14+ WordPress Website Examples for Inspiration

WordPress Website Examples

So you’re WordPress as your website software, and you’re looking for WordPress website examples for inspiration and confirmation that you’re making the right choice.

WordPress powers more than 30% of the Internet. It’s famous for its versatility and ease of use (yes, there is a learning curve. No, it’s not insurmountable). In short, it’s an incredibly popular choice for your website software.

But before we dive into WordPress website examples in the wild, let’s talk about a few common misconceptions about WordPress.

WordPress is a content management system — web jargon for a place where you can log in to your website to create, edit, and manage your content.

It’s also “open-source”, which means a community maintains it. The software and open-source community live and function at WordPress.org. It’s where anyone can grab a free copy of the software. It’s also know was self-hosted WordPress, because you have to provide the server for the software to live on.

WordPress.org is like buying a house. You can make all the customizations you want, but you’re also in charge of the plumbing and electricity.

Learn how to set up a self-hosted WordPress site from scratch here.

And then there’s WordPress.com. This is a for-profit company and service that offers websites powered by their install of WordPress (the software). They bundle hosting, support, services, and software into a single subscription. WordPress.com is like renting an apartment. You can pay for upgrades, but really everything is up to your landlord… including maintenance.

To learn more about WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com and which you should use, check out my article here. 

So what does this have to do with WordPress website examples?

Think of looking for a website builder like looking for a car. You have a make / model in mind, and you’re probably looking to see them drive by on the road to see how they actually look. However, you also care about how they operate. Does it accelerate well? Does it have the hauling capabilities you need? How is the gas mileage?

Looking at a website platform should be done in the same way. A website’s design is simply some HTML and CSS. It can be created anywhere. However, the functionality are more dependent on things like hosting, integrations, features, plugins, etc.

We collected the following WordPress examples not just to show you how they look, but how WordPress websites can function so you can be sure you have a website that fits both the style you want and the functionality you need.

Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional judgement as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

General Website Examples

Let’s start with a general round up of solid WordPress website examples. We’ve pulled these examples based on functionality, design, and usability. Remember, WordPress is known for its flexibility. It’s incredibly customizable, which means you can accomplish almost anything with the website.

The Walt Disney Company

The Walt Disney Company

Want to know just how prolific WordPress is? Even The Walt Disney Company has gotten on board. This website is a great example of a solid, clean layout for businesses. The navigation is clear, the Recent News grid gives visitors a taste of what’s going on with the company, and the stock information is a solid addition to inform consumers on the company’s financial health (keep in mind that you don’t have to be a publicly-traded company to do something like this. What other information could you display here to help visitors learn more about you?).

Now – obviously the rest of us might not have the budget of Disney. You are currently reading a webpage that lives on WordPress. My small personal site lives on WordPress. The point is that your website is not limited in any way by WordPress.

With that in mind, here’s a few more examples.

Trefecta

Trefecta

Not all websites need to be design masterpieces — but if you’re going for a more visual feel, Trefecta’s website is a great place to start for inspiration. The header image is a carousel (which means it’s changes automatically) and features a separate call-to-action for each image, giving visitors the opportunity to dive deeper on each slide. We also liked the breakdown underneath the header, which serves as another navigation point for visitors in addition to the main menu on the left side of the page.

Get WordPress hosting (w/ bundled themes & drag & drop).

Explore Similar WordPress Themes via my industry-specific roundups.

Wedding Website Example

Wedding websites are a great way to give guests information about the big day, show off your personality, and post updates / pictures / anything else you may want to share with those who are involved with your wedding. Given this website has a shorter lifespan than say, a business website, you’ll want something that’s easy to customize, edit, and manage. Here’s a great example of what you can do with a WordPress wedding website:

Tyler and Tayler

Tyler and Tayler wedding website example

Tyler and Tayler’s wedding website is a great example of how a simple theme can be transformed into a fun, personalized website without having to custom-build something complex. Their story includes fun illustrations, and further down the page, they’ve embedded their engagement photos for everyone to enjoy. These are all elements that make their website unique to them without having to spend time or money on something completely custom-built.

Get WordPress hosting (w/ bundled themes & drag & drop).

Explore Similar WordPress Themes from ThemeForest.

Photography Website Example

Photography websites are all about the portfolio of work. When looking for a WordPress website example to serve as inspiration for your photography, pay special attention to the layout options for your work. You want to be sure you’re showing off your photos in a creative way without sacrificing the user experience (AKA fast photo load speed, easy to navigate, high quality images, etc). Here are a few examples of WordPress photography websites we liked:

Jeremy Chou

Jeremy Chou photography website example

What stood out about Jeremy Chou’s website was the balance of photography and copy. Yes, a photography website is about showcasing your work… but that doesn’t mean you can’t use good copy to help tell visitors what you and your work are all about. If you’re looking for a photography website that balances text and imagery, this is a great one to use for inspiration.

OANA FOTO

OANA FOTO

On the opposite of the spectrum is this website example, which puts the focus solely on the photography. The entire homepage is a carousel of photos, as is the portfolio section, which features a nice interactive scroll feature. OANA FOTO’s website just goes to show that there isn’t a right way to have a WordPress photography website — it all depends on your needs and how you want to communicate with your visitors.

Get WordPress hosting (w/ bundled themes & drag & drop)

Explore Similar WordPress Themes from Elegant Themes.

Ecommerce Website Example

Ecommerce websites are all about their products. A good ecommerce website should have high-quality product images, be easy to navigate, and keep the focus on what you have to offer your shoppers! You’ll also want to include strong product descriptions and an easy check out process. Here are a few of our favorite WordPress ecommerce website examples:

House of Whisky

 

House of Whisky

A great ecommerce website comes down to a few main things: high quality product photos, easy navigation, and easy check out. This website from House of Whisky checks all of those boxes. What stood out to us especially was how straightforward the homepage is. As soon as you get to the page, you have two main options: learn more about House of Whisky, or start shopping. The navigation is so straightforward, it makes it a no-brainer for visitors!

The product page is also a great source of inspiration:

House of Whisky Product Page

The different filters provide a highly-customized shopping experience, and the high-quality product photos tie it all together, making this a great example of an effective product collection page.

Sodashi

Sodashi ecommerce website example

Sodashi is a great example of creating something unique. The skincare company is using a custom-built design on WordPress, which means they’ve created a design that fits their exact specifications. We particularly liked the clean look, easy navigation, and use of copy to explain what Sodashi is all about.

But here’s the great thing about WordPress:

Not only can you use a WordPress theme to get the exact look a website has, but you can also create something completely unique if you want. It all depends on your needs, your budget, and what your goals for the website are.

Get WordPress hosting (w/ bundled themes & drag & drop).

Explore similar WordPress Themes from StudioPress.

Artist Website Example

Need to showcase your art? An artist website is a great way to create a digital portfolio of your work. These websites should be easy to navigate, keep the focus on your artwork, and allow prospective clients / commissioners to contact you easily. Here’s an example of a great artist WordPress website:

Amy Paul

Amy Paul artist website example

 

Sometimes, less is more… and that’s exactly what makes Amy’s website so effective. The clean layout draws your eye right to her artwork, which is featured front and center. We particularly liked how Amy only shows one piece of art at a time on the homepage. This is a great example of a WordPress portfolio website that is a good fit for a DIY-er who just needs a place to showcase their work in an easily digestible format.

Get WordPress hosting (w/ bundled themes & drag & drop)

Explore Similar WordPress Themes from Elegant Themes.

Music Website Example

Similar to artist websites, music websites are all about the music. Which means if you’re creating a music website, you’ll need a player so visitors can listen to your work on your site. You’ll also want to give people the opportunity to connect with you by listing social media channels, tour dates, and places they can buy your albums! Here’s a strong example of a music website created with WordPress:

7th Ave Band

7th Ave Band

What stands out about 7th Ave Band’s website is the music page. The copy before the music player is a great way to give an introduction to the band and what they’re all about. We also liked how the music player includes social sharing options, so fans can share the album on social media while listening to it on the website. Last but not least, the site includes multiple place for fans to buy the album, from the official store to the button on the music player. If you’re looking for a straightforward site to showcase your music, this is a great one of inspiration.

Get WordPress hosting (w/ bundled themes & drag & drop).

Explore Similar WordPress Themes from Elegant Themes.

Business Website Example

A strong business website showcases your services, gives customers the opportunity to contact you, and builds social proof. Visitors should be able to know exactly who you are and what you do when they land on their site, and should be able to easily navigate to what they’re looking for from your homepage. Here are a few examples of strong WordPress business website examples:

Smart Chameleon

Smart Chameleon is a great example of a website that includes interactivity and is built around the brand. As a business that creates digital experiences, you’d expect their own website to be a great digital experience! From the interactive font, to the chat box in the bottom right corner, to the flip cards that showcase their projects, this site is great inspiration for those who want to implement more interactivity and creativity in their site (without having to build something completely custom — this website is built with a theme called Astra, FYI!

BS&A Software

BS&A Software

This WordPress business website is a great example of how to organize your content when you have a lot to offer your audience. BS&A Software has video tutorials, help documents, support, services, etc. Keeping all of that information organized in an intuitive way  is no small feat, and this layout does a great job of it. If you have a significant amount of content for your site and are looking at how other businesses organize theirs, start here for inspiration.

Get WordPress hosting (w/ bundled themes & drag & drop).

Explore Similar WordPress Themes from StudioPress.

Personal Website Examples

Personal websites are exactly what they sound like… personal! Whether it’s a resume / portfolio website you use to get booked or a blog you use to create content, this type of site is all about getting your personal brand online and owning your space on the Internet. Personal website should be easy to edit, manage, and customize. Here’s an example of a WordPress personal website to use for inspiration:

Michelle Sanchez

Michelle Sanchez

It’s easy to get caught up in showcasing your personality and creativity on your personal website. And while adding in some flair is fine, you don’t want to sacrifice clarity in the name of creativity. Michelle’s website is a great example of a personal WordPress website that prioritizes getting the crucial information to visitors in a straightforward way. The headline is strong, the call to action is clear, and the navigation tells visitors exactly where to go for what.

Vladimir Strajnic

Vladimir Strajnic

We pulled Vladimir Strajnic’s website as an example of the versatility of WordPress. You can truly create anything you want — from a templated, easy to fill in website to a completely custom made, interactive website like this one. The key is to remember what your overall goals are. For Vladimir, a designer, he’d want to showcase his skills on his personal website. On the other hand, if you’re just looking for someplace to start blogging and sharing your thoughts with the world, you probably don’t need to create something custom. Define your needs first, then dive in.

Get WordPress hosting (w/ bundled themes & drag & drop).

Explore Similar WordPress Themes from JetPack.

Next Steps

At the end of the day, choosing your website platform goes far beyond design. Why? Because all web pages are made of HTML & CSS with a few scripts thrown in. This means that any website template can exist on any good web platform.

What YOU want to focus on is the design elements and functionality that are available on the platform you’re choosing.

Setup a self-hosted WordPress website step by step here.

Get a bundled WordPress.com subscription w/ free themes here.

If you feel like WordPress fits the design and functionality needs you have for your website, you can explore WordPress templates from ThemeForest, StudioPress, Elegant Themes or JetPack – all providers that I use for my sites & clients.

