The Right Machine Makes Processing Cards Simple

Many small business owners spend a lot of time trying to determine which credit card processing company to work with, but spend very little time deciding on the best credit card processing machines. While the former is very important to ensure that you are getting the lowest fees on your card processing, the latter is equally important to ensure smooth operations in your store.

 

Any retail business that conducts face-to-face transactions, whether with consumers or business-to-business transactions, should have the ability to process credit or debit cards through physical credit card processing machines. In fact, if you currently do not accept debit or credit cards, you could be losing out on a significant portion of revenue. Studies by the Federal Reserve of Boston indicate that as many as 80 percent of all consumers today carry a credit or debit card, and the average size of each transaction increases when your customers use a credit card.

 

The Terminals

There are a wide variety of different credit card processing machines today, including standalone units, units integrated with your back-end system, wireless units, and more. The one you choose ultimately depends on what you need your system to accomplish.

 

Integrated Units

For many large businesses, finding point of sale machines that integrate the transaction process makes sense. These all-in-one retail machines are often customizable, and come with the latest in computer processing technology, a sleek display, touchscreen, and integration with your inventory, credit card processing, and other back-end functions. The high cost of these credit card processing machines often makes them better suited for larger retail stores.

 

Standard Credit Card Terminal

A standard card terminal is a small machine that includes a keypad, small display, and swipe strip for the card. These units are popular with many smaller retail stores because they are less expensive, and can easily be connected to any store’s current cash register system. Some units also come with the ability to hook in accessories, such as a pinpad (for debit card transactions) or printer. These units must be plugged in to an electrical outlet and have a wired connection to your phone line.

 

Wireless Terminal

Wireless terminals are similar to standard credit card terminals, except they are designed to operate on batteries (no electrical outlet required), and they connect to your credit card processor wirelessly rather than through a phone line. Generally these units include the same basic features as the standard terminal—a strip to swipe the card, keypad, small display, and in some cases they also come with a small printer. They may include the ability to connect to peripheral items such as a pinpad, but keep in mind that peripherals may require an electrical outlet in order to work properly.

 

Virtual Credit Card Terminal

For businesses that do the majority of transactions over the internet, a virtual card terminal is essential. It allows you to contact your card processing company online, and can often be set up for recurring payments, or to calculate taxes and other fees.

 

Check Terminals

Many businesses today have moved away from accepting checks, but if you still prefer to do so, a check terminal is essential. The terminals are designed to scan checks and curb fraud. Good units include check authorization, verification, guarantee, and electronic check processing.

 

Deciding Which Unit to Purchase

There are several factors that can influence which terminal you ultimately choose, and the cost of purchasing the best credit card processing machines can vary significantly, from as little as $100 up to $1,000 or more. Some of the questions you should ask in order to choose the correct one include:

 

•             Where will I do the majority of my business? For example, if you know that you process all your credit card transactions in one physical location at your place of business, you probably do not need a unit with wireless capabilities. If you have a retail store, but do most of your business online, a virtual solution that accommodates rare in-person card transactions may suffice. Generally any business with more than half of its transactions as “card present” situations (the card is there at the time of the sale) should have a terminal.

 

•             Do I need other devices in addition to the credit card processing machines? Some card processing companies may require a customer to enter a PIN (personal identification number) for debit card transactions. It may be awkward to ask customers to tell you their PIN, so having a pinpad is useful in these cases. Not all credit card processing machines have the ability to attach peripheral devices, so check this carefully before purchase.

 

•             Do I have the ability to connect this device to my network? Some units may require a phone line (analog or digital), others may require a high-speed internet connection. In either case, check to make sure you have the ability to connect the device before you purchase it. This is especially true if you plan to purchase a unit on the secondary market (such as through online auction sites), because some older card processing terminals may require that you plug in to an analog phone line. If you have a digital phone line, or no phone line at all, your unit will not work.

 

•             How much do I want to spend? The price for card processing units can range from about $100 to $1,000 or more, depending on what features are included, what software comes with the unit, and whether it includes built-in printers and other capabilities.

 

•             Do I have more than one merchant account? If you own several businesses and plan to use the same card processing terminal for more than one business, check to find out if the unit will support more than one merchant account.

