How much is your time worth? A Shoeboxed Success Story

Our ambassador Brian Dusablon uses Shoeboxed to stay organized at tax time and year-round. Read this User Success Story to learn how he uses our service to save time and money!

With Shoeboxed, there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after processing over a billion dollars of receipt data since 2007, we say that from years of firsthand experience!

Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in serving clients from around the country and across the globe, all of whom use our service in a myriad of ways to fulfill a whole host of organizational needs in both their personal and professional lives.

“Shoeboxed has become an integral part of helping me staying organized and productive while I’m on the go. I love not having to worry about keeping track of receipts while I’m traveling.”

-Brian Dusablon

brian dusablonIntroducing: Brian Dusablon

Profession: Owner, Duce Enterprises and Learning Ninjas

Location: Houston, TX

Website: www.duce.co

Twitter: @briandusablon

LinkedIn: Brian Dusablon

Shoeboxed: We’re excited to chat with you, Brian! As a long-time Shoeboxed user and now as a Shoeboxed Ambassador, I’m sure you have some great insight and tips to share with our readers. So let’s get started with a quick rundown of what you do.

Brian Dusablon: I run a small business called Duce Enterprises. I help small businesses and nonprofits simplify, improve and perform using technology. We provide audits of current systems, process improvement recommendations and technology consulting with the end goal of helping businesses save money and time. I also manage a collective called Learning Ninjas. We offer consultations, mentoring and team training to help e-learning businesses improve.

SBX: Awesome! So did you work in consulting before starting these small businesses? How did you get started?

BD: Yes, I did freelance and part-time work during college, mostly in e-learning development. I did that for a while and then had a couple full-time jobs, but I kept doing website work on the side during that time. My website and consulting work started to pick up about three or four years ago, and I realized I could do a whole lot more on my own. So then I started planning to leave my day job, and I actually took the leap in September of 2012.

SBX: Congratulations! That sounds like a natural progression, but going from a freelancer to running two small businesses is quite a big jump. Can you tell us about what your experience has been like so far?

BD: So far it’s been excellent. The freedom and the time that I have now is great. I also really enjoy being more in control of what types of projects I work on and being able to say no to certain projects. Overall, it’s awesome to have the ability to set my own schedule. I’m more productive now that I’m out on my own, and I really enjoy the work that I’m doing.

SBX: We’re so glad to hear that. So does your business have a core customer, or do you work with businesses of all kinds?

BD: It’s very rewarding to help non-profits become more aware and  to help them save time and money using technology. The more efficient a non-profit becomes, the more money they can put towards their mission. So working with non-profits is very fulfilling, but I also love working with small mom and pop shops and even larger businesses. The best part of working with any business is being being able to see the impact you make, the positive results that come from changes that you helped implement.

Overall, I just like helping any business to work smarter and more efficiently. So far my clients seem to really see the value in what I do. Most of my business comes from referrals, which saves me time and money since I don’t have to do much marketing.

SBX: That’s awesome– referrals are the best kind of business to get! Now let’s move a bit into your experience with Shoeboxed. Can you tell us about how you started out with Shoeboxed and how you use it now?

BD: Sure! I  have a ScanSnap desktop scanner, so at first I was using that almost exclusively to get my documents online, but eventually my pile of papers to be scanned got up to what seemed like 1,000 pages! I tried to recruit my kids to do the scanning, and when I couldn’t convince them, I decided to try Shoeboxed for a few months to get caught up and then cancel. And I ended up never canceling. When I left my job and went out on my own, I got a premium plan to use for my business and became a power user.

Now that I’m traveling a little bit more, Shoeboxed has become an integral part of staying organized and productive while I’m on the go. I love not having to worry about keeping track of receipts while I’m traveling. I take a Magic Envelope with me and just drop all my receipts into it, and when it’s full I can put it in any mailbox and know it will be all taken care of for me. Also, I’m in the process of getting rid of my filing cabinet right now, so Shoeboxed helps with that as well. It’s gotten to the point that I now feel bad when I have empty Magic Envelopes sitting around because that means I’m not fully utilizing the service!

sb-2SBX: Ha! That’s awesome. It’s great to see that you’ve been able to integrate Shoeboxed into your work and lifestyle so seamlessly that it’s like second nature now. :) So besides our Magic Envelopes, what other parts of Shoeboxed do you use?

BD: Last year when I did taxes, I was way behind on keeping all my stuff organized. I sent Shoeboxed all of my stuff for 2013. Once it was all done processing, I exported my receipts to an Excel file and then imported that right into FreshBooks. Then I sent my entire profit-loss statement to my accountant with no manual input. It really helped me save time and stress less about my taxes. I also use the Evernote integration; it’s great to be able to archive everything there.

SBX: We’re so glad that we were able to make tax time easier for you! So, changing gears a little bit, tell us what you do to relieve the stress of being a small business owner.

brian dusablon2

BD: Two words: get outside. I play soccer, coach rugby, walk, bike, whatever. It gets you out of the office and is a great stress buster.

SBX: We agree! So as a consultant, you talk to small business owners and solopreneurs all the time. That’s one of the reasons you make such an awesome Shoeboxed Ambassador! Can you tell us a bit about what your experience has been like so far sharing Shoeboxed with your friends and colleagues?

BD: It’s been great! I’m thrilled to be a part of the Ambassador Program since I’ve already been spreading the word about Shoeboxed for a while now. One of my good friends is a huge Shoeboxed fan. He’s been a member for about a year, and he was really thankful for me sharing the link. What I’ve found so far, honestly, is that a lot of people really need the service but won’t try it. I have friends that are very paper-based, so Shoeboxed would be perfect for them. It’s hard for some people to break the paper habit, though. I usually tell them, “Here’s the perfect setup, here’s what you need to get off the ground. Yes, it’s $30 a month, but good grief! The value it provides me saves me hours and hours.”

sb-deskSBX: You just made our day, Brian! :) In closing, do you have any helpful tips for our users or others in your field that are trying to get organized?

