Let me ask you a question.
And be honest with yourself when you answer.
Why did you start your business?
I don’t mean the circumstances that led to it.
I mean what was your bottom-line desire?
I started AccountLancer to make money.
Yes, there was a secondary intention as well.
I wanted bloggers & freelancers to have an accountant who “got” them.
But I wanted to make money first and foremost.
Giving my services away for free all the time was not in my plans.
I’d guess that most of you also wanted to make money with your businesses.
You know what?
There’s nothing wrong with that!
But there is something wrong with how many people approach their businesses.
It has to do with how they get paid…or don’t get paid as the case may be.
Not Just Cash Or Check Anymore
When I was coming up in the world (and no, I’m not that old but it does seem like a heck of a long time ago) small businesses had only 2 real options of getting paid:
- Cash, or
- Check (bank checks and money orders fall into this category as well)
There was no other option for the freelancer or mom-and-pop outfit to collect their money.
There was no Square.
Your bank wasn’t offering a method of taking credit & debit cards.
Those things didn’t even exist until the last decade or so of the 20th century!
You didn’t have all of these marketers calling you offering you great rates on merchant services.
There was no Google that would return thousands of results for a search on “merchant account” or “accept credit cards”
They had to send a bill and wait, hoping that they weren’t going to be stiffed, the checks didn’t bounce or get lost in the mail.
Or they demanded payment on the spot and walk around with the checks or wads of cash.
If you know me or read this site for any amount of time, you’ll know that I hate cash.
Read the article in that link to see why–I really don’t think everyone wants me to rehash it all right here lol.
Size Doesn’t Matter (Neither Does Type)
I’m sure there are going to be people reading this thinking:
I’m just a one-person show, too small to take credit or debit cards
No one cares how many people are in your organization, they just want to pay how they want to pay.
Then there will be others who say something like:
I’m in cash-only industry
Things change and I bet you there are plenty of people who would be willing to pay you in other ways if you just give them the chance.
Look, I’ve seen it all.
Personally, my accounting business is really just me, but I’m more than enough to warrant having the ability to take payments via credit or debit.
I don’t have to worry about anything getting lost in the mail or weather delaying the delivery of mail, or payments coming from across the country.
I also don’t have to wait to “have enough money to make a trip to the bank worthwhile” either.
I’ve also seen people who thought they were good just accepting cash–landscapers and restaurants–and they not only saw growth but also spent less time on banking tasks such as counting and verifying then driving to and from the bank.
Having the money deposited automatically into your business also increases your cash flow, where those people who do as I referenced 2 sentences ago–waiting to have “enough” to take to the bank–may be hamstrung until they’re forced to make the deposit.
Yes, I know there is such a thing as mobile deposits but not all smaller banks or credit unions have that capability, and yes, there are a lot of folks out there who prefer those to the “giant banks” even with fewer offerings. Plus there are still per-item and daily limits, not to mention that sometimes the cameras simply can’t read the data.
Technology Makes Getting Paid Simple
Merchant accounts today also don’t have to come with a hefty investment or long-term contract agreement for the equipment.
You don’t have to have a fancy POS system or deal with those nasty carbon forms.
You don’t need anything more than a smartphone or tablet.
Heck, you don’t even have to be awake to get paid!
That’s how far we’ve come.
It’s almost impossible not to get paid these days.
That is of course if you purposefully make it hard, and that is exactly why…
It’s Crazy Not To Accept Credit Cards
I’ve heard all of the excuses:
I don’t want to pay the fees for accepting credit cards.
I only use cash, so I won’t take credit cards.
I already take PayPal.
Well, guess what, it’s still a ridiculous business decision!
Want to know why?
Because not everyone uses PayPal.
Because not everyone uses cash.
Because your personal preferences shouldn’t be forced on others.
Because keeping even 70% of a credit card payment is better than 100% of not getting paid at all!!!
Look, I’m not going to get into the benefits of one vs. the other here (but you can read my thoughts on credit cards vs. cash if you’d like).
With the way rewards and benefits are being offered to credit card users, there is a good reason for so many people to choose to put all of their regular purchases on plastic.
Some people, like myself, sometimes refuse to do business with anyone that won’t take my credit card as payment (trust me, I’ve already dumped my dry cleaner for that very reason).
You have to make paying you as convenient as finding you, or else you’re going to lose out on a lot of business opportunities.
And just for the record, accepting PayPal or other kinds of transfer apps isn’t the same, because when you become a merchant, you select the type of business you run, and people get bonus rewards for spending in certain businesses.
So, lose that excuse right away, especially since not everyone who has a credit card uses PayPal. Nor would some people want to, so don’t force them into it or you may lose them.
Your Personal Preferences Don’t Count
When you start a business everything becomes about the customer and you should be removed from the equation.
If not, then you may want to rethink running a business if you can’t put the customer first.
But that’s a debate for another day.
Let me ask you this: do you remember a little piece of advice that went something like…
Make it impossible for potential customers to not be able to contact you
You know how everyone who built websites would say you need to have your contact info all over the site and have a menu item linking to your contact page?
The reason for this was because it was smart to give potential business zero excuses for not contacting you!
The same goes for getting paid.
MAKE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR PEOPLE TO NOT BE ABLE TO PAY YOU!!!
Look, I ‘ve already said that I hate cash and it’s equivalent.
As an accountant, I despise PayPal as well.
Even still, I will NEVER EVER EVER EVER EEEEEEEEEVVVVVVEEEEEEERRRR say no to those forms of payment!’
- It’s not about me, it’s about my clients
- Money is money when it comes in and I will use whatever resources necessary to collect it
- It’s not about me
I don’t care if you had a bad experience with credit before.
I don’t care if you get skeeved by the tactile feel of money.
I simply don’t care, and neither do your customers.
You need to put your own feelings in a box and allow your customers to pay you however the heck they want.
A Simple Solution
Worried about the expense of taking credit card payments?
There’s a wonderfully simple answer.
All you have to do is increase your fees/rates/prices (whatever you call what you charge for what you deliver) by a small percentage across the board.
That way, if someone does want to pay you with credit, you’ve already factored the costs into the rice and your net will back to the full value you envisioned.
Caution: What you don’t want to do is to announce that you are charging people a separate fee for this specific purpose because they will get pissed and not give you their business. They may actually tell their circle about it and warn them not to give you their business either. And you don’t want to do anything illegal or that violates the merchant services agreement, so be careful.
Do it the right way, and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Not only will you keep people happy, but you’ll open yourself up for more income to come your way.
The message is simple…you need to have a merchant services account of some kind regardless of how small your business is.
And if you’re a tiny business, the last thing you want to do is limit prospects by not allowing them to pay you how they want.
After all, what kind of nut turns down a customer who is willing to actually pay for goods/services?
Look, “the old ways” are great when it comes to putting people over profits and creating relationships versus looking at customers as sources of income, but there are times when those old ways are a total waste of time and are limiting your growth possibilities.
Deciding not to offer your customers as many ways to give you their money certainly fits the latter description!
Do you refuse to take a certain form of payment in your business? Does it hamper you in any way that you’ve noticed? How about when you want to spend money but can’t use your preferred method of payment? Do you walk away or give in and pay using whatever method the vendor will accept?