Be a Successful Entrepreneur Regardless of Personality Type

We live in a society obsessed with stereotypes. Hence, this society loves to confine everything within a certain “definition.” If someone does not perfectly fit within their bounds then unfortunately they are not taken seriously.

 Photo by  Yuri Levin  on  Unsplash

Photo by Yuri Levin on Unsplash

Entrepreneurship is no different; if you happen to be a college dropout with an idea for the next Uber or Facebook jotted down on a napkin; it becomes somewhat easier for people to accept you as an entrepreneur. But it is a different story if you’re a stay-at-home mom harboring a dream to make her mark.

So the question is; is it an absolute must to fall within a certain definition or to have a certain “personality” to become a successful entrepreneur? In a word; no. Sure it helps if you were always the first neighborhood kid to set up a lemonade stand come summer but it shouldn’t be a barrier that keeps you from opening that boutique coffee shop you’ve always dreamed of.

At its core, successful entrepreneurship is a combination of certain traits that are cultivated consistently. More importantly, anyone can develop these traits and become a decent hustler, including YOU. Here’s a closer look at a few of these traits.

Unrestricted Passion

If you take any field; sports, science or business, and study the top 5%, you’d see most of these individuals have one thing in common and that is extraordinary love for what they do. It is their reason to wake up every morning. Steve Jobs wouldn’t be Steve Jobs without his extreme passion for computers.

Remember that coffee shop we talked about? If thinking about coffee beans does indeed light a fire in your belly, maybe it’s time you took a leap of faith.

Grit & Resilience

Let’s be honest here; starting a business from scratch and growing it into a successful enterprise won’t be a stroll in a park. You’d have more than your fair share of frustrations and sleepless nights. Entrepreneurship kind of punches you in the face when you least expect it.

You may not be a Type-A personality or the most extrovert of the lot but if you’re willing to take a beating after beating and are strong enough to shut out that voice in the back of your mind that tells you “maybe it’s not for me”, then you’ve already won half the entrepreneurial battle.

So true are these words from Churchill; “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Flexibility

Forrest Gump took life as a box of chocolates that’s full of surprises. Entrepreneurship is no different; you’ll be dealing with quite a bit of unpredictability. There will be times when you’ll have to pivot.

And over time your idea and business will (and should) evolve with the current business landscape and you’d have to keep your ear to the ground. One of the biggest reasons businesses fail is that they’re so captivated by they what “they believe should work” that they fail to see the writing on the wall.

So if you’re able to keep set your ego aside and are willing to combine prudence and business practicality with your passion then it will play a huge role in transforming you in a successful business owner regardless of your personality.  

Launch Your Dream While Working Full-time

 Photo by  STIL  on  Unsplash

Photo by STIL on Unsplash

A college degree, a “stable” 9 to 5 job, a slow yet steady income progress and a 401-K. The majority of the masses take this route to achieve their financial goal; either by choice or compulsion. Quite a few of them even dream of getting into a position that allows them to wield the corporate hammer from their corner office. All the power to them!

But then there are those of us who choose to go against the grain. We thrive on the challenge of the unknown and dream of blazing our own path to success. You may happen to be one of us. Let me say it out loud; it takes supreme bravery to even think of taking on the odds to achieve your dream.

There are two key ways through which people pursue this. Either they leave their 9 to 5 gig behind and go “all in”. Or they pursue their entrepreneurial goals as a side hustle along with their full-time job until the project becomes viable enough financially.

This article is aimed at the latter of the two groups. We will explore how you can go about getting your big idea off the runway while you work full time.

1. Toughen Up Mentally

The journey from the cubicle to the entrepreneurial home run is anything but easy. Fifteen hour days, constantly missing weekends and a social life next to nothing are some of the costs that you should be willing pay out. Preparing yourself mentally is by far the most important factor that will determine your success.

2. Validate Your Business Idea

Almost half of the businesses (42%) that fail are because no one is willing to buy what they’re selling. Share your product or solution, talk to the people you know and take their feedback. Your focus should be to find a solution to an actual problem. More importantly, be ruthless with anything that doesn’t work. Dump it and move to the next idea.