 

•             How does the system update? As with any electronic equipment, your card machine may require software updates, patches, or new versions. Find out how the machine downloads these updates to ensure it will not interfere with your business, and can be done quickly and efficiently whenever necessary. Systems with flash memory make it very easy to stay up-to-date on the latest versions and patches.

 

•             Do I need the ability to accept proprietary cards? These cards, such as gift cards or private-label cards, require a special type of unit that is programmed to accept them. If you want to offer gift cards, or have other specialized card scanning needs, be sure your unit will support it.

 

Where to Shop

Once you know what kind of machine you need, the next step is getting it. You may be able to purchase a unit through your merchant services company when you sign up—in some cases, they may even off it to you for free or for a discounted price as part of a package deal. Be sure to compare several different units before deciding which one to buy; you don’t want to settle for a unit that doesn’t include the features you need simply because you’re in a hurry to get set up. There are also several online retailers that sell new and used units if your merchant services company doesn’t have credit card processing machines available.

 

If you are trying to keep the price low, you can also try to purchase secondhand units from other businesses, or from online auction sites and other deal websites. In these cases, be cautious and ask a lot of questions throughout the buying process to ensure you get the best credit card processing machines that have exactly what you need.

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The Right Machine which Makes Processing Cards Simply

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Using A Merchant Services Account To Process Credit Cards

A merchant services account is a type of account that is offered through a bank or other financial institution for the purpose of enabling the business to accept credit, debit or other payment cards.  If you are interested in accepting credit or debit cards as payment for your business’s goods or services, it is imperative that you find the best merchant services accounts.  Read on to learn more about the ins and outs of merchant service accounts.

 

Processing Credit Cards

 

In the not so distant past, credit cards were popularly processed with the help of a credit card slider or imprinter.  These pieces of equipment did not require electricity or a connection to the internet in order to function.  The user simply placed the payment card into the slider, laid a blank paper receipt over the top of the card and pushed a slider arm across the embossed credit card to imprint the card’s information onto the receipt.  The customer would then sign this receipt thereby authorizing the transaction.  The business owner would call his merchant account provider and give them the credit card information from the receipt.

 

This process was quite long and tedious.  Since then, the credit card processing system has become quite streamlined.  Some of the most popular methods of processing credit cards are listed below.

 

•             Credit Card Terminals.  A credit card terminal is a piece of equipment that allows a merchant to process credit cards as a method of payment.  The card is either swiped with the use of a magnetic stripe reader or keyed-in.  The terminal is electronic and requires the use of a power supply for proper function.  Most machines are plugged into the wall, although some can function off of batteries for a period of time.  They also need to be connected to a telephone line or have a wireless internet connection in order to communicate with the merchant account.

 

When a merchant swipes or keys in the credit card, information is sent in order to verify the credit card.  Information will be sent back to the machine to indicate whether the transaction is approved or denied.  Transactions that are approved are usually stored on the machine until the merchant batches the day’s transactions.

 

Credit card terminals commonly feature a small display screen, keypad and magnetic stripe reader.  They also usually have a modem, power supply and memory card.  Terminals that are portable have printers attached that can print receipts directly from the machine.  Credit card terminals have a variety of memory capabilities and specialty features that have an effect on the price of the machine.

 

•             Payment Gateway.  Online retailers and other types of e-businesses use payment gateways to authorize credit and debit card payments over the internet.  These work much the same as a physical point of sale terminal, but they operate online.

 

A payment gateway is usually operated by a separate company than the merchant account provider.  There are merchant accounts with their own payment gateways, but these are rare.  Most businesses use a payment gateway that is operated by a 3rd party.

 

Payment gateways typically either have a virtual terminal where the merchant can login and enter in credit card information over a secure connection or have a virtual shopping cart that is connected to the payment gateway that allows the credit card to be processed in real time.

 

Credit Card Processing Fees and Rates

 

The fees and rates associated with the best merchant services accounts provider will vary depending on a variety of factors.  These fees can be periodic or based on a percentage of the transaction price.  The merchant account provider will determine a few of these fees, but most of them are set by the major credit card companies like Visa, MasterCard and Discover.  These fees are called interchange fees and are a schedule of rates that the merchant account provider passes along to the credit card issuing bank.  These fees can vary greatly and are affected by a variety of factors and circumstances.  One of the most common price models is the 3-Tier Pricing method and is discussed below.

