5 Things Retailers and Small Businesses Should Do This New Year (2016)

5 Things Retailers and Small Businesses Should Do This New Year (2016)

New Year celebrations are incomplete without a long, inspiring list of resolutions. As an individual, you might have already written them down on a piece of paper and posted it on your fridge. But as the owner of a small business, it is equally important to jot down a multitude of tasks you wish to accomplish in the next 12 months.

Why?

Because all successful businesses—small or big—thrive on improvement and what’s better than the New Year to take a fresh spin on the way forward of your small business?

Ones to payments 1 - Jan

Adding to this thought, here are 5 inspiring resolutions that can help your small business achieve absolute success in 2016:

1. Invest In Your Employees

Each year, your company hires a multitude of people from different fields and demographic backgrounds—who work on a range of projects in the firm. In short, employees form the backbone of your small business.

Therefore, it is necessary to speak to them periodically to get to know their thoughts and opinions. Issue a survey to all the employees asking them about how you can help them be more efficient and how the business can up its game. Adjust your efforts to not only mentor them but also provide them job satisfaction.

In addition to this, send them to conferences and seminars to help them grow professionally. Leverage their hidden talents and enable them to take more responsibilities that will not only benefit the business but also them.

2. Strengthen Your Formal Partnerships

As a small business owner, you must think from a 360 degree point of view. While investing in employees is important, you must also be open and communicative with the organizations you partner with, such as your vendors.

When was the last time you had a face-to-face meeting or a telephonic conversation with one of your important alliances? If you are taking more than a second to think of a name, then you should certainly focus on maintaining these integral relationships.

After all, it’s nice to put a face to the people who are making things happen for your organization.

3. Focus More On Customer Experience Than Sales

Customers and sales are two sides of the same coin in a business. While sales are important for a business to produce profits and thrive, expanding the customer base is immensely critical as well.

Today, companies are taking the route of customer experience to distinguish their brands due to increased competition. The thing is when a customer makes a purchase with your business, (s)he wants to feel in a certain way.

This is the reason why your small business must come up with different ways to enhance the customer experience. This can be through gift vouchers, after-sales service or free installation assistance among others.

4. Give Back to Your Community

As the owner of a small business, you must follow the simple rule of not only “selling” but also “giving back” sometimes. If your customer base and community don’t know what your business’ mission is, they are less likely to shop from you.

Therefore, make a generous donation, sponsor a small event, hold a contest to engage the customers or collaborate with and cross-promote small businesses—there are many powerful ways through which you can give back to your community effectively.

By doing this, you will connect with the community on a far more personal level that will certainly benefit your business in the long run.

5. Secure Your Payment Transactions From Fraud

As the owner of a small business, have you asked yourself this question: “Are my customers comfortable making payments to my company? Am I offering them the right payment method?” It is good that you are raising questions on the payment mode; given that not everyone carries cash all the time.

Hence, offering a secure payment method makes the customers more confident about making payments with cards and also gives them the assurance of the fact that their money is not being associated with wrong things.

Onesto Payments, for instance, solve payments and POS challenges for small businesses. With absolutely no risk of being cheated on by technology providers, Onesto not only equips the businesses with the best but also shares knowledgeable information to keep them updated.

Lastly, learn to take time off this year. It is true that as the owner, you don’t get time to relax. But by taking time to rejuvenate, you are only going to focus better and work harder—which will ultimately help you run a more successful small business. Let the New Year inspire you to not only revolutionize your business but your own work ethics.

5 Ways To Give Back To Your Customers This Holiday Season

5 Ways To Give Back To Your Customers This Holiday Season

Your customers play a big role in the success of your small business. From expanding your brand’s visibility to magnifying your company’s revenues – customers have a hand in everything. As the owner of a small business, you must follow the simple rule of not only “selling” but also “giving back” sometimes.

5 Ways To Give Back To Your Customers This Holiday Season

This practice does most certainly establish a vested interest between your brand and the customers – as this will give you the opportunity to truly appreciate them. And what’s better than the holiday season to “give back” and show some gratitude? Here are a few ways to get started right now:

1. Make a donation

Donating a percentage of your business’ profits is an effective way to “give back” to the customer base. How? Well, you can choose a charitable organization or NGO that holds significance to you or to your family. It can even be an association that your business as a whole believes in.

92% of people want to buy products from businesses that support a cause.

(Cone Study)

To start spreading awareness about the same, you can drop an email to the customers—sharing what you’re doing this holiday. Give them proper context and reasons for taking this noble step. Try to strike an emotional chord with them. They will definitely appreciate this charitable activity of the business and even talk about it in their circles.

