When starting a business, most entrepreneurs want to keep costs as low as possible. Frugality is important at any point of a business because lowering costs will raise your profits, but it’s particularly important at the start, because startups may not have the capital to spare. The most important part of any business, aside from its products and services, is having a means of getting paid. Some startups can get so caught up deciding on the price of their offerings that they overlook the payment route. Customers generally pay via four main options: cash, credit card/debit card, check, or ACH.
In years past, cash was once the most common option. It doesn’t require any specialized tools – maybe a cash register to keep it in, and a bank account to keep it in long-term. But cash comes with a lot of downside. Making change and security concerns can be a headache, but the biggest problem is that a customer may simply not have enough cash on them. Additionally, when selling over the Internet or by mail or phone, cash is completely impractical. Two other options – check and ACH – directly involve the bank. Checks are mostly paper (though eChecks are becoming more popular), and ACH is an electronic bank-to-bank payment.
From card to bank
ACH means Automated Clearing House, and it’s the network used by banks to send payments directly to each other. ACH payments are processed in bulk, so it lowers the cost for individual customers. Generally, all the ACH payments in the bank – from multiple, unrelated customers – will be processed once or twice a day in a hefty batch.
In order for any business to accept credit cards or ACH deposits from their customers, a business has to open a merchant account at a payment processor. These payment processors facilitate credit card acceptance in person, via phone calls, on smartphones, or through an eCommerce site.
All-in-one payment platform
An additional benefit of merchant accounts from certain payment processors is that they go beyond credit card processing. Some merchant processors can also enable payments via eCheck and ACH in addition to credit cards. The all-in-one payment processor allows you to manage all these payment options on the same platform, and it’s accessible both on computer and mobile phone.
As you make your decision on which payment processor to use, you may wish to consider a few things. It’s important to find a payment processor with reasonable fees. It can also be a good idea to ask about their encryption levels, and whether they have any special requirements regarding your business category, financial history, or credit score.
For more information on easy payment solutions for our start-up, or to sign up for a merchant account, please call (888) 924-2743 or go to Charge.com.