Website Hosting Explained

Website Hosting Explained

Website hosting is reserved space on a computer server that stores & serves files related to a website (ie, HTML, CSS, images, etc) to browsers when requested via the Internet. Website hosting is usually connected to a human-readable domain name.

As an analogy, website hosting is like a plot of physical land…but on the Internet. Like a physical plot of land, it’s usually connected to a known address, and it’s only truly useful if you build something on it. Also like physical land, website hosting can come with an infrastructure to make your project easier / cheaper. It also has many tradeoffs.

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

  • What is Web Hosting?
  • How Website Hosting Works?
  • How Does Website Hosting, Domains, Email and Website Software Work Together?
  • How Much Does It Cost To Host A Website?
  • Can You Get Free Web Hosting?
  • What Makes a Good Website Host?
  • How Do I Purchase Website Hosting?
  • Can You Transfer Website Hosting?
  • Website Hosting Company Examples & 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 is Website Hosting?

In plain language, website hosting stores & serves website files to be delivered to whomever asks for them via the Internet.

Everything that you access on the Internet is ultimately made up of files delivered by a server. Website hosting refers to the server or section of a server where the files that make up a website are “hosted”.

Technically, any computer configured as a server and connected to the Internet (e.g., your home computer) can provide website hosting.

However, in practice, website hosting almost always refers to space on a leased pre-configured server that has a high-capacity connection to major Internet network.

How Does Website Hosting Work?

Website hosting works by taking a server, putting website files on it, adding software that provides instructions to access those files, then connecting a domain name so that people on browsers can easily find those files.

Website Hosting HTML Files

Website hosting usually has software installed to make management simpler. This is referred to as a software “stack”. The most common “stack” is LAMP, which refers to

  • Linux – the operating system of the server. Some website hosts use Windows, but it’s much less common.
  • Apache – the software that sorts and filters requests for files. Some hosts use NGINX, which is usually faster, but is not as widely supported by website software.
  • MySQL – the default database that the server has for websites that use databases. Some hosts allow other types of databases.
  • PHP – a programming language used by many website software programs. The host will usually support other languages as well.

Most of these settings are pre-configured and only used by non-developers to shop around and compare apples to apples among hosting companies. Website hosts usually have server / hosting management software (e.g., cPanel) installed to make installing website software, managing files, changing settings accessible for non-developers.

Here’s an example from InMotion Hosting’s cPanel. You see this when you log into your account.

InMotion cPanel

How Does Website Hosting, Domains, Email and Website Software Work Together?

Hosting stores your files. Domains make finding your files easy. Website software (e.g., WordPress) makes it simple to create, manage and manipulate lots of website files. Email software can also live on your website host and will manage & sort email requests (and receipts) on your server. Due to spam, many companies use their domain settings to send emails elsewhere (e.g., Google Suite for Business or Outlook).

Here’s a real-life example.

A few seconds (or minutes) ago, you clicked on something that made your browser send a request to my website hosting for all the files located at https://www.shivarweb.com/21925/website-hosting-explained/

That request was sorted and routed via my domain name / DNS settings to a VPS server at InMotion Hosting‘s datacenter in Los Angeles. My website’s files live on a section of that server with dedicated resources to store & serve my files. In the screenshot, I have my domain “pointed” to InMotion’s servers.

Namecheap DNS Setup

The pre-installed Apache software looked at said “yep, this request is legit…go this location for everything that you need”.

At that location lives a bunch of files (created and managed by a piece of software called WordPress) that were executed. They went and pulled information from the mySQL database, built out the files that needed to be delivered, and handed them off to the server to send out.

Web Hosting Images

Those files were pulled in and loaded in the correct order by your browser to show what you are seeing now.

A little bit later today, I might log into my server or WordPress installation and edit this page.

Ok.

That might all sounds *massively* complicated. And it is. But your house or car or dishwasher might also sound that complicated with every step involved.

Like your house or car or dishwasher thought, most everything is pre-configured and set up to work well every time. The important thing to know is that the process is not magic and every website on the Internet goes through a very similar process.

How Much Does It Cost To Host A Website?

It depends 🙂

The cost of hosting a website usually depends on the amount of resources that you want / need. Resources include not only memory & storage space, but also human customer support, bandwidth, software, security, company reputation, etc. Here’s an example from the company that hosts this website.

Example Web Hosting

The vast majority of websites can run just fine on shared hosting. Shared hosting is where a hosting company leases out accounts on a server and manages resources among them all. Shared hosting will usually run from $5 to $20 per month depending on features, plans, and discounting.

Get a sense of different shared plans on my Guide to Shared hosts here.

The pricing spectrum beyond shared hosting gets a bit tricky to price out. A VPS hosting plan is where a hosting company divides up the resources of a server so that you have known resources. VPS pricing usually runs $25 to $150 per month depending on features, plans and discounting.

Get a sense of different VPS plans on my Guide to VPS hosts here.

Now – the top end with dedicated hosting, managed hosting, specialized WordPress hosting, reseller, etc gets out of the scope of this explainer. However, I do want to touch on Cloud hosting. Cloud hosting is where you (usually) pay for use on one of the big cloud networks like Google, Amazon or Microsoft. It can be incredibly cheap…or way more expensive than you’d want. That’s because shared / VPS hosting operates on a bundled pricing and cloud is straight a la carte.

Get a sense of different WordPress hosting plans, Reseller hosting plans, and Dedicated hosting plans here.

Additionally, even shared hosting accounts will usually allow you to host multiple websites on a single account. So when you are comparing costs, be sure to look at *your* total value for your use.

Can You Get Free Web Hosting?

Yes…but there will be strings attached, so you’ll pay in some form or fashion.

You will either pay with advertising (Wix Free Plans, WordPress.com Free Plans, etc), poor service and hard limits (Blogger, Google Sites, etc) or with complexity (Google Cloud).

There are some companies that claim to offer free web hosting…but I would be *extremely* wary. Remember that if you are not paying for the product…you are the product.

What Makes a Good Website Host?

A good website host matches your budget & goals. They provide what they promise. I am not one to preach that there is “one best host” or a single way to be a good host, because everybody needs different things.

Some people value cost above all – and do not mind poor performance or limited customer support if they get a genuinely good deal. Some people want excellent service no matter what. Some people want a company that is independently owned and some want a big name-brand.

There are absolutely hosting companies that are better than others, but the biggest factor is your own goals and expectations.

I have a guide to choosing the best shared hosting for your project here (along with similar guides to WordPress and VPS hosting).

How Do I Purchase Website Hosting?

Find a hosting company that meets your goals, pick your plan and buy! Most established hosting companies are pretty good at “onboarding” – ie, moving a new customer to an active customer.

Go to my guide to best shared hosting companies, take the quiz, and head over. Once you’ve purchased hosting, you’ll also need a domain name to “connect” to your account. From there you can install website software (like WordPress). I wrote a start to finish setup guide here.

Can You Transfer Website Hosting?

Yes! Absolutely. One of the best things about self-hosting rather than using a hosted website builder is that you can generally pick up and leave for better pastures.

You will need to make sure that the plan and company that you’ve picked have the same “tech stack” – (ie, Linux). Many times hosting companies will do the transfer for you for free, but I also have a somewhat dated but still accurate guide to transferring manually.

Next Steps

Now that you know about website hosting, be sure to put your knowledge to use. Find the right hosting company for you or learn how to optimize the account that you already have or check out the related post below to learn more!

The post Website Hosting Explained appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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How to Accept Credit Cards For Your Taxi Business

 

credit card processing for taxi drivers

If you are a taxi driver, there is no shortage of options when it comes to accepting credit card payments from your customers. But the truth is, point of sale solutions don’t all offer the same type of features and benefits. And when you consider that most customers today whip out their credit card when it’s time to pay the bill, finding the best credit card processing company for your taxi business is really important.

If you’re a taxi or ride-share driver looking for a good payment processing app, we’ve created this post just for you — read on for an overview of some of the features you may want to look out for when you choose a processing company for your taxi business. At the end of the post, we’ll also tell you which company offers the best processing features (and value) for your money — and why.

What Makes A Good Mobile Payments Processor?

Mobile App & Card Reader

Of course, the most essential thing to have when accepting payment in your taxi is good, basic functionality in the mobile app and credit card reader you’re using. First things first: Look for a reader that is compatible with the mobile device on which your software is installed — whether that is your iPhone or Android phone, iPad, or another type of tablet.

You will also want to pay attention to any costs associated with the card reader itself. Are the reader and app free to use? If not, could you get a better deal elsewhere? Read our article on the best credit card readers for more information about choosing good hardware.

As a taxi driver, the ability to accept multiple types of payments is important for the convenience of both you and your customer, but you need to be able to count on it to work wherever you are. It’s critical to choose a company that has built up an excellent reputation through reliable and secure service.

Of course, it’s critical to consider things like rates, fees, usability, and other bells and whistles that might come along with your service, so keep reading to find out more about what makes a good credit card processing solution for your taxi company.

Offline Mode

Mobile credit card readers are built to go wherever you do, but that doesn’t mean they are always going to function if your internet service gets interrupted. Since you can’t always rely on the connectedness of your device, finding a credit card reader that also works offline is a must.

You may be asking, ‘So how does it work if you are offline?’ If a card reader has an “offline mode,” you can still swipe payments without worrying about a spotty connection (or just re-swiping and crossing your fingers). Connection problems don’t just affect taxi drivers and other mobile businesses — they can affect brick and mortar businesses as well. Having an offline mode takes some of the worry and the hassle out of accepting payments, so you never have to worry about a disconnection interfering with a sale.

Low Processing Rates

One of the first questions anyone should ask when it comes to credit card processing is, of course, how much does it cost? After all, it is your business and your bottom line, so understanding all of the fees that come along with your service is important. Taxi drivers understand better than many business owners what high processing fees can do to earnings.

Many processing companies charge exorbitant rates per transaction, leading some people to stick to cash transactions and avoid processing credit card payments altogether. Thankfully, not all processing companies are out to screw you over — we include our best recommendation at the end of the post, so keep reading if you are curious!

Look for a company that has easy-to-understand rates, with preferably no added monthly fees. Nowadays, you also should look for freedom when it comes to contracts. As a taxi driver, you shouldn’t be bullied into signing a long-term contract with any credit card processing company. In fact, a contract of that sort is often a red flag that there may be more hidden fees once they hook you, so avoid these high-pressure tactics if you can.

Educate yourself before you begin negotiations with any potential payment processor. Read our Complete Guide To Credit Card Processing Rates and Fees, check out our infographic on payment processing fees for a visual overview, or download our free eBook, the Beginner’s Guide To Payment Processing.

Intuitive Tipping Functionality

One of the great things about accepting payments through a mobile reader is that tipping is made easy for your customers. Tips can add up to a pretty big chunk of your take-home pay if you drive cabs for a living, so pay close attention to any app you are considering when it comes to the tipping experience. Look for an app that offers up some preset tip amounts first but also allows your riders to choose a different amount if they want. When an app suggests a pre-set percentage, it removes any mental math skills and makes it even easier to tip you at the end of the ride.

Customer Experience Feedback

Another perk to check out when you are shopping around for the best mobile app for your taxi company is the feedback function. Does the app allow your customers to rate the drive or give you any input? If there are any issues, resolving them directly with you through the app is preferable to a customer posting a public review or calling your company. These customer feedback functions can also show you how you or your staff are doing each day and over time— and allow you to communicate with your customers about their experience directly.

Backend Reporting

Nowadays, when it comes to finding the right mobile processing app, there is so much more available than just the swipe feature. Check out some of the other services that may come along with the app, like reporting and analytics. The ability to track sales history and amounts, see peak service times, store customer data, and create other insights can be powerful tools to help you make better decisions. 

The Best Mobile Payment App For Taxis & Ride Shares

With all of the potential benefits — and pitfalls — in mind listed above, there really is only one company that offers the whole package. When it comes to credit card readers that deliver more than just a swipe function, our favorite payment processor is Square.

Best Overall Mobile POS


Review Visit Site

Highlights

  • No contract or monthly fee
  • Instant account setup
  • Retail upgrade available
  • Restaurant upgrade available
  • For iOS and Android mobile devices
  • 2.75% per in-person card swipe

Retail POS: Free trial ($60/mo value)

 

Restaurant POS: Free trial ($60/mo value)

 

Square POS: Always free

Square has some of the lowest rates with no surprise monthly charges or hidden fees. Not only are costs low, but you can also get your funds deposited directly into your bank account in as little as one or two business days. Also, fees are the same no matter what card you take —  and yes you can start taking every major credit card, including American Express. With the free Square POS app, it is just 2.75% per swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction — and the card reader itself is free.