2. Sponsor an event

Sponsor a local marathon of the city/town, a school sports event or simply a small promotional event where people get the chance to interact with you. This is a great way to increase brand visibility. Identify what kinds of events or interactions your audience likes and go for it!

The truth is that this arrangement works for the other party too—as this will fuel their noble motives financially! If you see the bigger picture, such associations make the customers feel that your business is going beyond the mainstream business events to engage with them.

3. Throw a get-together

Because, why not? When most festivals are celebrated within all organizations, your small business should think out of the box too. Throw a get-together for your employees and customers! This activity is exciting and will create a buzz within the customer base as they get to see who is working on what behind-the-scenes.

Send invites via e-mails or social media. Plan and execute a campaign on digital platforms  to create hype and engage customers from the beginning. For the party, you can order some snacks, serve mocktails and give out goodie bags to all the attendees. Everyone likes to socialize and receive return gifts—no matter how big or small the gifts are.

4. Hold a contest for the customers

Ask your employees to host contests on both offline and online platforms for the customers. Keep a prize for not only the winner(s) but also give out small vouchers to those who participate in them. This encourages massive participation and engagement.

In addition to this, you will gain lots of traction (and support) from your customers. The thing is—it is the holiday season and everyone is in a celebratory, festive spirit. Such activities will only spread more cheer amongst them and give your small business ‘positive results’.

5. Collaborate and cross-promote local businesses

Why not collaborate with another small business for a campaign or an event? This way their customer base will also gain visibility of your brand and vice versa. Go for a local business that compliments what you offer and does not sell products/services that are similar to yours.

Nothing works better than cross-networking. Your brand will get more exposure in lieu of some exposure that you get for the other business.  In addition to this, your business can then open up in different markets and understand diversified needs that you can make a part of your offerings.

6. Ensure a secure mode of payment to customers

As a small business owner, it is your responsibility to make sure customers are comfortable making payments to you. After all, not everyone is carrying cash at all times. Offering a secure payment method removes the hesitancy of making payments with cards and gives them an assurance that their money is not going to be associated with wrong things.

Now given the fact that most small businesses aren’t aware of such payment solutions, we at Onesto solve payments and POS challenges for them. With absolutely no risk of being cheated on by technology providers, we not only equip you with the best but also share knowledgable information to keep you updated.

Successful businesses are rewarded for making the effort to “give back” to the community. Charitable acts, social activities and casual events or simply making their customers feel comfortable with the entire purchase cycle—making your intention to sell “subtle” during the holiday season is the key to giving a boost to your business!

How To Create Customer Loyalty For Your Small Business

How To Create Customer Loyalty For Your Small Business

It’s a fact: Your small business won’t survive without repeat customers. The key to a thriving business—big or small—is a steady and a loyal customer base. Did you know that selling your product or service to existing customers is easier and cost-effective? In fact, if your sales strategy is solid enough, your customers will not only buy from you more frequently but also recommend your brand to others.

Yes, it is important to keep on expanding your customer base; however at the same time, it is essential to the core to have good relations with customers who have used your product or services before. Whether it is an immediate follow-up with the customer after a sale or a simple e-mail thanking him or her, there are numerous ways to build strong customer loyalty.

Read on:

1. Provide Excellent Customer Service

Your customer has taken the pains of selecting and buying the product from you. Don’t let him or her regret that decision. Allow the customer to revel in happiness post sales. How can you ensure this? By going the extra mile and providing after-sales service.

Lend your ears to their complaints and grievances. By doing this, the customers give your business an opportunity to rectify the problems and improve your service. So be accessible, open and cordial. Customers always like to be treated well.

2. Provide Incentives & Treats

The best way to ensure your customers come back to you is by offering them incentives. Options such as “Buy two, get one free”, “shopper points”, “small discounts” and “complementary gift cards” often create maximum hype amongst the customers. Who wouldn’t mind a surprise discount or a gift card? No one!

In order to make this strategy a success, all you have to do is bring your marketing efforts in sync with your target audience. You can make use of this incentive program effectively to boost your small business during a slow season or to promote a new product or service.

3. Promote Product Awareness

In this time and age, all businesses shouldn’t leave any stone unturned to promote their new product or service. This is an extremely crucial step in the supremely aggressive market. Start a digital campaign—opt for an appropriate social media channel and revamp your e-mail marketing strategy. Your customer base will take time off and listen to what you have got to say. But you need to have an impactful scheme to begin with.

From an employee’s point of view, make sure your staff is trained and understands the product or service. They need to be convinced with what their company is selling in the market. If they are clueless or don’t have clarity, the employees will not be able to convey the same to the customers. They should have knowledge about the history of the company, the on-going discounts and post-sales services available.

