Improve Your Business With Credit Card Processing

Every business wants to perform.  Performance means many things including high profits, hard working employees, and satisfied customers.  Fortunately, there are simple ways businesses can improve their performance.  One way involves processing credit card with a merchant account.  Businesses who take advantage of the best card processing merchant account can easily improve their overall performance and experience many benefits.

credit card processors

Credit card processors can help your business grow.

Boost Sales

One of the biggest benefits enjoyed by businesses that use the best card processing merchant account providers is higher revenue.  This occurs for the following reasons:

  • Customers can pay with their preferred method of payment.
  • Paying with credit cards gives customers more flexibility.
  • It is uncommon for people to carry cash on hand.
  • People do not like to pay with cash, their most liquid asset.
  • Customers are more likely to spend more per transaction because they can pay with a credit card.

When a customer has an easier time paying, they are more likely to pay on time.  This allows businesses to collect their receivables in a timely fashion and it has a positive effect on the total overall sales.

Satisfy Customers

In addition to better sales, businesses are also able to satisfy their customers when they use the best credit card processing merchant account.  Customers do not like to be restricted when they are paying.  Instead, they prefer to have flexibility to pay their own way.  This is a result of increased payment options.  The days of cash only transactions are gone.  There are people who rely on their debit cards only.  Others use specific credit cards for points.  Some prefer to use the credit card with the lowest interest rate.  Since the method of payment varies from person to person, accepting all forms of payment is the best way to satisfy all customers and get paid on time.  In addition, customers also tend to feel more secure when they are paying with a credit card.  When businesses provide this security with the help of card processing merchant accounts, they have a better chance retaining their customers.

Increase Efficiency

Credit cards are also a much more efficient payment method during the point of sale.  In many cases, these cards can be processed online with the help of an error proof computer system.  This saves the business time, resources, and money.  They do not have to pay someone to process the card.  Instead, they rely on software tools to get the job done for them.  Also, for those businesses that do need cashiers, processing credit cards is also preferred.  It is a faster payment method that minimizes the transaction time and has fewer errors.  Cashiers can quickly help customers when they process credit cards, resulting in fewer lines.  The cashier is also less likely to make a mistake when they are swiping a credit card versus counting cash.  Cash has a higher tendency to be miscounted or misreported.

Easier Accounting

Another benefit from credit card processing is simplified accounting.  Many merchants provide businesses with reports on transactions.  These reports make it easy for businesses to account for their sales and performance.  Businesses do not have to wait to understand how they are performing.  Instead, they know immediately and can make better decisions to positively affect their performance.  For example, businesses can easily understand whether or not a promotion is effective.  This gives them the opportunity to make any changes to maximize their performance.

Faster Collections

Along with better accounting, businesses also notice faster collections when they can accept credit cards.  Since their customers can pay in their own way, most of them pay sooner.  This faster collection process eliminates costly collection methods.  Instead of following up on past due payments, businesses can focus their efforts on activities that make them more money.

More Options For Making Money

For many businesses, credit card processing provides more options for making money.  For example, the local boutique can open up a virtual boutique online.  The ability to process credit cards anywhere makes this possible and allows the boutique to reach more customers and generate higher revenue.  The same can be true for a self-employed lawyer who wants to make money selling legal advice.  He or she can write a book and sell it online to their current and prospective customers.  If these businesses did not have the ability to process credit cards, they would lose out on these options for making money.

Get Paid Anywhere

Furthermore, credit cards can be processed anywhere.  This not only makes it easier for customers to pay, but it also allows a business to reach all customers.  For example, many retail businesses are now utilizing floating cashiers to facilitate the needs of busy customers who do not want to wait in line.  These stores use smart phones to process credit cards and get paid on the sales floor.  This point of sale options allows the store to avoid lost business, particularly during busy store hours.  In addition to floating cashiers, businesses can use the Internet, phone, cash registers, and more to process transactions and improve their performance.

Minimize Risk

Accepting credit cards is also the best option to minimize risk during a transaction.  The following risks are eliminated with credit cards.

  • Money can be miscounted during a transaction.
  • Checks can be returned or fraudulent.
  • Money is more likely to be stolen by employees and robberies.

With a credit card, the business knows immediately if the payment is accepted.  This way they can seek an alternative payment method if necessary.  Also, credit cards allow businesses to receive money immediately and start making interest off their revenue.

