You are now trained and officially ready to begin your career… but you are realizing that there are more fine-tuned necessities to running a business than just the art of your given specialty profession. For some, you may not be in a place to begin the journey of having your own business and that’s ok, but others may be ready to hit the ground running. For those who are excited to begin, there are many different items to address early on like branding, marketing, location, etc. One important item to figure out is how to bill your services.
Nowadays, there are many different resources and platforms that make billing easier. It is important to research all your options and see which one works best for your business and clients. To help give you a starting point, here are some suggestions of services to utilize when it comes to billing.
- Square®– Square® is geared more towards brick-and-mortar businesses and their services and web integrations reflect that. Square does not cost any money up front, unless you are going to need a physical product from them, like the Point of Sale (POS) system, in which case you can pay monthly for it. They charge 2.6% + 10 cents of every transaction that is done via an in-person payment terminal or POS. They charge 1% if the payment is processed by another provider or is a cash payment, and 2.9% + 30 cents for every online transaction using eCommerce integrations, online payment APIs or your business’s mobile app. It can be more expensive when compared to other processors on the market. However, what you see is what you get, and they don’t charge other hidden fees later. Also, Square® does provide a variety of services that go beyond payment processing like banking services, unlimited SMS (text) capability, employee and contractor timecards and payroll, loyalty, email marketing, gift cards and more. Some of those services require additional fees, and others are included in the base cost. Square® also integrates with many other platforms that you may be using to host a website or sell eCommerce.
- Stripe– Stripe is widely used in the online space for eCommerce and other online based businesses. Stripe integrates with just about every platform out there. Many platforms that offer their own payment processing use Stripe. Stripe’s transaction fee is 2.9% + 30 cents and again, they say they don’t hit you with hidden fees. Stripe also offers additional features such as allowing you to create volume discounts, multi-product discounts and country specific rates. You can accept up to 135 different currencies, pay contractors in more than 30 different countries and integrate with QuickBooks. With Stripe, you can create recurring subscriptions and invoicing, credit or wire transfers for large payments, and you can instantly pay yourself out for an additional 1% fee, avoiding the 3-5 day wait for funds to hit your account. Stripe accepts both Apple pay and Google pay, as well as accepts ACH debit for transactions. You can also customize your Stripe checkout page with your own branding (also known as white labeled) and even add a custom domain. If you are considering the tech route. Stripe offers the opportunity to partner with the company to add payment processing to your own platform. You can also automatically collect tax with Stripe in more than 30 countries. Stripe’s POS transaction fee is slightly less than Square®, at 2.7% + 5 cents per transaction, and they also offer a card reader and a POS terminal for an additional cost. There are many other things to list when it comes to Stripe, because they are focused more on online businesses, use more tech lingo and have more of a global reach so interested users should do their research on their website.
There are several great platforms out there that are geared toward startups and small businesses, that include their own payment processors. Below are a couple of options that some of our graduates utilize in billing.
- HoneyBook– HoneyBook is an inexpensive, all-in-one, solution if you want to kick off your business digitally and feel professional to your clients. They market their platform as a solution for “end-to-end project tracking.” HoneyBook helps you begin to automate your client transactions which can save you a ton of time once you build out the back end of your website infrastructure. This platform has its own payment processor for credit, debit and ACH transfers and will pay you out directly to your business account with a 3% processing fee for credit / debit and a 1.5% fee for ACH. You can choose a single payment, auto pay or scheduled payments when you build out your client invoices and can save each template for use with other clients. It also has its own digital contract capability, which removes the need for third-party digital signature apps, such as Doc-Hub or DocuSign. You can create custom proposal-invoice-contract-payment pipelines for your clients, with add-on service options, which is a neat feature. This platform is marketed to businesses in the creative space, like event planning, wedding planning and art, and so their platform uses these kinds of business templates as examples, but you can customize your templates to look and feel however you want them to. An ABC graduate reported that she has created a 6-week online course using HoneyBook’s e-file templates. The files are sent out to clients via email, with a link to the file, but your clients can also log in to their individual client portal. HoneyBook also has an app so you can do work from your phone. This platform is ideal for people working one-on-one with clients. It does have a lot of options for a full online program and there are other programs geared toward the online space that would function more efficiently, if online programs were your end goal. Examples of the online programs are Kajabi, Teachable, Thinkific or ClickFunnels. If you want more marketing capabilities check out Ontraport, or Passion.io if you want to build a custom app. HoneyBook offers a free trial and costs $9 per month up until you reach your first $10,000. It’s a very reasonably priced software compared to others on the market.
- Thryv– Thryv is a robust business management platform for small brick-and-mortar businesses. As for the payment processing, Thryv has its own processor but also integrates with Square® and Stripe. The downside of Thryv is that they provide limited information online and you have to set up a call with one of their salespeople to learn the details. Thryv, while a pricier option, helps you get out from underneath your business, meaning the platform is set up to help you automate all the busy work that impacts your user experience like auto SMS and email follow ups, auto SMS and email marketing, customer relationship management (CRM), reviews on over 60 business review websites, SEO, social media marketing, etc. They also offer a website service and will build you a custom website. Thryv also provides unlimited SMS texts and an app where you can track your interactions with your clients, all in one place, separate from your personal phone and email, which helps you to not miss any important messages from clients. Another useful feature is the ability to text payment links to your clients, from your app, on the go. So, if you don’t have a POS system or are doing in-home visits you can send the payment link right to their phone. This platform can be customized by Thryv staff to fit your needs and their demo for pet industry businesses is a dog grooming business.
Lastly, there is Venmo, Zelle, Cash App and PayPal. A lot of people with small business startups are using these options to get going, and these can also be a great way to allow your employees to take tips since no one carries cash anymore. Venmo even has a business option so you can keep your personal and business transactions separate plus they just added a business profile option. With Venmo, you can print a copy of your QR code for clients to scan, which is a very simple solution if you are not tech savvy or don’t have the need or budget to pay for the other options. Venmo’s transaction fee for business transactions is 1.9% + 10 cents per transaction, considerably less than Stripe or Square®. PayPal has a business option that allows you to create a QR code for quick touch free, in-person payments. It allows your account to link with social media where you can sell online and create your own online store. Cash App offers a business account option which is focused only on transactions, much like Zelle, but has 2.5-3% per transaction fee. Zelle simply transfers directly into your linked bank account.
As you can see, there are many different options to investigate, plus more that weren’t mentioned. It may be a strenuous process of finding a billing system, but it is important to research and pick the right one for the current stage of your business development. As your business expands and increases, you can always change your system to a more suitable one that fits your business’ needs. We hope that providing these options is a great starting point for you to explore.