Not sure if WordPress is a right fit? Explore other WordPress alternatives here.

The post 14+ WordPress Website Examples for Inspiration appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Starting And Financing A Vending Machine Business

Often, when people think of starting a successful business, they envision high-profile clients signing big checks. But other aspiring entrepreneurs know it makes more sense to think in dollars and cents…and we’re not talking about chump change, here. What we’re talking about is starting a lucrative vending machine business.

Vending machines are everywhere: hospitals, schools, office buildings, malls, and shopping centers. And each year, the vending machine industry brings in billions of dollars in revenue. The great news is you can get in on this profitable venture, whether you have previous business experience or you’re new to the game. All it takes is a little know-how, the right strategy, and one of the most critical pieces of the puzzle: financing.

In this post, we’ll explore starting and financing your vending machine business. We’ll review the ins and outs of the industry, discuss two ways you can start your business, cover the benefits and drawbacks to vending machine businesses, and, of course, talk about how to get the financing you need. Read on to learn more and take the first steps toward launching your successful vending business.

How Vending Machine Businesses Work

We all know how vending machines work from the consumer end of thing — if you’re hungry or thirsty, insert a dollar, some change, or even a credit or debit card to get an instant snack or beverage. Easy!

But, once the machine has your money, where does it go? Most of the money goes directly to the vending machine owner.

The vending machine owner enters into contracts with other businesses. These contracts include details like the commission that will be paid to the business owners in exchange for providing space for the machine.

Vending machines can be used almost anywhere, including but not limited to:

  • Hospitals
  • Shopping Centers & Malls
  • Apartment Complexes
  • Laundromats
  • Hotels
  • Schools
  • Airports

After the machines have been installed, it is the responsibility of the vending machine owner to keep each machine stocked and in working order. Money made from the machines is used to purchase additional inventory, cover maintenance costs, expand the business, and pay business owners per the agreed-upon rate in the contract. After all those expenses are covered, the remaining funds are profits for the vending machine owner.

Pros & Cons Of Vending Machine Businesses

While owning a vending machine business certainly has its benefits, there are some drawbacks to note as well. Let’s fully explore the pros and cons of owning your own vending machine business to help you evaluate whether it’s the right endeavor for you.

Pros

Flexibility

One of the best things about owning a vending machine business is the flexibility it provides. You don’t have to always be on the clock making sure things are getting done. Simply monitor your machines (even easier when you have the ability to do so remotely) and refill stock or perform maintenance as needed. You don’t have to worry about monitoring employees, keeping a watchful eye on your business 24/7, or devoting your entire life to your business. A vending machine business lets you bring in income while still allowing you to focus on family, hobbies, and other business ventures.

Lower Cost Than Other Businesses

Typically, when you start a new business, there are many expenses to consider. You have to find commercial space to rent, lease, or purchase. You have to hire employees. The list goes on. With a vending machine business, you can bypass many of these costs. Sure, you have to purchase your vending machines, keep inventory on hand, pay maintenance costs, and possibly hire an employee to restock your machines. But compared to other businesses, the vending machine business model has extremely low overhead.

Tried-and-True Business Model

In this business, you’re not bringing a risky new product to market that could possibly fail. You’re not operating an overly complicated business that requires expertise and a business degree. You’re using a tried-and-true business model that has been proven to work over decades. Of course, you do have to have a strategy, and you do have to sell yourself and your business to proprietors, but anyone can get started, no matter your previous experience.

Cons

Waiting For Profits

Even though the vending industry rakes in billions of dollars each year, you’re not going to become an overnight millionaire. In some cases, it could take a year or longer to begin seeing profit from your machines. It’s important to go into the business with realistic expectations, a solid strategy, and plenty of patience.

Some Expenses Involved

Even though it’s less expensive to get into the vending machine market than other industries, there are some costs involved. To get started, you have to invest in at least one vending machine. An older, used machine may cost as low as $1,200. A new machine with all the bells and whistles might run you $10,000 or more. The more machines you plan to have, the more expensive it will be to get started.

You’ll also have operating costs, primarily inventory. You can save money by working with a vendor or even buying goods in bulk from big box stores, but this is an ongoing expense that requires capital.

If you plan to expand your business, you face additional costs. This includes hiring an employee or two to keep your machines stocked, purchasing a company vehicle to use for restocking, and upgrading or adding new machines.
While it is possible to start slowly using out-of-pocket funds, most new business owners will need a financial helping hand. This is where loans and other financial products come into play — something we will discuss in more detail a little later.

Two Ways To Start A Vending Machine Business

Does the idea of owning your own vending machine business still appeal to you? If so, it’s important to understand the two ways you can start your business: starting from scratch or buying a pre-existing business.

Option #1: Start From Scratch

The first option for starting your vending machine business is to start from scratch. This requires a little more work in the beginning because you have to scout locations and enter into contracts with other business owners.

Begin by traveling around your area to scout out the best locations for your machines. Strategic vending machine placement is critical to making your business a success. Vending machines should be placed in high-traffic areas where they will be most useful — for example, a coffee vending machine in an office building or a vending machine that dispenses detergent and fabric softener at the local laundromat.

Once locations have been scouted, you’ll work out a contract with the business owner. This allows you to place your vending machines in their place of business at a cost — usually 10% to 20% of your gross sales.

After your locations are mapped out, it’s time to purchase your machines. Only take this step after you figure out locations and what type of machines best fulfill your needs.

Many vending machine business owners invest in machines equipped with credit card readers. Although this equipment is more expensive, these machines have advantages over traditional machines that only accept cash. One of the primary advantages, of course, is that you’ll have access to more customers. Fewer people are carrying cash, so these systems allow them to purchase your merchandise with credit cards, debit cards, or their smartphones. According to Vending Market Watch, consumers spend 32% more when paying with a card versus paying with cash.

Not only is your potential for profits much higher, but these advanced machines come equipped with remote monitoring systems that allow you to keep track of sales, check your inventory, and monitor maintenance needs. This saves you the hassle of having to frequently visit each location in person and helps you ensure your machines are fully stocked and in working order from the comfort of your home or office.

The final step is to make sure that you always keep your machines stocked and well-maintained. If your machine is out of order or out of items, you won’t make money. Evaluate what products are selling well and what items are flopping to maximize your profits.

One last thing to note is that you should always understand the rules and regulations in your area. Laws surrounding vending machines vary by state, so do your research online or contact your local chamber of commerce to learn more about local regulations before diving headfirst into your business.

Option #2: Buy A Pre-Existing Business

The second option is to buy a pre-existing business. Instead of doing the initial setup work yourself, you take over an existing business that already has equipment and, in most cases, locations secured with contracts.

The obvious advantage is that this automatically gives you a more turn-key operation. A major drawback is that this is often the most expensive option. After all, you aren’t just buying the equipment and inventory — you’re also taking over existing contracts.

If you choose this option, it’s best to have some business experience under your belt since you need to hit the ground running. You’ll also need to ensure you can secure the capital needed to purchase the business.

How To Finance Your Vending Machine Business

Whether you’re starting from the ground up or you’re in talks to purchase an existing business, there’s one thing you need before you take the leap into entrepreneurship: money. Even if your business is already off the ground, you’re going to need additional capital to expand and boost your profits — capital that you can receive with a small business loan.

Starting A Vending Machine Business

Starting a vending machine business can be surprisingly low-cost. After all, you don’t have to worry about paying for commercial space or utility bills. However, there are still startup costs associated with this type of business.
Some of the costs you may incur when starting your business include:

  • Equipment
  • Inventory
  • Vending Management System
  • Commercial vehicle used for restocking machines

Unfortunately, qualifying for traditional business financing options is difficult for startups. Many business loans, including those from banks, credit unions, and the Small Business Administration, have time in business and annual revenue requirements that you just won’t meet.

This doesn’t mean you’re out of financing options. Instead, you can use a personal loan for business to cover startup costs.

With a personal loan for business, you’ll use your personal credit score, income, and other information to prove your creditworthiness. Since this isn’t a business loan, you don’t have to worry about annual revenue, business credit score, or other requirements.

Recommended Option: LendingPoint Personal Loan

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Through LendingPoint, you can receive up to $25,000 as quickly as the next business day. Interest rates are between 15.49% and 30%. Your loan is repaid twice a month over terms of 24 to 48 months.

One of the advantages of LendingPoint is that you don’t need a perfect credit score to qualify. These personal loans are designed for fair-credit borrowers. To qualify, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have annual income of at least $20,000
  • Have a verifiable bank account
  • Have a personal credit score of at least 600
  • Live in one of the 34 states where LendingPoint operates

Unsure if you qualify? Check out our list of the best free credit score sites to review your credit score. Then, head over to our LendingPoint review to learn more about receiving a personal loan.

Purchasing A Vending Machine Business

If you’ve decided that purchasing an existing vending machine business is right for you, the next step is getting the capital you need to acquire the business. Unfortunately, if you don’t already have an existing business, qualifying for a business loan can be difficult.

As a startup, you may qualify for startup loans or other types of business financing. Learn more about how to get a business acquisition loan.

However, personal loans used for business expenses are also an option. Just as we discussed above, you can use your personal information to qualify for financing to acquire an existing business.

Our previous recommendation, LendingPoint, can only provide up to $25,000. If you need more capital, consider Lending Club personal loans.

Recommended Option: Lending Club Personal Loans

lending club logo

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Lending Club issues personal loans up to $40,000 to qualified borrowers. APRs range from 6.95% and 35.89% and are based on your credit score and history and the amount and term of your loan. There are no prepayment penalties. Repayment terms of up to 60 months are available.

To qualify for a Lending Club personal loan, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a verifiable bank account
  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or live in the U.S. on a long-term visa
  • Have a credit score of 600 or above

Ready to learn more? Check out our Lending Club personal loans review for more information.

Equipment Purchasing

As your business grows, you’ll want to add more vending machines to your lineup. You may also have to replace broken or outdated machines to maximize revenues. Unfortunately, vending machines don’t come cheap. While a used, basic model may cost just over $1,000, newer machines run several thousand dollars apiece. Though this seems like a big investment, you could easily increase your profits and see a big return with more expensive specialty machines or equipment that comes with credit card readers.

Another piece of equipment that may be critical to your business is a commercial vehicle. A van, car, or truck that is used to drive to your locations and restock or manage your machines may be something you consider purchasing as your business grows.

When it comes to buying equipment, there’s one option that stands out from the rest: equipment financing. Just as the name suggests, this type of small business loan is used to purchase equipment, breaking down huge price tags into smaller, more manageable payments.

With equipment financing, you have two options: equipment loans and equipment leases. With a loan, you’ll pay a down payment that is typically 10% to 20% of the cost of the equipment. You’ll take immediate possession of the equipment, and you’ll pay your lender on a weekly or monthly basis over a set period of time. Once you’ve fully repaid the loan (plus interest), the equipment belongs to you.

With a lease, you’ll also pay a down payment and take possession of the equipment. However, your lease period will be for a shorter period of time — usually 2 to 3 years. Similar to loans, you’ll make regularly scheduled payments to the lender. Once your lease is over, you can sign another lease for new equipment. Some lenders even allow you to pay the remaining balance at the end of your lease to take ownership of the equipment. Leasing may be a good option if you plan to upgrade equipment frequently. However, this could be the more expensive option over the long term.