Your traditional form of selling should be bang on!

4. Be Flexible with Customer Policies

Every customer is unique—and has a unique set of preferences, expectations and complaints. Your small business should be able to deal with each customer accordingly. No matter what the circumstance is, do everything in your power to resolve that complaint. Don’t assume the gravity of the situation; instead make proper efforts to view things from the customer’s perspective.

If you show that you really care and want to make the customer happy—your chances of retaining him or her automatically go up. Avoid saying phrases such as “That’s our policy”, “Sorry but that’s what it is” and “We can’t help you on this”. It would just piss off the customer badly.

5. Remember The Special Occasions

Make it a practice to send birthday and anniversary cards (hard copy or online), personalized newsletters and fancy yet inexpensive holiday cards to your existing customer base! Don’t spend a fortune on demonstrating the fact you care as a small business.

But the truth is the little things do matter to people—no matter how digitized the whole world has become. It’s the personal touch that makes an impact on the customers. So don’t be afraid to use dollops of creativity to come up with exciting gifting options. Don’t take it as a task that you ‘have’ to do. Think of it as a customer base-bonding activity that will fetch you greater revenues (and support) in the future.

6. Make your payment modes reliable

More often than not, customers don’t complete their purchases. The reason being they didn’t feel the payment modes were reliable enough, or thought they didn’t match those offered by bigger industries.

But the challenge is, that many small businesses are misled or misinformed by the payment processing companies. The reason being their lack of knowledge and not being able to understand their processing statements. This only results in business losses and reduced customer loyalty. Look for an honest payments and POS processing company, and ask them to guide you through the process instead of taking a chance.

Remember: A customer is the king of the market. Whether your business is thriving or has just started, you have to walk the extra mile to make sure your customers are genuinely satisfied with your brand. Whether it is a service you offer or a product you put up on sale—make sure the whole shopping experience is so empowering—that the customers keep coming back to you!

5 Tips For Small Business Marketing On A Budget

5 Tips For Small Business Marketing On A Budget

For giant corporations, a huge monthly budget for undertaking marketing and advertising activities is a no-biggie. But for small, upcoming businesses – no matter how aspirational they may be, every penny counts and investments need to turn fruitful with an impressive marketing ROI.

Therefore when your small business has a non-existent marketing budget, you are involuntarily pushed to think of clever yet effective ways to make things work.

Fortunately, we have 5 smart tips for small business marketing that are guaranteed to give the desired results:

1. Strengthen Your E-Mail Marketing Strategy

Thinking of building an e-mail list but haven’t had the time to get down to it? Well, don’t waste time! Opt for ‘free’ e-mail solutions such as MailChimp and Benchmark and start shooting out daily e-mails. Use your contact list to spread awareness about the services of your business, company vision, growth & expansion plans, etc.

This little exercise will help you build up your authority in the industrial (and consumer) community. Email marketing is of a lot of importance for start-ups. Did you know that for small businesses, this is the fastest way to secure highest return on the money invested? That is indirectly because most potential consumers or active service users browse through their e-mails for brand communication.

They will not be happy to receive a text on their phones. But they will wholeheartedly welcome the idea of communicating through ‘e-mails’ with their favourite brands. So yes, start with e-mails to see your small business grow!

2. Research, Research & Research 

Spending time to research your target customers now is going to provide you maximum benefits in the future. This inexpensive activity will help you focus your marketing efforts on a specific buying behavior. Your next step of action can be easily determined if you have enough data, figures and case studies to leverage it on.

In addition to this, study what your competitors are doing. If you invest time in analyzing the competitive field, you will come across their spots of weaknesses along with loopholes in their way of functioning—this is where you can smartly learn from their mistakes and even help your small business flourish!

3. Strengthen Your Informal Partnerships

Your small business has to think from a 360 degree point of view. First of all, it is essential to have strong in-house teams that are dynamic, open to change and extremely communicative within themselves. However, at the same time, it is important for them to connect with teams of other businesses as well.

This team-bonding exercise will not only help your business market themselves in the community on a human level but also help you build humungous contact bases. By sharing contacts and forming alliances with other small business owners, your target markets will overlap each other and in turn, expand your brand awareness in the market. You will be able to grow your business sooner than you realize.

4. A Public Relation Strategy Is Important 

Connections with the media is important. The power media holds in terms of making or breaking a business is unparalleled and shouldn’t be taken lightly. With a scanty marketing plan, you can’t (and should not) invest in advertorials or buying feature stories in magazines or newspapers.

