Q: You’ve been involved with several fast-growing start-ups in your career. What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned about managing cash flow?
Cash flow can be critical for small business owners, who often need their money quickly in order to manage inventory, pay employees, and keep their business running day-to-day. The faster businesses get paid, the more flexibility they have to use those funds to run and grow their business.
A lot of small businesses don't seem to realize how accepting credit cards can help their business, beyond just making it easier for their customers to pay. Average tickets are higher with credit cards than cash, and credit card acceptance can increase sales by 20-30%. That said, it's important to know what you're signing up for, because not all credit card processing providers or fees are the same. Many companies promote credit card acceptance to small businesses on unappealing terms or with hidden costs.
These products allow you to accept payments no matter where you are. And in almost all cases, if you accept a payment during business hours, the funds will be available in your bank account the next business morning. Again, this kind of access to cash is incredibly important to small business owners.
Find a service that offers free analytics—this will give you actionable intelligence from which you can make informed decisions about how to best to grow your business. You should also find ways to connect with customers and drive real customer loyalty.
In a recent study, nearly 75% of small businesses said they would purchase a tablet in 2012. More than ever before, you can start, run, and grow your business using devices like the iPad. And with the increased flexibility to accept payments anywhere, many businesses are stepping outside of their storefront to sell at fairs, tradeshows, events, parties—anywhere.
Stay in touch with your credit card company and their security policy updates. Credit card companies are constantly coming up with new ways to increase security for their customers, and protect against nearly any unauthorized transaction. On the merchant side, it's important that you only work with companies that are transparent and provide the level of service and support you demand for your business.
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