Being a small business doesn’t mean you can’t accept credit cards like the big guys. Having a merchant account allows your customers to purchase your products directly on your website. Plus, it adds even more credibility to your business.
Merchant accounts let you accept all the major credit, debit and gift cards for your products. Most banks offer merchant accounts, but you’ll want to do your homework on which merchant provider and plan you want to go with.
You might need a business license of some variety to get one, though. To do this, you’ll need to contact your state’s local business license office to determine how you need to proceed. For more information on specific states, check with the U.S. Small Business Administration .
If you start taking payments on your website (rather than linking off to a service like PayPal) you’ll need to make sure that your customers’ purchases are secure by placing an SSL on your website. For more information, read 5 Benefits of SSLs for Small Businesses .
Third-party merchant services
can also use a third-party service to route your customers’ purchases, like PayPal. These types of merchant services require your customers to click a link and use their website to make purchases.
Some services even allow you to use your cell phone as a credit card machine, like Square. This type of payment processor is usually used in a brick-and-mortar storefront as an option for a point of sale system. For example, if you own a restaurant, instead of having a cash register, you would use Square as your POS system.
Chances are you’ll need to collect some sort of tax on your goods, too, so you’ll want to make sure you contact your state to ensure that you’re filing correctly.
Genevieve Tuenge is a writer for The Garage and owner of SparkWild Media. a digital agency that creates experiences to help businesses connect with their customers. As an avid supporter of local mom-and-pop shops, her No. 1 goal is to give small businesses the tools and information they need to thrive online.