Recently, I was a guest on Act Local Marketing for Small Business with host Kalynn Amadio. Each week, Kalynn shares information and actionable tips to help inspire and motivate small and medium businesses (SMBs) reach their business goals. In this episode , Kalynn and I discussed SMB Group’s 2014 Top Ten SMB Technology Trends and what they mean to the marketing and running of your business. This, the third post in a four-part series, recaps our discussion of why “SMBs View Payment Systems in a New Light".
Kalynn: The next trend I’d like to cover is payment systems; looking at payment systems in a different way. Can you touch on that?
Laurie: Yes, I think for a long time most businesses have looked at payments as that’s how I get paid, that’s how I get my money. I’ll take cash, I’ll take credit cards, I’ll take whatever I decide to take. But they haven’t thought about payments as a business enabler.
Now we’re seeing some SMBs starting to look at payments a little differently and I’ll tell you why. First of all it’s just a basic instinct; everybody wants to get paid more and get paid faster. Businesses see new payment methods are starting to become important.
For instance, consider mobile payment processing. Maybe I’m a fitness trainer and I want to be able to just swipe my client’s credit card at the gym. One guy I spoke with sells sod. He’s in the field in his tractor and a landscaper pulls in ready to buy. The sod farmer doesn’t want to waste time going back to the office to process the transaction. And he doesn’t want to take checks because a check can bounce.
We find in our research that about a quarter of small businesses already use some kind of mobile payment processing solution, and another quarter are planning to add this capability.
Kalynn: What else is changing?
Laurie: A lot is happening in terms of new forms of payment—mobile wallets, gift cards, PayPal, even Dwolla or Bitcoin. These provide new ways to transact and more companies are saying, “You know, I’ve got to be able to accept and process the forms of payment that my customers want to make.”
Think about it. Most businesses now take credit cards. But, I remember when this wasn’t the case, and you might have wanted to buy something but you were going to find another place to buy it that would take a credit card.
More SMBs want to be ready to accept anybody’s money however they want to pay them.
Kalynn: You also mentioned integrating payments and accounting, right?
Laurie: Right. Many small businesses in particular are double processing. This means that payment transactions don’t automatically go into their accounting system, and they have to input payments twice.
In an age when most of us agree time is at a premium, more businesses see this as a time-waster. They reach a certain transaction volume, whether it’s 20 or 30 or 40 transactions per week, and they start adding up the time to re-enter data and don’t want to do it anymore.
If you’re processing more than a handful of payments every week, talk to your accounting vendor and see what you can do to integrate that payment processing. It can save you time help you reduce errors, because every time we as humans re-enter information we’re more likely to make mistakes.
Kalynn: That only makes sense. I’m surprised that people are doing things twice. That didn’t even occur to me.
Laurie: For a lot of the businesses I’ve talked to it’s kind of like that was fine maybe when they just started up but then they reach a certain transaction volume and they say to themselves, “We can’t continue like this because it’s just sucking too much time from the day and things aren’t balancing out.”
In the fourth and final post in this four-part series, I’ll summarize our conversation about why “The Affordable Care Act Puts Workforce Management in the SMB Spotlight.” You can listen to the complete podcast here.