We like that when you take payment, the offline feature is backing you up in the event service is interrupted. Keep in mind that with Square, no data is saved to your device, so you can be confident you are offering a fully secure and PCI compliant solution.

We also like that with Square POS, you get access to analytics that you may not have had before. For instance, the Square dashboard feature makes it easy for you to see every time you or any other driver connected to your account to process a payment with Square. At the Square dashboard, you can see this activity happening in real time. The simple charts allow you to quickly determine peak times and sales activity for each driver (or yourself), so you can make better decisions when it comes to scheduling.

If you want to check out a little bit more about Square before making a decision, check out our other resources, including How Much Does Square Charge, and How Does Square’s Instant Deposit Work? By doing a little research and checking out the features most important to you, you can find the best solution that you are comfortable with — and that makes your life a lot easier.

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 How to Accept Credit Cards For Your Taxi Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Best Factoring Companies For Small Business

As a B2B or B2G business, having outstanding invoices is typically a good sign. After all, this shows that you actually have customers and your business is technically bringing in money. Depending on your invoicing policy, however, these outstanding invoices can lead to cash flow issues. For example, if your company policy is to bill with net-60 terms, your customers have up to 60 days to pay. If you have invoiced multiple customers, all of whom wait 60 days to pay, your incoming cash flow could take a big hit in the meantime — not ideal for your business.

If you need extra capital for your business as a result of unpaid invoices, there’s a solution: invoice factoring. This type of small business financing leverages your unpaid invoices and helps you get the money you need in just days. Best of all, traditional qualifying factors, like credit score and annual revenue, may not be a factor for approval.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? But before you move forward with invoice factoring, read on to learn more about exactly what it is, whether your business qualifies, and our recommendations for invoice factors.

Best for Recommended Option
Fast Funding BlueVine
Startups Breakout Capital
Borrowers With Low Credit Scores Fundbox
Comparing Factors Lendio
Large B2B Businesses P2Binvestor
Contract Factoring Riviera Finance

What Is Invoice Factoring?

Invoice factoring isn’t the same as a loan. Instead, you sell your qualifying unpaid invoices to a factor for instant cash. Let’s break down exactly how it works.

Normally, you’d send out your invoices, wait for the customer to pay, and receive cash only when the customer pays. In this case, you’re responsible for collecting the payment.

With invoice factoring, you sell your unpaid invoices to a factor. You’ll receive an upfront payment of typically 85% to 95% of the invoice total. Then, the factor collects payment from your customers. Once the customers pay, the factor remits the remaining funds to you — minus any fees charged for the service.

The fees you’ll pay will depend on the factor you select. Most factors have a set daily or weekly factoring fee that is charged until customers pay their invoices. On average, you should expect to pay between 1% and 6% per month.

Let’s look at an example to make invoice factoring easier to understand.

  1. You sell an invoice worth $20,000 to a factor.
  2. The factor pays 90% of the invoice value immediately — $18,000 goes directly to you.
  3. The remaining $2,000 is held in reserve by the factoring company.
  4. The weekly factoring fee is 0.5% — or $100 per week.
  5. The customer repays the invoice in three weeks, so the factoring fee adds up to $300.
  6. This amount is deducted from the cash in reserve — $2,000 — so you receive $1,700.
  7. In total, you receive $19,700 on the $20,000 invoice.

In this example, $300 was paid for the invoice factoring service. We get it: no business owner likes to just give up money. However, trading such a small amount for instant payment could offer the relief your business needs when you’re in a cash crunch.

Of course, this is also just an example. You may have to pay higher or lower fees based on the factoring company you select, which is why it’s important to shop around. In some cases, you may even find that an alternative financial route makes more sense for your business.

What Type Of Businesses Is Invoice Factoring Right For?

Invoicing Versus Accounting

Invoice factoring is best for B2B and B2G businesses that want to resolve cash flow issues due to slow-paying customers.

One of the most important requirements for approval — and with some lenders, the only requirement — is having qualifying invoices. Factoring companies will consider the quality and quantity of your invoices when determining whether to approve your business for invoice factoring. The factoring company will evaluate the value of your invoices and the creditworthiness of your customers. In other words, are your customers likely to pay? If so, you’re a good candidate for invoice factoring.

If you have low annual revenue, a poor credit score, a lack of business credit, or other challenges, you may still be approved for factoring as long as you have qualifying invoices. Be aware, however, that some factoring companies do take into consideration your personal credit score, business profile, and other factors to approve your financing and determine the fees you pay.

Invoice Factoring VS Invoice Financing

Sometimes, the terms “invoice factoring” and “invoice financing” are used interchangeably. However, invoice financing — also known as accounts receivable financing — is slightly different from factoring.

Invoice Financing Invoice Factoring

Uses invoices as collateral for a line of credit

Sell invoices for immediate cash

You are granted a credit facility based on the value of your unpaid invoices, and can draw from your available funds at any time

Factor gives you an advance when the invoice is sent and sends you the rest once the customer pays (minus a factoring fee)

You are responsible for collecting invoice payments

Factor is responsible for collecting invoice payments

With invoice factoring, you receive a lump sum for selling your invoices to an invoice factoring company. With invoice financing, you don’t sell your invoices. Instead, your accounts receivables are used as collateral to secure a flexible line of credit.

That’s not the only difference, though. Because you sell your invoices through invoice factoring, collecting payment from customers becomes the responsibility of the factoring company. With invoice financing, you still own the invoices and collecting from customers remains your responsibility.

Unsure of which option is best for your business? Learn more about invoice factoring and financing to make the best financial decision for your business. Then, read on to check out our top picks for invoice factoring and invoice financing.

BlueVine

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Best for…

Small businesses that need capital fast

BlueVine offers invoice factoring lines up to $5 million with rates starting at 0.25% per week. After filling out a short application, you can be approved for funding in just 24 hours. Once approved, you can upload your invoices or connect your accounting software on BlueVine’s dashboard. You’ll receive up to 90% of funds upfront and receive the remainder — minus fees — after the invoice is paid.

To qualify, you must have a personal credit score of at least 530. You must also own a B2B business that has been in operation for at least 3 months and have at least $100,000 in annual revenue to receive funding through BlueVine.
If you’re looking for a different type of financing for your business, you can apply to receive a line of credit of up to $250,000 with rates starting at just 4.8% through BlueVine.

Breakout Capital

breakout capital

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Best for…

Startups seeking working capital

One of Breakout Capital’s financial products is FactorAdvantage. Through this program, you can receive up to $500,000 for your unpaid invoices. Repayment terms up to 24 months are available, and fees start at just 1.25% per month. A one-time origination fee of 2.5% is charged by the lender. One thing to note is that Breakout Capital partners with third-party invoice factoring companies to offer this product.

One of the best things about FactorAdvantage is the loan criteria. There are no time in business, personal credit score, or monthly revenue requirements to qualify. Startups are welcome to apply.

Breakout Capital also offers additional financial solutions for your business, including but not limited to equipment leases, Small Business Administration 7(a) loans, and lines of credit.

Fundbox

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Best for…

Business owners with low credit scores

Fundbox Credit is an invoice financing option that provides a business line of credit of up to $100,000. You won’t repay funds when the customer pays back the invoice; instead, you’ll make weekly payments to pay off the borrowed amount. Repayment terms of 12 to 24 months are available with advance fees starting at 4.66%.

To qualify, you must sync your supported accounting software to Fundbox. Your software should reflect activity from at least the last 2 months. Additional requirements include being a business based in the United States with annual revenues of at least $50,000. There are no time in business or personal credit score requirements to qualify.

Lendio

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Best for…

Comparing options

Lendio is unique from the other lenders in this list because it is not a direct lender. Instead, it is a loan aggregator that connects you with more than 75 of the nation’s top lenders. This is a great option if you want to shop around for the best rates.

Through Lendio’s network of lenders, you can receive accounts receivable financing in amounts up to 80% of your receivables. Terms up to 1 year are available with factor rates starting at 5% for the most qualified borrowers. There are no credit score requirements, and you can receive multiple offers in just minutes with one application.

If accounts receivable financing doesn’t seem like the best choice for your business, you can also apply for other financial products through Lendio, including short-term loans, SBA loans, and equipment financing.

P2Binvestor

P2Binvestor P2Bi logo

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Best for…

Large B2B businesses

Through P2Binvestor, you can apply for asset-backed lines of credit from $250,000 up to $10 million. These lines of credit come with 1-year revolving terms. There are no specific rates listed by the lender, but rates in the “high teens” should be expected.

P2Bi’s lines of credit are secured using accounts receivables and/or inventory. A personal guarantee is also required. This financial product is best for larger B2B businesses, and requirements include minimum annual revenue of $500,000 and at least 6 months in business. According to P2Bi, the ideal borrower owns a business with at least 10 employees, at least 10% annual revenue growth, and at least $2 million in annual revenue.

Riviera Finance

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Best for…

Businesses that want to enter into a long-term factoring agreement

Through Riviera Finance, you can receive up to $2 million for your unpaid invoices. The factor will pay up to 95% of your invoice value upfront, putting more of your own money in your pocket sooner. Riviera Finance works with companies of all sizes, and there are no time in business, credit score, or revenue requirements. Rates start at 2%, and a 6-month contract is typically required.

Through this company, invoices for pre-approved debtors are funded within 24 hours of receipt. Even if the debtor hasn’t been pre-approved, Riviera Finance will work to get the invoice funded in the same timeframe.

How To Choose A Factoring Company

negotiating credit card processing fees

Whether you’re choosing between a few of our recommended lenders or you’re comparing options on your own, it’s important to know what to look for when choosing a factoring company. Before signing your agreements, consider the following:

Factoring Fees

When you need money quickly, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and think only in the short term. Fast approvals and quick funding can be alluring, but these conveniences may come at a cost. Shop around to ensure you receive the most affordable factoring fees for your situation.

Even if the factoring fees are very low, also keep an eye out for additional fees, which can drive up the cost of your financing. Check out our side-by-side comparisons to find the most affordable option for your business.

Additional Fees

In addition to factoring fees, some factoring companies charge additional fees for their services. These include but are not limited to:

  • Origination Fees
  • Servicing Fees
  • Monthly Minimums
  • Renewal Fees
  • Money Transfer Fees
  • Early Termination Fees

Over time, these fees can really pile up, so it’s important that you understand all costs associated with the product before signing a contract or opening an account.

Spot Factoring VS Contract Factoring

Before you choose your factoring company, consider the volume of invoices you plan to submit for factoring. Will this be a one-time deal to get you over a financial hump, or do you need a more long-term solution to help with incoming cash flow?

If you only need funds to clear a temporary financial hurdle, spot factoring may be the right choice for you. With spot factoring, you get to choose the invoices that are factored and you aren’t locked into a contract. However, this often comes with higher factoring fees.

If you have multiple invoices that you’ll use to secure capital over a longer period of time, consider contract factoring. In this case, you’ll sign a long-term contract — typically 6 months or longer — that will require you to sell all or most of your invoices to the factor. With contract factoring, fees are often lower but you must meet certain volume requirements each month with most factors. There may be additional fees if you don’t meet this volume or if you end your contract early.

Recourse VS Non-Recourse

From time to time, a customer may not pay their invoice. You may have your own policies in place when this happens to your business, but what happens if you’ve sold the invoice to a factor? The process depends on the arrangement of your agreement.

If you have a recourse agreement, the responsibility falls back on you to purchase the unpaid invoice. If you have a non-recourse agreement, the responsibility of handling the unpaid invoice falls on the factoring company. It is important to note, however, that a disputed invoice may still be your responsibility, even under a non-recourse agreement. Learn more about the benefits and drawbacks of non-recourse agreements.

Final Thoughts

If unpaid invoices are throwing a wrench in your incoming cash flows, invoice factoring can certainly help. However, as with any other financial product, it’s important to fully weigh the benefits and drawbacks, consider short- and long-term costs, and explore other options for getting the capital you need, including business credit cards and unsecured lines of credit.

Consider the long-term effects of financing, then determine if invoice factoring is the right choice for your business.

The post Best Factoring Companies For Small Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Why Square Is A Great Free POS For Markets And Grocery Stores

As a small business owner who is launching a new shop or exploring your payment processing options, finding the right POS to accept payments is not a decision to be made lightly. You probably already know that the grocery industry has its own unique rewards and challenges. Keeping up with supply and demand, getting your name out there, competing with the bigger brands, and strengthening your own brand recognition takes time, energy, and a lot of know-how. Fortunately, Square offers a fantastic POS option for markets and grocery stores that goes way beyond just the swipe.