 

•             3-Tier Pricing.  This is one of the most common types of pricing methods employed.  It is relatively easy to understand.  If your merchant account services agreement uses 3-Tier Pricing, your provider will group all of your transactions into 3 groups, or tiers based on certain criteria.  Each group will have a rate assigned to it.  One thing to keep in mind is that the tiers can be variable from one processor to another.  This makes comparing tiers across providers virtually impossible.  An explanation of each tier is listed below.

 

o             First Tier.  This tier involves the qualified rate, the percentage you will be charged when you process a regular consumer credit card using an approved processing system.  This system is defined as “standard” and varies from one provider to another.  The qualified rate is based on how you process a majority of your customers’ credit cards.  For example, if most of your business is done online, the internet interchange categories will be in your first tier.

 

o             Second Tier.  The second tier involves the amount you will be charged when you process a payment card that does not fit into the first tier.  This is also known as the mid-qualified rate or partially qualified rate.  For example, a transaction can fit into this category if a credit card is keyed in rather than being swiped or if a business card or rewards card is used in place of a consumer card.

 

o             Third Tier.  This tier generally involves the highest percentage rate.  Transactions that do not fall into the first or second tier will be put into this group.  For example, transactions that involve the use of a business card or other special kind of credit card where all the required fields are not entered may fall into this category.

 

If you are a business owner looking to expand your company by accepting payment cards, do a little research and select the best merchant services account provider for your business.  You might be surprised just how much your company can benefit by simply accepting credit and debit cards.

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How to usa a Merchant Services A/C for Processing Credit Cards

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Ways to Accept Payment

Pretty much every business in any shape or form has a need to be able to accept payments from their customers. Even non-profit organizations use payment processing as a way of accepting donations to their cause. With the rise of the increased use of credit and debit cards as a method of payment there exists a number of different ways to accept a payment based on the specified needs of the business and the level of convenience required to convert the prospect into a sale.

 

One of the old tried and true methods of processing payment exists in the form of a check. Checks are an old way of being able to move money from one account to another without the need of withdrawing money and delivering it to the party in person. Since some transactions can be fairly large it can be quite difficult to make a payment through cash, especially for real estate transactions and large purchases. It is easier to write a check than it is to bring a suitcase full of bills just to make a regular transaction.

 

Using checks also provides a bit of financial security for all parties involved in the form of a paper trail. By purchasing things in cash there is a lack of proof in the ownership of certain funds in addition to the lack of proof that some form of financial transaction occurred. Many scam strategies involve moving funds in a way where it is not so easily traced. This is to prevent law enforcement from identifying the individual conducting the scam and to ensure that the money cannot be returned to the individual who produced the funds.

 

Checks leave a paper trail that often allows law enforcement to help return the funds to the original owner in addition to catching the individual or individuals responsible for the scam.

 

A New Era

 

Credit cards are now the golden standard of providing and accepting payments. Where checks are no longer convenient there lies credit card terminals and the ability to pay at almost any establishment with plastic. Credit cards can allow for financial transactions to occur without having money exchange hands and without the need to write out a check. Not only do these transactions allow for a recording of the transaction, it is particularly difficult to hide credit card transactions.

 

There are a number of ways to accept credit cards. The most common strategy is from a regular credit card terminal. These terminals are generally connected to the payment processor either through an Internet connection or through a standard phone line allowing for the payment to be processed over a secure communication. Terminals can also be provided in the form of point of sale machines which allow for the full transaction process to happen directly in an interface where information about the order can be recorded and provided to the team responsible for fulfilling the order. Many modern point of sale systems allow for a choice of payment processor in addition to multiple methods of processing the order.

 

There are also a number of online options for accepting payment. Payment gateway services allow for businesses to accept a payment through an online terminal where credit card information is recorded and processed directly by the payment processor responsible for the payment gateway. These services may or may not be compatible with the use of a credit card scanner which increases the chance of fraud, but also provides businesses with an easy-to-use interface that reduces the need for a credit card terminal. This also ensures that payments can be processed from any device that contains an Internet connection, but requires access to the Internet to process.

