How do I set up payment processing for a small business?

Setting up payment processing for a small business can feel overwhelming, but we’re here to help break down the steps. However, if you’re working with the right team you won’t feel overwhelmed!

Let’s get started…

  1. Choose a payment processor: Research and compare payment processors to determine which one is the best for your business.
    • This is the most important step and it can cause the most anxiety. Many business owners choose a payment processor because their friend has a friend who is using a particular system, so it should be good. There is nothing wrong with asking what other business owners are using, but do your research and make sure their business needs match your own! What works for the local coffee shop might not work for a landscaping company.
    • Another great resource is the Better Business Bureau. They have the ability to help connect you with a local payment processor with a proven track record.
    • We also recommend working with a local payment processor. NOT a company with a local rep, but a truly local processor. Some companies will tell you that they don’t exist, but that’s not true! Working with a local company can ease so much of the stress simply because they’re right down the street. They can come to your aide within minutes rather than placing you on hold for hours.
  2. Apply for an account: Fill out an application and provide the necessary information to open an account with the payment processor.
    • If you’re thinking of going with a company that doesn’t have an application process such as Square, Stripe, or PayPal then please beware. Not only will you pay higher fees, but you’ll also be working with an unprotected account.
    • When a payment processor asks you to fill out an application so they can submit it to their underwriting team, you know you’re getting a protected merchant account. This involves a little patience on your part, but the peace of mind that comes with it will be worth it!
    • We would like to add a side note that not all application processes are created equal, so it’s important to do your homework here, too! NOTE – not all payment processors force you to sign a contract! If you’re not comfortable with a contract, walk away. There are plenty of payment processors out there who can protect you without making you feel stuck.
  3. Integrate payment processing into your website or Point of Sale (POS) system: Most payment processors offer APIs and plugins to integrate payment processing into your website or POS system.
    • This step might not apply to you depending on your business model. If you’re simply using a countertop terminal then you would skip to Step 6.
  4. Securely store customer payment information: Make sure that you follow best practices for securely storing customer payment information, such as PCI DSS compliance.
    • If you followed Step 2 properly, then you can rest easy knowing that you have a PCI Compliant account.
    • If you’re currently processing with a company such as Square, Stripe, or PayPal then you do not have a PCI Compliant account. To take this a little deeper, those companies are compliant to protect their own, but you personally do not have a compliant account.
    • Having a PCI Compliant merchant account not only protects you, but it also protects your customers. After all, their trust in you is what will help ensure that they become repeat customers.
  5. Set up payment methods: Choose the payment methods you want to accept, such as credit cards, debit cards, and others.
    • Many credit card companies will provide you with window stickers to display for your customers to see. If you do not have stickers, feel free to ask your payment processor. It’s a great way to show off how easy it can be to purchase from you!
  6. Test the system: Before going live, test the payment processing system to make sure that everything is working properly.
    • Your payment processor should help you install your new POS system and/or credit card reader.
    • Once the installation is complete, it’s important to make sure that the system is working properly before you open your doors. This will allow you to correct any issues before possibly facing an embarrassing situation in front of your customers.
  7. Start accepting payments: Once you have set up payment processing, you can start accepting payments from customers!

In summary, setting up payment processing for a small business requires choosing a payment processor, applying for an account, integrating the payment processing into your website or POS system, securely storing customer payment information, setting up payment methods, testing the system, and then starting to accept payments.

Still have questions?

Feel free to email us your questions and we’re happy to help you navigate the world of credit card payment processing. We know it can be a lot to take in!

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