Recommended Option: Lendio

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If you need equipment financing, Lendio has options. This isn’t a direct lender. Rather, it is a loan aggregator that connects you with its network of over 75 lenders. What’s great about Lendio is that you can compare offers from multiple lenders with just one application.

Lendio offers $5,000 to $5 million for the purchase of equipment. Terms are between 1 to 5 years with rates starting at 7.5%.

To qualify for equipment financing through Lendio’s network, you must have the following:

  • A time in business of at least 12 months
  • A credit score of 650 or above
  • At least $50,000 in annual revenue

Credit scores below 650 may be accepted with proof of solid cash flow and revenue from the last 3 to 6 months.

Through Lendio, you can also apply for other types of financing including Small Business Administration loans, business credit cards, short-term loans, and lines of credit. Check out our Lendio review to learn more.

Inventory Purchasing

One of the few ongoing expenses you’ll have in your vending machine business is inventory. It’s your responsibility to keep your machines well-stocked at all times, so you’ll need to have inventory on-hand to keep your machines full.
Sometimes, incoming cash flow has slowed or you may need more inventory than usual due to an increase in sales. It’s not uncommon to fall a little short financially from time to time, but when this occurs, you can be prepared with a business credit card or a line of credit.

Business Credit Card

A business credit card works just like a personal credit card. The issuer of the card sets a limit. You can make multiple purchases up to and including the credit limit online, at retail stores or with vendors that accept credit cards. Each month, you’ll make a payment that is applied toward your balance plus the interest charged by the lender. As you pay down your balance, funds will become available for you to use again.

Recommended Option: Chase Ink Unlimited

Chase Ink Business Unlimited


chase ink business unlimited
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Annual Fee:


$0

 

Purchase APR:


15.24% – 21.24%, Variable

If you want to go with a business credit card, Chase Ink Unlimited is available for borrowers with excellent credit.
The Chase Ink Unlimited card comes with a 0% introductory APR for 12 months. After the introductory period, the card has a variable interest rate of 15.24% to 21.24%. This card does not have an annual fee.

As a new Chase Ink Unlimited cardholder, you’ll receive $500 cash back if you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening your account. But the rewards don’t stop there. You’ll receive unlimited 1.5% cash back for every business purchase.

To qualify, the recommended credit score is 740 to 850. Learn more by reading our Chase Ink Unlimited review.

Business Line Of Credit

A business line of credit is very similar to a credit card and can be a great option for purchasing inventory. A lender will set a credit limit based on your creditworthiness or the performance of your business. Instead of using a card, however, you’ll initiate draws from your line of credit. Funds will then be transferred to your business bank account, usually within 1 to 3 business days. Lenders charge fees and/or interest on the portion of funds you’ve borrowed. As you pay down your outstanding balance, funds become available to withdraw again.

Both credit cards and lines of credit provide you with on-demand funding, ideal for those times when you need to purchase inventory but come up a little short financially.

Recommended Option: Fundbox

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Through Fundbox, you can receive a line of credit up to $100,000 to cover inventory and other business expenses.
Fundbox offers pricing that’s easy to understand. With each draw, you’ll pay a one-time fee. Fees start at just 4.66% of the amount drawn. If you repay early, all remaining fees are waived. Payments are made weekly and are spread out over 12 or 24 weeks.

Fundbox looks beyond your personal credit score during its approval process. The lender evaluates the performance of your business to determine whether you qualify for a line of credit.

Requirements to qualify for a Fundbox line of credit are minimal. You only need:

  • A business based in the United States
  • A business checking account
  • At least $50,000 in annual revenue
  • 2 months of activity in supported accounting software OR 3 months of business bank statements

To learn more and determine if this product is right for your business, check out our Fundbox review.

Final Thoughts

Starting your own vending machine business can be a very lucrative venture with the right strategy in place. This includes calculating the cost of owning and operating your business, doing your research, and getting the right financing.

Understand the potential expenses you’ll encounter, read up on your local laws, then check out our Beginner’s Guide to Small Business Loans to explore more financing options available to you.

The post Starting And Financing A Vending Machine Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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SmartBiz VS National Business Capital

Smartbiz vs National Business Capital

SmartBiz National Business Capital

$30,000 – $5,000,000

Borrowing Amount

$10,000 – $5,000,000

Up to 25 years

Term Length

Up to 25 years

Up to 4%

Borrowing Fee

Unknown

While it’s nice to have choices, sometimes it can be difficult to narrow your search down to a single, best option. It’s no different when you’re looking for business financing. SmartBiz and National Business Capital both promise to save time and headaches by allowing you to effectively apply to multiple lenders with a single application. Note that neither directly originates loans.

But while they’re both loan aggregator services, there are some notable differences between the two that may help you decide between them.

SmartBiz is heavily specialized toward SBA loans. If you aren’t familiar, the Small Business Administration has a number of programs wherein they’ll guarantee a portion of a business loan for qualified applicants. This can help you access better rates and terms than you may otherwise be able to get without the SBA guarantee. The tradeoff is a longer and more complex application, as well as a longer time to funding. SmartBiz helps you navigate through the red tape while also connecting you to SBA-approved lenders.

National Business Capital can also connect you with SBA loans, but they’re a bit less specialized, also offering unsecured small business loans, lines of credit, merchant cash advances, equipment financing, and startup business funding.

So in this battle of depth vs. breadth, which lender is the better middle man?

SmartBiz National Business Capital

2 years

Time In Business

6 months

N/A

Minimum Sales

$15K per month

650 (personal)
150 (business)

Minimum Credit Score

N/A

Qualifying

Winner: National Business Capital

To qualify for an SBA loan through SmartBiz, you’ll need to have been in business for two years, and have a personal credit score over 650 and a business credit score of 150. You must be a US citizen or legal permanent resident. You also can’t have defaulted on any government-backed loans, have any tax liens, or had a bankruptcy or foreclosure within the last three years.

Since they aren’t dealing exclusively with SBA loans, it’s a lot easier to qualify for National Business Capital’s loans. You’ll only need to have been in business for 6 months and take in at least $15,000 per month in revenue. There are no explicit credit requirements. Even if you don’t meet that benchmark, National Business Capital may still be able to work with you through one of their alternative programs. National Business Capital can work with businesses in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and the U.K.

Overall, it’s a lot easier to meet the minimum qualifications of National Business Capital, but if you’re looking for an SBA loan you’ll have to meet guidelines similar to those of SmartBiz.

Fees

Winner: SmartBiz

Since we’re talking about third parties, you’re going to want to know what the convenience they offer will cost you.

SmartBiz charges two fees, beyond those charged by those normally associated with an SBA loan (0 – 3.75 percent guarantee fee and around a $450 fee from the lender): a one-time referral fee, and a one-time packaging fee. Each can cost up to 2 percent of the loan’s amount.

National Business Capital doesn’t divulge much information about their fees, and it’s difficult to get a straight answer from a rep when you ask about them.

Loan Terms

Winner: Tie

The SBA itself sets the acceptable terms for SBA loans, so you won’t find a ton of variation between lenders. Since SmartBiz deals exclusively in SBA loans, there’s not much to compare here. If you’re looking for a non-SBA loan or other financial product, National Business Capital can offer that.

Application Process

Winner: SmartBiz

Both SmartBiz and National Business Capital promise an easy, simplified application process, and both companies deliver. I’m giving SmartBiz the nod here for one reason: their screening process will let you know ahead of time whether or not you’re qualified for their service. This saves you the time of filling out an application only to be rejected down the road. Since National Business Capital is less specialized, they’re more likely to be able to help you, but in rare cases, customers may be well into the process before they discover that NBC can’t help them.

Time To Funding

Winner: National Business Capital

SBA loans can only be funded so quickly. If you need money immediately, SmartBiz won’t be able to do much for you. On the other hand, National Business Capital’s versatility allows them to offer faster products, often within the span of a couple days.

Transparency

Winner: SmartBiz

When it comes to online lenders–and let’s be honest, the financial sector in general–transparency is in short supply. Signing up for a loan is risky. Even submitting your basic information can lead to a future full of annoying cold calls. If possible, you’ll want to know what you’re getting into before you even make contact.

SmartBiz lays out most of what you need to know in a convenient FAQ on an easily searchable website.

National Business Capital, on the other hand, throws around lot of general information about financial products but comes up short on actual rates and fees. There are some calculators you can play with, but they’re not necessarily representative of the terms you’ll be offered.

Customer Service

Winner: SmartBiz

Customer service is usually one of the most divisive topics when it comes to alternative lenders. Satisfied customers will usually be very happy with the service they received, while angry customers will describe it in the most uncharitable terms.

While both companies seem to suffer from some communication issues, overall SmartBiz’s customers have fewer beefs with customer service.

Negative Reviews & Complaints

Winner: Tie

Both SmartBiz and National Business Capital receive generally positive reviews from customers and other review sites, usually within a point or two of each other. Complaints about both companies are typical for alternative lenders, including fees, rejections, and communication problems.

Complaints specific to SmartBiz include unhappiness with the amount of paperwork customers had to fill out. For National Business Capital, a common theme was aggressive marketing calls.

Positive Reviews & Testimonials

Winner: Tie

You’ll find no shortage of satisfied customers for both companies.

Fans of SmartBiz liked the personal touch offered by their representative, the relative speed (for SBA loans) of funding, and the company’s transparency.

Happy National Business Capital customers appreciated the wide variety of options offered, the customer service, and the quick turnaround time on their loans.

And The Overall Winner Is…

smartbiz logo

Specialization has its advantages. When it comes to a third party service for SBA loans, it’s hard to do better than SmartBiz. They take a long, complex process and make it a little less grueling for small businesses while offering a refreshing level of transparency.

Of course, if you’re looking for something other than SBA loans, National Business Capital can help you in ways SmartBiz simply can’t. This is especially relevant if time is a factor.

If you want a deeper look at SmartBiz or National Business Capital, check out our comprehensive reviews.

Review

Visit Site

The post SmartBiz VS National Business Capital appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Venmo For Business: Is It Worth It?

Venmo has earned its status at the top mobile wallet and P2P payments app, ranking along with PayPal and Square Cash as easy, free, and trusted ways to move money around and pay back friends or family.

Venmo launched in 2009 and was eventually acquired by Braintree and then PayPal. Despite being owned by PayPal, Venmo is hardly a PayPal clone. With an estimated 10 million users, Venmo combines a social element with its payments platform, publishing a record of the transaction (though not the amount) to its social feed, along with a note or comment (or sometimes just an emoji). If you want a more detailed look at Venmo, check out our Venmo review for more information!

This social network aspect is one of the ways Venmo sets itself apart from its competitors. The company has also more recently begun allowing merchants to accept payments through Venmo — though with some rather stringent requirements. If you’re wondering whether Venmo could be right for your business, you’re in the right place — we’ll talk about what the requirements are to implement Venmo as a payment option at checkout, and what kinds of businesses Venmo is best suited to.

How Do You Accept Venmo For Businesses?

