The internet is awash with advice about how small business owners must run their companies. Advice such as prioritizing cash flow and hiring while minimizing expenses is great. However, many other issues don’t receive as much attention.
These issues can trip you up if you aren’t careful. They involve challenges surrounding business processes that you wouldn’t anticipate at first glance. Keep these 3 issues in mind when you’re running your small business.
Payments cost money
To make money, you must spend money. Curiously, to accept money, you must spend money as well. Payment processing and acceptance can reduce your margins significantly if you aren’t careful. These days, most processors make it easy for you to signup and charge you low fees.
For instance, all of the best credit card payment processors for small businesses charge a fixed fee or a percentage of your transaction, depending on payment volumes. Each processor has a different payout policy that you must understand before signing up.
Paypal is notorious for hanging onto payments for a long time before releasing funds while Stripe does a great job of releasing payments after a short probation period. The latter and Square also have great fraud protection policies in place and monitor transactions routinely. Their customer service is top-notch and much better than anything Paypal offers.
However, given Paypal’s popularity with customers, you might want to sign up for an account. Alternatively, you could redirect your customers to a payment gateway using the other processors. The point is that don’t let fees become the sole evaluation metrics when choosing a processor.
Read and understand all the policies that the company imposes and speak to other merchants that have installed these services. Choose the one that fits your business’ needs the best.
The most important thing to remember is that payment acceptance costs money, and you must factor them into your margin calculations.
Financing options vary
As a small business owner, you will face moments when you have a massive cash flow hole to address. During such times, most owners turn to their banks for short-term financing. However, banks tend to be very picky about which businesses they lend to. In most cases, businesses that don’t need the money urgently tend to get financed, leaving the ones that urgently need cash out in the cold.
Small businesses have many financing options these days and don’t think your bank is the only lender available. Here are a few options that you can easily access:
- Inventory financing
- Receivables financing
- Equipment lease financing
- Online lending
- Credit card financing
- Personal loans
- Cash advance loans
- Angel investing
Each of these methods has different requirements and interest rates. The shorter your cash flow hole is, the more a high-interest rate solution makes sense. These solutions tend to have quick approval times. Just make sure you can quickly pay the loan off since the longer you delay payment, the more you’ll pay.
Online lending has changed the lending game for many business owners. However, remember that this isn’t free money. Crowdfunding works pretty much the same way as online lending, except you receive funds as pre-sales, and there’s no cost of capital involved.
However, to launch a successful campaign, you must prepare in advance and build social media buzz. You cannot expect to simply create a page on a crowdfunding platform and expect money to roll in.
Other financing options such as receivables and inventory financing make sense if these streams are reliable. Inventory financing can be risky if you don’t run the numbers correctly. Generally speaking, receivables financing does create less cash in the long run. However, you can work with the financing company to fund you during times when you know you’ll face a cash flow issue.
The thing to remember is that you can negotiate all terms in these agreements. Everything from the interest rate to the loan term is negotiable, so don’t hesitate to ask for what you want. Your objective must always be to reduce your cost of capital.
Your customers expect customization
Customers these days have been trained by apps that anticipate their next move and give them exactly what they want. It’s a tall order for a small business to replicate this degree of engagement, but this doesn’t mean customization is impossible.
In fact, modern consumers give small businesses the benefit of doubt when it comes to shopping experiences. Lean on digital marketing data to understand your customers better and establish personal relationships with them.
This means acts like birthday or anniversary wishes go a long way towards humanizing you. People have become conditioned to view online platforms as machines. If you can present a human face, you’ll ensure repeat business that sustains you in the long run.
The trick is to analyze data and give customers what they want. Keep doing this, and you’ll build a loyal customer base.
Keeping the details in mind
Small business owners often get caught up in the larger issues in their business, such as maintaining cash flow and hiring the right employees. The 3 points in his article highlight lesser-known issues that will help you eliminate hurdles that could potentially cripple your business.