Read on to find out how Square payment processing tools can benefit your business whether you are opening a pop-up shop, have a brick-and-mortar store, or take your culinary delights on the go to farmer’s markets and trade shows.

Square’s Free Point-Of-Sale Reader & App

Square is best known for the free Square Point of Sale app and the free Square Reader. Square’s iconic white reader plugs into a smartphone or tablet to make mobile payments possible. The Square Point of Sale app allows you to “swipe, dip, or tap payments” whether or not you have an internet signal. If you run into a spotty WiFi connection or have a service interruption, you don’t have to worry about a line bottleneck because the app can securely save data offline.

For the smaller to mid-size shop, the Square Point of Sale app has everything you will need and then some. We dive into all of these features below, so keep reading for a closer look at how Square gives you better control over more parts of your business, from inventory management to sales, employees, and even more.

We’ll also take a look at how Square can also help you completely run or supplement your marketing campaigns with an all-in-one solution that can integrate a loyalty program and private customer feedback. Most of these perks (except for the loyalty program option) are all “in-the-box” features that you won’t pay anything more to use with your free POS Square reader.  Let’s dig in!

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
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Track Inventory

One thing will never change — people love to eat. However, keeping your supply up-to-date can be a challenge when it comes to balancing the ebb and flow of demand. Your customers come in for a specific product or ingredient; making sure it’s always there for them builds loyalty and trust. Managing inventory can be tricky if you don’t have the right tools.

Thankfully, Square builds inventory management right into their product, so you don’t ever have to think twice about shopping around for a suite of tools. It’s easy to set up your inventory — you can bulk import all of your products with a CSV spreadsheet and make any adjustments to name, prices, or quantities as needed. Once your inventory is saved, you can also set low-stock alerts so that Square will let you know if you’re running low on a product. The best part is that you can determine what constitutes “low stock,” whether that’s six of an item, or 100! You’ll also always be able to take a peek in real time at what — and how much — of your products are selling.

Square’s inventory also supports variants and modifiers. Variants are helpful if you carry a product that comes in different flavors or sizes — you can keep the item listing centralized, but still track quantities of each flavor or size and see which ones are most popular. You can even set different pricing for each variant, as appropriate. Modifiers are more applicable to restaurants and cafes, but if you run a small boutique store and want to upsell customers on special bundles or extra discounted products, you could add them as modifiers.

Square’s inventory system allows you to upload photos for each product, and on a tablet you can configure the layout of products. However, if you don’t like browsing for the right item, you can also attach a barcode scanner. While the free Point of Sale App doesn’t have native label printing, you can find several viable workarounds.

Also, if you sell products in bulk, it’s important to know that Square doesn’t currently support tracking partial increments of a product, or selling by weight. Again, you can find workarounds for this, one of them being the variable price point feature. With the variable price point, you can create an item and track sales, but the POS app will prompt you to enter an amount for the sale when you select the item.

Finally, if you have more than one shop, you can take advantage of the free multi-location inventory management tools. Square allows you to set up individual preferences for each location, including taxes. You can build your inventory from Square’s centralized item catalog and adjust pricing and availability as appropriate. Plus, you can run reports to see sales by location, POS device, or even by individual employee (you’ll need an Employee Management subscription for that last report.) 

The best part is that you can control all of this — every location, all of your inventory, all of your devices — from your Square Dashboard, which is a free web portal. Below we also cover a little bit more about the dashboard — including how it helps you keep track of employee sales, tips, peak sales times, and more.

Square Dashboard

The Square dashboard gives you an integrated look at many aspects of your store — and these reporting and analytics features are all free. You can view your stats in real time and see what is going on in your store — or stores — simply by visiting the Sales tab in the dashboard. Whether you want to dig into the data or you just want a quick visual representation of sales, you can find what you need, fast. You can access reports, view all types of transactions, and keep track of deposits all by quickly scanning the three tabs at the top of your dashboard.

The reports tab breaks all of your data down into simple graphs and data to view aspects of your shop, including:

  • Sales Summary: Your sales summary report is updated in real time and can be viewed by day, month, or year.
  • Sales Trends: See your sales performance in daily, weekly, or yearly views.
  • Payments Methods: This report displays how your customers pay and any fees associated with the transaction.
  • Item Sales: Allows you to find out how well any individual product is selling.
  • Category Sales: Get a quick pie-chart view of which categories are bringing in the most sales such as appetizers, side dishes, or drinks, for example.
  • Employee Sales: This report breaks down tips, hours worked, and when an employee’s sales peaked for the day. (Note: You need to subscribe to Square’s Employee Management to access these features)
  • Discounts: Running a promotion? This report tells you how often your customers use a discount, coupon, or another offer when they buy. (More about loyalty programs through Square later in the post.)
  • Taxes: This report breaks all of your tax information down by the type, amount, and records any non-taxable sales in one spot.

Square also allows you to create your own custom reports, so if you want to see certain pieces of information together, you can tell Square to compile that report for you, and even how often to send it.

Don’t forget that the Dashboard is also the centralized management hub for all of your other Square services, including invoicing, employee management or payroll, and any other tools you might be using.

Built-In Marketing Engagement

One of the interesting aspects of Square’s platform is its customer engagement tools, the foundation of which is the customer directory. With Square POS, you can keep a record of all your customers, with their name, phone number, email, purchase history, and even card details, if you prefer (and your customers agree to store the card on file). You don’t need to have Square’s loyalty program to activate this feature, and it comes at no charge. It’s a great way to keep notes on regular customers and their preferences, to see who your most loyal customers are and who spends the most money in your store. 

If you’d like to build marketing campaigns to reach out to your regulars, your new customers, or even lapsed customers, Square has the tools built right in, plus all of the data right at your fingertips. Square’s marketing services start at $15/month, which is a pretty reasonable price. The price will scale with your use of the marketing services.

With the marketing tools, you can segment your customer list and target people automatically with offers to get them in the door. So whether you are welcoming a new customer or re-engaging a customer you haven’t seen in a while with a with a special discount, Square lets you tailor your marketing message to people at different spots in the buying journey.

The email tools are simple — you don’t have to understand how to set up multiple campaigns because Square streamlines the creation process for you through prompts. They give you a lot of template designs to choose from and even have some holiday and special occasion suggestions. You can send out a one-time email for a birthday or set up recurring email campaigns that encourage more interaction and more opportunities to buy from you — it all depends on how you want to run your business. 

Finally, when it’s time to review the success of your email campaigns, Square reports show you how many opens and clicks you get, as well as how many people redeem your offer.

Receive & Manage Feedback Privately

The Feedback feature can be helpful if you want a way to take charge of the customer experience and try to eliminate the troubles they encounter. It allows you to personally engage your customers — while keeping everything private. When you enable feedback management, customers who receive digital receipts also receive an invite to provide private feedback about their experience.

You can then resolve any issues between just you and your customer and hopefully make them happier and engaged. The idea behind this is that it is much easier to respond to private feedback than having to keep track of and respond to negative public feedback. Most customers appreciate being acknowledged whether the experience was good or bad, and if you do have an unhappy customer, you can make it right with a full/partial refund or a coupon for a discount on their next purchase. You can check the customer database to see what their purchase history is like and make a determination of the best offer to send. 

Best of all, the feedback management feature is totally free to use!

Square Loyalty Program

Square encourages customer engagement and sales in yet another way — a loyalty program. The pricing structure of Square’s loyalty program is based on the number of loyalty visits, starting at $25/month. Costs automatically adjust with the participation of your customers, and you can always track the success of any program at your dashboard to see if you’re getting your money’s worth.

Square’s loyalty program is very flexible and allows you to tailor rewards to your business and your branding. You can opt for something as simple as a digital punch card, where customers earn a reward after so many purchases, or you can structure a more advanced reward system that allows your customers to collect points and cash in their rewards when they want. You can even let them choose from multiple tiers — they could opt for two lower-tier rewards, or spend all their points on a single higher-tiered reward. 

However you choose to structure your rewards program, you can track the performance on your dashboard. You can see how many customers enroll, how often customers redeem rewards, and how many subsequent repeat visits you’re getting. 

According to Square, customers who join their loyalty programs spend 37% more after they join it. Across the board, loyalty programs continue to work for businesses of every size to encourage repeat business, and we think that it’s definitely worth giving it a try for a while and seeing if it works for your business.

Fully PCI Compliant & Secure

When dealing with credit card processing companies, one of the biggest questions most business owners have has to do with safety and security. You want to know that your data is secure and your customer’s payment information isn’t going to be compromised, because when it all boils down, the burden is on you to make sure that you are PCI compliant. “PCI” is shorthand for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (also sometimes called PCI DSS). No matter how big or small your business is, if you accept credit cards, you have to follow the best practices of the industry when it comes to security — and you can face penalties if you don’t.

To remain secure and compliant for each credit card you take, you have to follow the security guidelines when you swipe, key in, store, or transmit their card data. For starters, data must be encrypted properly at each stage of processing and storage, and each year the standards change.

The whole security and compliance issue can be expensive for the smaller to midsize business, and for some, the issue is intimidating enough that they avoid credit card payments altogether.

The great news is that when Square offers you their product or service, they are taking the burden of PCI compliance on themselves when it comes to their hardware and app. Square is an industry leader in security and compliance. Their team participates on the PCI board itself and has an inside view into the ever-changing world of data security. What that means for you is that when you use Square, you don’t have to jump through any other security hoops — Square maintains PCI compliance and does the work for you. You won’t even need to pay any PCI compliance fees. 

Cost Per Swipe & Getting Started With Square

Getting started with the Square POS app and the reader you will use to swipe your customer’s cards is entirely free. Square continues to remain a favorite among small business owners because they don’t charge sign-on or monthly fees for their free POS reader or app — and they don’t make you sign contracts and punish you with charges if you decide it’s not for you.

If you bring your own smartphone or tablet and combine it with one of Square’s mobile card readers, you’ll pay 2.75% for each swiped, dipped, or tapped transaction. If you opt for one of Square’s all-in-one hardware systems, such as Square Terminal or Square Register, you’ll pay slightly different rates. With Square Terminal, swiped, dipped, or tapped transactions process at 2.6% + $0.10 per transaction.  If you want to know more about all of Square’s different card readers and hardware, check out A Guide to Square’s Credit Card Readers and POS Bundles.

Considering that these are pretty low rates to begin with, and there are so many additional built-in features like dashboard analytics, invoicing, the customer database, and inventory management, we think that is a pretty sweet deal for any grocery store looking to expand.

If you are curious and want to dig even deeper, check out our Square review or visit the Square Point of Sale page and sign up for free to see how it all works for yourself!

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The Best CBD Oil Merchant Account Providers

CBD oil

What are CBD oils? Perhaps you’ve heard of this new class of products, and you’re curious about what they are and what benefits they can offer you. Maybe you’re also interested in opening a business that sells CBD-derived products, and you’d like to know more about the special requirements you’ll need to meet in order to be successful. Well, we’re here to help! Cannabidiol (or CBD) is a substance (or phytocannabinoid, to be more precise) that’s derived from hemp (Cannabis sativa) plants.

Now, you’re probably already aware that marijuana is also derived from Cannabis plants. The major difference between CBD products and marijuana is that the former contain little or no THC or any of the other psychoactive ingredients that marijuana contains. In other words, CBD products won’t get you “high.” Despite this rather obvious distinction, CBD-based products have been illegal under Federal law until very recently. In fact, as of the time of this writing, they’re only legal under certain specific conditions.

Although medical marijuana and, by extension, CBD products are now legal in many US states, most banks and credit card processors have been extremely reluctant to approve CBD oil businesses for merchant accounts, and many such businesses have had their accounts suddenly closed without notice. In this article, we’ll update you on the current (as of January 2019) legal status of CBD products and recommend several merchant account providers that accept businesses selling CBD products.

Legal Issues In The CBD Oil Industry

Until just a few weeks ago, CBD-based products were still listed as Schedule I drugs by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), effectively prohibiting their sale, transportation, or use under Federal law. However, many states (33 as of this writing) have passed medical marijuana laws which legalized the use of marijuana and CBD-based products for medicinal purposes. Several other states have gone even further, legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes and removing all prohibitions against CBD-based products.

The recently-passed 2018 Farm Bill changes all of that. Under this legislation, which was signed into law on December 20, 2018, hemp-based products (defined as containing less than 0.3% THC) are now removed from the Schedule I list of controlled substances. However, you must be a licensed grower and comply with all applicable Federal and state laws to produce and sell your product legally. With so many variations in state laws, it’s well beyond the scope of this article to attempt to cover them all. We recommend that you look into the laws of your state and consult with an attorney or qualified consultant to determine the specific requirements that apply to your business.