3. Review Your Commitments

Review your commitments to maximize ROI on your effort towards your goal. You may be a parent, maybe you are taking care of an elderly family member or perhaps you participate in a time-consuming hobby or two. Take note of the time that you put forth in each of these. See which tasks can be delegated or can be put on the back burner for a while to create space for your project.  

4. Set Realistic Goals

You may want to hit launch in 3 months, but ask yourself if it is realistically possible. You must acknowledge that you’re giving at least about 40 hours a week to your regular job. And that will surely affect the time you can allocate on daily basis to your venture. It will eventually affect the timelines. A handy tip is to set yourself weekly and monthly goals. This will present you a very clear picture of where you’re headed.

5. Focus Only On Your Strengths

It’s natural that you treat your venture like your own child and it makes you want to get involved in every minor detail. One, this is not sustainable and secondly, it will do a lot more harm than good. If you’re good at business development or vendor management, focus only on that and hand off the rest.

There are two ways you can do that; one, you can hire competent freelancers from platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr (& many more) and secondly, you can bring onboard a business partner. Not only will delegating take pressure off you but the project’s overall productivity will markedly improve as well.   

6. Don’t Mix Your Office & Your Project

You may find it tempting to use your office resources for your project or discussing it with your coworkers. In a word; never! Using office resources on unrelated projects is straight up theft. And you never really how your boss or coworkers will react when they get the inkling that you’re up to something else other than your office work.

7. Ensure Stability Before You Leap

It’s critical that you give serious thought to your future and current responsibilities before you decide to hand in your notice, Make sure you have a stable business income coming through before you finally decide to move on. And don’t burn bridges; you never know when you may need to come back.

So there you have it; a simple, easy to follow roadmap that will help you get your project off the ground and will help keep things in perspective.

Why Using ACH Payments Saves You Headaches

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The key objective of any for profit business large or small is to generate revenue. Not so long ago a business had no option but to accept payment at its premises or point of sale, this restricted growth and operations.

The advent of the internet has truly transformed the rules of business engagement. It gave birth to hyper-connectivity, which to a great extent leveled the playing field for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

This brought attention to the various ways a business can process and receive payments online. Over the years various methods have been utilized for online payment processing such as credit/debit cards, virtual wallets, virtual terminals etc. Within this post, we will focus on why ACH is a better payment processing option as compared to more traditional methods such as credit/debit cards.

What Is ACH?

ACH stands for “Automated Clearing House.” It is the payment network used for transfer and clearance of electronic checks or e-checks. E-check is a way to move money between banks without using paper checks, wire transfers, credit card networks, or cash. It is generated electronically and it can be transferred easily anywhere around the globe.

Why Your Business Should Use ACH As A Primary Payment Mechanism:

Reasonable Transaction Cost:

The cost associated with payment processing is one of the highest variable costs for any business. One of the biggest advantages of ACH is low processing fees, compared to traditional payment methods such as checks or credit cards.

Transaction costs on credit/debit cards can be between 2-3%. According to the  Wall Street Journal, on average it can cost between $4 to $20 (for a $100 transaction) to write a check once you factor in printing, payment initiation, authorization, signing, mailing cost, and time spent. With an ACH, the transaction cost between the two bank accounts is almost negligible. Depending on your payment gateways ACH transaction can cost between $0.25 -$1 for the same $100.

Quick Processing:

Immediate or delayed access to revenue funds can have a far-reaching operational impact on any business. Depending on your payment gateway you can have a same day transfer through ACH. This can greatly improve your business’s workflow efficiency and flexibility with payments as it allows you immediate access to cash.

Better Security:

ACH gets rid of some of the most common pitfalls of using traditional payment methods. For instance, credit card data can be stolen. ACH removes the need for customers to provide their confidential details to merchants. Similarly, traditional checks can be misplaced and are susceptible to signature forgery. ACH removes these risks through facilitating direct transfers and removing intermediaries.