 

There are also a number of solutions that allow a business to accept mobile payments today. These types of mobile processing services come in different shapes and sizes from smart phone applications to full wireless devices that come complete with a credit card scanner and the ability to print receipts. While there are a large number of mobile processing solutions, they all generally operate on the same principal of being able to allow businesses to operate while on-the-go.

 

In addition to credit card processing services there are also other ways to accept payments including online bank deposit services which make accepting checks from the place of business much easier and ACH processing services. It is best to examine all possibilities for accepting payment prior to signing up for a merchant account.

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Ways on how to Accept Payment

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How To Lower Credit Card Processing Costs For Online Retailers

Processing credit cards has become a necessity for businesses who want to stay ahead, especially if you do business on the internet.  A majority of customers expect to be able to pay with a debit or credit card.  For a business owner, credit card processing can be complicated and the fees overwhelming, especially if you are new to the process.  Read on to find out how to lower your credit card processing costs.

 

Transaction Rate vs. Effective Rate

 

For retail applications, average credit card processing rates have risen quite a bit in the last decade.  From 2000 to 2010, the rates have gone from 2.00% to 2.66% on average.  This number does not include fees like PCI fees, batch fees and statement fees.  This may not seem like a huge increase, but if you process a lot of credit cards, it can really add up.

 

When you are looking for the best merchant online account provider, instead of asking what their rates are, it is important to ask what their effective rate is.  The effective rate is a bundled rate that is calculated by taking into consideration discount rates, transaction fees and assessments.  This can give you a better idea of the true cost of your credit card processing.

 

There is a simple formula that can help you figure out your current effective rate.  Simply divide your monthly processing charges by your monthly processing volume to find your effective rate.  For instance, if you have $600 in processing charges from your merchant online account for one month and you have processed $20,000 dollars in credit cards for the same month, your effective rate is 3%.

 

Interchange Plus Pricing

 

Interchange Plus Pricing (IC Plus) was once only offered to Fortune 500 companies.  Now it can be taken advantage of by small businesses.  Keep in mind that many banks would rather sell you pricing plans such as the Enhanced BillBack or 3-Tier pricing because it is much more profitable to them, so they might not tell you IC Plus is even an option for your company.

 

Interchange Plus Pricing is attractive because it categorizes each payment card transaction and charges the rate that corresponds to each category.  This allows each transaction to be charge the lowest possible transaction rate.  This differs from other pricing methods.  For example, the 3-Tier pricing method categorizes each transaction according to how the processor sees fit.  Processors will place a majority of the transactions in a tier other than the qualified tier, effectively charging a higher rate to you.

 

IC Plus pricing is based on three components:

 

1.            Interchange.  This is made up of 440 rate categories, but for a majority of small businesses, around 60 categories will apply.  The range of rates can vary widely for debit cards and credit cards.

2.            Assessment Fee.  This fee is what the major credit card companies (Visa, MasterCard and Discover) charge per transaction.  This fee is the same for each type of card and transaction type.

3.            Processor Fee.  This is a fee that your processor charges and is the same for all cards and transaction types.  It can be negotiable.

 

These three components are added together to give you the retail transaction rate.  Keep in mind that transactions that are keyed in have higher rates than swiped transactions.  In addition, consumer card transactions have lower rates than business card transactions and transactions involving debit cards have lower than those involving credit cards.

 

Know Your Average Transaction Details

 

Most businesses can benefit from IC Plus pricing, but there are a few exceptions.  If a large majority of the transactions you process involve personal cards, you might benefit more from a low 3-Tier pricing plan.  This is because most of your transactions will meet the qualifications for the lowest rate.  If the majority of your transactions involve business cards, a B2B pricing plan might be better for you.

 

You will need to have the break down on the types of cards your business processes in order to minimize your fees.    It is also helpful to run reports on the number of swiped, keyed in, and business card transactions you process.  This can help you decide which pricing plan is most beneficial to you.

 

Keep in mind that merchant account providers may try to offer you an attractive low rate in order to get your business.  This rate may not apply to the majority of the transactions that you process.  This is why it is a good idea to know the details of your transactions.  The best merchant online account will have this information available for your review on their website.  Some may even provide transaction reports and analyses.

 

You should also know your average transaction amount.  This can be found on your statement or by dividing your monthly volume by the number of transactions processed during the same month.  For example, if your monthly volume was $10,000 and you processed 500 transactions, your average transaction amount would be $20.