Needless to say, selling a product that can potentially still be illegal under Federal law makes it very difficult to get approved for a merchant account. Only a small number of high-risk specialists accept CBD businesses, and in many cases, they’ll require you to obtain an offshore merchant account. Of the small number of providers that do accept CBD merchants, there are only a few that we feel comfortable recommending, and we’ll profile them below. Desperate CBD merchants have tried using PayPal or Square (see our review), but this strategy inevitably involves being dishonest about the nature of your business, and providers won’t hesitate to shut you down if and when they catch you.

Before the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considered it illegal to sell or transport CBD products across state lines. This made it nearly impossible to sell CBD products legally through a website, and many eCommerce-focused high-risk providers were reluctant to accept CBD merchants. The new law eases many of these concerns, so we anticipate that the opportunities for CBD merchants to obtain a merchant account will improve dramatically in the coming year. In the past, we’ve seen reports of banks and credit card processors suddenly deciding to shut down accounts en masse, leaving many CBD merchants in the lurch. This situation should improve considerably with the recent legalization of hemp-based products.

For the time being, we’re going to confine our recommendations to processors that we know already accept CBD merchants and that have a strong reputation for providing fair prices and honest service. As legal limitations on CBD products continue to be rolled back, CBD merchants should find expanded opportunities to get approved for merchant accounts. At the same time, you can still expect to be assigned a high-risk merchant account for now. Until the day arrives when CBD products are fully legalized in all 50 states, we don’t anticipate that low-risk merchant accounts will become available.

What Makes A Good High-Risk Merchant Account Provider?

Finding a good high-risk merchant account provider involves the same criteria as a low-risk provider – it’s just harder to find a provider that offers the right combination of reasonable prices, fair contract terms, and high-quality customer service.

  • Pricing: The bottom line here is that any high-risk merchant account is going to cost significantly more than a comparable low-risk one. Be prepared to have to accept a tiered pricing model (although some established businesses might be able to negotiate a more affordable interchange-plus model). You can also expect to be charged higher monthly and annual fees as well, although the difference in these costs isn’t as much as it is with processing rates. Another additional “expense” that most high-risk merchants have to contend with is a rolling reserve, where your processor withholds a certain percentage of your funds every month until the reserve is met. While you’ll eventually receive all your money, rolling reserves can create serious cash flow problems for a small or newly-established business.
  • Contracts: We really like month-to-month billing arrangements that don’t lock you into a long-term contract or force you to pay an early termination fee (ETF) if you close your account early. Unfortunately, CBD merchants (like any other high-risk merchants) will usually have to accept both a long-term contract (typically for three years) and an ETF. Also, be aware that if you have a long-term contract, it will probably also include an automatic renewal clause that extends your contract, typically for one-year periods at a time. If you don’t keep careful track of when your contract is scheduled to auto-renew, you might find yourself locked in for another year or longer.
  • Hardware: If you plan to sell CBD products out of a retail location, you’ll need either a dedicated countertop credit card terminal or a mobile processing system that uses your smartphone or tablet in conjunction with a mobile card reader. Your terminal should be able to accept both magstripe and EMV payments at a minimum, and we also recommend that you consider getting a terminal with NFC-based capabilities so that you can take payment methods such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. For some specific recommendations, check out our article, The Best Credit Card Machines And Terminals. We also highly recommend that you purchase your terminals outright rather than leasing your equipment. Leasing arrangements lock you into noncancelable long-term contracts, and you’ll wind up paying several times more in leasing fees than what your machine is actually worth.
  • eCommerce Support: Naturally, you’ll want to be able to sell your CBD products to as many customers as possible, and selling via a website allows you to do that. As we’ve noted above, there are still some significant restrictions on selling CBD products across state lines that you’ll want to be aware of before you launch your website. At the same time, the recent legalization of hemp-based products is going to open up eCommerce opportunities that weren’t there just a few months ago. All of our recommended providers can set you up with a high-quality payment gateway that will allow you to process transactions over the internet and significantly expand the reach of your business. As not all states have relaxed their marijuana laws, you’ll want to find a gateway that will automatically filter out customer addresses where CBD products are still illegal.
  • Customer Support: In researching dozens of merchant account providers, we’ve found that high-quality customer service is the true “secret ingredient” that separates the merely average providers from the truly outstanding ones. Customer support issues occur more frequently with CBD and other high-risk merchants, so you’ll want to pay particular attention to a provider’s reputation in this area.

Best Merchant Account Providers For CBD Oil

With the above factors in mind, here’s a brief overview of five of the best merchant account providers in the industry that accept CBD merchants:

Easy Pay Direct

Easy Pay Direct logo

Easy Pay Direct is headquartered in Austin, Texas and has been in business since 2000. The company provides merchant accounts for both low-risk and high-risk businesses, and is one of the few providers to advertise service for CBD merchants. The company’s primary product is their proprietary EPD Gateway. While you’ll have to pay a premium in terms of processing rates and account fees, you’ll be set up with a domestic bank or credit card processor. They’re also one of the very few CBD providers to disclose their rates and fees on their website.

You will probably have to pay a $99 account setup fee to get started. While we normally don’t approve of this kind of fee, it’s appropriate in this case given the more extensive effort required to underwrite a CBD account. Processing rates start at a flat 3.95% + $0.25 per transaction, although lower rates are available if your business meets certain monthly processing volume limits. There’s also a $29.99 monthly account fee, but this appears to include the use of the EPD Gateway. You can also expect a standard contract with a three-year initial term that automatically renews for one-year periods after that. One very positive feature about Easy Pay Direct’s contracts is that they do not have an early termination fee, even for high-risk businesses. While this isn’t quite the same thing as true month-to-month billing, it does make it much easier to close your account without penalty if you have to.

One helpful feature offered by Easy Pay Direct is called load balancing, where a business can divide its incoming funds among multiple merchant accounts. This is particularly helpful for high-risk businesses that often exceed the monthly processing volume limits imposed by the processor underwriting their account. Just be aware that you’ll usually have to pay separate monthly fees for each account, so it might not be cost-effective for some merchants. Also, be aware that you might not need this feature if you opt for an offshore account. Underwriting guidelines in some (but by no means all) foreign countries are more relaxed than they are in the United States, and you might not have a monthly processing limit imposed on your account at all.

Although Easy Pay Direct doesn’t get as much attention as other, better-known processors, it’s a solid choice for merchants selling CBD products. We particularly recommend the company for eCommerce merchants due to the robust feature set of their EPD Gateway.

Pros

  • No early termination fee
  • Load balancing feature allows higher monthly processing limits
  • High-quality proprietary payment gateway

Cons

  • $99 account setup fee
  • Three-year contract with automatic renewal clause

Check out our full review of Easy Pay Direct for more information.

SMB Global

SMB Global logo

SMB Global is a new high-risk provider that was spun off from one of our favorite providers, Payline Data, in 2016. Headquartered in South Jordan, Utah, the company specializes in providing merchant accounts to high-risk and offshore businesses. Using a variety of backend processors, they’re able to approve a merchant account for almost any high-risk business, including those selling CBD oils. They have an excellent reputation for fair prices and top-notch customer service.

As a newly-established business, SMB Global is still a little rough around the edges, lacking a mobile processing system and credit card terminals for retail merchants. At the same time, they offer a full range of services for eCommerce merchants, including a choice between the NMI Gateway and Authorize.Net (see our review).

Because they work with so many banks and processors to get you approved for an account, the company doesn’t offer any specific pricing information. Processing rates, account fees, and contract terms will all vary widely depending on which backend processor is handling your account. While we highly recommend that you request an interchange-plus pricing plan, be prepared to have to accept a tiered plan instead, particularly if you haven’t been in business for very long. Likewise, you can also expect to have a standard three-year contract with an automatic renewal clause and an early termination fee if you close your account early. As a CBD oil merchant, you should be prepared to have a rolling reserve included in your account agreement.

SMB Global requires a minimum processing volume of $50,000 per month for an offshore merchant account, which can present a formidable barrier to a newly-established CBD business. The company will occasionally waive this requirement if your business has a very strong financial history. Offshore accounts support multi-currency processing, allowing you to avoid cross-border fees. They also feature dynamic currency conversion, letting your customers pay in either their local currency or the currency in which you bill them. SMB Global appears to accept CBD merchants only through offshore accounts at this time, although this could change quickly with the recent deregulation of hemp-based products.

Pros

  • Accepts CBD businesses through offshore merchant accounts
  • Reasonable pricing and contract terms
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • Requires minimum $50,000 monthly processing volume for offshore account
  • No mobile processing system at this time
  • No information available about credit card terminals or POS systems

For a more detailed look at SMB Global, be sure to check out our full review.

PaymentCloud

PaymentCloud review logo

PaymentCloud is headquartered in Sherman Oaks, California, and has been in business since 2010. The company specializes in placing high-risk businesses (including CBD oil merchants), relying on a network of third-party processors and acquiring banks both in the United States and offshore to get you approved for an account. While they can’t place every merchant for one reason or another, they have a higher success rate than many of their competitors in getting merchants approved for an account. Best of all, they do the extra work required to accept a high-risk account without charging you any application or account setup fees.

Like almost all high-risk specialists, the company doesn’t disclose its processing rates or account fees, so you’ll have to get a quote from their sales team and do a little negotiating to see how their offer stacks up against other providers. For retail merchants, they’ve de-emphasized expensive credit card terminal leases and now offer a “free” EMV-compliant terminal with each account. Note that in this case, “free” means you’re free to use it for as long as you maintain your account, not that you can keep it even if you later close your account or switch providers. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty good deal if you’re a small CBD business owner who only needs one terminal.

PaymentCloud also offers Authorize.Net as their payment gateway, although their system is compatible with other third-party gateways as well. Additionally, they provide a free virtual terminal with each account. While their line-up of products and services isn’t as robust as some other providers, they offer all the essentials you’ll need for a small or medium-sized CBD oil business.

The company doesn’t have a BBB profile, and we’ve found almost no complaints against them on the internet. Feedback from our readers has been overwhelmingly positive – something that’s quite rare in the processing world.

Lastly, PaymentCloud is now recommended by one of our favorite low-risk providers, Dharma Merchant Services (see our review). Dharma recently decided to stop accepting high-risk merchants themselves, and now refers inquiries from businesses in the high-risk category to PaymentCloud. To us, a recommendation from a company as highly respected as Dharma carries a lot of weight, and we give PaymentCloud a strong endorsement as well.

Pros

  • No application or account setup fees
  • “Free” credit card terminal with each retail account
  • Dedicated account manager for customer support

Cons

  • May require offshore account for CBD merchants
  • No online knowledgebase

Be sure to read our full review of PaymentCloud for more details.

eMerchant Broker

eMerchantBroker logo

Los Angeles, California-based eMerchant Broker has been in business since 2011 and is one of the few reputable high-risk merchant account providers that was deliberately marketing to the CBD oil industry before the recent deregulation of hemp products. Although the company has a reputation for charging above-average processing rates and account fees, we’re very impressed with their efforts to educate CBD oil merchants on the ins and outs of high-risk processing. Many CBD merchants are also new to running a business, so the information that eMerchant Broker provides, particularly about chargebacks, is very educational. Even if you don’t sign up with them, we highly recommend that you take a look at the eMerchant Broker website for detailed information about high-risk processing in general, as well as specific issues unique to the CBD oil industry.

eMerchant Broker offers a reasonable lineup of products and services that you’ll need in addition to a high-risk merchant account. Their proprietary eMB Payment Gateway offers an impressive set of features, and they also support Authorize.Net and other popular third-party gateways. The company mainly supports eCommerce and doesn’t appear to offer any credit card terminals or mobile processing systems. They should, however, be able to integrate their processing system with third-party products if you need them.

Don’t expect to save money with eMerchant Broker. They appear to mainly use tiered pricing plans, although interchange-plus pricing might be available to some merchants. The only rate they advertise – 2.99% — represents the lowest available qualified rate. In most cases, your actual rate will be much higher. You can also expect to be saddled with a standard three-year contract with an automatic renewal clause and an early termination fee. Fortunately, they don’t charge application fees, setup fees, or annual fees. Be sure to review your contract thoroughly before signing up, so you’re clear on the assortment of fees you will have to pay.

eMerchant Broker has a good reputation with the BBB and a low complaint volume. Reports from our readers have been mixed, with some praise for their ethical, well-trained sales staff, and some criticism for their customer service department. All in all, eMerchant Broker rates as an above-average high-risk provider, and we’re comfortable recommending them for your CBD oil business.