Venmo is both painfully clear and annoying vague about what kinds of businesses are eligible for accepting Venmo payments. For example, there isn’t a list of prohibited businesses (like you’d find with PayPal, Braintree, and Square). However, Venmo also says that “Venmo can be used to purchase items directly from participating approved apps and online stores.”

Be aware that you can’t natively build Venmo acceptance into your website or app. Instead, you need to go through either Braintree or PayPal for payment processing to add this option. Braintree says that the following use cases are not permitted:

  • Selling goods or services in person.
  • Receiving payment for goods or services through the Venmo app.
  • Facilitating peer-to-peer transactions between two Venmo users.

What does that all mean? Essentially it means you can’t use Venmo directly to accept payments. If you, for example, sell Pampered Chef, Scentsy, LulaRoe, or any other kind of product, your clients can’t just send you a payment via Venmo. If you sell something on Facebook, you can’t meet up with someone and hand them the item in exchange for a Venmo transaction. If you want to accept Venmo for payments, you need to follow the appropriate steps and build the payment option into your website or mobile app.

It also means that you can’t set up a service that says “You send us the money (plus a possible convenience fee) and we’ll send it to someone else for you.” It should be pretty obvious that is a no-no, but generally, those kinds of things need to be clearly stated for legal purposes.

The last requirement? You must be based in the US, which a major difference between Venmo and its global parent company, PayPal. Venmo currently isn’t available to users outside the US at all.

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s talk about how to you can actually implement Venmo payments.

Option 1: Accept Venmo Through Braintree

Braintree Payment Solutions (read our review) is a merchant services provider with a special focus on online and mobile payments. The company, as I mentioned early, is owned by PayPal, and its offerings work pretty seamlessly with PayPal’s, but it is a fairly separate entity. For example, you do get a traditional merchant account. (PayPal is a third-party payment processor, which leads to a greater degree of account stability than merchant accounts.) Braintree is global friendly — even if that’s irrelevant in the case of Venmo payments — and it supports a huge array of payment types, both in apps and on the web. As a result, it will take a developer to implement Braintree payments and get the most out of the Braintree platform.

Braintree specifically says that in order to use Venmo, you must be using one of the following SDKs:

  • iOS v4
  • Android v2
  • Javascript v3 

What this means is you can build Venmo into iOS or Android apps, or into web/mobile web payments that use Javascript. Braintree, on the whole, supports several other programming languages as well. Braintree will also allow customers to save their payment information for subscriptions and recurring billing, including Venmo payments.

Finally, Braintree’s standard pricing applies for Venmo transactions, so most merchants will pay 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction unless they’ve already negotiated special pricing. Venmo transactions are settled according to the same terms as Discover card transactions, but you can identify them in your dashboard by looking for the Venmo logo in the payment type.

Option 2: Accept Venmo Through PayPal Checkout

If Braintree isn’t quite what you’re interested in, you can also implement Venmo Payments using PayPal Checkout (formerly known as Express Checkout). Checkout is PayPal’s recommended option if you are adding payments to an ecommerce shopping cart or offering PayPal as a supplemental option to another credit card processor. Keep in mind that PayPal (read our review) is a third-party payment processor and, as such, comes with an inherent risk of account instability — the potential for holds on funds or even an account freeze if PayPal’s system flags any suspicious behavior.

Also, this option still requires a developer and some code work. PayPal has upgraded its Checkout offering with “Smart” customizable payment buttons and contextual tools that will display multiple checkout options — PayPal, PayPal Credit, or Venmo — based on what it knows about a consumer. Currently, Venmo is only available on mobile devices, though that may change in the future. It’s also worth noting that PayPal Checkout doesn’t allow you to present Venmo as a stand-alone payment option. If you’d like this feature, you’ll need to go with Braintree instead.

With Venmo transactions, you’ll pay your standard PayPal rates, which will be 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for most merchants. (Keep in mind that PayPal does have a micropayments option for merchants whose average transaction sizes are under $10.) PayPal treats them just like all other transactions; currently, they are not identifiable as Venmo transactions. Again, PayPal may change this feature down the line.

Finally, it’s important to note that because Venmo is owned by PayPal, PayPal’s Seller Protection policy applies to Venmo transactions. For buyers, Venmo has its own protection policy, which is the same as PayPal’s in many ways, though Venmo admits there are some differences. Venmo lays out its terms and conditions for merchants in the user agreement if you’d like to take a closer look.

Should You Add Venmo To Your Payments Set Up?

Venmo is a powerful tool. An estimated 10 million users make for a significant userbase that many merchants may want to tap into. But all the same, accepting Venmo for your business only makes sense in certain contexts. You can’t just use the Venmo app to accept payments directly — you can’t process any sort of in-person transaction, as a matter of fact. If you do sell online, adding Venmo only makes sense if you have a very strong mobile user base. For one, PayPal will only display Venmo as a checkout option for mobile devices. Second, there’s no sense in adding Venmo if your customers don’t even know what a mobile wallet is.

However, if you do have a mobile app and your audience is young, tech-savvy and social, adding Venmo as an option makes a lot of sense. It’s available on both Android and iOS, and if you go through Braintree you can present Venmo as a standalone checkout option rather than as a payment option that is linked with PayPal.

It’s pretty likely that we’ll see Venmo sinking more resources into its business platform in the coming year, so we could very easily see some changes to Venmo’s requirements for business. If you’re still on the fence about Venmo, there’s no rush! Familiarize yourself with the product and wait to see what else Venmo has in store before you make a decision.

Have questions or comments? We always love to hear from our reader base, so check out our comment guidelines and leave us your thoughts!

The post Venmo For Business: Is It Worth It? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Square’s Customer Service: Why It Works So Well And How To Use It

If you’re considering whether the Square payment processing solution is best for your business, it makes sense to ask about their customer service. For many of us, the customer service experience makes or breaks the way we feel about a company, even if we love everything else about the product. And the truth is that positive — and negative — interactions with customer service can have serious repercussions — especially when you’re trying to run an efficient, successful business and keep your own customers happy.

Not too long ago, Square suffered from a less-than-stellar reputation for customer service, but that is changing. Any company that can identify a pattern in user issues and beef up their service is one that values user experience and trust. And that is a good sign for current users.

For this post, we examined all the negative complaints about Square’s customer service in our complete Square Review and found that the biggest issue that has since been improved is Square’s phone support (more on that below).

We also dug deep into the Square customer service experience to form our own impressions. (Keep in mind that we are looking here at Square’s business products, not the Square Cash App, which has an entirely different support team. But if you’re looking for information on that, we have you covered there, too. Check out our Square Cash App Review.)

When it comes to Square Support, the user experience has clearly been well thought out. When you visit the Support page, you will immediately see a lot of ways to find the help you need, and the available material is straightforward to navigate and easy to understand.

Below, we break it all down for you so that you can make the most of Square’s help features and find what you need in a crunch.

Note: To keep things in perspective, the vast majority of Square users (over 2 million) are happy with their experience, including customer service. We spend a lot of time sifting through information (including reviews) and understand that negativity bias can affect any anyone. We talk a lot more about that and how we handle the phenomenon here at Merchant Maverick in our post, Understanding Negativity Bias. 

Reader eCommerce Retail Food Service
Free App & Reader Square eCommerce Square for Retail Square for Restaurants
Get Started Get Started Get Started Get Started
Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and Android Easy integration with popular platforms plus API for customization Specialized software for more complex retail stores Specialized software for full-service restaurants
$0/month $0/month $60/month $60/month
Always Free Always Free Free Trial Free Trial

Square’s Support Center

When you have a question, you can probably find what you need through the prompts and easy-to-digest information within Square’s troubleshooting articles. They provide a wealth of information on everything from setting up your Square account to tips for using your card reader, troubleshooting any issues, and changing settings.

Support material is laid out in a table of contents, and each section is expandable. You don’t have to wade through a ton of text or scroll to find what you need because everything is organized by topic. Already know exactly what you need? You can just type in what you are looking for and simplify your hunt even more. It’s also possible to enter a question or search keywords and topics from any page in the help section. The search feature is very intelligent and can auto-suggest articles for you to explore. 

Square Compatibility Checker

Wondering if your smartphone or tablet will work with Square? Rather than searching the knowledgebase for a list, you can use Square’s Compatibility checker. Just enter in the make and model of your device and Square will tell you which card readers and other pieces of hardware are compatible (and which aren’t). This is a great way to make sure you don’t unnecessarily buy new devices even before you sign up with Square, or you can check whether the new device you’re planning to buy will actually still work with your hardware.

Issue Tracking

Having trouble using one of Square’s products? If you are looking for a quick way to see if everything on Square’s end checks out, you can head to https://www.issquareup.com/ and see whether an issue is on your end or theirs. 

Square Community Forum

 

Square has set up an excellent and unusually active hub for sellers to collaborate, get ideas, and problem-solve with its community forum, known as the Seller Community. You need to be a Square user to join, but once you’ve signed in, you can post your questions. And you’ll probably get a response more quickly than you expect! The forum is organized by popular topics, and directly below the fold you can jump right in and view recent discussions. 

Within the Seller Community, you can also search by keyword or for specific community members. There are spots dedicated to those who are new to Square, as well as a general discussion page, a dedicated forum for questions, and a place just for Square staff to share product updates (so you can stay in the know about any new features).

You’ll see that the Square staff are quite active on the forum, answering questions and even encouraging members to submit feature requests to the development team. It’s a pretty happening place when you start digging in.

Email & Social Media

If you have a question that requires a bit more personalized assistance, of course, you can still send Square’s support team a message through email or social media. Square has a dedicated Twitter support page, @SqSupport, for technical questions, or you can message the company’s Facebook page.

You can email Square even if you aren’t a Square user, but if you do have an account, Square will ask you to sign in and then choose the reason for reaching out.

After signing in and connecting to the service that applies to you, they provide you with contact details to get you matched with the right person.  In the meantime, you still have the option of checking out the Seller Community or looking through the support topics Square has published on its site.

Phone Support

Square has made a smart move by having actual employees (who collaborate with Square engineers) handle customer service questions. Speaking to a customer service rep who has inherent knowledge about a product can make a big difference when it comes to technical or even workflow questions. A few short years ago that wasn’t the case at Square, but we are glad that they responded to give the people what they wanted. 

To get your more complicated questions answered, you can access live help when you need it. This live support is only available to existing customers, however. You’ll get a customer code on the Square help page which you can use to patch you through to a person. 

Square’s phone support is active between the hours of 6 am to 6 pm Pacific time, Monday through Friday.

It’s comforting to know that phone support is an option, but thanks to the exhaustive help sections on their site, including the Square Seller Community, you’ll likely get the answers you need without having to call in.

Learn More About Square

If you already use Square, it might be a good idea to check out some of the resources in the help sections and even connect with other sellers in the community forum. Not only does ‘iron sharpen iron’ when it comes to running a business, but you might also discover how to take advantage of built-in features, like the Square Dashboard, to make your experience even better.

If you’re considering using Square to accept payments, you can sign up for a free account. With no monthly charges or hidden fees, chargeback protection, and full PCI compliance included, it’s easy to evaluate whether Square is right for you without external pressures influencing your choice.

Still not sure? Get more information by digging into Is Square a Secure Way to Accept Credit Cards or reading our full Square review.

