Welcome to another week of Merchant Maverickâs essential news roundup for small business owners.
This week, JPMorgan Chase announced its own mobile payments reader while a survey hinted that office spaces will shrink in the future. Read on through for the weekâs top five must-know stories for small business owners.
JPMorgan Chase Announced A Mobile Card Reader
In an effort to broaden its business services, JPMorgan Chase announced the launch of a new card reader that can take payments on the go. Dubbed QuickAccept, this mobile payments platform will allow merchants to ring up credit card payments via a mobile app or a contactless card reader — much like tools offered already by Square and PayPal. Unlike those other services, however, Chase’s new platform will deliver merchants the money made from sales on the same day for free (Square, for comparison, charges ~1.5% for instant transfers).
To work alongside the new payments platform, Chase also announced a business checking account called Business Complete Banking. Nothing is really special about this checking account, although you will need to open one if you want to take advantage of QuickAccept.
Why this matters to you: Competition is almost always welcome, and Chase’s new platform could provide some spark to the world of mobile payments. If QuickAccept’s free same-day funding takes off, merchants might wind up with more avenues for taking credit card payments cheaply in the future.
Over 75% of CEOs Expect Office Space To Shrink In The Future
In a survey of 171 CEOs across America, Fortune magazine and Deloitte found that 76% of those polled expect their company will need less office space in the future. Growing acceptance of smaller office space could be because many are finding remote work isn’t so bad after all — 40% of CEOs in the survey said employee productivity has gone up due to remote work.
Interestingly, Fortune/Deloitte’s survey comes on the heels of a different study about returning to work by workplace technology startup Envoy. That survey found that 73% of US-based employees worry about their health and safety at work. So even if some companies are ready to fully return to the office, most employees may be less keen to follow suit.
Why this matters to you: The COVID-19 pandemic will almost certainly shape how humans work together in the future. And while shrinking office spaces will impact commercial real estate negatively, there are some benefits to smaller office footprints worth noting. For instance, Americans are still driving less on the roads, even as more and more places are reopening. Remote work can also help reduce overhead costs.
Facebook Revealed Plans To Beef Up WhatsApp Business
In an effort to squeeze money out of its WhatsApp messaging platform, Facebook is set to make several additions to the business side of the service. To start, businesses will be able to sell products to customers within chats. Facebook didn’t say how exactly the in-chat shopping feature might be implemented, but it is supposed to work alongside businesses’ “existing commerce and customer solutions.”
Facebook is also launching a hosting service in “the coming months” that will include the ability for businesses to manage their WhatsApp messages. Finally, Facebook noted that some WhatsApp services for business customers will cost money, although specifics haven’t been revealed yet.
Why this matters to you: WhatsApp is a messaging platform that reaches over two billion people worldwide. The upcoming features for WhatsApp will especially be a boon for small businesses that sell online — in fact, Facebook says that the in-chat shopping experience is meant to “help many small businesses who have been most impacted in this time.”
Further reading: Has Facebook Finally Broken WhatsAppâRadical New Update Now Confirmed, Forbes
Outlook For Restaurant Isn’t As Bleak As Previously Thought
Despite the damage the pandemic has done to restaurants, there is hope yet. Moody’s moved its outlook rating for the restaurant industry from “negative” to “stable” last week. The investor service predicted that there will be “slowly improving business conditions” during the next 12 to 18 months and that the industry’s operating profit will grow by around 15% in 2021.
However, restaurants aren’t out of the woods yet. A recent Bloomberg report discussed restaurants that have opened up outdoor dining during the pandemic must innovate once again to survive the cold winter months. For many, winterizing an outdoor space may be too expensive — outdoor headers often cost between $1,000 and $1,500 a pop.
Why this matters to you: A glimmer of hope for the restaurant industry shines a beacon across the entire economy — businesses that serve food have been hit hard during lockdowns. Still, it’s important to stay vigilant. COVID-19 remains a deadly virus, and coming up with safe protocols while remaining profitable will be a tall order for many small businesses, including those beyond the restaurant space.
Further reading: Off-Premise Sales and Non-Traditional Payment Options are Top of Mind for Restaurant Franchisees in COVID-19 Landscape, TD Bank
Entrepreneurship Is On The Rise
Alongside a rise in joblessness has come a rise in entrepreneurship. According to data by the U.S. Census Bureau, new businesses filed 1.5 million Employer Identification Number applications in the third quarter of this year — an 82% jump year-over-year. The Midwest and the South both saw steep rises in particular.
MBA applications are also soaring as people look to boost their professional skill set. A survey of the top 25 US business schools by Poets & Quants found that the number of applications is up an average of 22.6%. USCâs Marshall School of Business leads the pack with a 66.4% increase in applications.
Why this matters to you: The drastic unemployment stemming from the COVID-generated recession is almost certainly encouraging more and more to try their hand at running a business. If you’ve recently started your own business, or are seeking an MBA to help with a business venture, you are not alone. There are plenty of others out there who will (hopefully) succeed right along with you.
Further reading: Entrepreneurship Is the Vaccine for Urban Economies, Bloomberg
The Latest From Merchant Maverick
The Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loans struggled to adequately help many small businesses during the early stages of the pandemic. Learn what exactly went wrong from our readers’ perspectives:
Top 5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Were Denied Government Funding During The COVID Crisis
A Texas farm has been in the news recently for helping special-needs children play and hang out with animals that require special needs, too.
Run as a non-profit organization called Safe in Austin, the farm is home to over 150 animals who are injured or need some type of additional support. Among the residents include a rescued turkey born with a claw abnormality and a calf with a birth defect that fused its legs and spine together.
“There is something absolutely magical about watching a child with differences come out here and say, ‘Theyâre just like me,’ ” said Safe in Austin founder Jamie Wallace-Griner. She added: “We have animals that are blind or deaf, have diabetes, cerebral palsy, deformities, missing limbs, broken spines â¦ they all become part of our family.”
Do you have a story idea, tip, or press release for the Merchant Maverick news team? Shoot us an email: [email protected]
The post Chaseâs New Mobile Card Reader Takes Aim At Square & 5 More Small Business News Stories You Need To Know appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
By now, you’ve probably heard of Facebook Pay — yet another new way of sending and receiving money. People use it most often to transfer funds between family and friends, but can it also be a good option for online businesses?
The answer is yes, it can. Read on to learn more about Facebook Pay, then decide whether it’s right for your own small business.
What Is Facebook Pay?
Let’s face it: People are doing more and more of their shopping online. And anything that makes it easier for them to find and pay for the things they need sounds mighty attractive.
Launched in 2019, Facebook Pay is still a relatively small service â but one with big plans for growth. Right now, it’s available in the United States on Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, and it’s also available, primarily through Facebook, in some other countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East as well as Canada. Plans are underway to add Facebook Pay to WhatsApp soon.
If you’re already using Facebook or Instagram as a part of your online sales strategy, it’s worth taking a look at Facebook Pay. After all, the more payment options you give your customers, the easier it can be to make sales to them.
How Does Facebook Pay Work?
Facebook Pay works in a fashion similar to other friend-to-friend payment options, like Venmo and Zelle. The difference (right now at least) is that Facebook Pay is available only to people who use Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram.
When people sign up for Facebook Pay, they agree to let Facebook store their credit or debit card information. That means they won’t have to pull out their wallet and enter all those numbers each time they want to make a purchase or donation within a Facebook setting. Facebook Pay works for:
Donations to charity and friends’ fundraisers
Purchases on Instagram
Purchases on Facebook’s Marketplace
In-app game purchases
Tickets for events
When you sign up for Facebook Pay and enter a valid credit card, debit card, or Facebook gift card, you’ll be able to exchange payments with people in your network and make contributions to their fundraisers. And they can do the same with you, all without leaving the Facebook or Messenger app or having to enter their information each time they want to buy.
Does Facebook Pay Cost A Fee?
If you’re tired of watching processing fees from third-party providers eat away at your profit margin, you’re going to love Facebook Pay. You’ll never pay any fees to send or receive payments this way.
When Should You Use Facebook Pay?
Facebook Pay is a simple, seamless, and secure payment option for anyone who uses Facebook or Instagram to pay for purchases, donate, or send money to friends and connections. It makes sense to use Facebook Pay when:
1) When You Have Something To Sell
List your handmade items or the unique things you offer for sale through your business. Post pictures and information on your Facebook or Instagram page, then invite your friends and followers to send you payment via Facebook Pay.
Post a link to your online store. Let your friends and followers know the kinds of things you’re offering, then tell them where they can go to get more details. Tell them how they can contact you to place an order â direct message and posting a reply on your page are two easy options â and let them know Facebook Pay is an easy way to exchange payment.