Pros

  • No application or account setup fees
  • No annual fee
  • Good sales practices

Cons

  • Expensive tiered pricing processing rate plans
  • Long-term contract with early termination fee
  • Some complaints about customer service

For more information about eMerchant Broker, check out our full review.

PayWize

PayWize logo

Another company you should consider in your search for a CBD oil merchant account provider is PayWize. This very small provider is based in Costa Mesa, California and has only been in business since 2017. However, they’re affiliated with Payment Depot (see our review), one of our top choices for low-risk businesses.

At the moment, PayWize offers just a simple, one-page website. However, it does include some significant disclosures that help to set it apart from other high-risk providers. The company markets primarily to medical marijuana dispensaries and CBD oil merchants, so they have more specialized knowledge of the unique issues affecting this industry than many of their competitors.

PayWize offers predictable flat-rate pricing, although they don’t disclose specific rates. Flat-rate pricing is popular among merchants who want to always know in advance how much they’ll pay to process a transaction. At the same time, this pricing model can become very expensive for a large business that has a high monthly processing volume (typically over $5,000 per month). The company also claims not to impose any rolling reserves, which is a real plus for a business that’s just starting up. PayWize offers several credit card terminals and a payment gateway, but discloses very little information about them. Their gateway integrates with a large number of popular online shopping carts, including Shopify, WooCommerce, and many others.

We haven’t produced a full review of PayWize yet, but based on their association with Payment Depot, we’re willing to recommend that you check them out and compare what they have to offer against any quotes from other providers that you obtain.

Pros

  • Predictable flat-rate pricing
  • Appears to offer month-to-month billing
  • Extensive compatibility with third-party online shopping carts

Cons

  • New company with little online feedback from merchants

Final Thoughts

With the very recent deregulation of hemp products by the Federal government, 2019 is shaping up to be a breakout year for the CBD oil industry. Your chances of getting approved for a merchant account have never been better, and it should get even easier as acquiring banks and credit card processors adjust their underwriting guidelines to reflect the diminished risk associated with CBD oils – and cash in on a booming new industry. At the same time, we don’t expect that CBD oils will be treated as a low-risk business any time soon. With products such as diet pills and nutritional supplements still firmly in the high-risk “nutraceutical” category, CBD merchants can expect to have to pay the extra cost of maintaining a high-risk merchant account for the foreseeable future. The only way we see this situation changing is if the Food and Drug Administration ever formally backs up the claims CBD merchants make as to the medicinal value of their products.

In addition to opening the floodgates so more high-risk merchant account providers can accept CBD merchants, the recent deregulation should make it easier to obtain a domestic merchant account rather than having to take on the additional risk and expense of an offshore account. Unless you specifically need to get around monthly processing limits imposed by your provider for a domestic account, we don’t recommend offshore accounts. The added expense and the risk that you might never receive your funds make them a poor choice for most merchants. However, if you do need an offshore account, check out our article The Best Offshore Merchant Account Providers for some recommendations.

Of the five providers we’ve covered in this article, Easy Pay Direct and SMB Global have the best overall reputations for fair pricing and quality service. However, we recommend that you obtain quotes from several providers and compare them closely before deciding which one to sign up with. Also, remember that the CBD oil industry is changing very rapidly now, so there inevitably will be more providers offering merchant accounts to CBD merchants in the coming years than just the ones we’ve profiled here. Finally, if you’re a CBD oil merchant and have had any experience working with the companies listed in this article – or other providers – be sure to tell us about your experience in the Comments section below. Thanks!

The post The Best CBD Oil Merchant Account Providers appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Where To Find Fast $5,000 Loans For Your Business

When most people hear the term “business loan,” they immediately think about the large amounts of capital used to purchase real estate, buy bulk inventory, or hire a new team of employees. But even though business loans can be used to cover big expenses, sometimes all you need a small loan to assist with day-to-day cash flow, deal with an unexpected emergency, cover payroll for a few weeks, or help you get through a seasonal slow-down.

If you need $5,000 fast, a small business loan can help you clear your financial hurdles. The good news is that with a loan this small, you have your pick of online lenders that can get you funded as soon as the next business day. Paperwork requirements are also minimal for these smaller loans. With some lenders, a little basic information and a few bank statements are all you need to get approved.

However, not all online lenders issue $5,000 loans. Some lenders have much higher minimum borrowing amounts. Instead of spending hours weeding through search engine results, kick off the loan process with one of our picks. The following lenders offer loans, lines of credit, and other financial products that can help you get the $5,000 you need fast.

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

1. LoanBuilder

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If you want to “build” a loan that’s customized to your business, consider applying with PayPal’s LoanBuilder. Thanks to the LoanBuilder Configurator, you can get a quick overview of your financing options and pick the borrowing amount, terms, and payments that work best for your business.

LoanBuilder small business loans are available in amounts from $5,000 to $500,000 and have a single fixed-fee structure, with fees starting at 2.9%. Weekly payments are made over 13 to 52 weeks depending on the amount borrowed. In some cases, you can receive your funding as quickly as the next business day.

To qualify, you must be in business for at least 9 months, have at least $42,000 in annual revenue, and operate in an eligible industry.

2. Accion

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Accion specializes in term loans in amounts from $300 to $1 million. Term lengths vary based on the loan products you are qualified to receive. Typical APRs are between 7% and 34%. An origination fee of 3% to 5% is required.

To qualify, you must have a credit score of at least 575. Depending on the state you’re in, credit score requirements may be as low as 550. There are no time in business requirements, but you must have sufficient cash flow to repay your loan. You must also be no more than 30 days overdue on any bill, have no bankruptcies within the last year, no late rent or mortgage payments within the last year, and no foreclosures within the last 2 years.

If your business is a startup, you must have less than $500 in debt that is past due, have a referral, and provide a business plan with future cash flow projections.

3. Credibly

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Credibly offers three business financing options: working capital loans, business expansion loans, and merchant cash advances (MCAs). With Credibly’s working capital loans, you can receive up to $250,000 that is repaid over 6 to 17 months. Instead of interest rates, Credibly uses factor rates that start at 1.15. Learn more about factor rates and how they affect the cost of borrowing. Payments on working capital loans are automatically deducted daily or weekly.

Requirements for Credibly’s working capital loans are at least 6 months in business, a credit score of at least 500, and at least $15,000 in monthly bank deposits.

If you need money to grow your business, consider Credibly’s business expansion loans. These loans are available in amounts up to $250,000 with term lengths of 18 or 24 months. Interest rates are as low as 9.99% and payments are made weekly.

Qualifying for a business expansion loan is a bit more difficult. To receive this product, you must have a time in business of at least 3 years and a personal credit score of at least 600. You must also have an average of $15,000 in monthly deposits to your bank, as well as an average daily balance of at least $3,000.

If you don’t qualify for Credibly’s working capital or business expansion loans, a merchant cash advance may help you get the extra capital you need for your business. You can receive up to $150,000 through the purchase of your future receivables. This means that Credibly will deduct a percentage of your sales daily from your credit card processor or bank account until the cash advance plus fees are paid off. With an MCA, repayment terms are set at 3 to 14 months and factor rates start at 1.15.

To qualify, you must have at least $15,000 in monthly bank deposits. Your business must be in operations for at least 6 months, and you must have a personal credit score of at least 500.

4. QuarterSpot

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Through QuarterSpot, you can receive small business loans up to $250,000. Repayment terms are 9, 12, or 18 months. With interest and fees, you may pay as little as 12.5 cents on the dollar to receive your loan. You can also save on interest and fees when you pay off your loan early.

To qualify for a QuarterSpot loan, you must meet several requirements. First, you must be in business for at least 1 year. You must also have a credit score of 550. Your business must make at least 10 sales per month and bring in monthly revenues of $16,000. Your average daily balance must be $2,000 to receive a QuarterSpot loan.

5. Fora Financial

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Like other lenders on our list, Fora Financial offers more than one way to get extra capital for your business. First, this lender offers small business loans from $5,000 to $500,000 with terms up to 15 months.

Fora Financial also offers MCAs for qualified borrowers. There are no set terms, and payments are remitted based on the revenue of your business. You can borrow between $5,000 and $500,000 with this product.

Fora Financial’s small business loans and MCAs both have factor rates between 1.1 and 1.3 and origination fees between 1% and 4%.

To qualify for a small business loan, you must have no open bankruptcies, a time in business of at least 6 months, and at least $12,000 in gross sales.

To qualify for Fora Financial’s MCAs, you must have no open bankruptcies, a time in business of at least 6 months, and at least $5,000 in credit card sales.

6. IOU Financial

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IOU Financial’s core small business loan allows you to receive anywhere from $5,000 up to $150,000 for any business expense. With this loan, you’ll have repayment terms of 6, 9, or 12 months. Repayments are fixed and are made on a daily schedule. For larger capital needs, IOU Financial also offers loans of $70,000 to $300,000 with repayment terms up to 18 months.

To receive an IOU Financial loan, you must own at least 80% of your business. If you co-own your business with your spouse, you must own 50% of the business. You must have a time in business of at least 1 year, at least 10 deposits per month in your business bank account, annual revenue of at least $100,000, and an average ending balance of $3,000 in your business bank account.

7. BlueVine

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If a flexible line of credit would better fit your business needs, BlueVine has an option for you. Through this lender, you can receive a line of credit of $5,000 up to $250,000 with rates starting at 4.8%. There are no prepayment penalties or monthly maintenance fees.

With your line of credit, you can make multiple draws up to your total credit limit. You only pay fees on the borrowed amount, and your account will be replenished as you repay. Payments are made weekly or monthly over a period of 6 to 12 months.

To qualify for a BlueVine line of credit, you must have a personal credit score of at least 600, $100,000 in annual revenue, and a time in business of at least 6 months.

If unpaid invoices are affecting your incoming cash flow, consider applying for BlueVine’s invoice factoring service. You can receive a factoring line up to $5 million with rates starting at 0.25% per week.

To qualify, you must have unpaid invoices, a credit score of 530, and $100,000 in annual revenue. You must also have a B2B business that has been in operations for at least 3 months.

8. Kabbage

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Another option for flexible lines of credit is Kabbage, which offers up to $250,000 to qualified small business owners. With Kabbage, you can make draws (up to your credit limit) as needed to use as working capital for your business. You only pay for what you’ve used, and fees range from 1.5% to 10%. With Kabbage, you can select from 6-month and 12-month terms based on the amount you withdraw.

Kabbage looks at the performance of your business to determine if you qualify. There are no minimum personal credit score requirements. To qualify, however, you must be in business for at least a year and have at least $50,000 in annual revenue. (If you fail to meet this revenue requirement, you can still qualify if you’ve had $4,200 in revenue per month for the last three months.)

The application process with Kabbage is easy and requires you to provide some basic information about yourself and your business. You will also link your business accounts to get the maximum line of credit based on your business performance.

You can also use the Kabbage card. This works just like a credit card and can be used anywhere Visa is accepted. With this card, you can make instant purchases, and Kabbage will create a new loan with the same rates and terms as its traditional draws.

9. Fundbox

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Through Fundbox, you can receive a line of credit up to $100,000 based on the performance of your business. Payments are spread out over a 12- or 24-week schedule and include Fundbox’s flat fee. Fees start at just 4.66%.

To be approved for a Fundbox line of credit, you must have a business checking account, at least $50,000 in annual revenue, and a business based in the United States. You must also provide business bank account statements from the last 3 months.

In addition to its lines of credit, Fundbox also offers invoice financing to qualified businesses. You can receive up to $100,000 with your unpaid invoices with fees starting at 4.66%. You must have qualifying invoices to receive this product, and you also must link your accounting software with activity from the last 2 months.

10. OnDeck

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With OnDeck, you can receive a line of credit up to $100,000 to use for any business purpose. APRs start at 13.99% for the most qualified borrowers, and payments are automatically deducted each week. There’s a $20 monthly maintenance fee, but this fee is waived if you draw at least $5,000 within 5 days of opening your account.

To qualify for an OnDeck line of credit, you must be in business for at least 1 year, have at least $100,000 in annual revenue, and a personal credit score of 600.

If you don’t meet the requirements for a line of credit, or you’re interested in another option, OnDeck also has fixed term business loans. You can receive up to $500,000 with annual interest rates starting at 9.99%. OnDeck has two different options for its loans: short-term loans with terms up to 12 months and long-term loans with terms up to 36 months. Repayments are made daily or weekly.

To qualify, you must be in business for at least 1 year and have $100,000 in annual revenue. Your credit score must be at least 500 to qualify for OnDeck’s term loans.