Reader eCommerce Retail Food Service
Free App & Reader Square eCommerce Square for Retail Square for Restaurants
Get Started Get Started Get Started Get Started
Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and Android Easy integration with popular platforms plus API for customization Specialized software for more complex retail stores Specialized software for full-service restaurants
$0/month $0/month $60/month $60/month
Always Free Always Free Free Trial Free Trial

The post Square’s Customer Service: Why It Works So Well And How To Use It appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

“”

APR VS Interest Rate: Know The Difference

When you’re searching for your business’s next credit card—or looking for loans—you’ll often come across the terms APR and interest rate. These pesky concepts represent extra money you’ll have to repay on top of your initial loan amount, but are necessary pieces in the world of lending.

While APR and interest rates share similar roles and can sometimes be used interchangeably, they ultimately mean different things. Understanding these differences will help you make informed decisions and can save you money the next time you take out a loan.

So what is the difference between APR and interest rate? Read on! We’ll break it down below.

What Does Interest Rate Mean?

The interest rate on a loan is effectively a way for lenders to make money when you borrow.

In most cases, when you borrow money and take time to pay off what you borrowed, your lender will charge you an extra amount. This extra amount is called interest. In other words, the interest rate is a percentage charged by your lender that you must pay in addition to the lump sum of money you have borrowed.

Depending on the type of loan you take out, you may pay a fixed or variable interest rate. Fixed rates stay the same for the life of the loan. Variable rates, on the other hand, can change based on the market rate. Most lenders will calculate a variable rate based on the prime rate, a metric published by the Wall Street Journal. If your interest rate goes up, then you’ll wind up paying more interest charges.

In many cases, your credit history will affect your rate. As such, you’ll want to aim to have a high credit score.

What Does APR Mean?

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. It incorporates a loan’s interest rate as well as various other charges, like points and fees. Broken down, the APR represents the total cost of borrowing on an annual basis. You’ll frequently see APR mentioned in relation to credit cards, although it still comes into play with traditional loans.

As an example, if you have a four-year loan with an interest rate of 15% and an origination fee of 4%, your APR will be 17.26%. This rate is higher because it accounts for the extra cost of the origination fee. Because it’s inclusive of all fees, the APR provides the true cost of borrowing annually.

With credit cards, the APR is affected by the prime rate as published by The Wall Street Journal. It is usually 3% higher than the federal funds rate, set by the Federal Reserve. In most cases, card issuers will determine a card’s APR based on the prime rate, plus a variable percentage rate calculated on your creditworthiness. Credit card APRs typically range from about 10% to 25%.

To get the lowest APR possible, you’ll want to have a solid credit history. If you struggle with a low score, there are numerous cards that can help boost your credit.

The Difference Between APR & Interest Rate

When it comes to credit cards, there is essentially no difference between APR and interest rate. Credit card issuers are required to state a card’s interest rate as APR (according to the Truth in Lending Act, a federal law enacted in 1968). This makes it easier for consumers to accurately estimate the credit card interest they might owe because APR shows the actual annual rate, whereas an interest rate alone does not account for additional upfront charges.

Note that even though issuers state APR, credit cards may carry extra fees that aren’t included in the official APR. You can often expect fees such as an annual fee, a balance transfer fee, a cash advance fee, and/or a foreign transaction fee.

Depending on the card you choose, however, you may manage to bypass one extraneous fee or more. For instance, many of the best travel cards forgo foreign transaction fees, while numerous other cards feature no annual fees.

When looking at more traditional business loans, however, the APR and interest rate will tell different tales. The interest rate is simply the amount of interest you’ll owe every period. The APR, meanwhile, is inclusive of the interest rate and other fees. These fees could include origination fees, closing costs, maintenance fees, or others.

You’ll want to keep this in mind because lenders aren’t required to advertise APRs upfront. Of course, most decent companies clearly and easily share their APR, interest rates, and other fees so you’ll have the full picture before borrowing.

APR & Credit Cards

You’ll want to consider APR carefully if you don’t intend to fully pay off your monthly credit card balance. This could be because you’ve made a large purchase or many purchases you can’t immediately pay off in full.

You may also need to consider multiple APRs since most credit cards come bundled with a few different rates. The most publicized APR (and the one that affects most people) is the card’s purchase APR. On top of this, there are usually additional APRs for balance transfers and cash advances. You may also see a penalty APR if you fail to make your payments on time.

However, by completely paying off your credit card balance every month, you probably won’t need to bother about APR. This is because most credit cards provide a sizable grace period between purchase date and payment due date. During this grace period, APR isn’t applied to your balance.

Oh, and don’t worry about timely payments negatively affecting your credit score — that is an urban legend. You’ll still be able to take advantage of the credit-building bonuses that come with having a credit card. In fact, paying off your monthly bills is one of the best things you can do to increase that all-important credit score.

Some cards also offer 0% introductory APR for a set number of months after you open your account. This means it might be beneficial to apply for such a card if you’re planning to make a large purchase that you won’t be able to pay off right away.

How To Find A Credit Card’s APR

By United States law, card issuers are required to easily and legibly share important details about the cards they offer. Most details you’ll ever need can be found in a card’s Schumer box, a legally-mandated text document named after U.S. congressman Charles Schumer, who paved the way for the box’s legislation. You’ll usually be able to find all of a card’s APR’s at the top of its Schumer box under a section titled “Interest Rates and Interest Charges”.

If you’re reading about credit cards on Merchant Maverick, we’ve made it quick and easy to spot a card’s APR. In every card info box, we’ve placed the APR under the annual fee on the right side. You can also see if a card has an introductory rate for both purchases and balance transfers by clicking “More card details” beneath the box.

APR & Interest Rate For Business Loans

While a credit card’s APR and interest rate are one and the same, APR and interest rates are more complex in the context of business loans.

As mentioned above, the APR communicates the total cost of a loan over the period of one year. It accounts for the interest rate plus other fees and costs, including origination fees, closing costs, and maintenance fees. In some cases, you may see these fees called “points”.

This means that a loan’s interest rate alone doesn’t tell the full story. You’ll want to double-check to find out if there are additional charges you might have to pay alongside the interest rate. Luckily, most decent lenders will state their APR upfront, meaning you won’t have to do the legwork yourself.

Want to get into the nitty-gritty of APR? Read up on the subject with our Beginner’s Guide to APR.

How To Calculate APR

Need to calculate APR on a loan? Determine it below with our handy calculator:

Want to calculate something else, like estimated APR or payments on cash advances or short-term business loans? Check out the rest of our small business calculators.

Final Thoughts

APR is an important tool, whether you’re looking at credit cards or business loans. While it shouldn’t be the only factor you consider, understanding how APR works can help you make informed decisions and potentially save you money. Knowing the difference (or lack of difference when it comes to credit cards) between APR and interest rate is also key, especially when you’re trying to get a holistic view of a potential loan or credit card.

Now that you have a grasp on the essentials, take a peek at the best low-interest small business loans. Or you can keep learning by perusing our guide to variable APR. New to business credit cards? Check out the basic dos and don’ts of business credit cards.

The post APR VS Interest Rate: Know The Difference appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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What Is Chase Pay And How Does It Work?

The Chase Pay app is a digital wallet developed by Chase Bank. Instead of having to take out your wallet, find your credit card, swipe, and wait, a digital wallet like Chase Pay works by scanning a QR code on a smartphone or with a tap using near-field communication (NFC) technology at a credit card terminal.

Through this post, we are going to explore why accepting digital wallet payments can be a good move for business owners and why the digital wallet offered by Chase Pay is a great option for customers and merchants alike.

The Evolving World Of Digital Wallets

It is no secret that the world of payment processing is evolving quickly. Non-cash payments are becoming commonplace, but that doesn’t mean that we’re diving into a cashless system quite yet. The reality is that half of payments made are still paper-based or manual, according to JPMorgan Chase. Despite their continued use, these manual types of processing transactions represent a more expensive way to do business, cost more working capital from businesses, and take more time to settle the payment between the seller and buyer.

In other words, digital wallets can be a cost-saving option. However, with any new technology, it takes time for users to adapt. Businesses must figure out what will work best for them and consumers are often set in their ways, so all of this momentum to digital wallets will take a few years to build. Currently, most people are exploring their options, but the digital wallet trend is on the rise.  

Chase Pay provides new opportunities to settle things faster electronically (and less expensively) and it can also make life easier for the people who use it, offering faster ordering and pick-up times, a quicker check-out process, and built-in reward and discount programs.

Read on to find out more about Chase Pay and how it can help you improve engagement and offer a better incentive for customers.

Chase Pay For Customers

Chase Pay offers digital wallet and online payment options. Through the Chase Pay app, customers can pay with only their phone by tapping (if linked to Samsung Pay) or scanning a QR code.

You can combine all your Chase-eligible cards, wallets, loyalty programs, and rewards so you can apply what you need quickly at checkout. No more fumbling for the loyalty card on your keychain while also digging your card out of your wallet. Not only that, Chase often runs promotional deals to encourage first-time users to shop in more places.

To sweeten the deal even more in this competitive digital wallet space, Chase Pay also recently introduced Chase Offers. Once you are in your app, you will see any offers available to you and can click on an offer to activate it. The offer appears as a statement credit after 7-14 business days. You don’t need to register, use any vouchers, or apply any codes. Once you activate an offer you like, it is applied whenever you make a purchase with Chase Pay.

These offers are not the same as (and don’t replace) your rewards. You continue to earn any rewards on your purchases through Ultimate Rewards points, your miles, or any other reward program you’re enrolled in.

Where To Shop With Chase Pay

The selection of shops, big-box stores, and restaurants that accept Chase Pay is somewhat limited at this point. However, there is still a decent list of merchants that accept Chase Pay, including big names like Starbucks, Shell gas stations, and Walmart. Within the app, you can also search for places near you that accept Chase Pay, so you will likely never have a shortage of shopping options.

Samsung Pay + Chase Pay:

Since your Samsung Pay account can be linked with your Chase Pay account, this option opens up literally millions of shopping options for you (Samsung Pay has a much larger footprint). Linking these accounts also makes life easier because you can check-out with a tap rather than a QR scan.

Chase Pay For Business Owners

It’s important to note that Chase Pay doesn’t work when it comes to purchasing with your business accounts or under your business profile. But it may be worth your while to consider setting up Chase Pay to process in-store or online orders for your customers! Now, more than ever, customers are making more inquiries into the types of payments accepted.

According to a recent Forrester estimate, mobile payment transactions continue to skyrocket and will triple to $282.9 billion in only a few short years. That means that the expectations from customers are only going to get stronger when it comes to check-out options. It is also important to make sure you are giving your customers a choice when it comes to cashless payments.

Most of your customers don’t have just one line of credit, so why limit the way they can pay you? Offering several types of payments options, including Chase Pay, for both in-store and online shopping can make things easier and more accessible for your customers. 

Engage More Customers

Retailers are spending increasingly more time vying for customer loyalty and seeking engagement ROI through mobile, cashless payment. Here at Merchant Maverick, we like Chase Pay because it can provide some extra exposure for your business while giving customers more incentive to buy.