Pass On Fees To Customers

Finally, many of the fees involved with accepting credit cards can easily be passed on to the customer to ensure high profits.  Some businesses pass on the fees with a price increase.  Other businesses charge transaction fees.  Either way, these simple steps allow a business to eliminate the fees that come with accepting credit cards and maintain the same profit level.

The benefits of card processing merchant account providers are obvious.  All businesses can reap the rewards of processing credit cards and improve their overall performance.




Your Guide to Business Expansion

The thought of expanding your business can be very exciting. Many businesses become stagnant and require some sort of expansion or renewal to keep their customers interested in what they have to offer. It could simply be a need to reach a new customer base or your business could be growing too fast for your current location. Whatever the reason is, business expansion is both an exciting and terrifying time for business owners.

small business loans

A small business loan can be a great way to expand your business.

Identifying a Need

Before even initiating a business expansion it is vitally important to find a need for expansion within your business. Most business owners expand their business when they are at full capacity. These businesses find themselves pushing to service all of their clients. Customers could be coming from five or more miles away to reach their location leading to a need for closer locations for their customers. A business simply doesn’t need to expand for the sake of expanding.

There are numerous reasons to expand your business:

  • Reach a New Audience
  • Reach Major Clients
  • Achieve Economies of Scale
  • Reach Your Market Niche
  • Improve Your Offerings

How to Expand?

Many business owners find they have a want or a need to expand, but the question always comes down to the actual method of expansion. If your business is stuck in a single location where it is becoming increasingly difficult to handle your current customer based, there are two potential solutions. One could either expand their current location or open another location within the same or a similar area.

A larger demand for a product or a service can lead to a requirement for expansion rather than a want. If a business cannot keep up with the demand for their product or service, it could be an opening for a competitor to steal away the spotlight by offering that much needed expansion. It therefore becomes important to seek out the opportunity for expansion and to seize the moment.

For many businesses small business startup loans and expansion loans are the way to go. Whether you’re starting up a new location, expanding your current business, or are looking to target a niche with your businesss, a small business loan is an effective way to obtain the financial resources required for business expansion. The Small Business Administration along with numerous financial institutions provide opportunities for small businesses to obtain loans to expand their horizons.

While finances are important for the expansion of a business, there is also a need to identify the best way to expand. Growing out a current location allows for the business to accommodate more guests or customers, but if there is not a workforce in place or available to assist with the expansion then the expansion is not going to work. Multiple locations can work to the advantage of a small business by reaching a larger workforce in order to accommodate more customers. In the long run business expansion into multiple locations can be financially advantageous for small businesses as it allows for multiple streams of revenue from different locations.

Expansion Management

It is very important to keep in mind the problems associated with expansion. With multiple locations comes the challenge of managing multiple locations. While the business owner may have also played the role of the store manager, the owner now becomes the business owner with multiple store managers managing the day-to-day operations of a single location. As businesses grow and expand there becomes a need for a more complex management hierarchy to ensure that every aspect of the business is running as needed.




Flexible Payments with ACH Processing

The term “ACH Processing” is something that seems to stump a lot of business owners. When most people hear ACH processing, they just assume it’s some technical jargon about accepting payments. In a way they are right.

ACH Processing is a service provided by payment processors offering them the ability to accept electronic check payments which allows merchants to offer additional payment options to their clients. ACH processing is often praised due to there being a higher standard for security and anti-fraud in ACH payments.

ACH stands for Automated Clearing House. The automated clearing house is the system put in place by the financial industry in the United States to process large volumes of payments in batches. NACHA, the National Automated Clearing House Association, has created rules and regulations governing the use of ACH within commerce. This has led to a highly secure standard for processing payments used by payment processors in the United States in every facet of both retail and online business. Without the ACH, the financial services industry would crumble.

ACH Processing

ACH Processing allows you to accept electronic checks and in many cases physical checks.

What this Means to your Business

It’s pretty simple. ACH processing provides your business with a secure payment option for your clients. Using similar methods to processing written checks, ACH processing accepts payments directly from financial institutions and processes the payment to the vendor with minimal fees. This allows your business to accept both physical and electronic checks, leading to a new horizon for customers to submit payment.

Multiple Methods of Payment

Having the ability to accept multiple forms of payment can be very valuable for businesses that have a large number of customers. Limiting a business to credit and debit transactions can cause limitations which places undue stress onto customers which can also lead to a loss of business. By introducing ACH processing, customers are now able to make their payments using check payments which in turn can make it easier for some customers which prefer to write checks rather than to pay by card or cash.