2) If You See Something You Want To Buy
You’ve been browsing through Facebook Marketplace and found something you can’t resist. Message the seller and ask if he or she accepts Facebook Pay, then send payment quickly and conveniently, for free.
A page you follow posts an announcement about a new item for sale. Send a direct message or post a reply indicating your interest, and ask if you can send payment via Facebook Pay. It’s a fast, free, and safe way to complete your purchase.
3) When You Want To Support A Fundraiser
A Facebook or Instagram friend posts information about a birthday fundraiser for a worthy cause. Don’t worry about finding your wallet. If you’ve signed up for Facebook Pay, your credit or debit card information is already stored, so you can support your friend and the good cause without going to any trouble.
A nonprofit you follow posts on its page about a special need or donation drive. Or maybe you are just feeling generous and want to make a donation even when the group isn’t asking for anything right now. It’s easy to support the causes you care about when you are signed up for Facebook Pay.
4) If You Owe Money To A Friend
You went out for dinner and split the check? No problem. If your friend is on Instagram or Facebook, you can use Facebook Pay to transfer cash to cover your share of the bill before you’ve even left the restaurant.
Sending Money Via Facebook Pay
Using Facebook Pay is pretty easy, whether you’re the one sending or receiving money. The first thing you’ll need to do is sign up for the service. So head on over to your Facebook account settings â you can get there by clicking on the triangle at the top right of your screen. (It’s probably right next to the notifications icon.) Next, click Settings and then scroll down until you see Facebook Pay in the menu on the left side of the screen.Â If you want to use Facebook Pay on Instagram, go to Settings, then Orders and Payments, to enter your payment method. If you’ve already saved payment information to either Facebook or Instagram, that payment method will be available to Facebook Pay right away.
Facebook says that more than 99% of payments are processed immediately, and any payments that don’t process are reviewed within 24 hours.
Receiving Money Via Facebook Pay
If you want to set up your own account so that you can receive payments via Facebook Pay, the first step is to sign up for the service yourself.Â Your next steps will depend on how you’re using your social media account to sell.
If You Sell Only To Your Contacts…
Many small businesses sell successfully on Facebook and Instagram using simple techniques. If your sales plan involves posting information and photos about items you have for sale and then connecting with your friends and followers who indicate interest, you can ask them to pay via Facebook Pay.
If You Sell On Facebook Marketplace…
Once you connect with someone who is interested in purchasing an item from you via Facebook Marketplace, you can use Messenger to set up payment using Facebook Pay.
If You Have A Facebook Or Instagram Store…
Facebook Pay is designed for individual use, according to a Facebook representative. So it’s not available as an official payment option for your online store. However, you can connect with your customers through your page or via Messenger to set up payment using Facebook Pay.
No matter how you arrive at the point of sale, once you have someone interested in buying something from you online, let the buyer know that you can accept Facebook Pay. The buyer can arrange payment via Messenger.
And once your buyer sends payment via Facebook Pay, how long will it take until you receive the money? Facebook says that more than 99% of payments are processed immediately, and any payments that don’t process are reviewed within 24 hours. The money will be transferred to your registered account right away, although it’s up to your bank to post funds to your account.
Is It Safe To Send & Receive Payments With Facebook?
Beyond that, these measures have been put in place to protect Facebook Pay users’ information:
Anti-Fraud Technology Monitoring: You’ll be alerted if unauthorized activity is detected.
Customer Support: Report unauthorized transactions via email 24/7 or by live chat between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Pacific Time.
Data Security: Payment data is encrypted for storage, and payment methods are not shared with buyers, sellers, or merchants without consent, and payment information is stored separately from account data.
Verification Methods: Use a PIN or biometric devices like fingerprints or facial recognition, whatever you use to protect your device.
Transaction Notifications: Receive in-app notifications when transactions process.
Privacy Related To Purchases: Transactions are confidential and not shared to users’ Newsfeeds, unless they choose to share
Facebook Pay VS PayPal
Facebook Pay can be a convenient payment option under some circumstances. However, compared to a bigger payment processing system like PayPal, Facebook Pay is probably best suited for small online businesses without an official storefront who rely on one-on-one contact with buyers through social media or who sell at least occasionally in person (at craft fairs or farmer’s markets, for instance) and want a fast, convenient, and no-fee way to accept money from customers.
Of course, there are other no-fee options you can use, too. An online service like Venmo or Zelle offers many of the same benefits â quick, secure, and free payment with fast delivery â without limiting your audience to those who use Facebook and Instagram.
For bigger businesses or for those that want to open an online store, choosing an option like PayPal may be a better move for you. Of course, if you start taking payments through PayPal, be aware that you’ll have to give PayPal a portion of each sale.
Should You Use Facebook Pay For Your Business?
With so many easy and convenient options for taking payments online, it can be hard to decide which one is best for you. The good news is, you really don’t have to choose just one. Because you can set up a free account on Facebook Pay, and you can receive payments with no fees, you don’t really have anything to lose by trying it out.
If you regularly connect with customers on Facebook or Instagram, let them know about all the payment methods you can accommodate. After all, the easier you make it for the customer to pay, the more likely you are to complete the sale and pocket the money.
The post What Is Facebook Pay & How Does It Work? appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
If you are shopping for website hosting or browsing technology news, you are likely to come across the term “LAMP Stack” somewhere.
It refers to how a web server is set up and what software it uses to perform specific functions. Here’s a cartoon that explains it in broad strokes.
What Does LAMP Stand for?
LAMP stands for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP.
Each part of the stack is a piece of software that helps the server run a web application (such as a website content management system like WordPress).
Linux is a computer operating system. It’s the software that runs the server just like Windows runs your PC or iOS runs your iPhone.
Apache is web server software that translates server requests into specific instructions for the server. When you type in a website URL, your browser sends a request to a web server. Apache is the software that takes that request and tells the server how to fulfill that request.
MySQL is database software that stores all the information for a website application in a structured format. For example, the text of this post is stored in a MySQL database. When you visited this URL, my server went and retrieved all this text from the database.
PHP is a scripting language that carries out the server’s instructions. It’s a programming language that will go and get information from your database and construct it in a specific way to fulfill the original request. When you visited this URL, PHP was used to pull all the text, images, fonts, links, etc into a set of files to be delivered to your browser.
What Is a LAMP Stack?
A LAMP stack is just one of many ways to configure a web server. Like your home PC or smartphone, a server needs several pieces of software to simply function.
And like smartphone apps or PC games, different web applications need different requirements. LAMP is one set (or “stack”) of software that meets those requirements.
For example, if you want to use WordPress to build your website, WordPress requires either PHP 7.4 or greater, MySQL 5.6, and Apache.
But you can also substitute NGINX for Apache and MariaDB for MySQL. It’s all just software choices. They all have different strengths and weaknesses.
What Is a LAMP Stack Used for?
LAMP stack is kind of like the 3 bedroom / 2 bathroom house or 4-door sedan for web server configurations.
It’s sort of the “standard” web server configuration, not because it’s the best for every situation, but because it’s the most versatile, most well-documented stack with the largest user base and the most stable history.
All the pieces of the “stack” are also free and open-source, so it’s widely available and accessible for everyone.
LAMP is most well-known among non-developers for running website content management systems like WordPress, but it’s used for nearly every type of web application imaginable.
LAMP Stack Alternatives
There are a myriad of LAMP stack alternatives. Each of the four parts of LAMP can be changed out for a different piece of software.
Here are a few of the most common stacks that substitute pieces of the LAMP stack.
WISA – Windows, IIS, SQL, ASP. It’s an all Microsoft-owned stack for companies that rely on Microsoft for all their IT needs.
WAMP – Windows, Apache, MySQL, PHP. It’s a way to run a traditional LAMP stack on a Windows server. It’s useful for trying WordPress on PCs.
LEMP – Linux, NGINX, MySQL, PHP. The “E” comes from “Engine-X”, which is how you pronounce the software. It’s a popular alternative for WordPress websites that speeds up server requests compared to Apache. This website (running on InMotion’s WordPress plans) uses a LEMP stack.
There is a lot that goes into choosing the right stack for your web application. Sometimes that means tweaking the stack to get the best performance for your web application and sometimes it really depends on what expertise / resources you have available.
A LAMP stack is popular because it’s mature, stable, and well-known. Most any popular hosting company will support it. You can also install it on most cloud hosting and VPS hosting options.
This post originally appeared at LAMP Stack Explained via ShivarWeb
The PPP/EIDL funding process upended the small business community these past few months as places scrambled to stay open — and solvent — during the COVID pandemic shutdowns and closures. Since March, Merchant Maverick has been paying attention to reader comments to try and put our finger on the pulse of the everyday business owners’ experiences.
