As most economists assert today, we will never generate a stable recovery from the depths of the “Great Recession” without an energetic response from both small and medium-sized businesses (SME’s). The continuing saga, however, is that banks and investors are refusing to take risks and make loans to small business enterprises. Bankers cite high loan losses as the reason, but behind the scenes, most are taking the funds at hand and gambling on the global bond market. As long as this scenario prevails, small business owners must focus on high-percentage activities for creating immediate growth and profits.
There are roughly 6 million small business enterprises that have employees in America. It is often said that if each firm hired one more employee, we would be out of our current predicament. These companies are primarily focused on services, the backbone of our consumer economy, and have annual revenues below the $5 million mark. Over the past decade or two, the most prominent business model that has yielded positive results in the service sector over time is one that has brought convenience to its client base.
Many Internet companies in the dotcom era may have failed in this arena, but most of those failures were way ahead of the time curve. Today consumers are more connected. Time is a more precious commodity than ever, as the workweek has been stretched and more families must work on a variety of jobs to make ends meet. Everyone on the planet has a cell phone, and Internet access is more widespread, yet basic service support is needed in abundance. Mobility is key, and quick responsiveness will be the distinguishing competitive factor.
Potentially successful service models, with convenience in mind, also tend to focus on these additional factors:
- Acquiring high-value customers
- Offering significant value to customers; and
- Delivering services with high margins.
What other obstacle must be overcome in today’s economy? As mentioned above, access to credit is a formidable hurdle for an SME, especially working capital to fund a growing base of distributed accounts receivable. For the mobile business enterprise, however, there is a new solution in today’s electronic world – the wireless credit card reader. Not only can you deliver your service remotely, but you can also offer the convenience of remote processing. Collecting card-present transactions will also give you the lowest possible merchant discount rates. These wireless credit card terminals remove the necessity of having a cash register at hand or forcing consumers to stand in long lines waiting to pay.
Business owners should also not be confused by current payment market terminology. “Wireless” is not the same as “mobile.” The former focuses on convenience for the merchant, while the latter has more to do with convenience for the cardholder. “Mobile” payment services relate to using your cell phone to effect a payment. This process is in its early development stages and costs a great deal more than a card-present, wireless transaction. Wireless has direct financial benefits; mobile may be more problematic at this juncture, until banks and processors sort out the risks and consumers become familiar with this new technology.
These “wireless” payment services have actually been around for a while, having developed first in overseas markets where the local telephone services were not nearly as advanced as in the U.S. Taxis and restaurants became avid users, and the convenience value alone made adopting the service across the globe a no-brainer.
Now may be the time to experiment in your own locale. Planning and preparation, along with competent execution, will pay dividends down the road.
Wireless credit card reader image courtesy of Shuttertstock