Tag Archives: Paperless

Tame your software subscriptions

Software subscriptions out of control?

Tame them with these simple steps

Online software subscriptions are all the rage. They’re pretty much how I run my business, and there are some great tools out there. But the phrase “buyer beware” applies as much here as it does elsewhere, and I have to say I’ve learned some hard lessons over the years. Here are a few things I do to save money and make sure I’m in control of my subscriptions, not the other way around.

Set calendar reminders 

We all get busy, and whether you have just one subscription or several that automatically renew, it can be hard to keep track of renewal dates. Creating calendar reminders that alert you a few days ahead of a renewal date gives you a chance to review the subscription before your credit card is charged to see if you need to:

Cancel because you no longer use it. Sometimes subscription use falls by the wayside, so periodic review is always a good idea. Only a few companies offer a partial refund when you cancel a subscription in the middle of a billing cycle, and there’s nothing worse than paying for something you don’t use or need.

Review your subscription level.  If you still need the software but aren’t using all the bells and whistles, you can often downgrade to a less expensive option.

Beware the annual subscription

Many software companies offer discounts when you pay for a year in advance, even throwing in a couple of months for free. Don’t be in a hurry to do this. Many companies are reluctant to issue mid-year refunds, so if you have to cancel mid-year, you can lose a lot of money. And sometimes, you have no choice but to cancel. Companies can make changes to their software during the course of a subscription, and what began as a useful tool for your business can suddenly become a handicap. This happened to me with my project management software recently, and I was forced to stop what I was doing midstream and find different software because it had such a negative impact on my productivity.

Watch the webinar

Before subscribing to online software services, take the time to sign up for a free trial and the free introductory webinars. Webinars are usually 30-60 minutes long and go a long way toward helping you decide if a product is right for you. In addition, if you decide to subscribe, you’ll already be a step ahead of the game since you’ll already know how to put the software to work for you.

Time taken to research and review your software subscription plans is time wisely spent.  Just like the old saying goes, “Short-term pain, long-term gain.”

Tame your software subscriptions with these simple steps.

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How I Use Automation in My Business

I’ve been asked to share how I automate some of my business processes. However, I will start by saying that what works for me, may not work for you. But I do hope you can apply my example to your own business situation. Remember, it’s all about choosing the right tools to best serve your ideal client.

The contact request form on my website adds a contact record to my CRM (contact relationship manager) software as well as QuoteRoller, the software I use to prepare proposals for prospective clients. The proposal is emailed to the client and another application, RightSignature, is used for electronic signature acceptance of the proposal.

The next step is to have QuoteRoller create an invoiceID-100157962 in Freshbooks, the time and billing software I use. The invoices and payments automatically go to Xero, my accounting software.

Did you notice no printing of paper was involved in this process? Even better than that, only a minimal amount of typing was involved.

By narrowly defining the services I provide, I was able to set up a catalog of services in QuoteRoller so that preparing a client proposal is done with a few mouse clicks and minimal editing.

By choosing software tools that integrate AND understanding how that data is shared, I set up a reliable and accurate business system that supports my business process.  If client information changes, I update ONE system and the rest automatically get updated.

Where should you start building your business system? Start with documenting your business processes and then think about what tools you need in order to support and automate those processes. Please do not over think this. Keep it simple! Focus on the tools and processes you need in order to best serve your ideal client. I wrote about software integration here.

By the way, most of the links in this post are affiliate links which means I may earn a few coins if you sign up via my link. It is no way effects the price YOU pay for the subscription. I only support software that I firmly believe are solid products. This is also not an all inclusive list of the tools I use for my business. If you peruse my blog, you can read about some of the other tools I use.

If you’d like help with this process, get in touch. I’d be happy to assist.

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Resolve To Go Paperless Now!

Shoeboxed is one of my favorite tools because it helps me stay organized and paperless for a minimal fee. My business has been paperless from the start. In fact, I scanned all my own documents for a while. And then the paper started piling up. So did my stress level every time I saw those piles of paper.

Enter Shoeboxed. Now I stuff everything I need scanned into an envelope (provided by Shoeboxed) and drop it in the mail. Problem solved.

Several months ago, I became an Ambassador for Shoeboxed. That essentially means I promote them and they promote me. I had to apply to become one of their ambassadors and was fortunate to be selected. Being an ambassador also means I have my very own sign up page for the Shoeboxed service where you can get 20% off your first 6 months of the service. It also means I earn a small commission when someone signs up via my personal link. However, that does not in any way affect the price you pay for the Shoeboxed service.

This is that time of year when in between holiday preparations, we start resolving to improve various areas of our lives. So start right now. Stop feeling guilty every time you see THAT PILE of paper on your desk. No more wasted time looking for a receipt. Shoeboxed will scan all that paper for you and help you organize everything on their website.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a nice clean desk? No mountain of paper tumbling onto the floor. Imagine how happy your tax person will be when you invite them as a user to your Shoeboxed account instead of handing them a bag of paper receipts.

Invest just 5 minutes to sign up now. Shoeboxed will mail you envelopes to fill with your receipts and you will be able to see your desk again.

Go PaperlessKnow what else? Shoeboxed is running a contest among their ambassadors to see who can sign up the most people between now and January 15, 2014. Yes, I might win a prize, but I really just want you get out from under those piles of paper. If you do sign up for Shoeboxed and comment on this post, I’ll send you something cool. (Ok, so I’m suffering from a bit of holiday stress and haven’t picked a cool prize yet, but when I do, it will be cool.)

 

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Travel and Work from Anywhere

Do you ever read about business owners that travel the world and work from anywhere? Wonder how they did it (and feel a bit jealous)? Here’s how I did just that.

I live in Arizona while my family resides in Pennsylvania. This past holiday season, I flew to Pennsylvania in December and returned to Arizona in January. I did not ship anything ahead for my business nor did I pay any excess baggage fees.

How did I do it? My business has been paperless from the start. What I don’t scan and file myself, Shoeboxed does for me. Clients share documents with me via Dropbox and any paper that does come my way is scanned and shredded (mostly). This eliminated carrying piles of paper with me.

So what did I carry with me?
• MacBook Pro
• iPad
• wireless mouse
• wireless keyboard
• 3-4 folders with documents that I needed hardcopies of
• 2 wire-bound notebooks
• Calendar/Planner
• assortment of writing utensils
• iPhone
• bluetooth headset
• and of course the chargers for all of the above

And it all fits in this Mobile Edge laptop backpack.

I like this laptop backpack because of its slim design, but the best feature is it is TSA friendly. That means I just unzip the laptop compartment and send my bag through the scanner without taking my laptop out of the bag.

While using my iPad as a second monitor to view documents, I was able to work very efficiently. And with my Bluetooth headset and Join.me screen-sharing, meetings were a breeze.

I will admit to some trepidation at traveling so far away for so long. What if I forgot something important? Having the right tools made all the difference. In the end, there was nothing I had left behind (documents or other) that caused any sort of panic and I had a pleasant stay with my family.

*Note: Links may be affiliate links and I may earn a few coins if you clink the link and buy something.

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Paperless Freedom in Flagstaff, Arizona

Shoeboxed is an awesome service that scans my documents and helps me stay paperless.

With Shoeboxed there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after processing over a billion dollars of expense 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.

Read my interview here

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