11. Kiva US

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If you want to bypass traditional and alternative lenders and avoid high interest rates, give Kiva US a try. This crowdfunding platform allows you to borrow up to $10,000 at a 0% interest rate.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? However, getting funded through Kiva US isn’t quite as easy as other loan options. But with a little extra work, you can receive an affordable loan for your business. Here’s how it works.

First, you fill out the application on the Kiva US website, just as you would any other loan application. Once you’ve submitted your application, you’ll prove that you’re creditworthy by getting your friends and family members to loan money to you through the platform over the next 15 days. Once you’ve passed this stage, you’ll be able to use the public Kiva platform to reach over 1.6 million people worldwide to raise your funds over the next 30 days. Once you’ve reached your goal, you’ll receive your money and up to 36 months to repay your loan.

To qualify, you must live in the United States and be at least 18 years old. You must also use your loan for business purposes. There are no time in business, personal credit score, or annual revenue requirements to qualify.

How Fast Can I Get A Business Loan?

The time it takes to receive your business loan varies by lender. For small loans of just $5,000, you could be approved in just minutes and receive your funds as quickly as the next business day. For lines of credit through lenders such as Kabbage and Fundbox, you can make draws immediately after being approved, with funds typically reaching your business bank account within 1 to 3 days.

The key to getting your business loan as quickly as possible is to make sure that you provide accurate information and upload all requested documentation. In some cases, your lender may require additional information or documentation to approve your loan. Make yourself available to answer any questions from the lender and provide the required documentation needed to approve and fund your loan.

What To Do If You Have Bad Credit

If you have bad credit, there are business loan options open to you. Some of the lenders previously mentioned, such as Kabbage and Fundbox, do not have minimum credit score requirements and consider the performance of the business when approving loans. Therefore, if you have steady revenue, you may still qualify for funding.

Business credit cards often have less stringent requirements, so these may be an option if you have a low credit score. Depending on your score, you may be able to qualify for an unsecured card. However, if your credit score is very low or you haven’t yet established credit, you may qualify for a secured card which is backed by a cash deposit. As you make on-time payments, you’ll build your credit score and qualify for unsecured cards and other financial products in the future.

Crowdfunding has also grown in popularity among small business owners. Sites such as Kiva US allow business owners to raise the capital they need without paying high interest rates. Crowdfunding is also a great resource for new businesses and startups that don’t meet time in business or annual revenue requirements of other lenders.

If you have bad credit, it’s inevitable that you’ll hit roadblocks on the path to funding. Not only will your options be more limited, but you’ll miss out on low-interest, long-term loans. To qualify for the best funding opportunities, you must have a solid credit score. Go online to pull your free score, review your credit report, and take steps to build your credit. Pay off all debt obligations as agreed, keep your credit utilization down, and dispute erroneous items on your credit report. Though this method takes time, boosting your credit score opens the door for more affordable loans and financial products in the future. Learn more about how you can raise your personal credit score.

Final Thoughts

Finding a $5,000 loan for your business shouldn’t be too difficult. However, you should go into the process knowing that smaller loans come with shorter repayment terms and may also be accompanied by high fees and interest rates.

Calculate the affordability of the loan to ensure that taking out a loan is a smart financial move. If you’re new to applying for small business loans, educate yourself before you start submitting applications to lenders. Finally, be sure to shop around to ensure you get the most affordable financing products that work best for your business.

The post Where To Find Fast $5,000 Loans For Your Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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11+ Wix Website Examples for Inspiration

Wix Website Examples

So you’re considering using Wix as your website builder, and you’re looking for Wix website examples for inspiration and confirmation that you’re making the right choice.

Wix is one of the biggest names in the website builder product space. It’s a drag-and-drop website builder, which means users can “drag” different elements around  and “drop” them where they want to create a site that looks the way they want. It makes nice designs incredibly accessible for DIY-ers while leaving the heavy-lifting (AKA hosting, functionality, coding) to someone else.

But before we dive into examples of what Wix websites look like in the wild, there is one thing to keep in mind when you’re evaluating a website platform: it’s not just about how the websites look. The functionality matters too.

Think of it like buying 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. We collected the following Wix examples not just to show you how they look, but how Wix 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 Wix website examples. We’ve pulled these examples based on functionality, design, and usability. Again, Wix works incredibly well for DIY-ers who want an easy-to-use website that they can throw up on their own without having to worry about the inner-workings. However, be aware that with this comes trade-offs (i.e. you give up some control, functionality, customization, etc.)

Bentop Events 

Bentop Events Website

Bentop Events’ website is a great example of how visual a Wix website can be. For businesses that rely on portfolios, the card layout is an easy way to organize and showcase your best work without making the page overwhelming. The website also allows visitors to “learn more” by clicking on a button over the image, which takes you to a full page on that specific project. If you’re needing a straightforward visual portfolio with basic click-through functionality, use this example for inspiration.

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Integra

integra website

While the visual design of this site is rather simple, it’s part of what it so effective. Not all websites need to be a design masterpiece. Instead, this site focuses on what matters: copy that describes what the company is all about, and a video that showcases the service in action. If you’re looking for a basic website where you can throw up some text and basic images/video, this template should serve as a good example of what’s possible.

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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 Wix wedding website:

Mary and Bill

Mary and Bill wedding website

Mary and Bill’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 “getting there” page has a cool designed map image, directions, and fun fonts and colors — all elements that make their website unique to them without having to spend money on a custom designed website that you’ll only update for a year or two.

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Photography Website Example

Photography websites are all about the portfolio of work. When looking for a Wix 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 photography websites we liked:

Louiza Photographe

Louiza Photography

When you implement video into your photography services, showcasing that work on your website is crucial. That’s exactly what sets Louiza Nouari’s website apart from others. The homepage features a B-Roll style video, while each individual service page showcases work in the traditional portfolio style. It’s clean while still being multidimensional by incorporating different mediums.

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Drew Sturge

Drew Sturge Website

What makes this Wix website a great example for photographers is the layout of the portfolio page. The use of a carousel of photos at the top of the portfolio page and grid style underneath give the website a unique interactive feel without overloading the functionality or making it too difficult for visitors to navigate. Drew’s given visitors an easy way to view his work in a way that’s sleek, visually coherent across the board, and is easy-to-use — all hallmarks of a great website.

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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 Wix ecommerce website examples:

Wild North Kids

A great ecommerce website comes down to a few main things: high quality product photos, easy navigation, and easy check out. This website from Wild Kids North checks all of those boxes. What stood out to us especially was how straightforward the homepage is. The header image is a carousel that showcases the products, and new arrivals are listed immediately below. The collection page itself is also straightforward and clean:

Wild North Kids Collection page

Shoppers can sort by color and size, and each product is easy to see and click through too for adding to cart and checking out.

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The Jomu Co

The Jomu Co

The Jomu Co’s website stands out for a few reasons. First is the carousel at the top of the homepage. The use of the carousel to feature different products / categories is a great way to give visitors a quick look at what’s available on the site and dive deeper into those products.

Next is the blurb underneath the carousel and breakdown of product categories.

The Jomu Co website products

The Jomu Co does a great job of introducing what its shop is all about, which is crucial for first time shoppers who may not know what you’re actually offering. After introducing the brand, they then feature a breakdown of their product categories, giving shoppers several different ways to navigate all they have to offer. Plus, the chat in the bottom right hand corner of the page adds a layer of customer service that is perfect for ecommerce sites!

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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 Wix website:

Aly Dalrymple

Aly Dalrymple artist website

Sometimes, less is more… and that’s exactly what makes Aly’s website so effective. The clean layout draws your eye right to her artwork, and the simple navigation at the top of the page makes it easy to find exactly what you need on her website. This is another great example of a Wix 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.

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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 Wix:

Dan Bettridge

Dan Bettridge music website

What stands out about Dan’s website is how the structure keeps the focus solely on the music — which, for a music website, is crucial! As soon as you get to homepage, you have the option to play or buy his newest album. You can also scroll down to check out other updates and videos. The music page also has a great layout. It lists all of the songs on the newest albums, then has smaller modules for older albums below that link out to iTunes.

Dan Bettridge Music Page

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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 Wix business website examples:

Books Covered

bookscovered website

What stands out about Books Covered’s website is that while it uses a typical grid-style layout, the brand colors and imagery make this website look and feel completely unique. This site is a great example of how to take a simple website layout and make it look polished, professional, and creative without having to create something entirely from scratch.

Booth Harrington & Johns

Booth Harrington & Johns website

Have you ever been on a business’ website and felt frustrated because you couldn’t figure out how to contact them? This is something that Booth Harrington & Johns’ website does really well. There are multiple places where you can see contact information (i.e. at the top of the page and on the sidebar). It’s also easy to find where you can learn more about their services, which is another crucial component of a business website!

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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 Wix personal website to use for inspiration:

Meghan Kreidler

Meghan Kreidler website

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. Meghan’s website includes the right balance of both. The navigation changes the main box content, making it easy to read about who she is, what she does, and what she’s done. If you’re looking for an easy way to put your work and experience out into the world, this layout does the trick.

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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.

If you feel like Wix fits the design and functionality needs you have for your website, you can explore more Wix templates here.

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

The post 11+ Wix Website Examples for Inspiration appeared first on ShivarWeb.

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Small Business Grants: Resources For Free Money

small business grants

From business loans to credit cards, it’s assumed that funding a growing small business necessarily involves taking on debt. No pain, no gain, right? Well, in the event that your business doesn’t turn a profit, you’ll be taking on the pain without seeing any resulting gain. Wouldn’t it be nice if there existed a way to fund your small business that relied on your capabilities, not on your willingness to go into debt?

As it happens, there is one way to get funding that doesn’t rely on your willingness to take on debt: small business grants.

What Are Small Business Grants?

A small business grant is a sum of money — issued either by a government agency or a private organization — awarded to a growing business. While it’s tempting to think of a grant as “free money,” that doesn’t quite capture the essence of a small business grant. For one thing, when a business receives money in the form of a grant, that money always comes with strings attached. The terms of a grant are usually quite specific about how the money can be used. It isn’t like getting a loan, where you get to decide exactly how to invest your funds.

Additionally, getting approved for a grant will likely involve lots of work on your part. Grants are difficult to qualify for and applying for them involves lots of jumping through hoops. Since time is money, grants aren’t exactly free of cost. Then again, these “costs” aren’t going to imperil your credit score!

Small Business Grant Pros & Cons

Grant Pros Grant Cons
“Free” money Long application process
Can lend prestige to your small business Funds must be used in the manner specified by the grant

Getting one grant makes it more likely you’ll get others

Most applicants for a grant won’t get it
Grant information is always publicly available Business grants are not always renewed from year to year

The nice thing about receiving a grant is that, because grants are generally awarded based on a company’s contribution to the public good, they come with a certain degree of prestige. In turn, getting one grant will make your business more attractive to other grant issuers.

Of course, when you pursue grants, you need to be aware of the harsh realities. The vast majority of grant proposals are not accepted, and even if you are ultimately successful, the application process can be rigorous and time-consuming. What’s more, the money will likely be earmarked for a certain purpose. You can’t treat the money received via a grant like any other funding — you must use the money exactly as specified (or exactly as you laid out in your grant application).

The downsides of business grants don’t hold a candle to the downsides attached to other forms of business financing, however, so don’t let these challenges discourage you!

How To Find Business Grants

Business grants can be found by checking the online offerings of every level of government (federal, state, local) and by seeking out directories of private grants that allow you to search for a program that fits your mission and your business.

When searching for grant programs, narrow your search to those that pertain specifically to your business type. Since grants are often meant to incentivize social responsibility, certain businesses will be more likely to find a grant than others. A company working on a new type of water filtration system stands a better chance of scoring a grant than a vape juice maker, for example. Likewise, certain grants may be aimed at specific segments of the population. An organization might award grants specifically for women-owned businesses or veteran-owned businesses.

What To Do Before Applying For A Grant

  1. Define your exact funding need: be ready to define the precise objectives a grant would help you meet.
  2. Create a detailed business plan.
  3. Gather and assemble all the business records you can from at least the last three years.
  4. Have your plan and records reviewed by experts, whether they be SCORE mentors or others with experience in guiding business owners through the grant-hunting process.
  5. Consider hiring a professional grant writer if you can.

8 Places To Look For Small Business Grants

startup grants

Grants.gov

Grants.gov is the place you should go if you want to search every grant program administered by the federal government. There are 26 grant-making agencies in the federal government, and although the website feels clunky and dated, you’ll at least get to search for the sort of grant program that your particular business could qualify for.