The key to a successful brand image in the media is by taking baby steps. Therefore, start with press releases. They certainly offer an easy to promote your business across all platforms of media. Drafting a press release is a cakewalk. All you have to do is make a point strong (and exciting enough) for the journalists to pick up.

The editorial guidelines are simple and clear. With the help of major new distribution websites such as PRLog and Press News Wire, you can get all your press releases circulated digitally and without any cost! Press releases offer an easy way to boost your brand’s online visibility—something that’s the need of the hour.

In addition to this, you can make a cold call to relevant newspapers or shoot e-mails to their common contact data to pitch a story with significant facts and figures. There’s nothing better than media to market your small business.

5. A Consistent Social Media Presence

You don’t have to do paid social media marketing to gain likes, hearts or favorites across all social media channels. If you plan your daily activities on social media well and circulate good content across them regularly—people will definitely notice your brand.

In this time and age, forgetting the power of social media is foolishness as it is popular, cheap and even free. So make the most out of it!

Remember, all successful businesses didn’t have money from the beginning. It took them years and years of hard work, grit and determination to reach great heights. So if, as a small business owner, you are willingly to play smart—you can definitely not only market your brand within the budget but also stick to it with ease.

10 Free Small Business Planning Resources

10 Free Small Business Planning Resources

Planning to start your own business is both exciting and overwhelming. While you know exactly what your business wants to address, you don’t really know where to begin. You need to be careful about your money and the resources you invest in to set shop.

So here are 10 free small business planning resources available online, that will guide you through the process of planning your business to setting it up effectively:

1. The Small Business Association (SBA)

If you’re still drafting a business plan, SBA’s create your business plan section is where you should head to. This section will walk you through each section of planning a business – telling you what to include and what will make you stand out in the competition.

2. SCORE

SCORE’s business plan section is another fantastic planning resource that is loaded with free online workshops and podcasts that guide you through the initial phases till the end. They also offer free mentoring in person and via emails.

3. Onesto EMV Payments Guide

If you want to set up a successful small business, you just can’t ignore EMV payment methods that are going to be implemented for all credit cards. To understand everything about this payment method, you can view our guidehere.

4. Startup Planner

Entrepreneurs often have more than one idea for their business, but often face a problem in articulating it. Navarro College Small Business Development Center in Texas recognised this issue and offers a free business startup planning questionnaire that allows you to put forward your ideas in words.

5. Entrepreneur.com

Entrepreneur offers a business planning resource that is loaded with business planning guidelines, checklists, forms, templates and models. In fact the platform also links you to related categories that are important for setting up a business – marketing forms and templates, entrepreneurship tips and finance management.

6. Business USA

The start a business wizard offered by Business USA is an online tool that asks you a variety of questions like your inventions, plans on opening a venture, thoughts on acquiring an existing business, etc. Based on your answers the tool then prepares a sample action plan with the necessary steps you need to take to set shop and the local resources that will be available to you based on your ZIP code.

7. Microsoft Office

The Microsoft Office site offers a gallery of templates, including business plan checklists, financial managers, presentation layouts and marketing planners. These templates are helpful if you want to keep everything in your business plan highly organised right from the beginning. It also offers a presentation template that is highly optimized for showcasing your business plans to potential investors.

8. VFinance

A publicly traded company, VFinance uses their personal investment knowledge in creating a business plan template for small businesses. It allows you to download a free business plan that is targeted at the industry you’re focusing on with $75 towards 3 months of professional posting of your business plan for potential investors.

9. BizGym

BizGym is an online business planner that allows you to fill out a planning template on-site section wise. It then tracks your progress and enables sharing of the plan once completed. It offers a collaborative platform with multiple pricing options, including a free plan called ‘inventor’. You can simply apply to gain access to resources such as deck builder, budget builder and pivot planning.

10. BPlans

BPlans offers a free, basic business plan template for download. This template includes an organized guideline to creating a business plan, and takes you step-by-step towards being investor ready and SBA approved.

Know of any other resources that has been helpful to you in business planning? Feel free to add to this list by dropping a comment in the box below!

5 Ways Small Businesses Can Use Pinterest And Instagram For Sales

5 Ways Small Businesses Can Use Pinterest And Instagram For Sales

An effective social media strategy plays an important role in our digitally-driven world. As a small business owner, social media is extremely useful for you. From building brand value to gaining customer loyalty—there are various benefits of being on top in the social media game.