Which Vendor to Use?

It can become a daunting challenge trying to find which ACH payment provider to use. The simplest answer would be to use the same company that accepts your credit and debit payments. If you’re looking for a new provider that offers everything you need, it becomes important to scout the providers offering solutions in your area. There are both regional and national payment processors that offer both credit card and ACH processing services. It is important to note the fees and regulations of each payment processor to ensure your business will not run into any unwanted charges during your normal business routines.

Online reviews are a great way to find the providers that spend the most amount of time ensuring their merchants are happy and by extension their customers are happy. Having payment processing problems can be a deal breaker for most customers. It is important to find an ACH processing company with a strong history of merchant satisfaction with a large and active presence on the Internet. This ensures that the company you’re doing business with is well established within the financial services industry.




Using Ratings And Reviews To Select A Mobile Credit Card Machine

What are mobile credit card machines?

A credit card machine is important for a retail establishment. Being able to take credit card transactions from your customers is practically essential if you want to survive in most industries. If you make sales transactions away from your company home base or headquarters, even if it’s only a couple of miles, toting and setting up your point of sale system at each new location can be impractical and difficult. Untangling and reconnecting the cables and components, each time you set up shop can get old very fast.

mobile credit card processing

Mobile credit card processing could be your company’s saving grace.

Using wireless technology, much like cell phone technology, credit card equipment companies have developed point of sale machines that can work just about anywhere, without hooking up the equipment to cables or plugging it into an outlet. These devices are great for businesses that provide their products or services at different locations. The technology is great for professionals such as taxi drivers, landscapers, farmers’ market vendors, cleaning services, traveling sales reps, and a host of other professionals. It is also great for vendors that sell their products or services at places that electricity and wired internet access is not available, such as outdoor venues like the beach, a park, a fair, or a carnival, and more. Some business owners choose to use the best mobile credit card machine terminals, even though their sales venues are stationary, because the wireless design offers better ease of use and less clutter without the cables and cord strewn all over the sales counter.

What can you find out from mobile credit card machine reviews?

There are several categories that may be measured by a mobile credit card machine performance evaluation. These categories may include

  • Reliability
  • Speed
  • Flexibility
  • Ease of use

Users of mobile credit card machines are asked specific questions that are meant to illustrate how well the device measures up in each of the categories.

Reliability: From the best mobile credit card machine reviews, you can often find out how well a particular device works. That is, you can find out information such as

  • How long the battery charge lasts
  • How well the device stays connected to wireless networks
  • How durable the equipment is
  • If the card reader works consistently
  • If the terminal works well even under the pressure of a consistently high volume of transactions over a long or short period of time
  • Whether or not the terminal has a reputation for consistently operating as it is meant to

Speed: Mobile credit card machine reviews will generally give you a good indication of how fast the machine operates on a typical basis. This includes information such as

  • How long does it take the mobile credit card machine to approve or deny a transaction and complete the sale?
  • Is its hardware capable of using the highest available wireless communication speeds, depending on the location?

Flexibility: Flexibility is important in any tool that you use for your business. With mobile credit card machine ratings you may also be able to find out answers to the following questions about the equipment’s flexibility:

  • Does the mobile credit card machine offer the option of keying in a credit card number and transaction information if the card’s magnetic strip is scratched or otherwise damaged?
  • Does the machine offer the ability to key in a PIN, or zip code for verification?
  • Can it be used with an electrical cord if the battery is not charged?

Ease of Use: Having to take a lot of time to learn to use a new device, or teach it to your employees or sales reps is not something most business owners have the spare time for. So it is important that the device you decide to purchase is easy to learn. Mobile credit card machine reviews will usually have information about

  • How intuitive and logical the navigational design of the equipment is
  • How long it takes for most merchants become familiar with using the terminal for various processes, such as purchase transactions, batch runs, returns, etc.

How reliable are mobile credit card machine ratings and reviews?

If you want to be able to gauge the reliability of the best mobile credit card machine ratings, you need to know about the source of the ratings. Try to find out how the rating company acquires their information. If they gather their information from the credit card machine companies, the information may be less reliable than if they gather it from individual business owners. Also, you may be able to find out if the ratings company is sponsored by a particular equipment manufacturer. If it is, the ratings may be skewed in the favor of one or more manufacturers’ products.

Why should I use mobile credit card machine ratings and reviews?