I should warn you, however, that most of the grants offered by the federal government are medical research grants, and these are typically awarded to nonprofit organizations and, in some instances, local and state governments. This blog post from the Small Business Administration details the limited instances in which private businesses may be eligible for a grant from the federal government.

Your State & Local Governments

This may actually be a better place to start your grant search than the federal grant database. That’s because grant programs initiated by your state government — or perhaps your city government — stand a better chance of aligning with your business mission than a federal grant program.

Check out your local Chamber of Commerce for grant opportunities as well as any city, county, and state websites that might have information about grant programs. Depending on where you live, selection may be limited, but you may well find a grant program that aligns with your mission. Most of these programs only accept grant applications at certain times of the year, so it pays to be vigilant and check the relevant websites frequently.

National Association For The Self-Employed

If a smaller grant for your small business is worth pursuing, the NASE provides grants and educational resources for small businesses owners. Through their Growth Grants Program, grants of up to $4,000 are awarded to small business for specific purposes, such as hiring employees.

To apply for a grant, you’ll first have to join the NASE. You’ll then need to detail exactly how you’ll use the funds and how the funds will fit into your overall business plan.

Along with grants, the NASE offers the following services to small business owners:

  • 24/7 expert advice
  • UPS discounts up to 32%
  • $10K included term life insurance
  • Medical emergency help
  • Office Depot discounts
  • LifeLock ID theft protection

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

The FedEx Small Business Grant Contest is a nationally prominent grant contest that has, since its inception in 2013, awarded over $500,000 in grant money to small businesses. Qualifying entities must be for-profit U.S.-based businesses with fewer than 99 employees and at least 6 months of time in business.

The contest is held annually, with applications typically accepted starting in late February. Keep a watch on FedEx’s website to find out when you can apply. Here is a closer look at the winners of the 2018 Grant Contest.

USDA Rural Business Enterprise Grant Program

An endeavor of the United States Department of Agriculture, this grant program offers grants of between $10,000 to $500,000 to rural small businesses. If your business has fewer than 50 employees, takes in less than $1 million in annual revenue, and is located in a rural part of the US, it is eligible to apply.

Rural small business owners looking to apply should do so through their USDA Rural Development state office.

Amber Grant Program

The Amber Grant program is a grant set up by WomensNet to support female-owned small businesses. This is how it works: the program awards $1,000 to a woman-owned business every month. At the end of the year, one of the 12 monthly grant winners wins another grant for $10,000. All female entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Canada are eligible to compete, and there are no restrictions on the type of business eligible to receive a grant.

The program accepts applications year-round, and unlike some other grant programs, the Amber Grant program makes applying as easy as possible. According to WomensNet:

Applying for the Amber Grant is easy. Don’t try to “sound corporate.” Past grant winners are women who have simply shared from the heart. Our judges are looking for passion as well as business smarts.

Visa Everywhere Initiative

The Visa Everywhere Initiative is a multi-national grant program offering grants to companies meeting the following description:

When evaluating submissions for VEI, we look for startups that have ideas relevant to Visa’s business, a product in market, traction with early customers, and early funding from external investors.

Submissions for the 2018 program were accepted from March 19th until April 23rd, so if you’d like to submit your proposal for the coming year, keep an eye on the VEI website around that time of year and look for information on how to apply.

StreetShares Foundation Veteran Small Business Award

StreetShares is an online lender specializing in lending to veterans and veteran-owned businesses. The lender also has a grant program called the StreetShares Foundation Veteran Small Business Award. The program is open to any military veteran, reserve or active duty member of the Armed Forces, or a qualifying spouse.

The StreetShares Foundation is currently accepting applications for the upcoming cycle of the Veteran Small Business Award, so if you’re interested, apply now. StreetShares gives out three grants at the end of each contest. 1st place gets $15,000, 2nd place gets $6,000, and 3rd place gets $4,000.

Don’t Qualify? The Best Alternatives To Small Business Grants

Grants are awesome because you don’t have to pay them back. Naturally, this makes them popular, but it also means the vast majority of grant applicants are rejected. If you’re not successful in securing a grant, don’t despair! You’re in good company. Of course, you’ll still need funding to launch and grow your business. Two of the primary ways entrepreneurs launch and build their small businesses are personal loans and lines of credit. Here are some of the top lenders in each field, vetted by the fine folks at Merchant Maverick.

Personal Lenders For Business

Lender Borrowing Amount Term Interest Rate 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

Lenders That Specialize In Lines Of Credit

Lender Borrowing Amount Draw Term Draw Fee APR Next Steps

$6K – $100K 6 months None Starts at 13.99% Apply Now

$2K – $5M Varies Varies Varies Apply Now

$5K – $5M 6 months 1.50% per draw 21% – 65% Apply Now

$1K – $100K 12 weeks None 12% – 54% Apply Now

Final Thoughts

Great business ideas can come from absolutely anybody. Unfortunately, startup capital is not so equitably distributed. Grant programs can help small business owners — particularly those who make an identifiable contribution to the grant-giving organization’s conception of the public good — with much-needed cash. Just be persistent, be undaunted by rejection letters, and be prepared to accept the strings that come attached to grant money should you be successful.

The post Small Business Grants: Resources For Free Money appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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How Does Customer Financing With Square Installments Work?

Square is best known by online sellers and brick-and-mortar shops for its secure credit card processing solutions. With a free mobile point of sale app — and free credit card reader–, Square has made it easier for the everyday small business owner to start taking credit cards. Card readers like Square’s also make it more convenient for shoppers to buy without carrying cash. That can be a win-win for everyone involved with the sale.

Because a business owner no longer has to purchase an expensive POS system to process credit card payments, it’s no wonder that the use of Square has rapidly grown over the last few years. In fact, a surprising number of businesses still did not accept credit cards at the time Square was launched. For a solo entrepreneur or a smaller shop, it used to be a lot more expensive and time-consuming to get started (not to mention more than a little intimidating, given PCI compliance and other regulations). Nowadays, you can find these portable credit card readers everywhere — from your favorite ice cream place to high-end boutiques, salons, and even consulting agencies. If you’re buying at a local shop, there is a good chance that Square is the company processing your payment.

In typical Square fashion, Square Installments provides a more accessible option for businesses that want to offer financing to their clients. If your company sells higher ticket items — from $250 to $10,000 — and you’d like to offer on-the-spot approval and financing to your customers, read on to find out more about Square Installments. But first — a little primer on customer financing.

What Is Customer Financing?

Before we dig too deep into Square Installments, let’s cover the basics of customer financing. By financing a purchase, customers can take home a product or use a service right away without paying for it in full at the time of purchase.

A common example of customer financing would be heading to the dealership and leaving with a new-to-you car — and a payment plan for the next three years to pay it off. Getting the newest version of your phone and rolling payments into your mobile phone bill is also another (more painless) way to finance an upgrade for your phone with less sticker shock.

Financing makes things a little easier on your customer, but it shouldn’t require you to wait for the cash. When you offer to finance through a third-party like Square Installments, you sell your product or service and permit payment to be settled directly between the lender (in this case Square Capital) and your customer. Square pays you in full at the time of purchase.

Financing customers is all about convenience and accessibility. For your customers, financing can make large ticket items easier to purchase with predictable monthly payments spread out over time. Instead of shelling out the entire lump sum, they have more time to pay. This makes for an easier sell for your salesperson and a more comfortable decision for your customer.

When a purchaser thinks about what they are buying in terms of monthly vs. the total amount of dollars, financing can significantly lower the “sticker shock.” Giving purchasing flexibility to your customers will make buying from you a more attractive and accessible option — and of course, that’s good for your business, too.

Companies that invoice monthly payments for ongoing services are also offering a financing option to their clients, in a way. Yet anyone who has a business model based on retainers or monthly agreements knows that sometimes when the bill comes due, it doesn’t always get paid — possibly because the person you invoiced has bad credit or is in financial trouble. These issues can be virtually nonexistent when you let Square Installments pre-screen and approve your clients — and take on the financial risk.

Read on to find out how Square Installments works and how much it costs so you can decide if Square Installments services are right for you.

How Does Square Installments Work?

There are two ways you can use Square Installments for your business: at the point of sale or via Square Invoices. Once you sign up for Square Installments, your business will get a custom URL. This web address is just for your business and is the link you’ll send to every customer who wants to apply for financing.

The Square Installments Process For In-Store Sales

Once you share the link with your customer, they’ll follow the instructions from their smartphone and fill out a short online application. In almost all scenarios, customer approval happens in real time, right when they’re ready to purchase at your shop.

If approved, they can accept one of the financing options on offer and will receive a one-time-use number for a digital card they use to pay you for their purchase. The number is valid for seven days, and your customer can only redeem it at your business.

When your customer is ready to buy, they’ll present you with the digital card number given to them by Square Installments; you will key that number directly into your Square Point of Sale app, online through Square API, or through your virtual terminal.

Square pays you in full for the amount at the time you process the approved application.

Square Invoices From Square Installments

Square Invoices allows you to send your customers invoices through Square as well. After you are approved and set up, the option for installment payments will appear on your invoice automatically. Once your customers receive your invoice, the process is similar to the one above — they fill out an online application, can pick a plan, and once approved, you get paid upfront and in full.

To spread the word, Square will also send you some free marketing material — both in print and in the form of a banner for your website so your customers won’t miss this new option for buying with you.

You Don’t Need To Be A Financing Expert

Worried about the fine print and fielding financing questions? Don’t be. If your customers have questions about Square Installments, they’ll contact Square directly. In fact, because this is considered a “highly regulated financial product,” it’s essential to pass any questions or concerns off to Square’s own customer service folks. And of course, this arrangement means you’re not burdened with the nitty-gritty details of financing or payment collection.

How Much Does Square Installments Cost?

If you’re a business owner considering whether or not the cost is worth the convenience of the service, here are some figures to help you crunch the math.

Square Installments for Square Invoices costs 2.9% of the purchase price plus $0.30 per transaction. Square Installments at your Point of Sale costs 3.5% of the purchase price plus $0.15 per transaction. If a custom rate applies to your business for keyed-in Square Invoices transactions, this rate also applies to any Square Installments transactions.

The good news is that there are no recurring monthly usage fees or long-term commitments. You can cancel the service any you time want with no fees or contracts for your business to worry about.

For a customer who is considering using Square Installments to pay for a purchase, the annual percentage rate will vary depending on a few different factors. However, every customer will have more three options when it comes to repaying the loan. Square makes things upfront and easy to understand for the borrower, with ease of use in mind.

Should You Use Square Installments?

Small Business Owner Using Square Customer Service

The main benefit of Square Installments is that customers can pay over time — making them more likely to buy and making your business more likely to sell more inventory. Whether to break up payments for a big purchase that a customer normally couldn’t afford, or simply to offer a convenient option other than cash or checks, financing through Square Installments can be a valuable tool for your sales team to leverage.

When the average business owner thinks about customer financing, one of the biggest concerns is that the customer gets possession of the product or service without paying in full. While that may be a concern if you offer in-store financing and manage it yourself, in this case, Square takes on the financial risk entirely. You get paid right away and let Square manage the installments.

There are some important things to keep in mind when you consider whether Square Installments services are right for your business, however. As noted above, Square Installments isn’t free. Also, keep in mind that Square Installments is only applicable for purchases between $250 and $10,000 — so businesses that deal with higher ticket products or services will need to consider other options for financing.

When you make the final decision to use Square Installments, consider the benefits vs. the costs. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Would your target market and current customers likely make the purchase anyway? (In other words: How “warm” or “cold” are the people who come to your online sales page or place of business?)
  • Does opening up financing options also open up the possibility of a new target customer or a larger final sale?
  • If you send out invoices, will Square Installments give you a more convenient or secure option to take secure payments and prescreen users, despite the cost?

For any business owner, the benefits and conveniences should outweigh the cost of Square Installments per sale. Because you don’t need to sign any long-term contracts to use Square Installments, it might be worth it to try the service for a bit, see what you think, and compare sales over the next few sales cycles to be sure either way.

Learn More About Square

While you consider whether or not you want to jump in and offer Square Installments as an option for your customers, check out some of the other reviews for Square services. Find out how much Square charges for their primary services and get armed with more information about Square processing to see if these payment options are right for your business. If you want to see the service for yourself, sign up for a free Square account today and check it out!

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 How Does Customer Financing With Square Installments Work? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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Accounts Receivable Financing: What You Need To Know

Incoming cash flow is critical to your business. After all, if you don’t have money coming in, how are you going to pay for inventory, daily operating expenses, or other costs associated with running your business?

Sometimes, cash flow shortages are due to circumstances beyond your control. A slow season, for example, could leave your bank account a little short. But maybe you’re facing a different challenge. You have plenty of sales, but one big obstacle that’s obstructing your cash flow: unpaid invoices.