While Facebook and Twitter have already secured a spot for driving traffic and increasing sales, the use of Pinterest (73+ million users) and Instagram (300+ million users) for the same has also seen a phenomenal rise in recent times.

pinterest and instagram for small businesses

Let us take a look at how you, as a small business owner, can use these “visual” social platforms to increase sales:

1. Reaching Out And Engaging Customers

Use both platforms to spread awareness among targeted customers about the product or service your business offers. Pinterest and Instagram allow the users to scroll through the timeline and pin boards and find all images under one umbrella with a simple hashtag.

This means that they can upload a picture of your product on Instagram and/or create a separate pin board of engaging images on Pinterest. This improved customer engagement on a personal basis is a powerful medium to create conversions on your company website.

2. Helping In Creating A Brand

As a small business owner, you must implement a proper marketing strategy on social platforms to create an online brand image. And, what more can represent a clear brand image than a photograph? Therefore, pick those creatives for your Pinterest and Instagram accounts that actually connect with the product or service of your business.

On Pinterest, particularly, go for thematic boards or How-To guides. Stick to a format and experiment with the visual content. If you have the financial bandwidth, you can even post short clips on Instagram to increase recall value among customers. If you can create a wonderful impression among the social media savvy users, you get the sales!

3. Make ‘Buying & Selling’ Possible

Although a recent development, Pinterest and Instagram now have a revenue button on their platforms. This, by the way, is of great significance for small business owners. On Pinterest, this button is in the form of a ‘buyable pin’ and is seen right next to the regular pins that are used by users to create customized boards.

If you click this button, you are redirected to the checkout where you can make the purchase. On the other hand, if you want to sell your product or service on Instagram, you will have to actually contact the team to get a ‘Shop Now’ button on your profile.

4. Encourage The Customers To Visit Your Website

The best way to increase conversion rates is to direct the customer base to the website. Whether you do it through social posts, newsletters or consumer forums—it is extremely important for you to gain maximum traction on the website.

While you can have the website link on all your prominent social networking profiles, there’s adequate space for you to experiment with this on Pinterest and Instagram. Have you ever noticed the ‘Location’ tag whenever you upload an Instagram post? Well, you can use that to insert the URL of the website, rather than the location itself!

On Pinterest, you can actually insert the link (redirecting to your company website) in the pin itself. The only catch is that links are actually clickable on this social platform, as compared to Instagram where they would appear as text. If the original URL is too long, create a short link that can go up on Instagram.

5. Focus On The Needs And Behaviour Of Target Market

The content uploaded and shared on Pinterest and Instagram is controlled by the users. What they want to see on their timeline or what they want to pin is totally their prerogative. Hence, you have to understand the behaviour of the customer base.

That is possible once your brand gets a few buyable posts on Pinterest and Instagram. Then you will be able to narrow your focus even more on exactly who is interested in your product or service. For instance, Instagram will soon integrate its new feature with Facebook Ads.

This means that small business owners will be able to sell with heightened interest and waste less in their marketing and advertising budgets.

It’s safe to say that both Pinterest and Instagram have evolved as social platforms. Pinning photos mindlessly or uploading selfies—that’s not what everyone does on those platforms anymore.

In other words, they are not just restricted to casual networking but have grown to be of huge help to small businesses.

Small Business Marketing Tips To Help You Stand Out

Small Business Marketing Tips To Help You Stand Out

Are you in the process of starting your own business? Or, do you run a small-scale business? If your answer to either of the two questions is a ‘yes’, it’s important that you read this. The journey to making a business successful is certainly tough. There is a palpable need to get noticed and be taken seriously within the community and by target consumers and of course, get lots of opportunities to develop and thrive.

Fortunately today, this issue can be resolved not only through offline mediums but also online platforms. As a businessperson, you have to be skilled at providing answers to several questions like these in a jiffy – “Who are you? What services does your business offer? What does your company represent?”

Ones to payment 3

And, this is why it is necessary to take note of the marketing aspect of your business from the beginning. To help you get started, here’s an indispensable list of small business marketing tips that will help your business stand out everywhere:

ONLINE

1. Pick An Appropriate Social Media Platform

Firstly, your business doesn’t have to be exist on those social media platforms that are not only irrelevant but also hard to keep up with. Don’t confuse yourself, your clients and consumers with an armful of social media accounts that you are not able to manage properly.

Depending on your business’ industry and target market, select specific mediums. Usually, Facebook & Twitter are most preferred platforms on social media by any business to gain maximum traction. Therefore, always make sure that these two accounts are maintained with utmost professionalism.

2. Give Your Blog/Website A Makeover

Having a powerful online presence of the business has its own set of advantages. In fact, it is a necessity for any small-scale business. You have the liberty to not only promote your services but also showcase business achievements and display contact details in whichever you want. Having a blog or website increases the value of your business in front of potential clients manifold. Therefore, make sure you work relentlessly on the website/blog regularly.