In Early October, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a press release that the government provided 5.2 million PPP loans worth $525 billion to small businesses, which saved 51 million jobs. Congress also added another $20 billion to the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program and made the (up to) $10,000 advance forgivable.
Despite those numbers, the PPP and EIDL programs failed to give a lot of business owners the help they needed. What went wrong? Why were small businesses denied those funds? And what does the future look like in terms of government COVID aid?
Keep on reading to find out the top five reasons why small businesses missed out on government loans during the coronavirus pandemic.
1) Issuing Banks Failed Big Time
The first, and most challenging, hurdle for many small business owners involved problems with the actual banks issuing the loans. It’s important to understand that the Small Business Administration (SBA) itself does not directly lend money; it relies on partner banks and lenders to actually provide the cash. Instead, it smooths out the lending process by guaranteeing all or a portion of the loan, making the process less risky in general.
When the PPP and EIDL programs launched, partner banks were unprepared to deal with the volume of applicants.
Banks were overrun with applications within hours
Funds were depleted quickly
Paperwork was filed too slowly, and without a good system for tracking applications
According to reader comments, Chase Bank and Bank of America, in particular, struggled with serious issues around applicants and applications. But in general, nothing about the rollout of the SBA loans was well-thought-out, and that left many banks scrambling to come up with their own internal policies amid confusion. The general chaos within the banking community meant that many business owners, even when filing applications correctly, missed out on their piece of the PPP or EIDL funds.
Our reader Naomi wrote:
This PPP is such a farce on so many levels. We applied early with Chase, tried to check on the status and was told that they aren’t in charge of approving the loans and don’t even have access to the applications. Essentially, they said that the applications automatically go directly to the SBA and the SBA reviews the applications. When we called the SBA, they told us the exact opposite: That the bank approves the applications and likely didn’t get to ours before the funds ran out — essentially that it was just sitting there for two weeks! … The process generally has just been unbelievably inequitable from the start and not transparent … Shame on the US Government.
Reader Kim replied to Naomi, writing:
Well said! I went through the same thing. Waiting, wondering, worrying… no answers, then BAM the money is gone. Then to hear Chase and the SBA gave millions to businesses that, no doubt, have countless resources at their disposal. Resources that actual small businesses wouldn’t even qualify for. Shame on Chase and shame on the SBA as well.
Chase Bank was not alone in its failure to handle the SBA disaster loans rollout. Bank of America also came under heavy scrutiny for the way they processed their loans, resulting in a lawsuit from four small businesses that allege Bank of America prioritized businesses needing larger loan amounts so they could maximize their own profits. Our Merchant Maverick readers experienced the same kind of forced delays in filing loan paperwork that are cited in the lawsuit.
Our reader Monica said, “Shame on you, Bank of America! All documentation submitted and confirmed. Then nothing! After 30 years as a small business banking customer, we are disgusted. Enjoy the $18 billion you will make while screwing your small business clients.”
The financial toll of COVID has affected all business owners, but it’s been particularly hard on those that provide essential services. Karen, a physical therapist and owner/founder of a clinic in Issaquah, Washington, wrote:
As an essential healthcare business, we’ve remained open and have been providing care to our critical needs patients and many front-line responders in the COVID-19 crisis. Located in King County, we’ve been struggling since the original outbreak in Kirkland, Washington only 6 miles away. We applied through Bank of America for the Payroll Protection Plan within three hours of the process opening online on April 3, 2020. We uploaded our supporting documents within four hours of the email request for them. As of today, we’ve had no response from BOA and can only assume we won’t be receiving any Federal assistance… I’m not sure what future opportunities may arise to fill this critical gap in funding for small businesses, but as a front-line health care provider, I certainly hope some priority will be given to businesses like ours.
Jocelyn, another physical therapist from Redmond, Washington, replied to Karen:
Like you, we applied for the PPP through Bank of America (our business bank for 21 years) on day one and did not end up getting any funds. All along the way, it seemed there were delays on their end. We would jump whenever they requested information, but then days would go by before we would get another email. Eventually, the money just ran out and we were out of luck. There is no one to give us any information. Now learning that BofA funded some larger businesses that used up millions instead of the small businesses like ours makes me really upset. I’m not optimistic about having any chance the second time around either.
2) SBA & Lender Technology Floundered
Another huge complaint about the PPP/EIDL process surrounded the major technology glitches that prevented people from navigating the application process with ease. Errors abounded, the most of common of which were:
Small business owners never received log-in information
Websites were overrun with traffic and timed out
Applications failed to upload at all
Users received error messages during the process and didn’t know how to proceed
Applications were resubmitted due to website error and then flagged as suspicious
Even during the second round of funding, technology issues ran rampant. The SBA’s processing site experienced extreme slowing. In a comment to Fortune, the SBA said: “SBA notified lenders yesterday that pacing of applications into the E-Tran system would occur, meaning all lenders would be able to submit at the same rate per hour. The pacing mechanism prevents any one lender from submitting thousands of loans an hour into the E-Tran system. If a lender goes above the pacing limit they will get timed out.”
A handful of Merchant Maverick readers encountered a similar technology issue: Accidental flagging of potential duplicate applications. If computers timed-out and a small business resubmitted, there was a potential for a double-submission. Or in one reader’s situation, she submitted applications to two separate businesses but it was still flagged as a duplicate. Corina wrote, “I had to call and ask them to reinstate the main application for my larger business.”
A reader named Smith wrote:
Today, I received the following email with the subject line: Multiple SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan Applications. ‘We received multiple applications from your business for economic injury as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Your earliest application will continue to be processed and we have withdrawn [other] application number from active consideration.‘ Does this mean I’ve been denied? I only submitted one application.
Reader Anne wrote:
My business was initially declined because the system though I’d applied multiple times. Turned out it was because, in the system, my application showed the same numbers for my bank account and routing number. There were a number of people from my bank who made the same mistake when applying, so it showed multiple accounts applying for the loan — which were considered duplicates — when it was really multiple people applying who use the same bank. My guess is there’s a bug in the application software, but no use focusing on that to resolve.
Our reader Valerie ran into similar problems with her EIDL loan after receiving mixed messages from the bank. She wrote:
After I confirmed my identity and approved the amount, it wouldn’t let me review and sign the documents. I received an email saying I was approved for an amount and it gave me the option to select the maximum amount or a lower amount. I checked the [bank] online about 3 hours later, and now the status shows declined and they will email me with the details. I am so confused, because they emailed me and told me that I was approved.
3) The SBA Wasn’t Prepared
News agencies widely panned the rollout of the SBA disaster loans with a slew of adjectives, including chaotic, sloppy, bumpy, flawed, glitchy, messy. An article from NPR outlined many of the problems surrounding the program and some of the questions that small business owners still have about the funds. In general, users found that the SBA guidelines were too vague or they failed to answer questions in a timely manner. Phone lines went down — phone numbers that worked for some didn’t work for others. Misinformation and exhaustion reigned.
Merchant Maverick reader Micah captured the frustration many of our readers encountered during the EIDL process. He wrote, “[I] just received a denial email. After jumping through so many hoops and re-entering my bank info, they just decided to deny me.”
David wrote, “I got an email on 5/10 that my EIDL was being processed and created the account, gave verification and bank info… and today, I went to check on it and the status has gone from processing to DECLINED! It says I’ll get more info by email.. I was really counting on that money, especially when they said it was processing.”
Reader Hollie responded to David’s situation with her own experiences, writing that the same thing happened to her with her EIDL loan:
I got the email from the SBA saying congratulations your application is processing. It gave me a loan amount that I was approved for. I accepted the amount. Created the account, verified my identity, and put in my bank info… Then boom: Next day, Email saying I was denied. It also said it would send via email the reason for denial. Welp, that email never came. I’ve called and sent them emails asking what happened, but have yet to hear back. That was two weeks ago.
4) Unqualified Businesses Snatched Funding Not Meant For Them
Shake Shack. The Laker’s. Potbelly. A handful of successful hotel chains. When the funds were dispersed and the scrutiny started, small business owners who had been left out of the two rounds of funding were irate to learn that some businesses that didn’t seem to meet the criteria were walking away with the bulk of the resources. The backlash, however, prompted many of the larger companies to return the money.
Readers responded with frustration to the news that big businesses walked away with the money that small businesses had been promised. During the first round of PPP loans, reader Lee wrote:
Our government has scammed us. I applied to Chase for an SBA loan during the first week. Our banker walked us through it. A few days later, he finally answered, after texting and calling him constantly. He said the program ran out of money, so our application was in the queue for the next release. Then, today, I heard that Shake Shack got $10 million! They have way over 500 employees. I can’t wait until November.
