insurance companies
  • CPA firms
  • Wealth management firms
  • Accounting firms

However, these financial institutions are subject to different laws and regulations, which are beyond the scope of this article. Before you consider and implement the following marketing strategies, keep in mind to refer to standard practices and regulations specific to your field. 

Two major challenges of financial services marketing

  • It’s hard to gain customers’ trust

This is perhaps the most common issue for financial-service marketers. Money is a personal topic, and customers must trust their financial institutions before purchasing more services.

The Covid-19 recession negatively affected most people, and only recently are customers becoming more comfortable with their financial positions. This means they are very cautious about investing money in products and services they don’t know thoroughly or are uncertain whether they are necessary. 

  • Customers are unaware of financial services marketing’s benefits 

A potential car buyer can immediately judge quality based on objective factors like appearance, gas mileage, and price. They can read quantifiable figures about each vehicle to make comparisons and discuss them in a public forum to pick the most suitable one. 

However, people looking for a financial service are less inclined to publicize their demands. This means product attributes are vague, which can increase customers’ skepticism. This problem is not easy to overcome, especially because most people consider financial services uninteresting.

Five best practice marketing strategies for financial services

Now that we have identified the challenges of financial services marketing, let’s go into the details of the most effective financial services marketing strategies that will help you attract more leads and convert them into loyal customers.

1. Host educational webinars

Webinars are an effective channel to generate leads, especially for B2B businesses. According to Findstack, around 73% of B2B professional marketers think they can get high-quality leads from webinars. Additionally, the use of webinars has increased rapidly since the Covid-19 outbreak.

Webinars continue to be the first choice for many marketers because they offer an effective way to build authority and trust among your brand’s audience base. Unlike other marketing strategies, a webinar session allows financial institutions to reveal a more human aspect, which is a huge plus since most people perceive financial companies as impersonal, formal, and unfriendly.

Webinars are an effective approach to generating leads because they promise more value than most other marketing methods. If your webinar attracts a prospect’s attention, they will be more likely to fill out their information in your webinar sign-up form.

Additionally, hosting a webinar is a golden opportunity to understand your audience. It’s the best thing next to having face-to-face conversations, making potential customers comfortable enough to bring up questions or concerns that they wouldn’t have raised in any other environment or platform.

2. Publish case studies

Broadcasting case studies can be the best way to tell your audience that you have a solution for their financial problem. Why’s this true? It’s because case studies allow you to demonstrate to your prospective customers that your product or services are effective Case studies tell a story and show how successful a product or service is. And if there’s one thing potential customers are looking for, it’s a story that promises a good ending.

Case studies are also based on evidence and are backed by real numbers. For example, if you tell a story of how you were able to help a struggling company increase their annual revenue by 200% and then back it up with statistics, you’re showing that you’re trustworthy and that you can live up to your promises.

3. Build social media presence

Statistics show that roughly 7-in-10 Americans use social media, and they spend an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes surfing the internet per day. That means that most of your customers (both potential and existing) are on social media.

Social media is where conversations and discussions happen, making it an ideal place to develop your financial brand’s authority and trust. What’s more, on many platforms social media users are not only there to interact with their friends but also with brands. 

Business blog Oberlo’s research about social media statistics has also proved it: 

  • 54% of internet users use social media platforms to research products or services.
  • 71% of customers who have had a good experience with a brand on social media will recommend it to their family and friends.
  • 49% of customers are likely to buy something if it was recommended by a social media influencer.

In other words, if you’re not focusing on building your social media presence, you’re leaving money on the table.

4. Implement PPC advertising to generate financial leads

When growing a financial services business, neglecting PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising is a huge waste. After all, financial services companies largely rely on lead generation. PPC advertising is the way to go when it comes to generating leads.

PPC advertising offers the following benefits:

  • Helps you rank faster for strategic keywords.
  • Brings you prompt traffic.
  • Attracts highly targeted visitors to your website.
  • Contributes to your search advertising, display advertising, retargeting strategies.

5. Publish high-quality blog posts

Blogging has changed radically over the years. In general, most people will do a Google search to find answers to their financial problems or dilemmas. That’s why publishing high-quality blog content is still an effective strategy for growing a financial brand (or any brand for that matter). 

Like a PPC strategy, you can start by doing keyword research. However, unlike PPC, you have a new metric to consider with SEO keyword research: keyword difficulty. This gives you a comprehensive insight into a keyword or topic, its volume (which indicates how many people search for the keyword), and how easy or hard it is to rank for a keyword. You can use keyword research software like Ahrefs, Ubersuggest, or Semrush. If you’re just starting out, try focusing on keywords with lower difficulty to start earning initial search traffic.

Investing in a blog can benefit your financial services business in the following ways:

  • Drive traffic to your website
  • Boost brand awareness via SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Generate leads for your email database 
  • Build trust and authority in your niche
  • Grow a social media presence (when sharing a high-quality blog post on social media)

The bottom line

So now you have it—the five most effective financial services marketing strategies that can help boost your financial firm. You can now consider the pick the best method(s) for your company to increase your brand awareness and generate conversions. 

Shoeboxed is a versatile receipt-scanning and expense-managing app for small businesses. Shoeboxed offers business owners the best accounting solution: digitizing receipts, managing expenses, storing business cards, tracking mileages, and so much more. Additionally, Shoeboxed ensures that the digital versions of your receipts are clearly scanned, well categorized, human-verified, and legibly accepted by both the Internal Revenue Service and the Canada Revenue Service in the event of an audit. By that, you can rest assured that all your business financial documents are audit-ready and focus on developing your business’s core values. 
Don’t forget to sign up for the Shoeboxed blog if you’d like more information on how Shoeboxed has helped our clients with their financial challenges and other engaging stories about entrepreneurship, staying organized, DIY accounting, together with the latest Shoeboxed’s product updates.