Low cost online invoicing and credit card processing tools

The faster you get paid, the stronger your business will be. If you can invoice customers by email, you are speeding your collections cycle by one to three days. If you accept credit cards, you are speeding it even more.

If you don't believe that collecting money quickly is important to your business, use the cash flow calculator with your profit and loss and balance sheet (or your projections). You will quickly see that improving the speed of your collections is just as important as your profitability.

Fortunately, there are many online services that help businesses collect money quickly - both through online invoicing and credit card processing. Both banks and independent businesses offer these services.

Credit card processing

There are several considerations in choosing the type of credit card processing system to use. If you have a simple business with just a few price levels, you can choose a system such as PayPal, where you put buttons on your website that send people for credit card payment. If you have many products or changing prices, you can consider a shopping cart solution, that is often available through your website host. In both of these cases, the purchaser provides their information through the processor, and you never handle the credit card information.

You can also manually swipe a credit card. There are low cost solutions (such as Square) or standard solutions through bank credit processing systems. Swiped cards generally have a slightly lower transaction fee because there is usually less opportunity for fraud and incorrect information. Standard services have monthly fees (often two fees - one for the processor and one for the bank) plus per-item percentage charges. Low cost solutions usually do not have monthly fees.

If you are selling to large companies or the government, you need to find a credit card processor that handles Level II and Level III credit card transactions. This specialized processing allows companies and government agencies to issue p-cards (purchasing cards) to their employees. These p-cards allow employees to purchase items that are combined and reported as one transaction to the company or agency. Level II transactions require information on the seller (whether they are a minority or other disadvantaged business) and sales tax. Level III transactions require all the information for a Level II transaction plus information that you would put on a purchase order and invoice (description, quantity, discounts, etc.) Setting up Level II and Level III credit card processing is significantly more complex. However, if you do not have this processing, you cannot receive orders from government agencies or companies using p-cards. So if they are your target market, it is critical that you choose a credit card processor with this capability.

Another consideration in credit card processing is whether it is integrated with your accounting system. If you can get a processing system that automatically loads information into your accounting system, you will save time and improve your business' financial records.