Wooing Small Business With Business Credit Cards

A few weeks ago (April 18, 2007), Discover Financial Services launched a new business credit card that offers frequent flier miles to small business owners. Among the credit card brands, Discover was one of the last to start offering business credit cards to the small business sector. Reportedly, this is only the latest in a virtual avalanche of business credit cards designed for small business.

One cannot but wonder at the sudden interest.

Perhaps a glance at recent research material will offer some clues. Data shows that in 2006, the small business sector spent $4.9 trillion; but only one-twentieth (5%) of that money was paid through business credit cards in any form (credit or debit card). The credit card companies now want in on that huge market, and believe they can induce small business owners to not only make use of their business credit cards but also to spend more on their cards.

To achieve this, the credit card companies will have to convince the small business owners to use business credit cards in less traditional ways. Traditionally, business credit cards have largely been used to cover travel and entertainment expenses. What card companies want is for businesses to use their business credit cards for everyday spend.

This is the reason behind the new cash back rewards business credit cards. These cards offer 5% discounts on purchases of office supplies, gasoline, courier services and other essential business needs. MasterCard even went as far as launching a business credit card targeted at a specific industry: contractors and construction companies. MasterCard was also the first card company to provide zero-liability protection to small business credit card holders.

Discover’s recently launched business credit cards offer small business the chance to purchase checkbooks. This enables small business owners to pay for purchases from vendors that don’t accept business credit cards. These checkbooks tap into the spending limit on their Discover business credit cards. Visa offers a directly competing program.

American Express sponsors various networking events for small business credit card holders. It also features one of the most extensive business resource databases to help users of its business credit cards to address and resolve their everyday business management problems and concerns.

How big is the potential market for business credit cards, you may ask? If you take the $4.9 trillion small business spending in 2006 and double the current business credit card spend from 5% ($245 billion) to 10%, you have $490 billion. If you charge 15% interest on that, you have a $74 billion potential contribution to profits. In fact, market research companies forecast double-digit growth in small business credit cards between now and 2010, and total charges are projected to reach $740.2 billion by that year. That is a lot of profit.

It has been an uphill climb to get small business owners to subscribe to an expanded use of business credit cards. It takes time, but eventually business owners will respond. One issue that business credit card issuers will have to address is the marked preference of small businesses to pay their full balance for the month as and when it falls due. Card companies do not earn from such transactions. That should be food enough for thought.

Bank of America – Banking on Small Business with Business Credit Cards

The Bank of America has been building on its existing small business lending portfolio over the past years. Three years ago, it was already one of the top small business lenders in Florida with over $1.5 billion in small business loans and over half that amount being micro-loans under $100,000. With its recent acquisition of credit card issuer, MBNA, the bank has moved into the growing small business credit card market.

Business caution about the economy has not managed to dampen the dynamic growth in the small business credit card market. Having banked on small business for some time now and having a big credit card operation under its wing, Bank of America is looking up their activities through small business credit cards.

Their business credit card package affords small businesses the opportunity to schedule electronic payments ahead of time, thereby freeing up a time consuming administrative task on the part of the business owner. Business credit card holders also get purchase protection, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty period on purchases made by up to an additional year.

Credit lines for business credit card holders are flexible, and can go up to $25,000. The business’ everyday business purchases earn discounts and cash backs too.

The bank has taken line of credit for business credit cards one step further. The small business credit card holders can now link their checking accounts in the bank with their business credit card. In the event that your checking account suffers an overdraft, the bank automatically extends its overdraft protection benefit. This means they will transfer funds, in multiples of $100, from your business credit card account to cover the overdraft.

This automatic loan against the business credit cards’ line of credit should save small business owners a lot of embarrassment. The bank will extend this protection provided that there is sufficient credit remaining in the business credit card account and if the account is not in default under the Business Credit Card Agreement.

If your business credit card account cannot cover the overdraft, you may still have a problem though. To address that possibility, the bank will release sufficient funds even if it will cause your business credit card account to breach the pre-set credit limit. The business will be expected to settle this loan during the next payment period, but this facility can lift a heavy load from the business owner’s shoulders.

You may be concerned about financial charges. First of all, after the zero percent APR during the 9-month introductory period, your business credit card will be imposed a regular rate of prime rate plus either 6.99% or 9.99% APR (some other versions of the Bank of America business credit cards impose variable APR of either 15.24% or 18.24%).

Business credit card cash advances are subject to prime rate plus 15.99% APR, with a minimum of 19.99%, plus a cash advance fee of 3%, with a minimum $10 fee. If the cash advance causes the business credit card account to exceed the credit limit, you will be levied an over-credit limit fee, as specified in your Business Credit Card agreement.

Four Tips Small Businesses Should Consider Before They Outsource Accounting Services

There are several important guidelines that you should take notice of when you intend to outsource accounting services. It is no waste of time to plan carefully before engaging in anything you need to do. Proper planning in this particular case is very worthwhile since it can reduce errors by a great margin. Small businesses especially should definitely implement the following guidelines since failure to do so may lead your business into financial trouble; something that you do not want to happen to you.