Operational Convenience:

Constantly following up with your customers for payment or failed payments due to credit cards expiring? ACH makes the whole process hassle-free for both your business and the customer by facilitating a direct transaction between your businesses’ and customers’ bank accounts.

Preferred Funding:

While each bank has its own policy on paper checks and ACH transactions, a bank will usually prefer processing ACH payments first. For instance, suppose your customer has $1,500 in their checking account. If you process an $800 ACH payment on the same day in which someone else tries to cash an $800 paper check, the ACH is paid first.

 

We would love to hear from you on this. Drop us a PM on our Facebook page or get in touch with us at Chat@SwiftlyPaid.com    

 

References:

  1. https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-companies-cling-to-writing-paper-checks-1394494772?tesla=y

Cybersecurity: Why It Is Crucial To The Success Of Your Small Business

 Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Gone are the days when one of the only means to rob someone was with a weapon. As beneficial as it is, widespread penetration of technology within every aspect of our businesses and lives has opened us up to a host of potential pitfalls. The greatest of them being unauthorized access and theft of sensitive information.

The past 18 months have not been very rosy on the cybersecurity front. Some of the biggest business names such as: Google, Chipotle, Kmart and Brooks Brothers have been shamed by massive data breaches.

This underscores the fact that cybersecurity is not to be ignored and must be given its due share in time and resources. Sharp focus on cybersecurity is just as crucial for small businesses as it is for a large corporation. In fact, according to 2018 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon over 60% of data breach attacks were targeted at small businesses. Within this article, we intend to discuss a few cybersecurity best practices for small businesses.

Why Small Businesses Are A Hacker Magnet:

It is important to first understand why hackers often gravitate towards small businesses. To start off, small businesses can be quite complacent about cybersecurity-allocating very few resources to it. They often believe that since they are a small business they are not “juicy” enough to be breached. This mindset makes small businesses a soft target for hackers.

It is also easier to extort a ransom from a small business since even a minor cyber breach can shatter them.

Key Categories Of Cyberattacks:

In most instances, the end goal of any cyber breach is to gain access to sensitive business information such as customer information or financials. Although cyber protection techniques and protocols have come a long way in recent years, hackers have also kept up with the latest technology. With every passing day, they refine their ways. Following are some of the most common ways a cyber breach happens:

  1. Phishing: This is the go-to cyber theft technique for most hackers. It involves collecting sensitive information such as login information or credit card information through a fake website disguised as a legitimate business.

  2. DDoS: An acronym for “distributed denial of service,” DDoS attacks occur when a server is intentionally overloaded with requests until it shuts down the target's website or network system.

  3. Inside attack: This is when someone with administrative privileges, usually from within the organization, deliberately misuses their credentials to gain access to sensitive information. Resentful employees could present a serious concern here in the absence of relevant cybersecurity protocols.

  4. Malware: It stands for "malicious software" and refers to any program or software placed within the target's system with the objective to cause damage or gain unauthorized access. It includes: viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, and spyware.

  5. Ransomware: One of the most widespread cybertheft methods, ransomware is a type of malware that infects the system and, as the name implies, demands a ransom. Usually, ransomware locks you out of your system and demands money in exchange for access or threatens to publish sensitive information if you don't pay.

What Cybersecurity Solutions Are There For Small Businesses?

Here are a few key measures that you must consider for your small business:

  1. Antivirus: The very first step should be to install a strong antivirus program on your network. It will keep you safe against most types of malware. There are plenty of well known antivirus programs available for affordable prices, and be sure to keep the program updated.

  2. Firewalls:  A firewall provides an added layer of safety by denying system or network access to an unauthorized user. Most current operating systems such as Windows 10 come with firewall software.

  3. Data backup solutions: Back up your data to ensure that any sensitive information can be retrieved quickly and reliably if a cyber breach takes place.

Best Practices For Small Business Cybersecurity:

It’s paramount to your business’s safety that you employ company-wide safety practices and onboard all the stakeholders including your employees. Following are some good places to start:

Updated Cybersecurity Software:

Most small businesses do not pay attention to their cybersecurity,  those that do often only have the bare minimum safety measures in place. Many run their websites and other digital assets with outdated anti-virus and protection programs. This makes them an easy target for even a novice hacker. It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to keep your protection programs updated, it takes almost no effort and is not resource intensive.