BD: I have a big pile that I’m getting ready to put into a Magic Envelope, but that’s because it’s just a habit for me now. So my best advice would be to figure out what you need to get done and determine how much time it’s taking you, and then to consider the value of Shoeboxed and other cloud tools you could be using instead of your current system. Yes, it costs $30 a month, but how much is that really in the scope of things? How much is your time worth? Instead of spending four to six hours in scanning a month, you could be spending no more than five minutes stuffing an envelope. That’s huge. It might be hard at for the budget-conscious, but the online backup and the time saving portion…  just do it. It’s dirt cheap when it comes to value.

SBX:  We agree! :) Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Brian. We’re thrilled to be a part of your hassle-free system for managing receipts.

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 Emily at emily@team.shoeboxed.com for more information.

Until next time, stay tuned… and stay organized!

Exclusive Productivity Tips for Savvy Solopreneurs

The brave soul of the solopreneur requires a special set of productivity tips to meet the needs of their small business. Without a regular team of partners, co-workers or employees to rely on, having the right systems in place to stay organized and productive is absolutely essential. Here are a few of our favorite productivity tips especially geared toward small business owners running a one man or one woman show.

The brave soul of the solopreneur requires a special set of productivity tips to meet the needs of their small business. Without a regular team of partners, co-workers or employees to rely on, having the right systems in place to stay organized and productive is absolutely essential.

At Shoeboxed, we’re always interested in finding new organizational and productivity ideas.  Here are a few of our favorite productivity tips especially geared toward small business owners running a one man or one woman show.

Seek balance

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is one of the biggest challenges faced by solopreneurs. Since you’re the captain of the ship and the first mate (and the guy swabbing the deck), it can become very easy to get sucked in to working 10, 12, even 15-hour days.

Oh, and let’s not forget about weekends (which you haven’t seen in how long now?).

But here’s the problem – working yourself into the ground actually inhibits your overall productivity levels. Sure, it may seem like you’re getting more done, but how is the quality of your work?

When you’re tired, stressed, and haven’t seen your friends and family in what seems like eons, your creativity is sucked dry. It becomes next to impossible to infuse your work with the kind of joyful energy that will attract more clients and keep old customers coming back.

So what’s a swamped solopreneur to do?

Give yourself a hard end time every day. In fact, make yourself a schedule and commit to it, no matter what. Since no one else is around to create structure in your work day, you have to do it yourself. A specific end time will force you to stay focused throughout the day and finish those top priority items on your to-do list.

Committing to a structured workday will allow you to implement the rest of our productivity tips and reap the maximum rewards from each.

You can also break up tasks into more manageable chunks. Instead of attempting to finish hours upon hours of work in a single sitting, follow organizational guru Samantha Bennett’s advice and commit to completing 15 minutes at a time. This way you’ll prevent burnout, and you’ll be surprised how quickly monumental projects get completed by giving just a few minutes of dedicated attention each day.

Once you’ve developed a schedule that allows you to actually sleep for at least eight hours a night and see your friends on a Saturday (a Saturday!), you may find that there is still work that needs to be finished.

Don’t sweat it!

That just means it’s time to…..

Outsource

how-to-delegateThere are so many amazing things about being a solopreneur. You get to be your own boss, make all the decisions about your small business, and even take naps in the middle of the day, should the mood (or fatigue) strike you.

But that also means that you’re responsible for every area of your business, from invoicing and accounting to marketing and customer service.

As your small business grows, you may find that not even the stealthiest productivity tips create enough time to get everything done.

First of all, pat yourself on the back! That means your small business is growing, and the next step in the process is to begin outsourcing certain tasks.

The mere idea of outsourcing can be seriously frightening for solopreneurs, especially if you’re used to doing everything yourself. What if you hire someone and they’re bad? What if the work isn’t finished on time? What if they screw everything up?

Calm down. There are ways to evaluate freelancers and potential collaborators before you hire them to ensure that you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Decide which tasks you’d like to outsource. This is pretty easy – what do you dread doing? What’s been sitting on your to-do list for eons but you just can’t seem to make yourself do it? Or what takes you absolutely forever to do that could take someone else an hour or two?

Web design, social media, online marketing, SEO, and other administrative tasks are all great things to delegate to a freelancer or virtual assistant (VA).

Consider the time wasted procrastinating because of your hatred of accounting, or the endless hours it takes you to set up a simple landing page. There are folks out there who thrive on crunching numbers and designing stellar sites – why not let them do their thing while you reap the benefits?

Post your opportunity on Vanet Networking’s VA job site, or peruse Elance to find a skilled freelancer to meet your needs. The nice thing about these sites is that you can view feedback and ratings from other clients, and you can see the freelancer’s work and portfolio before you hire them.

Elance contractors are particularly keen on pleasing would-be clients, since great feedback helps them secure more jobs. A single negative review can be devastating for a freelancer, so you can be sure they’ll put their best foot forward for you.

Elance will also give you an idea of market rates and what to pay for each outsourced job. Freelancers bid on each project, offering their most competitive rates. When you decide to hire someone, the negotiating is already done for you.

Make sure that you’re paying each outsourced contractor less than what you make per hour. For example, if you figure your time is worth $75/hour, and it takes you five hours to design a landing page, look for a designer willing to help you out for less than $375. With your valuable time freed up to actually do what you do best, you’ll be able to not only make money, but turn a profit by outsourcing.