 

This information is important because you can qualify for different merchant accounts according to the amount of your average transaction.  If your average transaction is under $15, you may benefit from a small ticket program.  If your average transaction is high, you can take advantage of pin debit savings.

 

Go for Value over Price

 

Do not be fooled into signing a processing agreement because of artificially low rates or offers for free terminals or other items.  More often than not, these agreements contain hidden fees that can really cost you in the long run.  Just because the advertised rate is a lower rate that what you are paying now, it does not mean that it will save you money.  As discussed earlier, the effective rate is what matters.

 

In Conclusion

 

In order to save the most money, go with a merchant online account provider who can do the following:

 

•             Offer the latest technology.

•             Give you a good dedicated account executive.

•             Tailor processing to the needs of your business.

•             Accommodate your unique needs.

•             Offer a variety of pricing plans.

 

Use the ideas discussed in this article to find the best merchant online account provider for your business.  Doing a little research can help you get the lowest payment card processing rates.

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How To be Lower Credit Card Processing charges of Online Retailers

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Business Uses for an iPhone

With the increased popularity of smart phones in the modern era many consumers are purchasing smart phones as a means for entertainment while they are on-the-go. The convenience of smart phones allows for users to play games, read books, and watch movies while out of the house or away from their traditional entertainment devices. While smart phones are primarily a communication device, there are a wide range of functions a smart phone is capable of performing in the modern day.

 

Many of the features found present in smart phones are of great benefit to the modern business. While most businesses traditional operate out of an office environment, there are great benefits to be found allowing employees to access their normal business operations while they are out of the office. As employees travel either for business or for personal reasons, smart phones can often function as a mobile office allowing them to remain on top of things while they are away from the office.

 

Your Portable Document Manager

 

Mobile phones are often equipped with a simple amount of storage. Often times this storage is enough to handle downloading and modifying documents. While a mobile phone or tablet is not the fastest way to draft an agreement or an important business document, it can be a great way to review a document and make changes if they need to be made. A smart phone doubles as a portable document manager and a way to send those documents to the client or the member of the team that needs it the most.

 

Many smart phones have features that allow for the syncing of files between a computer and the smart phone. There are also a number of applications that allow for automated syncing and information transmission including applications like Dropbox and Google Drive. These types of services ensure the files contained in the folders being synced are the latest files based on the most recent edit on an Internet connected machine. These services also offer revision tracking in case you need access to an earlier revision of a document but are unable to access one due to limited means.

 

Alternative Communications

 

An iPhone can also be used as an alternative method for communication. While many are accustomed to picking up the phone and giving someone a call, the iPhone can handle email communications as well as fax communications with the use of third-party applications. There are a large number of different communications possibilities through the smart phone platform that are often not thought of outside of the office. Sending that quick email to your boss notifying him of a change in plans is easy to do from the phone interface.

 

Scheduling

 

The iPhone has a built-in calendar allowing for the phone to be used as another way to schedule appointments and to keep track of what is going on. In addition, there are a number of ways to keep a calendar synced with whatever method you’re currently using to track your engagements. This allows for the business professional on-the-go to keep a tabs on what they are supposed to be doing and when. The greatest aspect of scheduling is being able to stay on top of things even when you’re away from the office.

 

Accepting Payments

 

There are a number of solutions available that allow for business professionals to accept payments from clients while they are visiting them at their own office. Many forms of accepting payment often require the credit card number and other information to be recorded into the phone in order to process the payment either through a Wifi connection or through a 3G or 4G signal. In addition there are other iPhone credit card processing solutions that promise automated invoicing, email receipts, and even connection to a terminal for physical scanning of a credit card. This ensures a fast and convenient way of processing payment while on the go.

 

At the end of the day the Apple iPhone has a lot of potential as a business platform in addition to the entertainment benefits the popular phone platform provides to its users. There are a large number of additional features the phone can take by download applications from the app store.

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Business Uses for the iPhone

 

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Merchant Processing For The Prospective Business Owner

If you are planning to open a new small business, you will most likely need to decide if and how your business will accept payments by credit card. Today, it is almost impossible for new business owners to find success without first planning a way to accept credit card transactions. Many individuals have started paying almost entirely by some type of a credit card; so, by refusing to accept payments that are made by credit card, you are potentially greatly reducing your prospects for company profits.