Reader MC shared a similar sentiment:
I understand that the PPP came with no user manual and is extremely confusing. But it doesn’t excuse some blatant and grotesque approvals of loans to filthy-rich businesses. Take the Los Angeles Lakers as an example. They were approved for $4.6 million although their estimated value is $3.7 billion! Why in the world did they apply in the first place? It’s truly, truly appalling.
Reader D. Hewett wrote:
I work financing small business loans. I’ve been working and following up nonstop on programs to try and help other business owners. I filed end of March… There is no place to check for your loan application. If small business owners don’t die of the coronavirus trying to get promised funds will kill them. Meanwhile, large, large corporations got millions of dollars while little small business owners are getting denied unemployment? No word on EIDL, denied or turned away from PPP. Haven’t received stimulus checks. I am one of those, and this shows me the ineptness of our government in every way from managing the coronavirus to disaster loan programs.
5) Simple User Error
Lastly, another common thread among the denied was good old-fashioned user error. Thanks to hugely mixed messaging, and confusing and conflicting information from banks and the SBA, the process wasn’t smooth to start with. Compounded with technology issues, many small business owners made simple mistakes in the application process that slowed down the process or precluded them from receiving funds at all.
Many readers reported being told to fix issues, only to have the money run out in the meantime. Others had their credit pulled (and their credit score affected by the pull), but suffered from small errors that prevented their applications from fully going through. Faulty log-ins, wrong bank information, missing information — all of those things contributed to loan failure. One reader was frustrated when she accidentally entered zero on her loan amount and was unable to receive help from the SBA to correct the amount.
Some small businesses that were denied because of error were allowed to submit reconsideration letters, although it is unclear how many of those went on to receive funds.
The Future Of Government Aid During COVID
As this article goes to press, more COVID relief is being discussed, but there is no further news about the government’s plans for the small businesses still in need of aid. With the November presidential election mere weeks away, it is apparent that COVID aid is an election issue and a government bargaining chip. However, while Federal aid may be in limbo, small business owners may also want to check out other forms of funding, including what their local governments are offering in terms of grants — as many state, county, and city governments are dispersing funds from the CARES Act to local businesses.
Follow Merchant Maverick on Facebook or Twitter for more news content related to the pandemic. Comment on social or on this article about your experiences or venture on to check out our COVID-19 hub — we’ll also be posting any need-to-know stories there.
Do you have a story idea, tip, or press release for the Merchant Maverick news team? Shoot us an email: [email protected]
The post Top 5 Reasons Why Small Businesses Were Denied Government Funding During The COVID Crisis appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
We can all agree that 2020 has been quite a year. Many of us are ready to put it behind us and are looking forward to the year ahead. Intuit has gotten a jump on the new year with the release of QuickBooks Desktop 2021, the latest version of its best-selling accounting software.
But before you jump headfirst into an upgrade, take a few minutes to understand what’s new about QuickBooks Desktop 2021. In this post, we’ll explore the new features and new pricing to help you determine if this latest version is right for your business.
What’s New With QuickBooks Desktop 2021?
QuickBooks 2021 has introduced a handful of new features that make it easier for small businesses to balance their books. These features include improvements to bank feeds, automated statements, categorized receipt entries, and receipt customization.
QuickBooks 2021 Features
Let’s take a look at each of the new features offered by QuickBooks Desktop 2021 so you can see how these changes affect your business.
Bank Feed Improvements
Receipt Management Tools
Of course, you’ll also still have access to the same great features offered in the previous version of QuickBooks Desktop, including cash or accrual-based accounting, expense tracking, invoicing, estimates and quotes, contact management, inventory, and more.
If you’re a Mac user, QuickBooks for Mac offers a number of new features in its latest software. These features include:
Automated Payment Reminders
Statement e-Payments: Add a payment portal link directly within your statements, making it easier and more convenient for you and your customers.
Combined Invoices: Combine multiple invoices into one simple email.
Sales Tax Codes: Now you can record sales tax for out-of-state orders, non-profits, and multiple districts.
1099 e-Filing: You can now e-file 1099s through QuickBooks for Mac.
QuickBooks Desktop 2021 Pricing Changes
QuickBooks Desktop 2021 also brings increased pricing. There are several different pricing options available to you. Let’s break down the costs of each option to help you determine which is right for you.
$299.95 one-time license
$399.99 one-time license
$499.95 one-time license
$649.99 one-time license
Starting at $924/year
$399.99 one-time license
$399.99 one-time license
QuickBooks Pro 2021
Your first option is to purchase an annual subscription. QuickBooks Pro Plus 2021 is priced at $299.99/year, although you may qualify for discounts when purchasing directly through Intuit. With this subscription plan, you’ll have full access to QuickBooks Desktop, as well as unlimited customer support, automatic backup and recovery, and automatic updates and patches. You also have the option to add on payroll and hosting services. Additional users can also be added for a fee.
You may also opt to purchase a QuickBooks Pro 2021 license for a one-time fee of $399.99. While this may seem like the less expensive option, there are a few things to consider. Automatic updates, data recovery, and backups are not included. You will also pay an additional $299.95/year for a Care Plan that offers unlimited support. These are all included for no additional fee when you subscribe to QuickBooks Pro Plus 2021. Payroll, hosting services, and additional users can be added for an additional fee.
QuickBooks Pro Plus 2021 + Payroll
If you have employees and plan to use QuickBooks for payroll, QuickBooks Pro Plus 2021 + Payroll has what you’re looking for. This plan costs $749.99/year. It includes everything from the QuickBooks Pro Plus 2021 subscription, as well as QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll. Hosting services and additional users can be added for a fee.
QuickBooks Premier 2021
If you want everything offered by QuickBooks Pro but want industry-specific software, QuickBooks Premier 2021 is a good choice. QuickBooks Premier 2021 can be purchased for a one-time fee of $649.99. Payroll and the QuickBooks Care Plan can be added on for an additional cost.
If you prefer an annual subscription that includes unlimited customer support, updates, and automatic data backups, you can sign up for Premier Plus 2021 at a cost of $499.99/year.
QuickBooks Premier Plus 2021 + Payroll
You can sign on for Premier Plus 2021 with the addition of Enhanced Payroll for a cost of $949.99/year.
QuickBooks Enterprise 21.0
Businesses looking for a more scalable solution may want to give QuickBooks Enterprise 21.0 a try. With this plan, you can have up to 40 users and get access to additional features including advanced inventory, priority support, and industry-specific software versions. QuickBooks Enterprise costs $1,213/year.
QuickBooks For Mac 2021
There are no complicated pricing tiers for QuickBooks for Mac. This software is available for a one-time cost of $399.99.
QuickBooks Desktop 2020 VS QuickBooks Desktop 2021
QuickBooks Desktop 2020
QuickBooks Desktop 2021
Live Bank Feeds
Custom Payment Receipts
Intuit has always added new features to further simplify its accounting software and the release of QuickBooks Desktop 2021 is no exception.
One of the biggest additions is automated statements. This feature lets you automatically send scheduled statements or payment reminders to your customers. With automated reminders, you can get paid faster without having to manually set up statements.
Another feature added to automate processes is improved receipt management. Users can be given access to upload expense receipts from a computer or mobile device, making it quick and easy to track expenses. You can also automatically categorize and record multiple transactions at the same time, helping cut down on the time spent importing receipt data.
QuickBooks Desktop 2021 now offers customer groups. With this feature, you can group customers based on set criteria such as location, customer status, or customer type. Once your groups are created, you can send automated statements, payment reminders, or create custom mailing lists.
QuickBooks Desktop 2021 also brings improvements to bank feeds, making it faster than ever to review, add, or match bank transactions. The latest improvements to bank feeds save time by automatically categorizing bank transactions by accounts, payees, and classes. You can take advantage of batch editing and enhanced rules to cut down on data entry, while also making it easier and faster to find and resolve discrepancies.
Finally, the latest version of the software allows you to customize your payment receipts with a logo or custom fields to give your receipts a more polished and professional look.
Should You Upgrade To QuickBooks 2021?
The first factor you should consider before upgrading to QuickBooks 2021 is what version your business is currently using. If you’re using QuickBooks 2018 or an earlier version, support for your software may have already expired (or is set to expire soon). While you can still use your software, you lose technical support, as well as important features like security updates and access to QuickBooks Payroll. So, if it’s been a while since you’ve updated your software, it may be a good idea to upgrade to the latest version.
On the other hand, if you’re using a more recent version of QuickBooks Desktop, an upgrade may not be necessary. While there are a handful of new features, these features may not be worth the increased pricing that comes with upgrading to QuickBooks 2021.