Depending on your industry, you may be able to take advantage of partnerships Chase has formed. For the food industry, for example, Chase has partnerships with LevelUp® and TouchBistro® for order-ahead, loyalty programs, and additional special offers to apply for your customers.

Grocery and retail stores can let their customers take advantage of contactless or QR payment options. Setting Chase Pay up at your store shouldn’t be a hassle, because it likely works with your existing terminal. If your current credit card terminal accepts chip cards (EMV) the odds are good it’s also configured to accept NFC/contactless payments.

 

All of these options let you give your customers more convenience through pre-ordering or faster checkout. People are driven by convenience and saving time, and customer expectations are only going to increase these next few years.

Getting Started With Chase Pay

Ready to check out the Chase Pay app for yourself? Head to the Apple or Google Play app store and download the app. You’ll need to log in with your Chase account username and password. If you have more than one card through Chase, you’ll also be able to select your default payment card. You will also be able to select the card you want to use when it is time to pay.

If you want to explore more payment processing options for your business, check out our post, Payment Processing Companies and Services for Small Business. 

The post What Is Chase Pay And How Does It Work? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Website Builders Explained

Website Builders Explained

Website builders are a type of software that turns visual design elements into HTML / CSS files that browsers can show as a website. Modern website builders are usually bundled in some form with hosting to provide storage & server abilities for those files.

As an analogy, imagine a website is like a physical home. Website builders are a bit like pre-built houses or condominiums with infrastructure & services provided. Usually the land (hosting), address (domain) and services are bundled with the home. There are usually costs & limitations, but also much more convenience compared to building a home from scratch.

That’s the short version. But there’s more to website builders than the definition. I’ll cover common questions like –

  • What Are Website Builders?
  • How Do Website Builders Work?
  • Are Website Builders Worth It?
  • Are Website Builders Good for SEO?
  • What Makes a Good Website Builder?
  • What Website Builders Are Best?
  • What Website Builder Should I Use? & Next Steps

Disclosure – I receive customer referral fees from companies mentioned on this website. All data & opinions are based on my professional experience as a paying customer or consultant to a paying customer.

What Are Website Builders?

Website builders are a type of software that turns design and content elements into valid HTML / CSS that can show up in an Internet browser. They have a long history, but have dramatically changed in recent years.

As long as the Web has been around, people have wanted to create websites without writing the underlying HTML & CSS programming languages. Back in the early days, website builders were actual desktop computer programs that you had to download and use (FrontPage FTW!!). They were called WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) software.

But as the Internet, software, and consumers developed, website builders started rapidly evolving and changing. Nowadays, very few people write HTML & CSS from scratch.

Everybody, including seasoned front end web developers, use some form of what used to be called a “website builder”. Everyone is looking to build websites faster with more features and better design elements. The “website builder” market has shifted so that now it’s much more common to hear people using templates, libraries, themes, theme frameworks, content management systems, scripts, etc to build faster and better.

Because of this shift, what we now call a “website builder” really refers to a web-based software that provides not only the actual HTML & CSS conversion but also the hosting, security, customer support, integrations, media storage, and marketing tools that most people want when they say “I want a website”. The technical term should be “hosted website builder.”

For an analogy, think about different housing types. Originally, a “website builder” was simply pre-cut construction material to help you build a house quickly. Nowadays, a “website builder” is more like a condominium or townhome development. You have way less say over what you want. But – you have a home that you can customize while simply paying a fee for garbage pickup, lawn care, maintenance, etc.

For the rest of these FAQs, we’ll be focused specifically on hosted website builders that not only build your website’s HTML & CSS but also bundle hosting, security, support, etc into a single subscription fee.

How Do Website Builders Work?

Website builders usually use proprietary software, so it’s hard to say *exactly* how they work, but they all work in broadly the same way.

When you sign up for an account, hosted website builders will carve out server space that runs proprietary software that provides both a “backend” where you can login and manage your design & content along with your actual website files that browsers will use to create the “frontend” that visitors will see.

Here’s a backend example from the Wix backend…

Wix MenuAnd what shows up on the front-end…

Double Arrow Vet

This setup is exactly the same as it would be if you bought your own hosting and installed your own software (ie, WordPress).

But – their software is built to have a drag and drop interface that allows you to literally drag and drop and edit your website. When you save your work, the software will convert your backend work into a combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript files that will render in an Internet browser. And – your hosting usage is automatically optimized and calibrated to their platform.

Are Website Builders Worth It?

It depends on your goals, need & knowledge.

If you are confident in your abilities to solve problems and you want to build a long-term project with lots of versatility, then I highly recommend that you stay away from hosted website builders, and learn how to set up a website on your own hosting account – that goes for a multitude of different types of websites.

If you value convenience and speed, have budget for the monthly fees, and want to DIY, then yes, website builders are absolutely worth it. They provide most everything you’d need in a single, predictable monthly price. They have tailored customer support and handle all the updates.

It really is like shopping for a house vs. a condominium. Homeowners may swear up and down about owning a home. But the thing about a house is that…like you are responsible. Even if you don’t cut the grass, you have to pay someone to. And you have figure out who to call. You can build a pool…but you have to maintain it.

Condo owners just cut a check to the Homeowners’ Association. But – they also have to abide by the HOA’s rules and are inherently limited to what they can do to their property,

Are Website Builders Good for SEO?

It depends on your goals, needs & knowledge. This question is a bit like asking whether a condo is good for hosting parties.

There’s a few variables to clear up – like, how hands-on are you with parties? Do you just want the place to look nice so that you can focus on the food or are you looking to build out the ultimate party pad over the course of a couple of years?

Website builders do have a bit of notoriety with SEO because of Flash. Back in the day, every website builder used Flash for their drag & drop functionality. They would also have some weird URL structures. Due to that the old school Googlebot had an impossible time crawling & indexing websites built with common web-based website builders.

SiteBuilder SEO Duplicate Content

Most of the big brand website builders do not have this issue any more, and Googlebot is much better than circa-2012. Some website builders do still have lingering issues, but general “SEO” is no longer the main purchasing concern in my opinion. The main concern should be what *you* want to do with SEO. Here’s some examples from past clients / readers of mine.

Client A wanted to build out a large presence in a sub-market of the senior housing industry. They wanted to rank for certain high-competitive terms and wanted to update & revise many pages with Schema markup and roll out a regular content strategy. They were using Wix. My first recommendation? Stop everything and leave Wix. Spend money to rebuild the entire site on self-hosted WordPress. Using a hosted website builder like Wix would simply not have the flexibility to run the type of content & integrations that we needed.

Client B wanted to build a website for a hyper-local deli & restaurant. They wanted to rank for specific local terms & brand names. They had no time or budget to keep the site updated – other than the menu, which they needed to edit every week via smartphone. They had used Wix in the past, and knew how to add food integrations. I told them to go with it – and they do very well with the SEO that they need (ie, Google Maps, local terms, and menu terms).

Client C launched a side-project on personal fitness. They didn’t have huge plans for it – and just wanted to get going. Due to time and simplicity, they just got going on Squarespace. It worked for a few years until all of the sudden, their blog took off. They need plugins & capabilities that you can only get with your own hosting account. So they bit the bullet and built their own site with WordPress on a self-hosted VPS account and migrated away from Squarespace. Organic traffic has since dramatically improved but mainly because they can easily manage the content – not because Squarespace’s SEO was “bad”.

As so on – see it depends on what “SEO” you need. Website builders are not “bad” for SEO. But they aren’t “good” for SEO unless they match what you want to do.

What Makes a Good Website Builder?

A good website builder is one that helps you succeed at your project. That’s all.

If the “BEST!” website builder has so many features or limitations or whatever that it keeps you from achieving your goals, then, well, it’s not the “BEST!”.

Sure, there are absolutely some website builders that are better than others. Some I wouldn’t touch with ANY project – no matter what.

But for yourself, write out some features that you want. Rank the features. Write out what your goals are. What you write is not as important as the fact that you are thinking through what you want.

For some people, drag and drop might not be as important as data export…which might not be as important as phone customer support.

A good website builder should, though, produce readable, crawlable, and indexable HTML & CSS that visitors can access. Beyond that – it’s up to you.

What Website Builders Are Best?

Again – the implied preposition here is “for you.” With that in mind, I created a little quiz and summary to help you find the best website builder for you.

I’ve reviewed some of the big name brands like Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, GoDaddy and WordPress.com. But there are plenty of options out there – and even some hybrid options like BoldGrid which overlays a drag and drop functionality over a self-hosted WordPress install. There are brand new ones like GATOR and plenty of others. Read all my website builder reviews here.

What Website Builder Should I Use?

It depends! Go to these resources to figure out some ideas –

  • Best Overall Website Builder
  • Best Simple Website Builders
  • Best Online Store Builder
  • Best Wix Alternatives
  • Best WordPress Alternatives

Next Steps

Your next steps should be to go research based on your goals – and get started with your project! Most website builders offer a short free trial period. Take advantage of those to make a final call.

The post Website Builders Explained appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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How To Secure A $10,000 Loan Online For Your Business

Even the most prepared business owners will face a financial shortage from time to time, whether it takes the form of a holiday uptick in your retail business, a slow season for your construction business, or unpaid invoices that have brought your incoming cash flow to a screeching halt. Unexpected or emergency expenses can arise out of nowhere in any industry, and they have the potential to have a devastating financial impact your business.

If your cash flow begins to suffer from seasonal slumps, late-paying customers, or emergency expenses, know that there are options available to you. Online small business loans and financing products can help you overcome any financial hurdle.

On the other hand, maybe things are going well for your business, and you just need a little boost to help expand your facility, hire new employees, and take your business to the next level. Online business loans can help with that, too.

If you need $10,000 for your business — for whatever reason–, you’re in luck. There are many loan products available to you, from traditional installment loans to short-term loans, invoice financing, or lines of credit. Best of all, you don’t have to have a perfect credit score or high annual revenues to qualify. With some online lenders, you can be approved in just minutes, and in some cases, you may even receive the financing you need within 24 hours.

Many online lenders can fund your loan or financial product without the delays or heavy paperwork requirements imposed by banks or traditional lenders. You’ll pay higher rates and fees for this convenience, but if you need cash fast, an online loan is the way to go. Depending on the lender you select, you may get approved and funded simply by supplying basic information about yourself and your business and a few recent bank statements.

Ready to secure a $10,000 online business loan? Read on for our top lender picks.

1. BlueVine

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One lender that makes it easy to get $10,000 for your business is BlueVine. With two different financing options, you can receive up to $5 million to cover your business expenses.

The first financial product offered through BlueVine is a revolving line of credit. You can receive between $5,000 and $250,000 with simple interest rates starting at just 4.8%. Through BlueVine, the application process is simple, and you can be approved for an unsecured line of credit in just minutes. You’ll be able to make draws from your account as needed up to the credit limit assigned by the lender. Repayments are made weekly or monthly over 6 or 12 months. Interest is only charged on the borrowed amount, and your funds will be replenished as you make your payments.

To qualify for a BlueVine line of credit, you must have:

  • A minimum personal credit score of 600
  • A time in business of at least 6 months
  • At least $100,000 in annual revenue.

The application requires you to supply information about yourself and your business, as well as business bank statements from the last 3 months.