 

Since most small businesses simply cannot afford to eliminate such a large group of paying customers, the majority of businesses now choose to find a way to process credit card transactions while they are creating their initial business plans. For most of the businesses, the answer comes in the form of merchant processing service accounts.

 

Merchant Processing Services FAQs

 

If you have never used a merchant processing service in the past, you may need some assistance while you are first getting started. Ultimately, your goal should be to find the best merchant processing service available. This will help to ensure high quality, reliability, and a low cost for your business.

 

So, for prospective and expanding business owners, here are some simple answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about merchant processing services to help you get started accepting credit cards.

 

What Is A Merchant Processing Service?

 

For starters, it is important that you understand what merchant processing services are. For many first time business owners, or businesses that are just barely starting to accept credit card payments, this may be an entirely new concept. Fortunately, however, this is a concept that is fairly simple to understand.

 

To put it simply, merchant processing services make it possible for businesses to accept and process payments that are made by credit card. An account is established between the merchant (you), and a merchant processing service provider. When credit card payments are made by customers, your designated merchant processing service provider works to ensure that the money is transferred from the customer’s bank account into yours.

 

Who Are The Merchant Processing Service Providers?

 

When you first go to set up a merchant account with a provider, you will find that there are many different types of merchant processing service providers to choose from. Although there may be others, some of the most common types of merchant processing providers include the following:

 

*Financial institutions

 

*Specialized merchant processing service providers

 

*Independent organizations

 

*Online credit card processing companies

 

When you start to compare the different types of providers, you will find that there are many different methods, but also a wide range of varied fees. With so many differences between providers, it is important for you to find the best merchant processing service providers for you specific business model.

 

How Do You Decide Which Provider To Use?

 

With so many different business models out there, and a variety of merchant processing service providers, there is no “one size fits all” approach to setting up a merchant account. In the end, it ultimately comes down to your individual preferences, your unique style of business, and your financial ability to pay.

 

Of course, you will need to pay for your account with a merchant processing provider. Processing transactions and transferring funds takes time, so your provider will need to be paid. For many small business owners, the cost is what makes the most difference when comparing merchant processing service providers.

 

Each provider will be different, but there are some types of fees that are fairly common between most merchant processing providers. To help you find the lowest cost for your business, make sure to ask about these specific types of fees:

 

*Monthly min and max – If you do not reach a specified minimum or maximum, you may be charged a fee.

 

*Transaction charges – With each credit card transaction that is made by a customer, you will most likely be given a fixed processing charge. If you sell a lot of items that are priced very low, it will be important for you to find a provider with a low per transaction charge.

 

*Typical monthly dues – Each month you will likely be required to pay a fixed fee that will include things like statement fee, usage, and anything else that was previously established by your provider.

 

*Discount rate – With each transaction that is made, you may be required to pay an established percentage of the total amount. On average, the discount rate falls somewhere between 2% and 3% of the total.

 

*Cost of equipment, setup, etc. – Depending on the provider you choose, and the way you plan to accept credit card payments in your business, you may need to pay for some initial setup.

 

As you compare the many different rates between providers, make sure that you keep in mind that many of these charges are actually negotiable. Although it may not always be possible, it generally doesn’t hurt to try and negotiate a better price for your merchant processing service account.

 

What Are The Options For Accepting Payments?

 

After you have found the best merchant services your business, you will need to decide how your business will actually take payments made by credit card. If your business is primarily internet based, you may want to set up an online shopping card with a virtual payment terminal.

 

If you want to be able to accept credit card payments in person, you have many options to choose from. Although there are several others, the following are some of the most common methods for accepting credit card payments:

 

*Virtual terminal – Some small businesses choose to use a virtual terminal even for a physical business environment. If you choose this method, you will need to use a computer to enter credit card information onto a virtual terminal on the internet.

*Physical credit card terminal (i.e. swipe terminal)

*Mobile terminal – This works similar to a virtual terminal, except it is based on a mobile device instead of a computer.

 

Conclusion

 

Even if you still have questions, you can still move forward with a merchant processing service account. Many providers are more than willing to answer questions and help you make the best decision for your business.