Using ratings and reviews can help you select a piece of equipment that will be a good fit for your business. The machines can cost a significant amount of money, so you will want to know beforehand that you are getting a device that you will most likely be satisfied with, and will truly be worth the investment. Sometimes the best way to find out information about a product is through ratings and reviews. This is because independent users usually don’t have a connection with the manufacturing company that produced their device, and will therefore be less inhibited to supply honest and forthright information about their experiences with the devices they use. Because of this, you will be more likely to find out which machines you might want to avoid, and you can more easily trust the positive comments and ratings offered for other models.

Conclusion

Using mobile credit card machine reviews and ratings can help you find a device that will fit the needs of your business. You can find out about flexibility, easy to use, reliability, and speed of the equipment before you purchase it.  Mobile credit card machines are a great asset for sales away from the home base of your business. They can help you keep sales that you may not have been able to have without the ability to swipe a card. They normally can work anywhere that reliable cell phone services are available. The devices are useful for most retail businesses, whether they travel or not.




Solutions For Accepting Online Payments

If you’re planning to enter the online retail sales market, you will have to provide a way for your clients to pay online. Perhaps you have been operating as a “cash and check only” retail company for a while and you’re ready to move online, or maybe you are just planning to start out online with a great idea for your company. In either case, the idea of sorting through a myriad of different credit card processing companies to find the best payment gateway may seem daunting. Here is a brief overview of what a payment gateway should do, why it’s important, and how to choose the right one.

Why Get a Payment Gateway?

best online payment gateway

Finding the best online payment gateway ensures you’ll be ready to accept online payments.

Some business owners think that it’s too much of a hassle and too expensive to set up a system for accepting credit and debit card payments, either in person or online. However, the trend for most consumers is moving toward electronic payment options, and away from cash. You could be losing out on business if you don’t have a convenient way for your clients to pay.

Cash flow is one of the most important aspects of a successful business, and waiting around for a client to send you a check, or waiting for checks to clear the bank, can slow your cash flow to the point that it cripples your business. Whether you are a retail store, a business-to-business operation, or anything in between, getting timely payment from clients is critical to your long-term success.

The right payment gateway services can also enable you to set up recurring payments for clients who purchase from you on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. With a payment gateway, you know the money will be deposited in your account in a predictable, timely manner.

How Does a Payment Gateway Work?
Payment gateway solutions are a link between the business (you), the client, the client’s credit card provider, and the bank. They act as a third party to validate the client’s credit card, then ensure that the funds are available so you get paid.

Payment gateways are essential for businesses that plan to sell online because they enable you to accept credit card payments without having the card present (when your client is shopping from home). They can link to existing merchant accounts if you already have something set up to accept credit card payments in person, and they may also require an Internet merchant account if you plan to start selling online.

What are the Costs?

Some business owners avoid setting up payment gateway services because they prefer not to pay the extra fees and costs. While it is true that a payment gateway will cost money to set up and run, the best payment gateway solutions will offer affordable costs and give you the opportunity open up a whole new revenue stream for your business.

Some of the most common costs associated with payment gateway services include:

  • Discount rates: This is the commission that is charged on each credit or debit card transaction you process. It usually varies between 2-6%, and is split between your merchant account provider, payment gateway, and the credit card company. Sometimes the percentage charged can vary based on how many transactions you process, decreasing with more transactions or a higher sales volume.
  • Monthly fees: These fees may be charged to cover a wide variety of services provided by the payment gateway, from auto-billing and pre-authorized payments to fraud detection. Some companies will have a flat fee and then optional fees for additional services, while others may just charge one rate and give you all the services under that umbrella.
  • Transaction fees: This is a small charge added to each transaction when you process it. Usually it’s less than 50 cents, and in some cases depending on how much volume you process, you may be able to negotiate to have this fee reduced or waived.
  • Setup fees: When you initially set up your account, there may be some costs associated with this process. They are a one-time charge, and usually just part of the cost of doing business with a payment gateway provider.

How to Choose the Right Provider

best online payment gateway

Your team will applaud you for finding a quality online payment gateway.

There is no right answer on which processor is the best, because choosing the best payment gateway services often depend on how you plan to use it, and what kind of business you have.

A few of questions you can ask to get you started are:

(1) How many transactions do you think you will be processing each month?

(2) Do you need want to use auto-billing?

(3) What is your primary source for payments (in person, online, etc.)?

(4) What kind of added features would you like to have available through your payment gateway service? What peripheral equipment or services would you like to integrate with your payment gateway solutions?