If you’re an annual subscriber, you’ll automatically be updated to the latest version and will be able to use all of the new features. But if you made a one-time purchase, you will need to evaluate if the new features will be beneficial for your business and worth the additional cost of upgrading to QuickBooks Desktop 2021.
The post QuickBooks Desktop 2021: Everything You Need To Know About Intuit’s Latest Release appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Welcome to the first week of Merchant Maverickâs essential news briefing for small business owners.
An appointment-making robot and Amazon Prime Day records dominated the small business news cycle over the past seven days. Read on for this weekâs top five must-know stories for small business owners.
Google’s AI Assistant Has Begun Booking Appointments For Users
Google recently began rolling out the booking feature of its AI chat assistant Duplex, per a report by VentureBeat. Duplex’s booking abilities enables users to request appointments at a business using the Google Assistant, Search, or Maps apps on their phone. Duplex will then call the business and reserve an appointment on the user’s behalf using “natural language processing.” In all cases, Duplex informs the person on the other end of the call that it is an automated service.
Originally teased by Google in 2018, Duplex’s recent launch supports barbershop, hairstylist, and salon appointments, but the AI bot has also had a limited capability to make restaurant reservations over the phone since at least 2019.
Besides the rollout of Duplex’s booking feature, Google also shared a number of tidbits relevant to small businesses during its Search On conference this week. The company says Duplex has updated 3 million business listings across eight countries since the start of the pandemic. Google also announced that starting in the first half of 2021, everyone can migrate for free from Hangouts to its new communication service Chat — a potential Slack competitor.
Why this matters to you: Duplex’s booking feature could help increase the reach of small businesses that rely on phone calls to book services. Because not everyone likes talking over the phone, potential customers who might balk at calling to set up an appointment may feel more comfortable booking one through Duplex.
Further reading: One year later, restaurants are still confused by Google Duplex, The Verge
Amazon Prime Day Set A Record For Small & Medium Businesses
This year’s Amazon Prime Day, which ran October 13-14, saw third-party sellers rack up $3.5 billion in sales — a 60% increase over last year. While failing to disclose total Prime Day sales, Amazon claims that third-party sales grew more than Amazon’s own retail businesses. Amazon added that “most” of its third-party sellers are small-to-medium-sized businesses, with small businesses in Utah, California, and New Jersey nabbing the biggest sales per capita.
Despite smashing sales records, Amazon faces scrutiny. The company was recently named in a Congressional anti-competition report that looked into how Amazon’s rules may have put smaller sellers at a disadvantage. The site has also struggled to shake the notion that it frequently peddles counterfeit products, an issue that came to a head last year after a Wall Street Journal investigation.
Why this matters to you: As small businesses look for digital revenue streams in the world of COVID, selling on Amazon could be a great way to dip into the eCommerce space — and Prime Day’s record sales numbers provide an early indication that shoppers are keen to buy online this holiday season.
For more on how your small business can make money on Amazon, check out Merchant Maverick’s guide to starting an Amazon store.
PPP Lenders Allegedly Told To Favor Existing Customers
The government’s much-ridiculed Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses has yet another blotch on its record: A Democratic-led House congressional oversight subcommittee found that the US Treasury Department privately encouraged lenders to prioritize existing customers when issuing PPP loans. The initial instructions for lenders to “go to their existing customer base” allegedly came from the Treasury on March 27, the same day the PPP legislation was penned into law.
The House report did note that the Treasury denied such claims. However, the report cited several high-up industry leaders, including the president of the American Bankers Association and a “senior banker” at JPMorgan Chase & Co., as saying that the Treasury wanted banks to work with existing clients. A spokeswoman for JPMorgan said that the bank “initially focused on existing customers” because of the “time-consuming regulatory requirements to onboard a new client.”
Why this matters to you: Because lenders may have favored existing customers, underserved small businesses (which include those owned by minorities and women) were potentially put at a disadvantage when applying for PPP funds. These latest insights reinforce earlier reports that banks favored larger companies — even though rules issued by the Trump administration said the PPP was to be “first-come, first served.”
Comcast RISE Launched To Help Diverse Small Business Beat COVID
In an effort to help small businesses survive the recession generated by COVID, media and telecommunications conglomerate Comcast launched Comcast RISE. This new support program will help out small businesses via $10,000 grants, marketing resources, and tech equipment.
Black-owned small businesses are eligible to apply for Comcast RISE’s initial wave right now. The program will open up applications to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color)-owned small businesses starting November 28. The grant part of Comcast RISE also hasn’t started yet, either — that will launch November 28, too.
Why this matters to you: COVID has ravaged much of the US economy, with small businesses taking the brunt of the damage. With financial support from the government looking slim, small businesses will need to turn to alternative methods to help push through a downturn in revenue. Through its various tools, Comcast RISE will hopefully be able to keep numerous small businesses up-and-running through 2021.
A New Service Can Help Track Competitors’ Google Maps Ratings
Ratings on Google Maps have long been a great way to gauge the public’s perception of a business. However, it’s difficult to monitor a business’ rating over time — and even more difficult to gauge multiple competitors’ ratings over time. Enter Local Monitor, a recently-launched service from Paris-based startup WizVille.
WizVille’s Local Monitor works simply: You enter your business’ name on the site and get a display of nearby places that provide similar products or services to you. You can then choose up five competitors to track and WizVille will email you a monthly report detailing your business and its competitor’s Google Maps ratings over time. Read more about Local Monitor on TechCrunch.
Why this matters to you: Being able to track Google Maps ratings can help you understand how customers view your business and its competitors. This extra bit of data could give you a leg up over other local businesses within your niche.
The Latest From Merchant Maverick
Our latest small business spotlight looks at a Texas-based startup called Everyware, a payment gateway that offers text message-based billing solutions for an array of industries. By building its product around text messages, Everyware aims to eliminate the clutter that persists throughout daily life. Take a peek to learn more about Everyware:
Everyware Uses Text-Based Billing To Help More Businesses Profit From Contactless Payment During COVID
It’s a bleak, bleak world out there, so let’s finish your briefing on a positive note.
In Tampa, Florida, two teenage boys raised $30,000 over the course of six months to help small businesses struggling because of COVID. Gifts of $10,000 will go out to three businesses local to Tampa.
“We could never have expected to raise this much money,” said Robbie Herzig, one of the enterprising teens that kick-started the operation. “We were just looking to help any way that we could and when it took off.”
Do you have a story idea, tip, or press release for the Merchant Maverick news team? Shoot us an email: [email protected]
The post Google’s AI Can Now Make Appointments & 4 More Small Business News Stories You Need To Know appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
You’d never want to use the word “luck” in the context of something like a pandemic, but the adaptations businesses have made to comply with lockdowns and social distancing have made a powerful case for entrepreneur Larry Talley’s vision.
Talley is the founder & CEO of Austin, Texas-based Everyware, a payment gateway that seeks to address some common pain points in the payment/billing cycle. Talley’s solution is built on an optimistic premise: that many bills, transactions, and customer service inquiries that go unaddressed or unfulfilled aren’t being purposefully avoided. They’re simply getting lost in the shuffle. In other words, have you carefully gone through that pile of mail on your kitchen table? Do you regularly check your spam folder to make sure nothing important is landing there?
If you’re anything like me, probably not.
It Starts With A “Thank You”
Everyware gets around this by sending a text message receipt with every transaction.
âIt can be as simple as a thank you, but what it does is provide a basic communication channel that’s open all the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” explains Talley. “You can always text back your concern or your problem. Or even a positive review.â
Talley, who is a software developer, bootstrapped Everyware and maintains it with a small team of around 25. The company now has customers not only in the US, but in Canada and Mexico thanks to word of mouth and ISO referrals.
âLike most bootstrapped companies, you start with a great idea, but bringing that idea to market is a lot harder than you think,” says Talley, “The idea really goes back to 2015, but it took until about 2017 to really pull it together.â
Saying “YES” To Text-Based Billing
The kind of text channel Everware helps to create can be used for more than just thanks or communication; it can also be used to initiate payments. This can be done through a link in the text or, if the payer has a credit card on file, simply approving the transaction with an affirmative text message like “YES.”
As a freestanding payment gateway, Everywear can be added to most existing merchant account services.
If you’ve interacted with the medical system in the past few years, or have donated to a political campaign, you probably have an idea of how this works. Many healthcare providers will, for example, send you texts reminding you of upcoming appointments. Afterward, they’ll send you a message alerting you that your bill is now available, usually with a link to their patient portal. Similarly, many political campaigns this cycle have utilized “textbanking” to connect with supporters, alert them about events, and solicit donations. As you might imagine, these have been two of Talley’s biggest sources of customers.