1. Does the company really exist on paper or it is conning you?

First and foremost, when it comes to identifying the best outsourcing services, it is very important for you to find out whether the outsourcing company is legally registered. Now that the world is turning digital a lot of people are taking advantage of the change to dupe others and extract money from them.

It is the role of the authorities to look into this, but, at the same time, as a businessperson, it is wise to ensure that your business is safe. In order to accomplish this you should carry out comprehensive research on the legality of the outsource accounting services provider that you may want to work with. This way you will avoid losing your money to conmen. This is not just talk; these cases are on the rise, believe it or not.

In your efforts to establish the right outsource accounting services always check if there are any laws or rules that have been put in place to guide you. If laws and rules exist,then abide by them in order that you get the best result possible.

2. Will outsourcing your accounting services actually benefit you?

The next thing you need to consider is the value that the outsource accounting services actually brings to your business. Does it benefit your business, and if it does then to what extent? If your business stands to gain at the end of the day then the deal is worthwhile and it is right to go ahead. If what your business stands to gain is fairly minimal then it is just common sense to simply walk away.

3. Are they trustworthy?

You business should target building long term partnerships with those providers who administer your business with outsource accounting services. This is because long-term partnerships lead to the development of greater trust and confidence between you and the outsourcing services provider.

4. How easy is it to outsource? Is it productive or not?

The moment you realize that the outsource accounting services are productive then you are safe. At the same time,if you perceive that the service is not flexible enough and is less productive for you then you need to abandon any idea of using it.

In conclusion, if you want your business to be successful outsource accounting services can be of great use to you. However, to find the best one for you, always research prospective services thoroughly to ensure success.

Free Small Business Marketing Tips – 3 Ideas for Fast Results

In this article, I have 3 free small business marketing tips for you, because marketing shouldn’t have to set you back a bundle. And any one of them may make you a serious sum of money when you put them to work for you.

That’s a considerable promise, I know, but it’s one I stand behind and mean to keep.

But there is one warning: simply skimming through this article and “learning about” these tips won’t do a thing for you. You actually have to roll your sleeves up and put them to work for you.

Free Small Marketing Tips No 1: Bump up your fees

There are probably three people in the whole world who commonly buy on price only (and you really don’t want them as clients anyway). The rest of us have better things to bother with, like suitability, trustworthiness, delivery time, excellence, service, back up and all the rest. In one analysis only 14% of participants said price was the most important factor for them; that means 86% of them had different, more weighty concerns.

If you tack on 10% to your prices from this moment on, I would be shocked if you experienced any decrease in sales at all. What you WILL see, though, is a significant increase in your profits (because that 10 % boost is all profit). Yeah, it’s conceivable the odd client or two will moan and put on the weeps about it and perhaps even go somewhere else… but if that happens, then they’ve done you a kindness. Price buyers are sheer murder to deal with and will in the end drive you to an early grave.

Free Small Marketing Tips No. 2: Become the media darling

Read the newspapers, both national and local, switch on the Television or tune in to the radio stations and you’ll see ‘expert’ after ‘expert’ wheeled on to give his or her thoughts on everything from daycare and chilblains, to party ideas and pork pies. But what gives these folks this ‘ace’ status and why are they in the news? Well, their authority status comes from the fact they’re simply in the news. That’s it. That’s the only difference between them and you.

Precisely how do they get there? Exactly how does this come about? By their contacting the local media and saying, essentially, “I’m an expert on thingamajigs, and I’ve got strategies and information on whatchamacallits your audience would definitely like and benefit from”.

This is all a hell of a lot easier than it seems and a lot less scary, too. Some years ago I had a regular monthly piece in the local monthly rag. It added up to possibly 30 minutes’ work a month to create, and yielded thousands of Euro in business.

Free Small Marketing Tips No. 3: Ask for referrals

Referred business is the most profitable business to get, and the easiest to close the sale on — because all the hard work of nurturing trust has been done for you by whomever referred the business to you. In my own business, I don’t take on private clients from anything BUT referrals, because the business is such top quality.

Alas, while we all love ’em… we don’t tend to do much to ensure we get lots of them.

Although we can change all this simply by asking our present customers and clients this simple question: “whom else do you know whom I may be able to help in the same way I’ve helped you?”. You could send that email or letter now and be getting more business within minutes.

You can also take this one step further and set the scene for recommendations at the beginning of your relationship with a new customer: “I grow my business with referrals. So if I do a great job for you I hope and expect you will recommend at least 3 people to me whom I may be able to help”. The majority of business owners are too intimidated to make this a stipulation of doing business with clients… although that’s their affair.

See? Three free small business marketing tips that could be making you money by the end of today.

But the onus is on YOU to pull your finger out and make them work for you — they won’t do it by themselves.