3. Connect, Communicate & Flourish

Your website/blog is live. The wheels of your social media strategy have been set in motion. What’s the next eventual step? Networking. As a businessperson, you must join online professional communities (on LinkedIn/Facebook/Twitter) to not only acquaint yourself with the latest trends in your industry but also connect with fellow competitors, potential clients and business associates. This is important to let other businesses and industry-people take notice of your small business and its services.

4. Respond To Online Feedback & Queries

The essence of online marketing is lost if it is only one-way. This means that publishing a website or a blog and starting social media accounts isn’t enough. It’s important to respond to customer or industry queries, complaints and feedback in order to transform into a powerful brand. This is impossible if you choose to keep mum online!

Whether it is a small tweet or Facebook post regarding a new service or a comment published on a community forum, learn to give polite and prompt responses. Even a tiny online footprint would help your brand expand exponentially.

OFFLINE

1. Word Of Mouth Works

This is, at times, the greatest lead generator for a small business. Therefore, offering quality products and excellent services that people can’t stop talking about is critical. Even if you are the most outgoing and smart small business owner, your brand is not going to retain consumers or grab eyeballs of potential clients unless it not only delivers but also exceeds expectations. The key to trigger positive words of mouth is to keep refining the brand. This process may cost lots of money and time but it will definitely fetch results in the long run.

2. Provide Promo Offers To First-Time Consumers

Offering promo offers to first-time app or website users is the latest marketing gig. Needless to say, it has proved to be quite useful in engaging customers and get them start talking about the services your company provides. Most Food & Beverage startups and cab service providers have done well for themselves using promo offers.

3. Organize/ Host Small-Scale Events

Open a kiosk at a mall on a weekend or participate in a trading event—there are so many ways to help your business be visible. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend lots of money to do this. In fact, many successful small businesses thrive on offline community building through partaking in local events, charities and fundraisers and organizing 2-day workshops, collaborative fests and tea parties to name a few. This will allow your customers to know about you and your brand on a physical level.

Brainstorm, plan and execute – if you want to stay in the business and grow. Creating the perfect brand (both online and offline) is not achievable without putting continuous efforts. There is no need to rush. Start with baby steps and you will eventually get there.

The EMV Liability Shift Checklist For Small Businesses

The EMV Liability Shift Checklist For Small Businesses

Running a small business efficiently is a tough job. But becoming liable for credit card frauds that might occur during business makes the going a lot more tougher. As the EMV chip cards come to the United States, it is time to prepare yourself for small changes that will only reduce fraud and boost your customer confidence at the point of sale.

EMV checklist for small businesses

Here’s your 4 step EMV liability shift checklist that you must get started with right away:

1. Educate yourself

With the US liability shift getting introduced, small businesses that are generally unprepared will face the risk of scams. The best way to protect yourself and your business from this is to understand how the EMV chip card technology works, stay up-to-date with US liability shift policies and know exactly what to expect from chip enabled terminals or payment processors.

2. Create a robust EMV Enablement Plan

Look for a provider that can supply you with an EMV enabled card reader who can support contactless payments and traditional magnetic stripe cards. While the upgrade is important for securing your business, keeping the customer’s needs in mind is also a wise idea. Get a clear picture of the time, money and training necessary to ensure a smooth transition, and how the provider will help you with it.

3. Ask more questions

Hold a discussion with your payment processor and ask him questions around enhancing security and how they will help you reduce the point of sale transaction fraud. Some point of sale providers have integrated payment processing that simplify the transactions as well as save time.

4. Find what suits you the best

Gather price quotations from payment processors and assess the costs. The cost of upgrading to EMV point of sale technology can vary greatly based on the quality of the software, as well as the features, functionality and the level of support offered by the provider. While doing your research, keep in mind the reliability of the hardware, ease of use and the type of support that will be available to you right from the beginning of the transition.

And most importantly, lookout for hidden fees. Reliable POS providers will not just help you understand the entire process, but will also offer a transparent pricing model.

Time to protect yourself from frauds and get ready for a positive business year ahead!

5 fees that prove you are overpaying for your merchant services

5 fees that prove you are overpaying for your merchant services

Let’s face the truth. Most of the  small business owners do not understand merchant services fees and  overpay for credit card processing every month. That’s unfortunate.

The single biggest reason is the complexity of fees structure for merchant services. There are multiple level of fees involved when you swipe a credit card at your terminal. Below are just some of the fees you need to lookout for on your monthly statement.