Talley expands on how useful text-based billing can be in the medical industry, “When you go to the hospital, you might have five different doctors and different bills for each. All when you’re going through a tough time in life.â It’s not uncommon for patients to get a bill from one doctor or department, think they’ve completely settled their medical payments, and miss the other bills. The hospital misses out on payments, and the patient starts getting calls from collection agencies. Everyware seeks to eliminate this problem by providing better communication with an easily accessed paper trail.
Thanks To COVID, Everyware Is…Everwhere
Everyware’s niche may turn out to be a lot bigger than politics and medicine when all is said and done. COVID-19 has created an enormous demand for contactless payments. While eCommerce transactions can and have been filling the gaps, they aren’t the only way to replace what would otherwise be over-the-phone card payments. A text-based transaction can not only be used to make many of those payments, but it can do so more securely. Think of it as something like two-factor authentication. Not only are you getting the card’s security features, but you’re also getting it via a phone number and device that have a record of belonging to a specific individual for an extended period of time. This creates less room for fraud than most card-not-present transactions. It also leaves a record of the transaction in a place where it can be easily seen and recovered.
“We’ve signed up a few private airports, so now pilots don’t have to get out of the plane to pay for gas. They can just pay from their phones,” says Talley. Talley sees government and municipalities as big growth sectors, particularly where the court system is concerned. While getting a traffic citation by text may not be a thrilling prospect for most people, Talley anticipates savings from reduced paperwork and fewer unpaid tickets.
There are plenty of other businesses that may find a use for text transactions in our new paradigm.
âWith curbside pick-up, pharmaceuticals, online schooling, everything moving toward a model that’s compatible with our platform, it has really accelerated our growth,” explains Talley. “We’re today, a company that’s cashflow positive and high-growth. We’re more or less a platform now rather than just a standalone payment gateway.â
The post Everyware Uses Text-Based Billing To Help More Businesses Profit From Contactless Payment During COVID appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
There are several key components that contribute to the success of your business — hardworking employees, identifying and marketing to your target audience, and providing high-quality goods and services. However, one of the most important components that contributes to the success of your business is bringing in and maintaining a healthy cash flow.
Let’s face it: Without capital flowing in and out of your business, your doors aren’t going to stay open for long. Maintaining a healthy cash flow will help your business stay afloat and make it profitable and successful.
In this post, we’re going to look at different ways to manage your cash flow. Now, this article won’t be centered on improving cash flow (you can read more about that here). Instead, we’re going at ways you can manage and maintain a healthy cash flow. In other words, we’re going to help you more strategically work with what you’ve got. Let’s jump in.
Cash Flow Basics
Before we break down ways to manage and maintain a healthy cash flow, it’s important to understand what cash flow is and what it means for your business.
Simply put, cash flow is the cash that comes in and goes out of your business. Cash flows in from things like sales, business loans, and returns on investments. Cash flows out to cover expenses like operating costs, inventory, supplies, and payroll.
Cash flow can be positive or negative. This means:
Positive Cash Flow: The amount of cash that is coming into your business is more than the amount of cash going out of your business.
Example: This month, your business brings in $20,000 through sales, investments, accounts receivable, and financing. Your total liabilities, expenses, accounts payable, and payroll total is $15,000. In this example, your cash flow is positive.
$20,000 – $15,000 = $5,000
Negative Cash Flow: The amount of cash that is coming into your business is less than the amount of cash going out of your business through things like payroll, expenses, and accounts payable.
Example: Last month, your business earned $10,000 through sales, investments, accounts receivable, and financing. Your total liabilities, expenses, accounts payable, and payroll are $12,000. In this example, your cash flow is negative.
$10,000 – $12,000 = -$2,000
If your cash flow is positive? Great! That’s exactly what you want to see. But don’t sit back and think you’re completely in the clear. Your cash flow can be impacted positively or negatively from month-to-month — or even day-to-day! This is why it’s so important to always keep an eye on the numbers and take steps (like those we’re about to dive into) to manage and maintain a healthy cash flow.
What Is Cash Flow Management?
Cash flow management means tracking the cash that is coming into and out of your business. Utilizing cash flow management within your business helps identify where money is coming from and how much is coming in. It also helps you identify the outflow of money and where it’s going.
Not only does this give you an idea of how much cash you have on-hand at this moment but it can give you insight into your cash flow in the future. By tracking your company’s cash flow, you can spot trends, changes, and potential problems that can be corrected sooner rather than later.
How To Manage Cash Flow
Managing your cash flow — tracking cash that flows in and out of your business — is imperative to the success of your business. The good news is that there are a variety of tips and tools at your disposal that make it easy to manage your cash flow.
Open A Business Bank Account
A common mistake that many new business owners make is mixing their business and personal finances. This can get complicated over time, making it confusing to track business income and expenses, and can be a nightmare come tax time. Keep your business and personal finances separate by opening a business bank account.
Your business bank account can be used for your incoming payments and to pay your business expenses. You can link this account to your accounting software (more on that later) to easily track your cash flow. As a bonus, most lenders require a business bank account if you seek financing, so it’s good to go ahead and get your account set up as soon as possible.
Build A Cash Reserve
Even if your cash flow is positive now, things can change in an instant. It’s best to be prepared for these potential setbacks with a cash reserve. Having a cash cushion at the ready can help you navigate unexpected financial challenges — seasonal slowdowns, an emergency expense, or a pile of unpaid invoices, for example.
A general rule of thumb is to keep at least three months’ worth of expenses as a buffer. This number may be adjusted up or down based on your specific cash flow situation and the needs of your business. While setting your own funds aside for this purpose is best, you may also choose to add a business credit card, revolving line of credit, or bank overdraft protection in the mix to further boost your reserves.
Keep Track Of Money Owed
Do you invoice your customers immediately, or do you tend to procrastinate? Once you’ve sent the invoices, do you stay on top of payments by sending out statements and reminders … or does this typically fall through the cracks?
Keeping up with money owed to you and actually collecting it is critical to maintaining a healthy cash flow. Sure, you may be working with a positive cash flow now, but what happens next month when those invoices remain unpaid? Accounting software makes it easier than ever to create professional invoices, send invoices to clients, collect payment, and even set up automated reminders or recurring invoices to repeat customers. Which leads us to…
Choose The Right Accounting Software
Accounting software is a must-have for any business. There’s a long list of reasons why you should be using accounting software, but one of the most important is that it allows you to track money that’s coming in and out of your business — often, in real-time, depending on your software’s capabilities. You can also send invoices, statements, estimates, and payment reminders. Additional features offered by your software may include inventory tracking, payroll, and other helpful tools to help you maintain and grow your business.
If you’re new to accounting software, take a look at our software reviews and our top picks, and give a few programs a try. Some are free to get started, while others offer free trials. If you already use accounting software, evaluate its features to determine if it’s offering everything you need to manage your cash flow.
Stay On Top Of Your Accounting
Finding the right software for your business is only the first step. To efficiently and effectively manage cash flow, it is up to you to monitor and maintain accurate accounting records.
Sure, your software will automate a lot of processes that you don’t have to perform manually (for example, automatically updating transactions through live bank feeds). This doesn’t mean that you can set it and forget it. Make a habit of looking over your transactions, checking in on unpaid invoices, and performing other tasks to ensure your cash flow is stable.
Another way to track your cash flow both now — and in the future — is with reports. Remember that accounting software we talked about? Most programs can (at the very least) pull basic financial reports, giving you an overview of your current cash flow situation. You may even have access to advanced reporting that allows you to look at future cash flow projections based on current and previous trends. You can use these reports to determine where you’re falling short (i.e., unpaid invoices or an expense that can be cut) and make changes to maintain your cash flow.
Know Your Risks & Be Prepared
Running your own business can be, well, risky business. A number of challenges can affect your cash flow — from a slow-down in customers to a more widespread crisis. In the 2000s alone, we’ve already faced the Great Recession of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 — and no one knows what the future holds. However, you can assess risk and be prepared for these situations.
Since every business is different, the risks and challenges you face will be unique to your business. Think of possible scenarios that may have a significant impact on your business (and your cash flow). Use your accounting software or reports to look over the numbers and experiment with different scenarios. For example, what would happen if you lost one of your biggest clients? What would happen if you were forced to shut your doors for a week … or longer? Knowing the numbers and running through various scenarios can help you determine factors like how much money you need to bring in to continue to operate, where you could cut expenses if absolutely necessary, and could help you plan for the future — no matter what it may hold.
Getting A Handle On Your Business’s Cash Flow Management
Managing your cash flow doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you’re willing to put in a little time to track the numbers, analyze your cash flow, and use software and tools that are at your disposal. Looking to improve your cash flow? Check out our post on 10 Strategies To Improve Cash Flow. Want to boost your cash flow? Take a look at our article The Best Cash Flow Loans For Small Businesses In 2020.