Employee Education:

It’s crucial to your business’s safety that your employees clearly understand how such attacks happen and how to stay safe while using the business’s systems. This does not need to be an exhaustive exercise, a regular quarterly course/seminar would fit the bill.

Create A Preventive:

Make sure that every employee and other stakeholders such as suppliers and business affiliates understand what’s at stake. A conscious effort should be made in order to create a culture that places high importance on cybersecurity. This can be achieved by implementing company-wide security policies, starting with something as simple as password creation protocols.

 

Although understanding every aspect of cybersecurity is beyond the scope of a single article we hope that we have managed to open your mind to the crucial importance of digital security for your small business’s success.

We would love to hear from you on this. Drop us a PM on our Facebook page or get in touch with us at Chat@SwiftlyPaid.com    

References:

  1. https://www.verizonenterprise.com/verizon-insights-lab/dbir/

Small Business Takes on the Dodd-Frank Act: Part I

The Dodd Frank act is a point of contention with the recent changes.  With 16 sections and a total of 16 titles containing 243 rules which require 67 studies and 22 periodic reports, this is an immense beast. As of May 25th, a repeal of the Durbin Amendment had been slipped into the Republican anti-Dodd Frank bill. Named after Richard Durbin, Senator of Illinois, the Durbin amendment put price control deemed by the Federal government as “reasonable and proportional to the cost” on fees which banks and credit unions charge retailers for debit card purchases. The purpose of this series is to track the immediate impact of big-picture policy changes on small businesses.

Calculations of Federal Reserve data shows that retailers took in $42 billion because of the Durbin Amendment: the savings are as good as the number sounds for larger businesses and those that sold bigger ticket items. However small businesses are feeling the impact of this form of price control. As Harry Alford, cofounder and president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, explains

“Before the Durbin Amendment, interchange fees were negotiable, which was a good thing for mom and pop stores. But government regulation as dictated by the Durbin Amendment has set a floor as well as a ceiling for these fees, meaning that some small retailers are paying more for these transactions now than they ever did before the law was drafted.”

So while there are large savings, small businesses did not necessarily experience a positive impact from the Durbin Amendment.  The savings that price controls were supposed to incur were meant to be felt by consumers were nearly not present. Since so many businesses have been losing free checking as well, these businesses are now passing through fees to consumers who end up shouldering the higher costs.

With all that we’ve covered, Jeb Hensarling, Republican chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said he agrees with the removal of the provision that would have capped prices stores pay banks when consumers use debit cards. With the huge amount of conflicting interpretations on the who’s who with regards to the Durbin Amendment’s impact, one thing is very clear: large businesses are saving billions while retaining their old pricing, and struggling families are losing financial incentives with America’s small businesses. There is the chance that repealing the Durbin Amendment could possibly raise prices further, but we must also consider the fact that forcibly limiting those costs in one place can effect in costs increases elsewhere for those who needed them lowered the most. Stay tuned as we continue to cover the small business impact of the Dodd Frank act.

Matthew Koren is the President of Swiftly Paid, a credit card processing and payroll service provider located in Portland, OR. He runs this company in addition to his management consulting practice helping clients implement innovative strategic solutions to business critical issues. You can contact him by filling out the Contact Us page, or by calling 503-765-6940.

How the New AHCA Health Bill Affects Your Small Business

Last Thursday, AHCA passed by a small margin of votes. It passed so fast after a last compromise that there was no time to study the bill, nor did the congressional accounting branch assess costs and impact before it hits the public. This change would remove a huge amount of regulation: health insurance would in theory be more accessible, cheaper, and businesses would have more flexibility to provide for the needs of their employees. However, the original intention of such an expansive overhead created by the ACA was “to guarantee people in the system that their financial roof won’t collapse with one serious medical emergency.”

Business Insider provides a great example of how this might look: A company could have operations in South Carolina and Vermont. If South Carolina is granted a waiver and drops the lifetime limit on maternity care for insurance plans, the company could use that baseline to put a lifetime cap on maternity care for employees in Vermont as well.”