1. Statement fees

It’s a fees charged for printing the credit card statements and sending to your address by courier or postal mail. Some companies charge as much as $15 per month that may appear as miscellaneous fees in your statement.

You may get away with statement fees by opting for electronic statements. Check with your merchant to find out the pricing difference between online statements and printed statements.

2. Batch fees

Merchant receives authorization code from the issuing bank after the transaction is completed.  Batch of authorization codes are processing by merchant (generally at the end of the day) for payment settlement and a fees is charged to submit those authorization for you to get paid. If you do not ”batch out”, also called ”Settle”, at the end of the day, you do not get paid for those transactions.

It’s also a good idea to batch out everyday since some merchant companies will downgrade those transactions to non qualified transaction resulting in higher fees for you.

3. Basis point (Also known as volume fee, other fee)

Basis point is 1/100 of a percent and the term is used in financial domain to represent very small fees on transactions. To simplify, 1 basis point means 1 cent of fees on $100 transaction. Looks ignorable? but it becomes a significant amount on large volume of transactions.

Let’s assume your merchant is charging you 25 basis point fees on credit card processing. If you have $100,000 of transactions in a month, then you will be charged 0.0025 * 100,000 = $250. More the volume, more the fees – that is why it’s also called volume fees.

4. PCI Non Compliance fee

Some portion of fees is paid to Payment Card Industry. If your business is not compliant with PCI standard then you will be charged for PCI-Non Compliance fees, mostly in the range of $19.99/month and higher.When compliant, you still have to pay fees to your merchant for keeping yourself within regulations.

Check with your merchant services company if you are being protected by PCI compliance and how much you are being charged for this service. More information on PCI Compiance

5. Terminal Fees

Terminal fees are the rental fees being charged to you for using the actual machine/hardware that enables you to process the transactions.

There are many options when it comes to hardware ownership. The best option is to buy your own equipment/hardware and avoid these fees. You end up paying 3-4 times the cost,  overtime the course of rental or lease agreement and can range from $15-$30 per month.

A brand new EMV compliant terminal, like Verifone Vx520 can be bought for around $180 online and will save you thousands in the long run.

Besides the fees listed above, there are various other fees that merchants need to lookout for. Some are negotiable and some are not.

Contact us today for a free analysis of your statements.

Top 51 websites – to learn and avoid costly mistakes with your business

Top 51 websites – to learn and avoid costly mistakes with your business

It can be very time-consuming and frustrating for new Small business owners to find  honest guidance or reliable vendors while setting up new business. A wrong contractor or company can set you up for months in delay and thousands of dollars in losses.

We have researched and assembled a list of 51 websites that can help you in setting up legal structure of your business, learn marketing and sales, raise capital, get credit, organize finance & accounts, and create an online business presence.

 

small business

 Business plan and strategies for small business

1) LivePlan

One of the oldest and easiest way to prepare a business plan to pitch to investors. Cloud based. Pitch, plan and track your business anywhere.

2) SBA SCORE

SBA is often overlooked as a great place to prepare a business plan. In fact, you can visit a local SCORE chapter and get one on one guidance by seasoned entrepreneurs.

3) Allbusiness

It provides advices to small businesses about how to start, finance management and build a business.

4) Frannet

Frannet.com provides guidance and advice. If your thinking about buying a franchise then it provides guidance to determine you are suited to franchise owner or not.

5) W-work

Women’s Work is about helping the working women. It provides articles, advice, flexible career choice that helps women towards their business decision making.

6) B-plan

B plan provides business plans, business plan software and articles on business plan and other business related topics.

7) Business How Know

Business how know website provides idea and strategies for marketing, finance, start a business, running or about how to growth.

8) Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs.com provides practical information, articles, videos, tools, news regarding small businesses.

9) Inc

Online portal of Inc magazine. Great place for inspirational articles, startup news and business know-how.

10) Accounting Web

It offers accounting industry news, information, tips, tools, resources and insight-everything you need to prosper and interact with other accounting professionals.

11) More Business

You can find  sample business plans, templates, sample contracts and business agreements to help entrepreneurs to start and grow a small business.

Government Laws for Small Business

12) Business usa gov

It provides the information about the legal requirements and laws imposed by central, state or local agencies.

13) Uspto

Uspto.gov is the official site for searching U.S patent database. It also includes international treaties and patent news.

14) Irs

Internal revenue service provides information about business taxes information. It is a good place to stay on current taxes that affect business owners.

Business formation and legal documents

15) LegalZoom

Although almost all states have an online portal to help you set up your business, it can be little confusing. If you don’t mind paying little extra for a streamlined process, you should consider third party registration companies. LegalZoom does a great job when you need to incorporate or form LLC or file any other business document

16) MyCorporation

Similar to LegalZoom. Create and file you business documents online with state agencies.