If unpaid invoices are dragging your business down, BlueVine also offers invoice factoring. You can receive up to $5 million for your qualifying invoices with rates starting at just 0.25% per week. You’ll receive up to 90% of the total balance of your invoices upfront and the remainder once the invoices are paid, minus fees charged by the lender.

To qualify for BlueVine’s invoice factoring, you must:

  • Operate a B2B business
  • Have a personal credit score of at least 530
  • Have a time in business of at least 3 months
  • Earn at least $100,000 in annual revenue

2. Credibly

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Credibly offers three financing options for business owners seeking $10,000 in capital. If you need a loan to cover daily operating expenses, Credibly offers a working capital loan. With this product, you can apply for up to $250,000. Instead of interest rates, these loans come with a factor rate. The most qualified borrowers can receive factor rates as low as 1.15. Working capital loans are repaid daily or weekly over a period of 6 to 17 months. An origination fee of 2.5% of the loan amount is deducted from your loan.

To qualify for a working capital loan from Credibly, you must have:

  • A credit score of at least 500
  • A time in business of at least 6 months
  • An average of at least $15,000 per month in deposits to your business bank account.

If you need $10,000 to expand your business, consider a business expansion loan from Credibly. You can apply for up to $250,000 to be repaid weekly over 18 or 24 months. Interest rates for the most qualified borrowers start at 9.99%. An origination fee of 2.5% of the total loan amount will be deducted from your loan proceeds.

To qualify for a business expansion loan from Credibly, you must have:

  • A credit score of at least 600
  • A time in business of at least 3 years
  • Average monthly bank deposits of at least $15,000
  • An average daily balance of $3,000

If you don’t meet the revenue or credit score requirements of Credibly’s other financial products, consider applying for a merchant cash advance. With this type of financing, you sell a percentage of your future receivables. Credibly will take a set percentage of your sales each day until your loan plus any fees are repaid. Factor rates start at just 1.15 and repayment schedules are available up to 14 months. Through this type of financing, you can apply for up to $150,000. A one-time 2.5% origination fee is added to your loan balance, and Credibly also charges a $50 monthly admin fee.

To receive a merchant cash advance, you must have a credit score of at least 500 and at least $15,000 in average monthly bank deposits. Your business must also be in operations for at least 6 months to qualify. You can be approved for your loan in as quickly as 24 hours.

3. Fora Financial

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For quick working capital loans, consider applying for financing through Fora Financial. If you want a flexible working capital loan with no restrictions, this lender offers small business loans in amounts from $5,000 to $500,000. Repayment terms are available up to 15 months.

To qualify for a working capital loan through Fora Financial, you must have:

  • A time in business for at least 6 months
  • At least $12,000 in gross sales
  • No open bankruptcies on your credit report

You can also apply for a merchant cash advance of up to $500,000 through Fora Financial. There are no set terms and no restrictions. Payment amounts are based on the revenue of your business.

To qualify, you must be in business for at least 6 months and have no open bankruptcies. You also must have at least $5,000 in credit card sales to be eligible.

4. Fundbox

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Another flexible line of credit comes from Fundbox, where you can receive up to $100,000. You’ll make equal weekly payments for 12 or 24 weeks to pay off the loan, plus the flat fee charged by the lender. Fees start at just 4.66% of the draw amount.

To qualify for a line of credit from Fundbox, you must have:

  • A business checking account
  • At least $50,000 in annual revenue
  • A connected business bank account

There are no minimum credit score requirements.

Fundbox Credit is another option to explore if you have unpaid invoices. This is an invoice financing product that provides you with up to $100,000 for qualifying invoices. Advance fees start at 4.66% with repayment terms up to 24 months.

To qualify, there are no minimum credit score or time in business requirements. You must also connect your accounting software that shows activity from at least the last 2 months.

5. IOU Financial

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With IOU Financial’s core small business loan, you can receive between $5,000 and $150,000 in extra capital for your business. These loans come with terms of 6, 9, or 12 months, and fixed payments are made daily.

To qualify for a small business loan from IOU Financial, you must:

  • Be in business for at least 1 year
  • Own at least 80% of your business (this requirement drops to 50% if you own your business with your spouse)
  • Make at least 10 deposits per month into your business bank account
  • Bring in annual revenue of $100,000

If you need more capital at a later time, IOU Financial also offers a mid-market loan of $70,000 to $300,000. Terms for these loans are 12, 15, or 18 months, and payments are made on a daily or weekly schedule.

6. Kabbage

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Kabbage offers flexible lines of credit that can be used to cover any business expense. If you’d like access to money on-demand, Kabbage’s lines of credit allow you to make draws as needed up to your credit limit.

Through Kabbage, you can be approved for a line of credit up to $250,000. With each draw, you’ll receive terms of 6 or 12 months, with payments made monthly. Kabbage charges fee rates between 1.5% and 10% based on the performance of your business.

If you have a low personal credit score but your business is doing well, Kabbage may be the right option for you. There are no minimum credit score requirements to receive a Kabbage line of credit.

However, to get a line of credit from Kabbage, you must:

  • Be in business for at least 1 year
  • Bring in annual revenue of at least $50,000

If you don’t meet this revenue requirement, you must show that you’ve brought in at least $4,200 per month for the last 3 months.

What makes Kabbage stand out from other lenders is that it offers the Kabbage Card. Typically, with a line of credit, you initiate the draw and receive your funds in your business bank account as quickly as the next business day. With the Kabbage Card, however, you have instant access to your funds. Use this card wherever Visa is accepted without having to wait for funds. Kabbage will then create a new loan with the same rates and terms as its traditional draws.

7. LoanBuilder

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If you want a business loan with one fixed fee and terms that are easy to understand, consider Paypal’s LoanBuilder. Through this lender, you can customize your loan to get the payments that are right for you. You can apply for anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000 and receive your funds as quickly as the next business day. Repayment terms of up to 52 weeks are available and are based on the amount of the loan. Payments are made weekly until your loan plus the lender’s fee are repaid. Fees range from 2.9% to 18.72% of the borrowing amount.

To qualify for a LoanBuilder loan, you must have:

  • A personal credit score of at least 550
  • A time in business of at least 9 months
  • At least $42,000 in annual revenue
  • No active bankruptcies on your credit report

8. OnDeck

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OnDeck offers several financing options if you need $10,000 for your business. With a short-term loan, you can receive up to $500,000 with repayment terms of 3 to 12 months. The lender charges a simple interest rate starting at just 9% for the most qualified borrowers. Long-term loans are also available with repayment terms of 15 to 36 months with annual interest rates starting at 9.99%. Daily or weekly payments are automatically deducted from your bank account with both loan options.

To qualify for a term loan from OnDeck, you must:

  • Be in business for at least 1 year
  • Have a minimum of $100,000 in annual revenue
  • Have a credit score of at least 500

An origination fee up to 4% of the borrowing amount will be charged to service and process your loan.

If you want a more flexible financing option, OnDeck provides lines of credit to qualified borrowers. Lines of credit from $5,000 to $100,000 are available, with APRs starting at 13.99%. Automatic payments are deducted weekly from your business bank account.

To qualify for a line of credit from OnDeck, you must have:

  • A time in business of at least 1 year
  • $100,000 or more in gross annual revenue
  • A personal credit score of at least 600

You must also be the majority owner of your business.

9. QuarterSpot

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Through Quarterspot, you can receive up to $250,000 in funding for your business in as quickly as 24 hours. Repayment terms of 9, 12, and 18 months are available with factor fees starting at 12.5 cents per dollar borrowed. With a Quarterspot loan, you can repay early to save on interest and fees.

To qualify for a loan from Quarterspot, you must have:

  • A credit score of at least 550
  • A time in business of at least 1 year
  • Monthly revenue of $16,000 or more
  • At least 10 sales every month
  • An average daily bank account balance of $2,000

You must also live in the United States, although applicants located in the states of North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont are ineligible to receive funding through QuarterSpot.

Online Loans For Business Startups

You’ve reviewed all of your options, and there’s one major problem standing in your way: you’re running a brand-new business or startup. Most online lenders require your business to be in operations for at least one to two years in order to qualify for a business loan. While getting the capital you need for a new business may be more challenging, it certainly isn’t impossible. In some cases, you may even have to get a little creative with your financing options.

One option to consider is a personal loan for business. If your personal credit score is solid and you meet income requirements, you can receive a personal loan to use for business expenses. The lenders below offer personal loans for business with reasonable rates and fee:

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Min. Credit Score Next Steps

$2K – $25K 2 – 4 years 15.49% to 30% 600 Apply Now

$1K – $50K 3 or 5 years 8.16% – 27.99% 620 Apply Now

$2K – $35K 3 or 5 years 6.95% – 35.99% APR 640 Apply Now

lending club logo

$1K – $40K 3 or 5 years 5.32% – 30.99% 640 Check Rate

Another way to get $10,000 online to grow your new business is with crowdfunding. Through crowdfunding, you have a platform to pitch your business in front of multiple investors. Whether you want to expand your business or bring a new product to market, you can launch a campaign to raise the capital you need. One such platform to consider is Kiva US.

Kiva US

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Through Kiva US, you can receive up to $10,000 for your business. The best part is that you’ll be charged 0% interest on your loan. However, financing through Kiva doesn’t work like a traditional loan. With a traditional loan, you submit your application, the lender considers your business history and credit profile, and if you’re approved you’ll receive your payment.

With Kiva US, you’ll fill out an application once you’re pre-qualified. Then, for 15 days, you use the platform to get friends and family members to lend money to you. Once you’ve raised money from people you know, your campaign will go public to over 1.6 million people for 30 days. After you’ve raised the funds you need, you have up to 36 months to pay back your interest-free loan.

Unlike other loans, there are no credit score, time in business, or annual revenue requirements. To qualify, you must live in the United States, be at least 18 years old, and use the loan for business purposes.

What To Do If You Have Bad Credit

Let’s be honest: securing a loan with bad credit can be a challenge. Traditional options like bank loans and SBA loans are typically completely off the table with a poor credit score, even if your business is successful.

Before you apply for a business loan, it’s always important to know where you stand credit-wise, even if you know you have a great score. The internet makes this easier than ever, and there are multiple sites that allow you to view your credit score at no cost. If you have credit challenges, review your report for any errors that can be disputed with the credit bureaus.

Once you know your score, you’ll be able to better gauge what types of loans and which lenders you can work with. If you have a score that is in the low 600s or even lower, know that your financing options may be more limited.

Before you apply, also understand the cost of borrowing. A low credit score shows lenders that you’re a risky borrower, so not only are your financing options limited, but you’ll face higher fees and interest rates than more creditworthy borrowers. When you do apply for a loan or other financing, make sure to evaluate the full cost of the loan to ensure it makes sense for your business. Your loan should help your business — not drag you into uncontrollable debt.

The wisest financial move is to take steps to boost your score before applying. However, if you need a loan immediately, improving your score over months (or even years) may not make sense for your business. If this is the case, short-term loans, business credit cards, invoice financing, and lines of credit may be your best options. Some of the lenders on this list, such as OnDeck and Kabbage, work with borrowers with all credit types. Crowdfunding is a low-interest option you can also explore if you’re facing credit challenges.

