Quick! What’s the most important aspect of owning and running a business? Commitment? Hard work? Passion?
Actually, the answer is: Getting paid. Sure you’re doing this for lots of reasons other than money. But think about it; getting paid is what enables you to keep on doing it.
Fortunately, there are more ways than ever to get paid, and new ones are popping up every day. But too many choices can sometimes be confusing. How do you know which payment options are right for you?
Rule #1: Consider which payment options are most appealing to your customers, based on how they interact with your business, says contributor Pam Baker at Small Business Computing (SBC). This is important, because it is the context, the where and when: Are your customers connecting in person, online, through their mobile devices and/or in brick-and-mortar stores? Once you’ve defined these connections, they’ll lead you to payment channels.
Payment types and channels can overlap and range from checks and cash to ACH (electronic transfer), wire transfers and mobile payments. Each one has its pros and cons in terms of speed of payment, total dollar value of payment, payment frequency and who’s paying. The type of business you have and cost factors also need to be determining factors. In all cases, though, whether your customers are consumers or other businesses, give them different payment alternatives.
SBC also provides some general guidance for evaluating and choosing payment options—click the link for all the details.
Small Biz Technology reports that the evolution of online payments, in particular, has brought small business owners not only more choices but also more security. Contributor Jonathan Keane says that services like PayPal have played a big role in small and medium-sized businesses’ acceptance of online payments. And if you’re one of a dwindling percentage who still aren’t taking them, Keane says, you’re being left in the dust!
Another payment processing service, Bill.com, is the fastest growing business payments network in the nation, according to Keane. Experts say that one of the reasons is that the service is “smart and non-invasive,” which protects banks and small businesses while, importantly, letting business go on without constant and unnecessary interruptions. But the online payment space is so competitive that there is pretty much a continual stream of new features and apps, all of which is having an impact on costs. Costs vary widely, so business owners need to look closely at them, as well as at security, when deciding.
A relatively new player, Zipmark, is making waves in mobile payments, according to Keane. And speaking of which, contributor Sherry Gray writes on tweakyourbiz.com that mobile payments are hugely beneficial for small businesses. In fact, Gray says, the launch of mobile payment processing changed everything. Businesses can transact anytime, anywhere, and with customers paying in a variety of ways, not just with cash. Eliminating the need for cash has also helped minimize risk for business owners.
And there’s more. No more having to invoice and wait 30, 60, 90 days or more to be paid. Mobile payments enable businesses to collect immediately, on the spot. And merchants of all kinds are seeing an increase in sales when they accept mobile payments. Case in point: the Girl Scouts of North East Ohio, who saw sales jump when they started using card readers. Customers loved it!
Which brings up yet another benefit of mobile payments: Improving the customer experience, by offering a faster, more efficient way to pay, and one that also emails a receipt for their records.
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