Ultra-small businesses might not be as heavily impacted by these changes however we might start seeing businesses with over 50 employees provide the hefty yet wide coverage that ACA demanded from businesses. It will be harder for certain small businesses to buy health coverage: this same bill also removes the tax credit available to companies with fewer than 25 employees. It is very worth noting that AHCA also bakes in a very real age tax that would force older adults to pay extremely high premiums compared to their younger counterparts.

As a small business employee or owner, here are some takeaways:

  • Businesses that rely on a core employees will be heavily impacted by a system that punishes older workers

  • The health insurance landscape is about to shift, it will probably not stop changing for a while, so buckle down.

  • Business owners will have the flexibility to drop those protections on their own volition, or keep them. Regardless, the overhead will cost them.

  • Ultimately, the coverage that ACA had previously defined as a given is dissolving: it’ll ultimately be up to business owners to protect their own employees.

Matthew Koren is the President of Swiftly Paid, a credit card processing and payroll service provider located in Portland, OR. He runs this company in addition to his management consulting practice helping clients implement innovative strategic solutions to business critical issues. You can contact him by filling out the Contact Us page, or by calling 503-765-6940.

Keep Your Eye on Mobile Payments to Impress your Customers

While mobile payments are relatively new, there’s an emerging group of people who are starting to re-think how they relate to money, and this tech is the edge of this (See accenture page 21).  It’s estimated that mobile payment volume will hit the 75 billion dollar marker with leading the US and China being in the lead for adopters. This number is supposedly small. While growing, most folks are still anchored to traditional payment methods: we are at a point of transition. We are estimating an 80% growth is mobile payment users between 2015-2020.  

Things are moving forward slowly, and large corporate establishments have already started to follow the sound of this quiet tune. US Bank is directly tying their flagship luxury card to mobile, incentivizing users with triple purchasing value over mobile purchasing platforms.  Google and Apple's mobile payment services are still ferociously competing with one another (Apple Pay’s transaction is up 500% compared to Android Pay). Notably, Google and Paypal are buddying up.

RIght now, there is no clear winner of the mobile payment industry, it’s still young, which means there’s room to influence the trajectory of your customer’s perceptions. The current challenge all mobile payment services are struggling with are how to penetrate new  markets, but this is in all likelihood an inevitability (keyword: value). Right now, early adopters of mobile payments appear to be young people and the tech-trendy individuals are going for the newest, most convenient transaction experience with the least amount of hassle. It is worth noting there is a both slow but linear growth in other market segments.

Matthew Koren is the President of Swiftly Paid, a credit card processing and payroll service provider located in Portland, OR. He runs this company in addition to his management consulting practice helping clients implement innovative strategic solutions to business critical issues. You can contact him by filling out the Contact Us page, or by calling 503-765-6940.

Celebrating community, prosperity, and our 7th Birthday!

It’s our seventh birthday! We’re celebrating the opportunity to help our clients rest well at night knowing that their businesses’ cashflow is in good hands. Come join us on March 31st at Hobo's in Downtown Portland. This past year we successfully launched our new payroll service with three happy clients. Reach out to learn about our special pricing for sole proprietors and single member LLC’s or S-Corporations.

We’ve always believed that being grateful and showing gratitude is essential in building a solid, lasting business. Since it’s our birthday, and most businesses don't make it their 5th year, we figured we might as well list seven (7) things that we’re grateful for in our lives, one for each year we've been in business:

  1. Our customers, who do cool and awesome things with their time and effort.

  2. Our friends and family who support and love us when we’re not working away at getting you swiftly paid.

  3. The community that supports us on a day-to-day basis (who says business partners can’t also be friends?).

  4. The team at Swiftly Paid for making it possible for me to have reasonable work hours and a vacation now and again.

  5. SPRING! And SUN!

  6. The ever-evolving and exciting world of payment processing. It seems like only constantly moving targets keep my interest.