(5) Where is your business based? Payment gateway services may have specific regulations and rules for companies accepting payments internationally.

(6) What kind of support do you need?

From there, it’s just a matter of identifying the providers that are available, reviewing the costs and fee structures, and choosing the one that seems to fit best with your business.

An Overview of Providers

Depending on where you do business, there may be other payment gateway providers, but here is a basic list of some of the most common.

PayPal

This is the original online payment gateway, and still one of the biggest. It is fairly easy to set up, and offers options for several currencies, a wide variety of upgrades depending on the size of your business, and the ability to be applicable for both very small and very large companies. It is available as just the standard PayPal, or the upgraded PayPal Website Payments Pro, and PayPal Payflow Pro.

Authorize.Net

This company specializes in working with small businesses, with a simple-to-use gateway, and relatively low prices and fees. For U.S. small businesses that want to accept checks, they also have an eCheck option, which can be useful (this may not be available internationally).

PSi Gate

This company is a Canadian payment gateway that also offers services for American transactions. They are well versed in some of the challenges of working with Canadian small businesses, and can help companies that want to be able to process in both the U.S. and its neighbor to the north.

BluePayGo!, iTransact, and First Data

These companies are full service merchant account providers, specializing in the combination of point-of-sale (POS) in-store, and online capabilities.

2Checkout.com

This company is particularly useful if you are operating in several countries and need flexibility with accepting payments from different currencies. They do not require a merchant account to get setup, so the process is quick and easy.

Google Checkout

This is also a solution for people who want easy setup and don’t need a merchant account. Payments are limited to a few Western countries at this time, but will likely expand in the future.

One final note: no matter what payment gateway you choose, be sure that you follow the guidelines to remain PCI compliant. Check the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards to ensure that you and your payment gateway solution are safeguarding sensitive client information according to the laws.

Start your search for the right payment gateway solution by identifying what you need out of your payment gateway, then you can choose the one that meets your needs and gives you the best terms, best prices, and best service.

For additional information about payment gateways, view this video:




Keeping Your Business Safe From Online Fraud

Over the last three years of struggling economy, the amount of online fraud has increased. The damage has been seen both in the numbers of fraud cases and the total amount that money lost. With many people still adversely affected by a poor economic climate, some people predict that the risk of fraud will worsen. Businesses which rely on card credit online processing systems to handle sales or purchases can protect themselves from online fraud.

credit card processing companies

Knowing how to prevent fraud in your credit card processing is vitally important.

As you work to protect your online interactions, there are a few important steps you should take in order to reduce your losses:

  • Carefully choose your card credit online processing services
  • Become aware of the methods used by online con artists
  • Learn to recognize the signs of fraud
  • Put proven fraud prevention policies into place
  • Continue to stay informed about the many different tactics used by online con artists

Consistent attention to protecting your business and your customers from online credit card fraud will result in reducing your vulnerability as a target. In the end, this will benefit your business. Customers will feel safer making their purchases through your business and may refer their friends and family to your business as well.

Enlist the Help of an Online Credit Card Processing Company

Most businesses with online services have already taken this step. It is important to realize the role that the company plays in helping you to protect your business. The best card credit online processing companies implement the same fraud-deterrent steps that you will take as a business owner. This leads to an added layer of protection for your business. The credit card processing company may also have resources and knowledge about fraud and fraud prevention that you are unaware of.

How can you tell if your credit card processing company is providing you with this protection? Whether you are currently looking for a company or have already developed a relationship with one, ask about their security measures. Find out how payments are routed and ask them to explain every step that the money makes as it transfers from one entity to another. Ask about their secure encryption and who they use for a payment gateway. Be sure that you can get clear information about the bank they use, the payment gateway they have chosen and any other parties who will have access to your customers’ money.

Stay Informed about the Tactics used by Online Con Artists

  • Using another person’s credit card to make large purchases

The convenience of easy online shopping with saved credit card information has led to a rise in the fraudulent use of stolen information. One of the main goals of these cons is to amass as much of your merchandise as possible and to do so as quickly as possible before the theft of the information is discovered.

The most common tactic here is to purchase several very expensive items or to make a lot of purchases each for expensive items.

  • Making purchases and claiming that items weren’t received
  • Ordering from one country to have it shipped to another country

The laws that are in place to protect merchants from fraud differ from one country to another. As the con artist involves multiple countries for a single transaction, you will become more vulnerable.