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Merchant Processing For Prospective of the Business Owners

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Financing Your Business Expansion

The process of business expansion is never a simple process. It can certainly be a daunting experience for a less experienced small business owner. Luckily there are a large number of resources a business owner has to make an expansion happen. Understanding one’s options is the key to a success expansion.

 

Types of Expansion

 

Before worrying about funding an expansion it is important to understand the possible ways you can expand your business.

 

Physical Expansion

 

If your business has been growing but you’re finding it difficult to maintain the same efficiency within a limited space it may be time to look into physical expansion. This could either mean opening a second location in order to have a new office, finding a new office for your current operations, or physical expansion of your current office to meet your new needs. It is important to understand the costs with each of these three types of expansion. Often times a new location is going to be the most expensive option, though getting rid of the original location means removing the expenses associated with running that location in the long-term.

 

Operational Expansion

 

While you may have the space to expand your operations you may lack the equipment required to do more with your business. An operational expansion focuses more on equipment and ensuring that there are individuals capable of running the equipment. This may include purchasing specialize equipment which often requires a larger financial investment in addition to hiring a new employee to manage the equipment.

 

While there are other types of expansion common for larger businesses, most small businesses do not deal with acquisitions and intellectual property.

 

Common Issues

 

Many businesses are unaware of the challenges presented by business expansion. Whether it involves funding a new location or purchasing new equipment an expansion adds another point of failure to a business in addition to financial risk and vulnerability. With more equipment comes more opportunities for something to go wrong down the line. Equipment must be properly maintained and operated in order to avoid malfunction that can result in the loss of an order or even damage to the equipment. While in most cases damage to a piece of equipment can be fixed, there are some cases where equipment simply cannot be fixed and must be replaced.

 

Some businesses attempt to expand under financial terms that make no sense due to the long-term consequences associated with the action. Unsecured business loans, for example, are often associated with an interest rate in addition to the monthly payments. While a small business loan provides a business owner with access to more capital for a temporary period, that capital must be paid back to the lender in addition to interest which adds over time. It is generally cheaper to pay back the loan faster than it is to make the minimum monthly payments.

 

Some businesses simply attempt to expand their operations too fast. If you’re able to produce more of a good for your customers but there is no audience to purchase those goods, then those goods are useless to the business at the time. It is important to understand the demand for a product or a service prior to expanding operations. Allowing the offering to fall on deaf ears generally leads to the demise of a business in the long-term.

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Financing for Your Business Expansion

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Doing Business on the go

In our current digital age the need for mobile services and business solutions has risen to a point where there are solutions for practically anything. Many business owners and representatives are looking for ways to take their business out of the office and directly to the client. In some cases owners are simply looking for ways to conduct business remotely. There are a large range of options in mobile computing and mobile services that can help businesses become mobile.

 

Mobile Storage

 

One of the most difficult aspects of working on-the-go is the lack of access to storage options. This has been a problem addressed through numerous solutions. While we are seeing an increase in mobile storage options such as the increase in SD card memory and solid state drives, there are also different applications and services which aim to provide secure document seeking. Many of these services allow for documents to be downloaded and accessed anywhere.

 

Dropbox

 

Dropbox is a common solution used by business professionals and students alike. The easy access to files over the Internet as well as the option to automatically sync documents offers users an easy-to-use way of accessing and manipulating files. For mobile users this often means downloading directly through the Dropbox mobile application rather than syncing all of the files to the device. This saves on disk space while still allowing the user to access the files provided the user has access to the Internet either through their 3G/4G connection or through a WiFi network.

 

Google Drive

 

Google Drive is another standard data syncing app provided by one of the latest technology companies around the world. Google Drive is integrated into many of Google’s other core services allowing users to have their email, storage, and other business services in a single location. The Google Drive application also lets users access their files and allows them to edit them directly from Google’s document applications. It is a highly competitive solution to what Dropbox has to offer.

 

Mobile Communication

 

While cell phones and smart phones are capable of calling and texting, there are other options for communication that most modern-era phones are capable of using.

 

Email

 

All major smartphone platforms have a feature that allows for email accounts to be added to the phone with a form of automated syncing. Users are able to have their email accounts with them at all times and can both read and reply to emails. The technology is generally compatible with any kind of email service including POP, IMAP, and Exchange servers. Major platforms usually have a built-in app for email communications while there are also third-party solutions.

