The current economic climate has been proved difficult to many small business owners. declining sales, rising overhead costs, and less access to credit

One of the best ways to pull your business out of a slump is to differentiate. Whether through higher quality products and services, better customer service, and/or a better brand, you have to bring something to the table that your competition doesn’t. While this all sounds cliché, it’s absolutely true if you wish to run a successful business operation.

A differentiating trend growing among many small businesses, particularly those that have solely relied on cash sales in the past-e.g. small eateries and neighborhood bars, is the acceptance of credit cards. While this may seem like a no-brainer in light of today’s technology driven marketplace, you’d be surprised at how many businesses don’t accept credit cards. Small business merchants that conduct business primarily through face-to-face selling can greatly increase their revenue and customer base simply through offering credit cards as a payment option. Because of the many benefits that they offer- security, convenience, easy of use, etc, many of today’s shoppers prefer to use credit cards when paying for purchases made online and in-person.

A big decision that many owners face is figuring out exactly what type of credit card processing service they need to set up. First, start with the needs of your business in addition to the types of products and/or services you sell. Next, determine what types of merchant services best suit your operation with regards to price and services offered.

Independent service organizations, or ISO’s, set up customizable merchant accounts for businesses. A merchant account is an account that essentially allows for a business to accept a payment made through a credit/debit card. These merchant accounts, are established with a financial institution (typically a bank) that is partnered with the ISO, thus serving as a secure payment gateway. A typical transaction goes as follows: A customer’s credit/debit card is swiped and then processed. After processing, funds are transferred over to the business’s merchant account. Finally, the funds are taken from the merchant account and deposited into business’s checking account.

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