  • Counterfeiting credit card identities, cashier’s checks and other financial instruments

The best card credit online processing systems that you can find to handle the processing of your credit card transactions will be on the lookout for any of these scams, but you should also be aware of these tactics and implement measures to protect your customers and your business.

Recognize the Signs of Fraudulent Activities

credit card processing companies

Find different credit card processing companies that have fraud protection.

How can you recognize a fake credit card purchase or other fraudulent activities? Knowing how the con artist is trying to steal from you is the first step. Next, you must be aware of the telltale signs that the purchase isn’t right.

  • Something about the purchase just doesn’t feel right. If you are suspicious, it is worth your time to investigate the transaction.
  • Large orders for expensive items that aren’t usually purchased together
  • Many quick orders placed from one card or from the same location
  • Significant orders placed before you have begun to promote your business
  • International orders – Many businesses successfully handle international orders. However, because of the potential for financial losses, you should always treat these purchases with tighter scrutiny.
  • Insistence that payment is transacted through check or money order

Implement Preventative Practices

The best card credit online processing services will already employ many methods of protection for their own security, for yours, and for your customers’. However, the level of security that your business receives this way will naturally vary as new methods of fraud are implemented. Protecting yourself adds an additional layer of security.

  • Install anti-virus, anti-spyware, and anti-adware software.
  • Maintain your firewall and other protective services. Regularly update them.
  • Always require Verification services for credit cards, billing and shipping addresses.
  • Contact customers directly if you suspect fraudulent activity.
  • Run regular updates on all of your operating systems and browsers.
  • Clearly advise your customers of ways that they can be scammed and warn them of the ways that con artists may target them.

As you become more aware of the methods used by con artists, you will need to adapt your methods of protection. Spending some time visiting with your credit card processing provider may also allow you to tailor the preventative methods that you put into place.

Continuing Awareness of New Scams

The ongoing communications between you and your online credit card processing services are a good way for you to be aware of the new scams. Con artists are continuously working on ways to circumvent security measures or other fraud prevention methods. Most fraud prevention organizations will warn you that completely preventing fraud is probably impossible. However, the more attention you can divert to fraud prevention and the amount of research you are willing to do towards identifying new methods, the safer you will be.

In Summary

Ultimately, the best way to keep your business and customers safe is to be consistent. You will need to be aware of current fraud behaviors. You will need to constantly monitor your finances and financial interactions. You will need to enlist the help of your business partners. This continuous attention on security will pay off in reduced losses and greater trust from your customers.




Anatomy of a Small Business Loan

A small business loan is often one of the first things a new business owner researches when trying to find the funds to create their business. The process of researching, finding, and applying for small business loans can be time consuming and difficult. There are a lot of resources available to provide businesses with the ability to apply for loans, but there is usually a lot of paperwork involved.

The U.S. Small Business Administration has put together a valuable resource regarding a variety of different loan programs which small business owners may qualify for. It is important to understand what each of these loans are for and how they affect your business.

small business loans

A small business loan can provide you with the needed funds for expansion.

General Small Business Loans

The SBA has crafted the 7(a) general small business loan for businesses looking for a general loan. These funds are provided to businesses under the assumption they are going to be used for establishing a new business or for acquiring and running an existing business during times of expansion. These loans can be obtained through qualified lenders and can be negotiated through the use of the 7(a) loan application checklist. At the end of the day each financial institution may have different policies in regards to their loan programs, but the SBA has created a standard to ensure that the process for applying for a small business loan is simple and easy.

Microloans

Microloans are programs designed for businesses with a short-term financial need rather than a long term loan. This loan is aimed towards small businesses and not-for-profit centers for childcare in order to help them expand. According to the SBA, the average microloan is for around $13,000 USD. Each financial institution will have its own requirements and policies in regards to who is eligible for this loan and the payment terms. These loans are used for working capital, inventory expansion, furniture purchases, and machinery or equipment. These loans cannot be used to pay off debts or purchase real estate.

CDC/504 Loan Program

The CDC/504 loan program is for businesses looking to finance major fixed assets including real estate and machinery required for business operation and expansion. These types of loans are meant specific for businesses who have an immediate need for real estate or machinery for the operation of their business and have numerous requirements that a company must meet before being eligible including being a for-profit business and having proof of the cash flow required to pay back the loan.