 

Voice Communication

 

Many businesses are already using voice communication platforms that allow for individuals to call their team securely through an application. Applications like Skype and Lync provide solutions for voice calls and textual communication between team members without having to use the mobile phone’s plan. While these solutions use data, there are no text charges nor is there a use of minutes. This is often a money-saving approach to being able to communicate on-the-go.

 

Mobile Business

 

Many businesses need to be able to handle their normal business practices while out of the office as well. If you’re out on the field and are in need of a way to process payment for an order there are a number of mobile credit card processing solutions. Some solutions require a wireless terminal which communicates either over Wifi or through 3G/4G communications to process the payment. Others use a smart phone as the payment terminal.

 

It is also possible to connect your smart phone to customer relationship management solutions your business uses through mobile websites or dedicated applications. Since many of these solutions are specialized it is difficult to list recommendations. The best method to achieve this is to talk to your service provider about mobile access options for the recommended approach to updating and accessing your CRM solution from a cellular or mobile device.

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Maximizing Your Small Business Finances

For any small business it is a constant struggle to make ends meet, to have a constant understanding of your finances, and to be able to pull a profit month in and month out. It is a constant thought for small business owners who are well tuned to their finances. It can be hard to figure out where your finances are going and how to get the most out of your budgeting.

 

The key to a successful business is knowing where all of your money is coming from and where it is also going. Achieving this is a highly useful skill for any type of business regardless of the size, structure, or industry. It is a skill that is learned and not one that is simply understood from the start.

 

The Need for a Budget

 

To get the most out of your finances it is important to always have a budget set in mind when you’re looking through what you’re spending. If you’re a business that consumes supplies it is important to set an average budget to target to ensure you’re not spending too much to acquire those supplies. If your normal supplier of a good has raised their prices it may be a good idea to shop around to see if there is a supplier that can provide the same quality good for a lower price.

 

Many services provide different tiers of packages for what they are offering. It is important to understand each type of package and to determine which package works the best for your business without costing too much. Having a set budget for various services can help you ensure that you’re not paying for features or resources you have no means to use during the period for which you’re signed up for. One of the most common causes for going over budget is paying for resources that are not being actively used. No point in having 10 phone lines if you’re only using 3 at any given time.

 

Cash Flow

 

Inspecting your cash flow is vital to understanding your business finances at any given point in time. Knowing your revenue, your expenses, and your profit gives you a snapshot of your business and is often a key reference point when trying to determine what you can afford in the near future. This is key when searching to add a new service or a new expense to your business regardless of whether the expense is required or not. If the expense is going to cost more than you can afford at any given time then it is important to account for that by lowering expenses in a less critical area.

 

Your cash flow can be easily defined as all money moving in and out of your business. You have money coming in from selling your products and/or services as well as any money you put into the business. There is money leaving the business by the cost of providing your products and/or services as well as the bills covering rent, utility, and anything else you use. Having a list of all expenses ensures you won’t be caught off guard with a bill you weren’t expecting.

 

Financing Temporary Expenses

 

Over the course of business there may be temporary expenses that are required for the long-term operation and expansion of the business. Expenses such as furniture, computers, machinery, and real estate are considered to be investments into a business. It is important to understand how your business is going to finance these purchases. If your business doesn’t have access to the capital at the time to make these purchases there are a number of ways to make it happen.

 

Save Up

 

Just like with personal finances it may be important to set aside some extra money. In general this is a good practice to ensure that your business has funds on hand to be able to fund any last-minute expenses that may come up during the course of business. While profit is generally used to pay employees and for the benefit of the owner, it is important to also set aside some of the profit to be used in the future for expansion of the business. A business that is not growing is not likely to survive in the long term.

 

Small Business Loans

 

For smaller businesses looking to get some extra capital small business loans can be used to help supplement the operation or expansion of a business. While it is important to note that the loan will cost interest over time for repayment of the loan, a small business loan can be a great tool when expansion at a certain time is either necessary or advantageous to a given situation. If you’re able to get a great deal on real estate or an expensive machine useful to your business a small business loan is a great way to get the temporary funds to pay for the expense.

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