For now, though, focus on strategizing, planning, and tracking your cash flow to keep your business more secure now and in the future. Good luck!
The post How To Maintain A Healthy Cash Flow For Your Business appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Small businesses now have a helping hand in the fight against COVID-19: Comcast RISE, an initiative launched this week by media and telecommunications conglomerate Comcast.
Comcast’s new program, which began accepting applicants from Black-owned and operated small businesses on Tuesday, aims to boost businesses on Main Street through grants, marketing resources, and tech equipment.
The program is part of a $100 million pledge Comcast made in June to “fight injustice and inequality against any race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability.” And while Comcast RISE focuses first on helping Black small business owners, businesses run by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) will be eligible to join starting November 28. Comcast didn’t say how (or if) RISE might be expanded further in the future.
“We see and know firsthand how vital small businesses are in powering economic growth, recovery and innovation. Now more than ever, driving awareness and maintaining a strong digital presence are crucial for these businesses to succeed,” Comcast Business’ senior vice president for digital and customer experience Teresa Ward-Maupin said in a statement. “We created Comcast RISE to give these business owners access to the tools and resources they need to survive the pandemic and thrive.”
Comcast’s decision to first help Black-owned businesses (and then also BIPOC ones) is rooted in data.
According to a National Bureau of Economic Research study cited by Comcast, Black-owned businesses were the hardest hit racial category between February and April of this year, with the number of Black business owners in the US dropping 41% (Latinx and Asian business owners also experienced steep declines of 32% and 26%, respectively). Other studies (which Merchant Maverick wrote about last week) have told similar stories — COVID has disproportionately affected the financials of minority-owned small businesses.
What Comcast RISE Offers Eligible Small Businesses
Comcast RISE features a number of resources to help eligible businesses impacted by COVID.
While not launching with the initial “wave,” perhaps the most tantalizing resource is the grant program. According to Comcast, grants worth $10,000 will be dolled out to US-based diverse small businesses three to five years of age “in the coming months.” Comcast also teased that the grant program will be launched November 28.
Beyond sending money small businesses’ way, Comcast also plans to help Main Street through:
Advertising and marketing consultations with local teams from Effectv, the advertising sales division of Comcast Cable.
A 90-day linear TV media campaign.
Production of a 30-second TV ad spot.
Computer equipment and internet, voice and cybersecurity services for up to 12-months.
Training resources via Comcast’s X1 platform.
According to Comcast, once the first application phase closes in early November, services will start in December and continue on into 2021.
Per the program’s legal rules, 282 applicants will receive marketing help via Effectv (32 will receive a media consultation, 125 will receive a media campaign, and 125 will receive a TV spot/media campaign). 325 applicants will receive equipment and telecommunication services.
How To Sign Up For Comcast RISE
Black-owned businesses are eligible to apply for Comcast RISE’s first wave right now. To apply, visit the application page on Comcast RISE’s official site. Information needed for the application includes:
Applicant’s personal information (name, phone, email, etc.)
Basic’ information (industry, type, products/service, age, revenue, location, etc.)
Business owner’s race
Applicant’s relationship to the business
Business’s website and social URLs
Business’s relationships to Comcast and Effectv
Written responses advocating for why the business should be accepted into Comcast RISE
Applications for the initial wave are due November 7, 2020.
For the first wave, Comcast RISE’s eligibility rules require that businesses are:
At least 51% Black-owned and operated
Independently owned and operated
Registered to conduct business in the US
Older than one year
Located within the service area of Comcast Business of Effectv
To receive a media consultation, campaign, or ad spot, applicant businesses must employ fewer than 100 employees. The equipment and telecommunication services category is open to businesses with fewer than 25 employees.
Applicant businesses must also not operate in one of these industries:
Manufacturer or retailer of drug paraphernalia
Internet service provider
Gun manufacturer or retailer
Fireworks manufacturer or retailer
Tobacco/vape manufacturer or retailer
Illegal products or services provider
Note that these eligibility requirements may change as Comcast RISE enters new waves. For instance, the next wave will target BIPOC-owned business owners starting November 28, instead of solely Black-owned businesses.
Other Programs To Help Small Businesses Survive COVID
There are alternative programs out there for small business owners as well. For example, Facebook launched a small business grant program earlier this year (we wrote about the program’s initial round of applications for Black-owned businesses). Small business owners may also want to check out what their local governments are offering — many state, county, and city governments are dispersing funds from the CARES Act to local businesses.
Do you have a story idea, tip, or press release for the Merchant Maverick news team? Shoot us an email: [email protected]
The post Comcast RISE Promises Small Businesses Grants & Marketing Help To Combat COVID appeared first on Merchant Maverick.
Millions of small business owners rely on QuickBooks Desktop to handle their accounting tasks. If you’re reading this, then you’re one of those people … or maybe you’re shopping your software options and are ready to sign up for QuickBooks. No matter what the case, QuickBooks is a leader in the industry because of its feature-packed software, which helps you balance the books, track expenses, and even pay your employees.
One of the standout features of QuickBooks Desktop is its payroll. This software makes it quick and easy to pay your employees on time each pay period while providing adding benefits to you such as calculating payroll taxes and even filling out tax forms.
Unfortunately, though, the purchase of your license or the monthly subscription fee for QuickBooks Desktop doesn’t include payroll. QuickBooks Payroll is an add-on that costs an additional fee. Depending on the plan you choose, you’ll pay $29/month – $109/month plus an additional $2/month per employee (either per paycheck or per month, based on your chosen plan). The good news, though, is that you may be able to give QuickBooks Payroll a test drive through a 30-day free trial before you make the commitment. You may also qualify for discounts, which are available through the QuickBooks Payroll website.
Some more good news? Once you’re signed up for a subscription, QuickBooks Payroll can be accessed easily through your QuickBooks Desktop dashboard — no additional downloads required. Within minutes, you can set up and process your payroll.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through all of the steps to get your payroll off the ground in QuickBooks Desktop, from helping you gather the proper documentation to submitting your first payroll successfully. Ready to pay your employees? Let’s get started with QuickBooks Payroll.
Are you using QuickBooks Online? Check out our guide How To Do Payroll In QuickBooks Online to get started.
What You Need To Run Payroll In QuickBooks
To make the process of setting up QuickBooks payroll as quick and easy as possible, gather the necessary documentation and information first before you even get started with the software. We’ll go through everything you need to set up and process payroll. Later on in this post, we’ll go step-by-step through the process so you’ll know exactly when to use these documents and information.
W-4s: For tax purposes, you’ll need a completed and signed W-4 for each employee.
Pay Rates: What does each employee make within your company? Are they hourly, salaried, or commission-only?
Pay Schedule: How often do you pay your employees: weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or on another schedule?
Basic Employee Information: You will need basic information for each employee, including their legal name, address, birth date, hire date, and termination date (if applicable).
Deductions: If your employees have certain deductions, you should know the type of deduction and the amount. Some common paycheck deductions include wage garnishments, employee contributions to retirement accounts, and health insurance premiums.
Sick Time & Vacation Hours: What are your company’s policies on sick time and vacation hours? Before setting up payroll, you should know this policy, as well as have documentation of current balances for each employee.
Compensation & Additions: To set up payroll, you’ll need information about compensation and paycheck additions for each employee. Some of the most common include mileage reimbursements, travel reimbursements, cash advances, or Flexible Spending Accounts.
Direct Deposit Information: If you offer direct deposit, you’ll need the routing and account numbers for each employee that prefers direct deposit over receiving a paper check. Have each employee fill out a direct deposit authorization form and provide a voided check to help make the process error- and hassle-free.
Company Bank Account Information: If you’re going to use direct deposit, you’ll also need to have your business bank account information handy so that funds can be drawn from your account and paid to your employees.
Tax Information: It’s no secret that you have to file and pay taxes. To simplify the payroll tax process, make sure you have information on hand including your state ID numbers and Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
Prior Payroll Information: If you’ve currently been paying your employees, have your prior payroll information on hand so that payroll taxes can be accurately calculated.
QuickBooks Payroll Subscription: Unfortunately, QuickBooks Payroll does cost an additional fee each month. Make sure that you have signed up for the plan that’s best for your business. This can be done directly through the software or by visiting the QuickBooks Payroll website.
How To Set Up Payroll In QuickBooks
Sometimes, QuickBooks Desktop can get a bit confusing.
Fortunately, when it comes to payroll, Intuit has really simplified the process with a step-by-step payroll setup tool that walks you through the process. Let’s go through this process together so you can have your payroll up and running in no time.
If you’re still feeling uncertain before you get started, you can always practice using a sample company file like I’m using for this guide. This allows you to practice and test out payroll to get the hang of the system before running your own payroll. Whether you’re using your own company file or a sample, follow these steps to get started.