17) LawDepot

Create personal and business legal documents online. Some free, some for charge.

18) RocketLawyer

Excellent place if you require constant legal documents. Starting for as low as $7/month.

Marketing/ Advertisement

19) Facebook Local

Facebook is one of the leading social media sites. By advertisement on facebook, it becomes easy to reach your customers and make them know about your products.

20) Yelp

Yelp is also marketing website. From the reviews on yelp, business owners come to know about the liking of customers and make improvements according to their needs

21) Yahoo local

Yahoo Local is an online local advertising system that gives businesses the ability to provide detailed business information to millions of potential customers.

Franchise for Small Business

22) BizBuySell

Biz-buy-sell is about the trade of businesses. It provides information the businesses that are on sale. It also provides information about franchises.

23) Franchise Expo

Franchise expo is also a search engine about franchises. If you want to buy a franchise then you can search here.

24) Franchise

Franchise.com is a search engine that helps in finding news related franchises and resources. It also provides information about the businesses that are for.

News/ Newsletters/ Magazines for Small Business

25) Business News Daily It provides the news business news which in turns helps the small businesses in making their future strategies.

26) US Chamber

This portal helps in how to start, inform about new taxes and much more that related to small businesses.

27) ToolKit

Toolkit features more than 5000 pages of free cost cutting tips, step by step check list, real life case studies and business template to small business owners.

28) TardePub

Trade pub features free publication of newsletter and magazine related to business and computer. Anyone can subscribe these for free.

29) Know This

Know this is a leading information resource that provides information in the area of market research, selling, advertisement and other related matters.

30) Smallbiztrends

Small business trends help in finding out the current trends and what will be future trends that affect the small businesses.

31) Social Media Today

Social media today provide the small businessmen information, tools, tips and strategies that help in establishing that business.

32) Survey Monkey

Survey money create and publish online surveys of consumers to gather data that in turns business can use for taking making business strategies.

Web Builder for Small Businesses

33) Copyblogger

Copy blogger helps the websites business by providing knowledge about how to gain more traffic, links and subscribers for sites.

34) Webs

Webs.com is one of the best website builders for small businesses. Build your own website or blog without any coding skills.

35) Score

Score.org offers face to face business counseling, mentoring and training for startups and small businesses.

Entrepreneur’s Associations

36) Econnect Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur connect is a social networking site of gathering palace of thousands of business owners. Join like mined people and receive valuable advice from trenches.

37) Young Entrepreneur

Young entrepreneur.com is an online community of entrepreneurs. These include business professionals, venture capitalist, industry experts and successful entrepreneurs. So it is a platform to learn from these experts.

38) Business Owner Idea Cafe

Business owner idea cafe is managed by successful entrepreneurs and authors. This site provides practical advice, business news.

39) NASE

National Association for Self-Employed, provides its members with support, education and training. It surveys the needs of the self-employed persons and posts articles those can be used by business owners.

Loan / Financial Help

40) Business Credit Blogger

Business credit blogger.com helps small business in providing information about business credits, credit reporting and credit cards.

41) Credit

Credit.com provides free help regarding credit planning. The experts offer advice and tip to save your money.

42) V Finance

V finance is helpful for those who are searching for sources of capital venture. It provide network with investors and sample business plan templates.

43) Sba.gov

Sba provides a wide range of sources for technical, managerial and financial help to small business owners.

44) Rangde.org

Rangde is loan provider for micro and ruler entrepreneurs. The main focus of this site is to provide ruler business.

45) Nawbo

National association for women business owners provides financial and other resources and support to business women.

46) Mint.com

Mint.com provides help in the form of personal finances, money management and budget planning. In addition, Mint offers free financial planning software.

Payment solutions for Small Businesses

47) Paypal

PayPal became a standard for accepting digital payment which allows people to send and receive money electronically.

48) Square

Biggest competitor of Paypal, it helps you to setup online store and process payments for your online business.

49) Stripe

Stripe works on different devices without any extra cost on your wallet. You can easily integrate stripe with your website and start accepting payments.

50) Intuit

Old player in the market, Intuit offers payment solution that works well with e-commerce payments. You can accept payments by connecting their card reader with your smartphone.

51) Authorize.net

Authorize provides multiple options to accept payments. Small business owners can get simple checkout option and start accepting payments.

Conclusion

Starting a business is not easy. There are so many complexities at each level. We can help you in processing payments if you are an owner of a small business like restaurants, cafe, pub or retail store.

Contact us by clicking here