Disaster Business Loans

While not specifically targeted small business, the SBA disaster loan focuses on helping those in need during natural disaster. These loans are low-interest loans meant to help business owners, renters, and homeowners in the process of replacing their damaged and destroyed real estate, personal property, machinery, and equipment. The loan can also be used to replace damaged or missing inventory and commercial assets due to the disaster. In order for someone to be eligible for this loan, they must be affected by a legally recognized disaster.

Once you understand the different types of loans and the requirements of each loan, you can take the time to figure out whether the loan makes sense to your business and determine the amount required for expansion or to help re-establish your business after a disaster. These loans are provided through financial institutions around the United States and are focused towards businesses operating in the United States. As a result, businesses outside of the United States cannot be eligible for these loans.

It is important to obtain information from two or more financial institutions to best understand your options, the costs associated with the loans, and which provides you with the most flexible payment terms in case things become a little more rough than expected.




Merchant Cash Advance: The Growing Business Lifeline

If you’re like me you’re always skeptical of anything in this world. Business finances can be very difficult to manage and balance. When it comes to business growth the idea of taking out a loan can be very scary. You’re never really sure if something is going to work out. It comes down to taking a calculated risk based on your past experiences within the industry.

merchant cash advance

Use a merchant cash advance to help improve your revenue over time.

There is a growing misconception amongst business owners that end up leaning them more towards taking a loan from a bank rather than looking for alternatives to finance the growth and expansion of their business. When it comes to purchasing inventory, hiring new employees, and finding additional locations or even adding onto a current location, a merchant cash advance is a strong option to take. It is also much different from taking out a bank loan.

Business Loan vs. Merchant Cash Advance

There is a large difference between a loan given by a financial institution and a merchant cash advance given out by a cash advance company. A loan is usually a secured loan which means putting up assets to cover the value of the business loan being given. If you have trouble paying back the loan in time the bank can decide to start seizing assets based on the assets that were put up for the loan.

A merchant cash advance, however, is based on your history of credit card sales and the future sales that are usually already secured. For many companies, there is a minimum amount of revenue that comes from their credit card sales. This can be verified by a credit card processing company based on two years worth of information. For merchant cash advance, the cash advance company will provide you with an advance based on the amount of credit card sales your company is making either on a monthly or some other basis.

The merchant cash advance company is simply buying the rights to future credit card sales for a period of time in order to equal the amount borrowed plus the agreed upon interest or fee. This means that there is a stronger trust of being able to pay back the cash advance since the cash advance is based on the real sales information from your company.

Due to the nature of the agreement an unsecured business loan provided in these terms is usually a safer route than that of a business loan from a financial institute. Your business is able to prove the ability to pay back the cash advance while also receiving the funds in a relatively short amount of time. There is less paperwork and time involved to get the loan. This makes it faster to grow and expand your business while allowing you to spend your time focused on improving the business using the funds received.

For additional information about merchant cash advances, view the video below.




Selecting Your Merchant Service From The Thousands

Let’s face it. Since the invention of the internet there are a lot of online businesses that appear overnight. It seems every single day thousands of different domains are registered and thousands are being cancelled. New businesses start up, waste money, and fail constantly. This is no different within the financial services sector. There are thousands of companies that all claim to be merchant services. They all claim 24/7 technical support. What is the best way to decide on a merchant service?

It all comes down to research.

Merchant Services Equipment

It is important to define which merchant services have the equipment you need.

Getting Started

If you’re like me, you at some point decided that you needed to accept credit cards. You were either starting up a small business or you had come to a point where cash just isn’t working for you anymore. Perhaps your current merchant service just isn’t cutting it anymore. Regardless of the reason, there comes a time where you have to find a provider. You want someone dependable.

You should clearly define what it is that you want. Are you looking to accept Visa and Mastercard? Do your clients often have an American Express card? What about Discover? If you can identify who your buyers are and what their financial situations are, it can become possible to find the best possible merchant service based on that assessment.

Do you need to be able to accept payments in check? Do you take phone orders? What about using an online terminal? Every single part of your need scenario should be clearly defined. Write it out.

The Hunt

Once you have defined precise what you need, the next step is to start looking at different merchant services. If you’re a small physical business the best bet may be to find someone local to you. One idea may be to hit up the yellow pages while another may be to go searching on Google Maps. The best option is to identify your three key sources of information and identify 3-5 providers from each. You may have some overlap, but this way you can find merchant services that serve your area and are actively advertising themselves. This ensures that these companies understand their own audience and are therefore more likely to be successful in their own business. You don’t want to be using a payment processor that goes out of business two years later when you really need them.

