SMALL BUSINESS COST SAVING TIP #3: Marketing - Websites, Logos, Social Media Pages, & Business Cards
This week I want to touch on getting your name and brand out to consumers. I know building a website, developing a logo, designing business cards, and setting up business social media pages can be intimidating. I would say take a stab at it in the beginning just so you know what is involved in developing each. At the same time, do not hesitate to reach out and have a professional handle any of it for you if you truly find yourself struggling.
There is so much I can cover on these topics, but I will try to condense as much as I know into a list of key points to get you started on a budget.
Social Media Pages
Please feel free to leave any other cost saving marketing tips in the comments for other small business owners to consider.
Small businesses owners are more likely to be audited than non-business owners because the IRS knows that accounting and tax matters typically fall by the wayside when operating a small business. One of the first things you need to do when starting your business is to open a separate checking account, and make certain you keep your personal and business transactions separate.
If you have registered your business as an LLC, or any other type of Corporation or Partnership, banks will require you to specifically open a business checking account. On the other hand, if you operate as a sole proprietor/freelancer, you may be able to get away with simply opening up a second personal checking account through your current bank.
When you begin to search for a business checking account, you will find that there aren’t many free checking accounts like you would find for a personal checking account. This is when you may have to consider a smaller bank for your business checking needs to avoid the many fees involved with business checking.
I found BBVA Compass to be the best option for me. It’s not as large as Chase or Bank of America, but it has several branches across the southern states, as well as the west coast. Here are a few reasons why I chose the BBVA Compass ClearConnect for Business account:
Because BBVA Compass may not be available in your area, your overall focus should be finding a bank with no monthly maintenance fee and no minimum account balance requirements. I would say go this route even if you can meet the minimum account balances for business checking accounts at the larger banks – why let the bank make money off your required minimum balance of $1,500 plus?
Lastly, as your business grows DO NOT FORGET to reevaluate your business checking needs. You may see an increase in monthly transactions as you grow, or the amount of cash deposited. If you find yourself exceeding the transaction/deposit limits and being charged individual transaction fees, visit your local bank to upgrade your account type. Keep in mind, the bank may not initiate the account upgrade conversation because they want those transaction fees from you – so it’s your responsibility to do so.
If you live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, below are a list of smaller banks in the area with reasonable bank fees for small business checking. Although, I went with BBVA Compass, all of these were strong contenders when I searched for a business checking account.
NOTE: The reference to the Chase and Bank of America account requirements are for their basic small business checking accounts.
Please feel free to leave any other cost saving tips for selecting a business checking account in the comments for other small business owners to consider.
Starting a business can be overwhelming at times and even costly in the beginning. Over the next few weeks I’d like to spend some time sharing a few cost-saving tips that I’ve learned along the way on my entrepreneurial journey.
There may be some things that you believe you absolutely cannot do, but I promise you that you can. If you have the courage to start a small business, then I promise you can conquer many of these cost-saving strategies in the beginning. Plus, many of the tasks I will discuss are beneficial for you to perform your first year or two of operations so that you truly understand what it takes to successfully operate and manage your business. For example, in 2001 Oprah Winfrey was signing all checks over $1,000 that left her company; in 2011, she admitted that she now only signs checks over $100,000 (which includes her annual payment to the IRS). If a billionaire without a finance/accounting background understands the money that flows in and out of her business, then I think it’s just as important if you do the same for your business. With that being said, this leads me to my first tip.
Wave is a FREE accounting software in addition to a free invoicing service. There is also a receipt app feature in which you can take pictures of your receipts using your mobile phone, and the receipts will automatically upload to your accounting records. I personally have not tried it out, but when I do, I’ll let you know what I think.
I will forewarn you that Wave is SLOW! Almost too slow for my liking, but at a price of FREE, I can deal with the lag time for the first few years. Next year I will likely upgrade to a paid software because I’m finding myself having more transactions to reconcile, which becomes time consuming with the slow speed of Wave. Even with a paid service, I do not plan to spend more than $10-$25 per month (use your dollars wisely in the beginning!). Depending on the type of business you have, you may required more specialized accounting software that would calculate things such as inventory and sales taxes. There are countless accounting subscriptions for small businesses and many can easily range up to $60+ per month. Remember that most accounting software companies will let you try out the software for a trial period that can be anywhere from 7 to 30 days. Feel free to try out as many as you like until you find one that works for you – just don’t forget to cancel before the trial subscription ends!
While the Wave accounting software and invoicing services are free, Wave also offers payroll and credit card processing services. I’ve read a few of the reviews regarding the difficulty of reaching a human on the phone in the event you have issues with either of the services. As a result, I decided not to use Wave for my client invoicing (and probably won’t use them for payroll once I’m ready to hire employees). Instead, I use Square for my client invoicing and have no complaints.
Like the Wave invoicing feature, the invoicing feature for Square is free with fees for credit card processing. After countless hours of research, I decided on Square because it was the simplest to get setup, reputable, and the fees were easy to understand. Their website was easy to navigate and straight to the point. Also, their payment processing/deposit time was one of the quickest I found. Funds are deposited in your bank account within 1-2 business days. So far, most of my payments have been deposited within 2 business days, but a few have been deposited within 1 business day. While I currently only use Square for invoices, it is important to know that Square also has various types of hardware used for collecting credit card and cash payments for your business – iPad registers, register receipt paper, locking cash drawers, barcode scanners, kitchen printers (for restaurants).
You also have the option of having your funds instantly deposited into your checking account with Square, just as you would with pretty much any other credit card processor. Because these types of payments function like a bank loan until the funds are actually available, you are charged an additional interest rate on those deposits. In my opinion, it’s best to just wait that 1-2 business days for your deposit because those bank fees can add up quickly.
In the end, if you find yourself truly struggling with handling your business financial records, or find that it's taking countless hours away from you managing your business, do not hesitate to reach out to professional. Just know that there are so many cost-friendly options for professionally managing your business finances. These options will be discussed in a later blog post.
SIDENOTE: Just to clarify how the free invoicing service and credit card merchant services work, you can send as many invoices as you’d like to your customers at no cost. When the customer decides to use the link the invoice to pay the bill using a credit card, then you are charged a credit card processing fee. This is standard for any credit card processing service. The processing fees are deducted from the invoice payment, and the remaining balance is deposited into your checking account. For example, if the invoice is $50 and the credit card processing fee is 2.75%, then the bank processing fee would be $1.38. The bank will take $1.38 from the $50 payment and deposit the remaining balance of $48.62 into your checking account. For this reason, if you want to net the full $50, consider increasing your product or service prices (across the board) to account for credit card transactions.
Please feel free to leave any other cost saving accounting, invoicing, or credit card processing tips in the comments for other small business owners to consider.
UPDATE (4/14/2018): Since the initial post, I have now switched to Quickbooks Payments because of the ability to accept ACH bank transfer payments for free. The processing time for ACH payments is a bit longer, but the cost savings on transactions fees is worth it in my opinion. The credit card transaction fees are the same as Square and many other payment processing competitors.
I am a personal and small business finance enthusiast with a deep interest in making people's lives a little easier with financial tips and advice.