Depending on your company’s payment terms, you could be stuck waiting for weeks (or even months!) to receive payment from your customers. When these unpaid invoices stack up and your business is strapped for cash, this can quickly become a big problem.

You probably already know about more traditional methods of financing that can help you out of this bind, like lines of credit, credit cards, and small business loans. Sometimes, though, these options just don’t make sense. Maybe your personal credit score is low, you don’t meet a lender’s requirements, or you need funding fast.

What you may not know is that there’s a unique financing option that gives you control of your unpaid accounts. Accounts receivable financing is a way to use your unpaid invoices to get the funds you need in just days. If you have a stack of unpaid invoices sitting on your desk and a bank account that’s seen better days, read on to learn more about accounts receivable financing and how to put it to work for your business.

BlueVine Fundbox P2Bi InterNex Capital Riviera Finance American Receivable

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Credit Facility Size $5K – $5M Up to $100K $500K – $10M Up to $10M $5K – $2M Up to $3M
Average Approval Time 2 – 7 days 1 day 2 weeks 3 – 7 days 4 – 7 days 3 days
Minimum Credit Score 530 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Minimum Annual Revenue $100K $50K $500K $1M N/A N/A
Required Time In Business 3 months N/A 6 months 2 years N/A N/A

What Is Accounts Receivable Financing?

With accounts receivable financing, you receive the capital you need using your outstanding receivables, typically in the form of unpaid invoices. This is why accounts receivable financing is also known as invoice financing.

There are two common definitions used when talking about accounts receivable financing. The general definition is simply financing based around receivables. Invoice discounting and invoice factoring (more on that a little later) both fall under this umbrella.

More specifically, though, this type of financing uses your accounts receivables as collateral for an asset-backed line of credit. A lender provides you with a line of credit based on the quality and quantity of your unpaid invoices.

For small business owners, this type of financing has many benefits. Since accounts receivable is the qualifying factor, other criteria — such as personal credit score, time in business, and the financial details of your business — are often less important to lenders. If you fail to qualify for other types of funding, accounts receivable financing could help you overcome your financial challenges.

You also won’t have to jump through hoops to get the capital you need (unlike with traditional loans and other types of financing). In most cases, all you need to provide to a lender is basic information about yourself and your business and information about your unpaid receivables. You won’t have to worry about pulling old tax returns or other documentation that’s required for traditional loans. If you have qualifying invoices, you can be approved for a line of credit with accounts receivable financing.

A/R Financing VS Invoice Factoring

Earlier, we mentioned invoice factoring. This is a type of financing that is slightly different from accounts receivable financing.

Accounts receivable financing provides you with a flexible line of credit that you can draw from as needed. Your invoices aren’t sold to the lender. Instead, they’re used as collateral to secure the line of credit.

With invoice factoring, you sell your unpaid invoices to a lender for immediate payment. You’ll receive a large portion of the invoice amount upfront — think anywhere from 80% to 95% of the invoice total. Once the customer pays the invoice, you’ll receive the remaining amount, minus any fees charged by the lender.

Another difference between the two is how payment is collected. When you choose accounts receivable financing, you collect payment from your customers as usual. Your customers will not be notified that you are working with a third party.

With invoice factoring, your lender — also known as a factor — will be responsible for collecting payments from your customers. In most cases, your customers will be notified that a third-party is collecting payments.

Invoice financing is usually best for larger companies with many invoices. Invoice factoring is usually the better choice for small companies that don’t have the time or resources to collect payments from customers.

Is invoice factoring best for your business? Learn more about invoice factoring, then compare rates, terms, and requirements of top factors.

Who Qualifies For A/R Financing?

project management software

One of the biggest advantages of accounts receivable financing is relaxed borrower requirements. You don’t have to worry about having a perfect credit score, a long time in business, or high annual revenues — hard and fast requirements for most other lenders.

Some lenders do have credit score requirements, though. In general, you’ll find that the minimum score needed to qualify for accounts receivable financing is much lower than the credit score requirements for loans, unsecured lines of credit, and other financial products.

For most lenders, the number of invoices you have and the creditworthiness of your customers are the most important qualifying factors. During the application process, you’ll provide your invoices to the lender to determine if you’re eligible for funding. Some lenders may also look at your business bank statements to assess cash flow.

Most lenders only work with B2B or B2G companies, although some lenders will approve B2C companies with qualifying invoices.

How Accounts Receivable Financing Works

At this point, you should have a better understanding of accounts receivable financing, but you may still be on the fence as to whether it’s right for your business. Let’s explore exactly how accounts receivable financing works so you can determine whether or not to take this financial leap

1. Apply For Financing

We’ll go into detail a little later about how to choose the right lender for your business. For now, though, let’s assume that you’ve already selected your lender. Begin by filling out the lender’s application. Usually, this is a fairly short process that requires some basic information about yourself and your business, such as your federal Employer Identification Number, your full legal name, and contact information.

2. Submit Your Invoices

Once you’ve filled out your application, some lenders require you to securely connect your accounting software. This allows the lender to determine if the quantity and quality of your invoices are enough to qualify for financing. Other lenders may require you to simply upload your invoices.

3. Get Approved

Once you’ve completed the application and have submitted your invoices, the lender will make an approval decision. The lender will issue a line of credit based on the value of your invoices. Approval decisions may be given the same day, or you may have to wait several days for a decision.

4. Use Your Line Of Credit

Once you’ve been approved, you can now make draws from your line of credit to pay for business expenses. Most lenders transfer funds to your banking account immediately after you initiate the draw. In most cases, you should have the funds in your account within 1 to 2 business days.

5. Collect Payments & Repay Your Lender

You’ll continue to collect payment from your customers as usual. As you collect payments on your invoices, you’ll repay any funds you’ve taken from your line of credit, as well as any fees charged by the lender.

Typical A/R Financing Rates & Fees

Credit card surcharge fees illustration

The rates and fees charged by a financer will vary based on a number of factors. You’ll qualify for lower rates if you’re in a low-risk industry, have multiple invoices with creditworthy customers, and bring in steady cash flow.

On average, expect to pay about 3% to 5% each month on the portion of used funds. Some lenders may offer rates as low as 1%, which is why it’s important to shop around for the best rate. This also highlights why it’s so important to get payments from customers as quickly as possible. The longer you have an outstanding balance with your financer, the more you end up paying.

You may also be required to pay additional fees based on the lender you select. Some of the most common fees that you may encounter include:

  • Servicing Fees
  • Application Fees
  • Setup Fees
  • Withdrawal Fees
  • Processing Fees

How To Choose The Right A/R Financer For Your Business

If you’ve decided to move forward with accounts receivable financing, the next step is to find the right financer for your business. What works for one business may not work for yours, so make sure to do your research and apply the following tips when making your selection.

  • Understand & Meet All Requirements: Know what the lender requires before you even apply. While accounts receivable financing may be easier to obtain than other types of funding, some lenders have stricter requirements. Make sure that you meet all of these requirements. If the lender requires a minimum credit score, check your score for free online to make sure you’re a good fit. Also pay attention to annual revenues, minimum time in business, excluded industries, and other requirements.
  • Review Total Cost Of Borrowing: Sure, one lender’s monthly rate is low, but add in fees and other costs and you may end up paying much more. Make sure to look at the numbers — all of them — to calculate the most affordable financial solution.
  • Consider Borrowing Limits: Assess the borrowing limits of each lender. For example, if a lender only issues lines of credit up to $50,000, but you’d prefer to have a higher line, you can immediately eliminate this lender from your list.

Recommended A/R Financers

With an idea of what to look for in an accounts receivable financer, you’re one step closer to scoring the funding you need for your business. Maybe you’ve even started your search, but thousands of search engine results have your head reeling. To cut through the clutter and get you started, check out our recommended options for accounts receivable financers.

BlueVine Fundbox P2Bi InterNex Capital Riviera Finance American Receivable

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Credit Facility Size $5K – $5M Up to $100K $500K – $10M Up to $10M $5K – $2M Up to $3M
Average Approval Time 2 – 7 days 1 day 2 weeks 3 – 7 days 4 – 7 days 3 days
Minimum Credit Score 530 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Minimum Annual Revenue $100K $50K $500K $1M N/A N/A
Required Time In Business 3 months N/A 6 months 2 years N/A N/A

BlueVine

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Through BlueVine, you can apply for accounts receivable financing lines up to $5 million. Rates begin at just 0.25% per week, and you can be approved as quickly as 24 hours after applying.

The application process is easy. Filling out the application takes less than 10 minutes. Once your application is reviewed, you’ll receive a decision from BlueVine. If approved, you can sync invoices from your supported accounting software, or you can upload invoices right to your dashboard. You’ll receive up to 90% of the invoice amount up front, and you’ll receive the rest (minus fees) after the customer pays. You select the invoices to submit, and there are no long-term contracts.

To qualify, you must operate a B2B company. You must have a minimum FICO score of 530, have $100,000 in annual revenue, and be in business for at least 3 months. If you need additional funding options, BlueVine also offers business lines of credit.

Fundbox

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Through Fundbox, you can receive up to $100,000 with accounts receivable financing. Advance fees start at 4.66% and repayments are weekly. One thing that sets Fundbox apart is that you can get 100% of your invoice value deposited into your bank account.

Registering with Fundbox couldn’t be easier. There’s no credit check and no paperwork requirements. All you have to do is link your accounting software, and you can receive approval in just hours. Once you’ve been approved, funds can be transferred to your checking account as quickly as the next business day.

To qualify, you must use a Fundbox-supported accounting or invoicing software. Your business must be based in the U.S. and have annual revenue of at least $50,000.

P2Bi

P2Binvestor P2Bi logo

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Through P2Binvestor, you can receive an asset-backed line of credit up to $10 million. Through this lender, you can draw up to 80% of the value of your receivables.

There are several fees associated with a P2Bi line of credit. This includes a one-time origination fee equal to 1.5% of your credit line, an annual renewal fee of 1.5% of your credit line, and a daily discount cost. Annual rates average 8% to 20%.

To qualify, you must be in business for at least 6 months and have annual revenue of $500,000. You must also run a B2B business based in the U.S. There are no minimum credit score requirements, although personal credit is evaluated during the underwriting process.

InterNex Capital

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InterNex Capital provides asset-backed lines of credit from $250,000 to $10 million for qualified borrowers. Rates are between 7.99% and 18.99%. All lines of credit come with 12-month terms with the option to renew.

After filling out the application, you’ll receive an approval decision within 3 business days. Once you’ve accepted your revolving line of credit, you can make your first draw immediately.

InterNex Capital is more suited for large businesses. To qualify, you must have annual revenue of at least $1 million. There are no minimum credit scores required to qualify, but you must be in business for at least 2 years. InterNex Capital charges fees including an origination fee, draw fee, unused line fee, and renewal fee.

Riviera Finance

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When you work with Riviera Finance, it’s possible to get up to $2 million for your outstanding receivables. You can receive up to 95% of your invoice value within 24 hours after products have been accepted by your customers. Rates start at 2%. Standard terms are 6 months, but the company works with borrowers if different terms are needed.

Riviera Finance works with businesses in all 50 states. There are no annual revenue, personal credit score, or time in business requirements to qualify.

American Receivable

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With American Receivable, you can receive funding up to $3 million for your unpaid invoices. This company will provide up to 90% of the value of your invoices within 24 hours after submission. Rates start at just 0.8% per month.

To qualify, you must have qualifying invoices to creditworthy customers. There are no time in business, credit score, or revenue requirements.

Final Thoughts

If you deal with a lot of accounts receivable and you don’t qualify for other types of business financing, accounts receivable financing could be a smart next step for your business. Of course, this financial solution isn’t for everyone.

Weigh out the total costs of accounts receivable financing and evaluate the needs of your business. You may find that this type of financing is right for you, or you may choose another source of funding such as a business line of credit or business credit card. Regardless of what path you take, make sure that any financing you accept is financially feasible and will be used to better your business.

BlueVine Fundbox P2Bi InterNex Capital Riviera Finance American Receivable

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Credit Facility Size $5K – $5M Up to $100K $500K – $10M Up to $10M $5K – $2M Up to $3M
Average Approval Time 2 – 7 days 1 day 2 weeks 3 – 7 days 4 – 7 days 3 days
Minimum Credit Score 530 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Minimum Annual Revenue $100K $50K $500K $1M N/A N/A
Required Time In Business 3 months N/A 6 months 2 years N/A N/A

The post Accounts Receivable Financing: What You Need To Know appeared first on Merchant Maverick.

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