The Comparison

Once you have a set of merchant services, you then need to make sure that each different vendor has exactly what you’re looking for. If the provider doesn’t offer check processing when you need to be able to accept checks, it makes more sense to find someone who accepts checks rather than hiring two companies to fit the bill. Once you have narrowed this down based on your needs, you’re now ready to start doing some research.

Online Reviews

One of the greatest benefits of having access to the Internet in this day and age is the ability to view online resources. There are many review websites that discuss merchant services and credit card processing in general. This gives you a large array of resources. The problem comes down to narrowing down your resources. It really comes down to looking up each company in your search engine of choice and viewing what kinds of results come up. If the company you’re searching for has a lot of negative comments, that could be a very large red flag.

Keep in mind that all large-scale operations are going to have a negative comment or two. In some cases, it could simply be a competitor writing a negative review to try to make their competition look just as bad as they are. Look for reviews that seem to be honestly written by someone using those services. If you’re truly curious about whether the review is legitimate or not, contacting that individual or business may be the best way to validate the experience.

The Contact

Merchant Services

Don’t be afraid to give merchant services a call.

By now you should have a clear idea of which merchant services provide their merchants with a positive experience and which have made their merchants scream in agony. Now would be a great time to give them a call. Never be shy to ask them the simple questions about their rates, their policies, and the amount of time it would take to set up their solution.

If you’re still not sure about what kind of merchant service you would need, this video should provide some additional insight:




A Book Shop Owner’s Guide to Small Business Loans

Since I was a child I had an obsession with opening up my own book store. I had frequented a small shop down town which specialized in books for young adults. While it was moderately successful, there eventually came a time when the book store was replaced with something else.

Small Business Loans

A correctly run book store requires a small business loan to set up.

Nearly four years ago I decided to set out on starting my own book store. Needless to say it was one of the most difficult times of my life. While I had a college background in literature, I had very little experience with the business and financial side of book and magazine sales. Despite the challenges I knew I would have to endure, I ventured out to get my very first financial loan to start the business.

During the first three years of the business I have learned a lot. I feel that small business owners often overlook just how complex of an issue a small business loan really is for the well being of their start up. Even in businesses where a product or service is in high demand, it can be difficult to turn a profit. There are a large variety of reasons for a business to fail, and for a book store the main reason always seemed to be a lack of interest in the books being sold.

In this day and age, digital sales of books and magazines is on the rise. Having learned this really quick, I set out to create a book store that would not only offer customers the types of books they are interested in, but I also created an environment where they would want to stay.

For those looking to get a small business loan for their start up, the most important thing to figure out from the very start is what sets your idea aside from the competition. You need to have an original idea that you believe has a very strong chance to succeed and then build a business plan around that model. Before even applying for a small business loan, it is absolutely vital that you know exactly how you’re planning on using the money, how you intend to market your business, and how you attempt to make enough money to keep the business afloat, pay expenses, employees, and pay back the loan from the lender.

A Solid Business Plan

For my book store, the business plan was both simple and extensive. I had a layout planned for the store that made finding the right type of book very simple. Each section would be clearly labelled with signs hanging from the ceiling and notes that would guide shoppers to specific sections for their particular interest. I outlined every single aspect of the organization of the store, my plans for accepting payment, and how I intended to use the funds when received.

Most often financial institutions will do the usual credit check and ask some basic questions about the intended use of the funds they lend to you. In addition, they always ask new business and even operating businesses for a business plan in addition to a financial plan on how they intend to use and pay back the funds. Having this information readily available and organized increases your chance of being accepted for the loan and can even create a sense of security for the lender in providing your loan. No financial institution is going to lend a small business funds if they don’t honestly believe the business can succeed.

Legal Documentation

Additionally you’ll need to provide the institution the legal documents that prove you’re legally licensed to run the business. It is vitally important to have a legally licensed business especially if the intention is to have employees helping to run the business. There are plenty of state and federal licenses that may be required to be obtained before you can open up shop. Doing the research beforehand and having the correct licenses improves your chance that the financial institution is going to be willing to lend the funds. They want to find serious and dedicated business owners to lend their funds to.

With all of this information I was able to obtain my very first small business loan which allowed me to finally build and furnish my book store. Armed with the knowledge of literature and my experiences in many bookstores I have been running my business successfully all thanks to that initial loan making it possible to obtain all of the book shelves, electronic equipment, and accommodations for my guests to make my book store a welcoming place. Small business loans are a great way for a new business to get started.