  7. This year there are many ways you can show your gratitude for others. If you’re inclined to support others, consider making a donation to the ACLU if you’re feeling additionally charitable: ACLU

So whether you’re celebrating the end of your week, taking a break from taxes, or switching professions, come by and say hello! Hor'dourves will be provided and, of course, don't forget your party hat!

Don't forget to RSVP here!

Want To Step Up To Your FLSA Overtime Changes? You Need To Read This First

 

The Federal Government issued a change to FLSA laws and overtime agreements raising the salary threshold for Executive, Administrative, Professional and Computer Employees who are salaried and exempt from overtime from $455 a week to $913 a week or from $23,660 per year to $47,476 per year.  The deadline is December 1st, 2016.

Why Should I Care?

The Department of Labor itself managed to muck up its own new rules, actually.  If you’re an employee that makes under 47,476 dollars a year or a small business that pays folks less than 47,476, you’re about to be subject to the changes of these laws.

If this sounds complicated, it’s because it is.  It’s worth noting the new president-elect wants to make small-businesses exempt from the new policy.  "And there are 85 million hard working Americans who would agree with that," Trump said.  "We have to address the issues of over-taxation and over-regulation and the lack of access to credit markets to get our small business owners thriving again. Rolling back the overtime regulation is just one example of the many regulations that need to be addressed to do that. We would love to see a delay or a carve-out of sorts for our small business owners."  Even though enterprise coverage applies only to businesses with $500,000 or more in annual revenue, current FLSA rules already have a small-business exemption.  The FLSA's individual coverage still applies to any employee whose work relates to interstate commerce.  

What Should I Do?

If you’re an employer watch out for these key things before December 1st.  It wouldn’t hurt to review and document any decisions you’ve made.  The change takes effect December 1—a Thursday—and Tammy McCutchen says employers will probably want to avoid reclassifying an employee as nonexempt in the middle of a workweek. Since calculating overtime would be too complicated in this short of a time span, this would be a great time to think about the way you’ve currently classified your workers:  it’s best to document your decision and the rationale you use to classify workers.  If anything, now is a great time to document your current decisions, in case an audit occurs.  

If you’re an employee, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to check out the overtime updates.  This change is relevant if you work over 40 hours a week,  period.  If you meet very specific conditions, one of those being the $455 a week payment threshold, you are "not exempt," meaning you are already eligible for overtime.  There are a variety of types of exemptions from overtime and the new rule only covers those that fall under "Executive, Administrative, Professional, Outside Sales and Computer Employees." Specific definitions of those roles can be found in the government’s Q&A.  If you're a teacher, lawyer, or doctor, the new raise in the salary threshold might not apply to you, just as the old salary threshold may not have applied to you either.  

As December 1st comes closer, be wary of any changes the new administration may put in place.  It will be unlikely that they can stop or obstruct the FLSA changes, but it’s very likely they’ll change parts of it.

Resources:

EMV's Birthday!

October 1st was the official debut of EMV cards!


As many of you already know, if you have read our previous posts on the topic, EMV technology is the up-and-coming thing when it comes to payment solutions. In honor of the special “birthday” for EMV cards, we’ll give a recap and mention some important points you may have forgotten.


EMV means “Europay, Mastercard, Visa—these are the head honchos behind this new technology. What these cards do is keep your money more secure, through a tiny chip embedded inside. The chip creates new codes every single time you make a transaction. That’s a far cry from the old, magnetic stripe!


So, this sounds great, doesn’t it? What could be better than more credit card security?


Well, it is important for you, as a merchant. If you are a retailer and you don’t include options for receiving EMV cards as payment, you make yourself liable to incurring the costs of credit card fraud on a magnetic stripe card. In other words, if a customer can’t use EMV at your establishment, and his or her card’s information is stolen, you are held financially responsible!


The cool thing about EMV cards is that the stripe is still on them, so they can be used at non-EMV compatible businesses. Even though October 1st was considered the big day for EMV technology, it’s understood that the transition will be a gradual process, and many merchants will feel uncomfortable adjusting right away. But this is the future!


You would be doing yourself a great service by obtaining EMV payment processing equipment.