Final Thoughts

Getting $10,000 for your business is easy when you know where to look, even if you have past credit challenges, operate a new business, or have annual revenue that falls below traditional lending requirements. However, having access to quick loans also makes it easier to push your business further into debt.

Be smart. Shop around with lenders, evaluate all of your options, and calculate the return-on-investment to ensure you’re making a sound, responsible financial decision for your business.

The post How To Secure A $10,000 Loan Online For Your Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Why We Like Square’s Online Dashboard and Analytics App

Many business owners know and love Square for its free mobile point of sale app and free credit card readers, but some don’t realize that Square automatically provides some pretty powerful reporting and analytics features with their processing service.

Even if you’re primarily using Square to accept payments. Square dashboard feature is worth a closer look. Now more than ever, understanding data is critical to making smart business decisions every day, no matter what industry you’re in.

Read on for a look at some of the most notable features and benefits of the Square dashboard.

Reader eCommerce Retail Food Service
Free App & Reader Square eCommerce Square for Retail Square for Restaurants
Get Started Get Started Get Started Get Started
Free, general-purpose POS software and reader for iOS and Android Easy integration with popular platforms plus API for customization Specialized software for more complex retail stores Specialized software for full-service restaurants
$0/month $0/month $60/month $60/month
Always Free Always Free Free Trial Free Trial

Square’s Online Dashboard Features

The Square Dashboard makes it easy to understand both simple and complex aspects of your business. Best of all, it’s completely free with all Square accounts, and you can check it out from your favorite browser with no issues. (Note: Square’s Dashboard app is currently only available for iPhones; an Android version is coming soon. We’ll take a more in-depth look into the mobile app’s capabilities later in this post.)

The Square Dashboard boasts a simple, easy-to-use interface, and its intuitive design allows you to find what you want quickly. You can play around with your Home screen until it displays the sections in the order you think makes the most sense. This dashboard is so user-friendly that data geeks and amateurs alike can find something to love. Let’s dig in a little deeper.

Manage Settings

The Settings area acts as a control center where you can manage all kinds of permissions and security settings, including setting up 2-step verification for sign-in for you and your employees. Here, you can also edit your business name as it appears on your receipts and statements and change your bank account if needed.

Settings is also the place to manage multiple business locations (if applicable) and get device codes set up for each of your devices rather than simply relying on your email and password.

Get Paid From Your Dashboard 

One of the most important functions of the dashboard is getting paid!

If you are using your Virtual Terminal, you can access it directly from your dashboard to accept payment. Payments here are 3.5% + 15¢ per keyed-in transaction — or, if you have your Square Reader for magstripe, you’ll pay 2.75% per transaction. (A quick note, you need to have a Chromebook or Mac computer to take advantage of this.)

Square’s Virtual Terminal

If you invoice your customers, you can send a one-off invoice or set up recurring invoices from your dashboard, too. Invoices are free to send out, and you will pay 2.9% + 30¢ per invoice when your customers pay with credit or debit online. Square has beefed up its features in this regard, with the option to let customers pay in installments as well as the ability to request a downpayment.

Transferring Funds To Your Account

The Settings area also allows you to play around with your deposit schedule. By default, your account is set to deposit funds accrued by 8:00 pm EST to your account the next business day.

Need them even sooner? If you are in need of your funds right away, you can opt to use instant deposit. Instant deposit transfers your sales balance to your linked debit card whether it’s a business day or a weekend (for an additional 1% of the balance). Check out How Does Square’s Instant Deposit Work? for a more detailed look at this feature.

 

Now that we have covered the basics of some of the features under Settings, let’s discover more about the reporting features, found in the Square Reports tab (under Sales).

Reporting

Within the Sales section of the Square Dashboard, you’ll discover important insights into how your business (and your employees) operate. For instance, in the Reports tab, you have multiple subsections that give you visual data about nearly every part of your business.

The Square Reports tab is broken down by sections:

  • Sales Summary: The summary shows all of your gross sales, net sales, discounts, and more. You can change the time period of the report to display an overview of the whole year or see what your sales are doing today, in real time.

  • Sales Trends: Trends gives you a visual representation of all of your sales in the form of a line graph to quickly see how your sales perform day to day, week to week, and year to year.
  • Payment Methods: The payment methods feature gives you a snapshot of how customers are paying, how many transactions they have with you, and the fees associated with each type. Whether your customers are paying with cash, card, or gift card —it is all right there.
  • Item Sales: This section breaks down sales totals by item. Get an exact count on what products and services are selling the best — and which are selling the least.
  • Category Sales: Not only can you see an itemized list of everything you’re selling in the item sales section, but Square’s reporting feature also breaks things down by category.
  • Mobile Staff Sales: Keep track of who your best mobile sellers are with a quick view that shows you when they sell through the day. Finding out when sales peak can help you schedule and better manage your entire remote staff — and help you spot your best sellers for the day.
  • Employee Sales: Similar to the mobile staff sales section, the employee sales section helps you keep track of who is selling what. This section shows you sales per hour, tips, hours worked, and when sales peaked for the day. To be able to use this, you’ll have to have an Employee Management subscription, which costs $5/employee per month.
  • Discounts: The discount sections shows a list for the amount and frequency of your discounts that are applied to anything your customers buy.
  • Taxes: This section breaks the sales tax information down for you by the type of tax, how much it is, and any non-taxable sales you have.
  • Gift Cards: Find out what you need to know about any gift cards you sell. This section overviews any gift cards you load, how much was put on them, how many were redeemed, and how many existing gift cards you have floating around at any time.
  • Comps: Comps keep track of changes to orders that may affect your bottom line. If a change will cause a loss to your business, or if you want to place a discount on an order and eat the cost, you will utilize the comp function.
  • Voids: For a change to an order that doesn’t affect inventory or costs (i.e., a customer changes an order before it’s made), you will use the void function.

Worried about keeping accurate books? You can also export your data from nearly any accounting software. The best part is that because the dashboard is so easy to navigate, you don’t have to wade through a lot of Excel sheets to get to your data. Keeping things in one central location can mean less hassle, as you have created a streamlined workflow from data to decisions. And that can make for smart business decisions at every level. 

Customer Care

Square has some excellent — and entirely free — built-in features that can help you understand and take control of customer satisfaction. The foundation of this is the Square Directory, a free tool you can use to build customer profiles, including their names, contact information, and purchase history. You can also keep notes on each customer! A detailed transaction and activity history can help you understand how your customers interact with you through time.

Square offers insights that show you how often your customers visit and how often they return to you. The insights can help you track retention patterns, and if you have multiple locations, help you understand which of your locations is doing better. You can create segments of your “regulars” or identify customers who have lapsed in visits and (if you opt to use Square’s Marketing suite) reach out to them with promotions.

The other tool worth mentioning is Square Feedback. Here, you can encourage any customers who have negative issues to leave you private feedback where you can offer resolution directly. Your customers can send private feedback from their receipt so you can keep track of any repeated issues or isolated issues quickly. It’s possible to respond to the feedback, issue refunds, or send coupons — all through the Square dashboard.

Square’s Customer Feedback Features

Inventory

While you can create items from within the Square Point of Sale app, the Square Dashboard offers much more comprehensive tools to manage your inventory. You can create items manually, one by one, or do a bulk upload with a CSV file. In the dashboard, you can also manage quantities of items and set low-stock alerts, so you know when it’s time to re-order something. Square’s inventory supports barcodes (though it can’t print labels), as well as variants and modifiers. You can even sort your inventory by category.

Square gives you access to reports that will break the sales data down into beautiful graphs for you to keep track of what inventory items are selling the best. By using the inventory tools, you can quickly see what inventory is moving the fastest and can make better decisions about what to do next.  This real-time data reporting feature means you always have the most up-to-date, accurate information when it comes to re-ordering, managing promotions, and distribution (if you have more than one location). 

How Square Dashboard Insights Lead To Smart Promotions

Sure, the capability to easily keep up with your inventory, sales, and customer management are all benefits, but the dashboard can also give you powerful insights when it comes to making decisions about marketing your business.

For example, you may have a great product that hasn’t quite caught on with customers yet. This app shows you who is buying that lesser-known service or item, allowing you to then run a referral campaign as an incentive for those people to tell their family and friends.

And when it’s time to run a promotion, or you have ongoing discounts to offer, you can track the success of those promotional pushes as well. You’ll find this handy feature in the reporting feature under the Discounts section.

Don’t forget: Square’s Loyalty Program (which starts at $25/month) can be managed from within the dashboard. It syncs with the Directory and allows you to customize your loyalty program perks, right down to the branding of the program. Square really does offer you a centralized way to manage your interactions with your customers and make smart decisions on how to drive sales.

The Square Dashboard App

The Square Dashboard App allows you to take some of the Dashboard’s analytic and real-time updating power with you on the go — if you have an iPhone with the latest version of iOS running. (For those of you with an Android phone, Square is working on developing a compatible app, so stay tuned.)

After you download the app, you can sign into your account. You’ll see right away that it is a bit more simplified than the full online Square Dashboard.

That said, the Square Dashboard App still gives you quite a bit of control on the go. You can view live sales data from more than one location, add customers to your directory, and take a peek at activity through the day. What you can’t do is send an invoice from your app; you will have to log in to your online Square Dashboard to update and submit invoices and send them from within Square Point of Sale.

Make Smarter Business Decisions For A Low Cost & High Value

Ready to get started and dig into the reporting and analytics features? You don’t have to do anything if you are already using Square. It’s all in your Dashboard. You will find every section we highlighted above — from sales summaries and trends to employee sales activity through the day — and it’s all accessible in real time, completely free with your account. 

For any business owner, the ability to quickly track pending invoices and handle customer feedback concerns privately can mean the difference between success and failure. And when it comes to comparing location performance, employee activities, and sales trends over the long term, the dashboard can help you make smarter, more informed decisions for your business.

With everything that Square offers in terms of free features and reporting options, the cost-to-value ratio is a no-brainer. You get a lot of benefit out of this robust product that keeps delivering real-time data to you all year.

Remember, though: While Square doesn’t cost anything to use, you will be responsible for paying credit card processing costs! But unless you opt for a monthly subscription product such as Loyalty, Marketing, or Employee Management, transaction fees will be your only consistent costs with Square.

With Square, fees for each type of transaction can vary, but you’ll pay the same for any type of card. Here is a quick break-down of the most common transaction costs:

  • Square Point of Sale with a mobile card reader: 2.75% per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction.
  • Square Register: 2.5% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction
  • Square Terminal: 2.6% + $0.10 per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction

For more on Square’s transaction pricing, check out How Much Does Square Charge?

If you are interested in learning more about all of Square’s hardware options, check out our Guide to Square Credit Card Readers And POS Bundles.

Try the Square Online Dashboard For Free

If you are already a Square user, the next step is simple: head over to your dashboard and start checking things out. If you haven’t gotten started with Square yet, you can sign up for a free account with Square and test it out for yourself. There are no credit checks for this, and a free mag-stripe reader comes to your mailbox after you sign up.

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Retail POS: Free trial ($60/mo value)

 

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Square POS: Always free

Get things set up, keep doing what you do best, and then watch Square build reports for your business in real time.

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