Step 1: Open QuickBooks Payroll Setup
Once you’ve gathered all of your documentation, it’s time to get started with setting up your payroll. Start by opening the QuickBooks Payroll Setup tool. This can be done by selecting “Employees” at the top of your screen, then selecting “Payroll Center” from the dropdown menu. Once the Payroll Center opens, select the menu option “Payroll Setup” to get started.
Step 2: Set Up Compensation
Once you’ve opened the Payroll Setup tool, the first step is to enter and/or confirm information about your company’s benefits and compensation.
For compensation, there are several options that may be used by your business. Those include:
Overtime Rate: Overtime pay for hourly employees.
Regular Pay: Hourly pay for employees.
Salary: Used for employees that receive a salary.
Bonus: Used for any bonus payments.
Mileage Reimbursement: Used if you reimburse employees for miles driven.
You have three options in this menu. You can delete any type of compensation not used by your company. You can also add any additional compensation that’s not already on your list. You can also edit entries on your list. If you choose to edit entries, you can change how the compensation is shown on paychecks, make the payroll item active or inactive, select the account type, and change the account name.
Once you’ve confirmed these entries, click Continue, and you will move onto the next section: Employee Benefits.
Step 3: Set Up Employee Benefits
In this section, you’ll add and edit employee benefits offered by your company. You’ll also add pay additions (such as mileage reimbursements or cash advances) and deductions (such as wage garnishments.) Some options include:
Now that you have all of your compensation, benefits, additions, and deductions added, it’s time to add the numbers for each employee.
Step 4: Set Up Employees
Remember those W-4s and pay rates from earlier? It’s time to pull those out because we’re going to set up your employees.
To set up a new employee, start by selecting the “Add New” option. In this section, you’ll need to provide the following information:
Social Security Number
Pay Rates & Schedules
After entering this information, you’ll need to input the employee’s pay rate and schedule. You can also set overtime rates or add a bonus, as well as mileage reimbursement and health insurance costs.
Next, you will input how sick pay is calculated. You will need to enter information including how many hours of sick pay the employee receives, when these hours begin (i.e., at the beginning of each year), what happens to unused sick hours, and current balances. Once you’ve entered this information, you will do the same for vacation pay.
If your employees are receiving their pay via direct deposit, the next step is to add this information.
You can set up direct deposit for up to two accounts per employee. You also have the option to provide your employees with prepaid cards that can be used to receive their direct deposits. Cards can be requested through the setup tool. If you opt to not use direct deposit, you can pay your employees with a paper check.
State Tax Withholdings
After setting up direct deposit information, you will answer some tax questions about the employee. These include:
State subject to withholding
State subject to unemployment tax
Did the employee live or work in another state?
Confused as to how to fill this out? Fortunately, QuickBooks has help menus throughout the setup process, making it easier for you to ensure that your payroll is set up correctly.
Federal & State Tax Information
For this section, pull out the employee’s W-4. Use the information provided on the form to enter the employee’s filing status, number of allowances, extra withholding amounts, and other withholdings and credits.
Once you click “Next,” you will provide the same information for the state.
After wrapping up this section, you’ll be able to save the employee’s information. The employee’s name, social security number, and a summary should now appear in the Employee List.
If there is missing information or an error, the error will appear on the Employee List. Review each entry for error notifications and correct each as needed. The summary section in the Employee List will specify the exact error, so you don’t have to fumble around trying to figure out what is incorrect or missing.
You can revisit the Employee List as needed to update employee information, correct errors, add new employees, or delete employees as needed.
Step 5: Set Up Payroll Taxes
Paying taxes is a burden that we just can’t avoid. However, you can make the process a little less painful by using QuickBooks Desktop to calculate and even file and pay your payroll taxes. Let’s walk through how to set up your payroll taxes.
When you enter the Federal Taxes section, you’ll notice that QuickBooks has already set up several different taxes. This includes federal withholding, federal unemployment, Medicare for the company and the employee, and Social Security for the company and the employee.
The rates for these taxes are already set, so you don’t have to worry about calculating rates. However, you do have the option to Edit each type of tax by changing how it is shown on paychecks, editing the expense account, or editing the liability account. In most cases, you won’t be making any extensive edits in this section.
The next section is State Taxes. In this section, you may have to make some edits. There are several state taxes already set up for you, including state withholding and employee disability. The description shows the current rate.
However, if these rates need to be corrected, simply click on the tax that requires the correction, select “Next,” and make the necessary changes. If you’re unsure of the rates, click the link marked “Explain” and QuickBooks provides more information. Once all changes have been made, save your changes and proceed to the next section.
In this section, you’ll set up your required tax payments. In the Scheduled Payments column, the types of payments are listed. In the Description column, the method of payment and the frequency of payments are listed. You can edit information such as the frequency or the payee by highlighting the payment and selecting the Edit option.
Step 6: Enter Year-To-Date Payrolls
If you’re paying employees for the first time, you can skip over this section. However, if you have employees that have been paid in the current year, you’ll be required to input year-to-date payrolls in order to make sure that tax payments and paychecks are accurate.
This section may take a bit of time depending on the number of employees you’ve paid and the number of checks issued.
Fortunately, QuickBooks has detailed instructions right on the page and the tool is pretty easy to use. You will input information such as the check date, pay period, check number, employee pay, and tax withholdings. This step will need to be completed for every employee that has been paid in the current year prior to using QuickBooks Payroll.
Next, you’ll need to enter payroll tax payments that have already been made.
QuickBooks will calculate the amount you’re required to pay, compare it to the total you’ve already paid, and show your remaining balance.
Finally, you’ll enter non-tax payments such as workman’s comp and health insurance. Again, QuickBooks will calculate the amount owed and use what you’ve already paid to show any remaining balance due.
Step 7: Finish Up & Prepare To Run Your First Payroll
Congratulations! If you’ve done all of the steps as outlined and have entered all employee and tax information correctly, your payroll is now set up and ready to go. At this point, you are ready to run your first payroll. You also have the option to go back through the tool and make any additions or corrections as needed.
Though the setup is pretty lengthy, it’s important to make sure that you take your time to accurately enter all information to ensure that your employees are all paid the correct amount on time and that payroll taxes are accurately calculated so you know exactly what needs to be paid and when to pay it.
How To Do Payroll In QuickBooks
Now that you have everything set up, it’s time to process your first payroll. Just follow each step, take your time, and you’ll have your employees paid in no time!
Step 1: Set Pay Schedule
The first step you need to take is to make sure that your pay schedules are accurate. In the Payroll Center, your pay schedule(s) should appear based on the information you added when setting up your employees. The Payroll Center shows information including:
When to process payroll by
The payroll status
Payroll schedule (frequency)
If any of this information is inaccurate, you can use the payroll schedules button to edit, delete, or add a new payroll schedule.
Step 2: Start A Scheduled Payroll
Select your payroll schedule and click the Start A Scheduled Payroll option. In this section, you can review the payroll schedule, the number of employees being paid, the bank account being used to pay employees, the balance of that account, and check options. Check to make sure all information is correct and make edits as needed before selecting Continue.
Another thing to note is that if you’re running payroll off schedule, the Payroll Center also offers the option to run an unscheduled payroll.
Step 3: Check For Accuracy
Once you click Continue, you’ll be able to see a detailed breakdown of each employee’s paycheck. You’ll see gross pay, deductions, taxes, total hours, and other information for each employee. You’ll also be able to see accumulated totals for all employees. Check to ensure accuracy, then select Create Paychecks.
Step 4: Print Checks
Once you’ve selected Create Paychecks, you’ll see a pop-up that shows the number of paychecks available for printing and the number available for direct deposit. You’ll now have the option to print paychecks or paystubs. Once you return to the Payroll Center, you’ll see that the information for your next payroll is listed under the Create Paychecks section. The payroll that was just processed will be listed in the Recent Payrolls section.
Step 5: Explore Other Payroll Center Options
There are lots of options available directly in the Payroll Center. Some other tasks you can complete include:
Setting up direct deposit
Edit or void paychecks
Create termination checks
Pay taxes and liabilities
If you don’t want to mess up your company file, using one of QuickBooks’ sample companies is an easy way to get the feel of the payroll system without worrying about making a potentially costly mistake.
If you get stuck at any point, go back through this guide or take advantage of the in-software support options to properly set up and process your payroll.
Tackle Your QuickBooks Payroll With Ease
Running payroll for the first time can be a little intimidating. But with QuickBooks, it’s all very straightforward and simple — even if you’re brand new to payroll and accounting. Just make sure to take your time, follow the steps in this guide, and utilize the help and support resources available to you within the software. Good luck!
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