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Posts tagged with “small business”

Planting the entrepreneurial seed: How Sprouter.com is helping small business in a big way

Sunday, 19 February, 2012

EVOCANADA_evo_canada_merchant_service_accountFounded in late 2009 by media maven Sarah Prevette, Sprouter was built on the notion of creating an online community to give start-ups and small-business owners access to professional guidance from experienced industry veterans.

Entrepreneurs log into the portal and are lead through a series of information pages where they can ask specific questions, browse topics, comment in discussion forums and share info with other networks. Sprouter by no means uses crowdsourcing to answer questions, as all answers are gathered from the panel of proven experts and their associates. This panel of experts is carefully chosen to provide real-world advice on various topics such as business law, marketing and funding.

Taking their initiative offline, Sprouter also hosts a series of events called “Sprout Up” allowing users to connect in a live conference format with other entrepreneurs, business owners and panel experts. Hosted monthly, over 600 entrepreneurs meet and greet at each event and gain insightful information to help build up their respective businesses. Complementing these events is a periodical magazine called the “Sprouter Weekly” which aggregates common questions on the site and outlines useful information for start-ups.

Allowing access to business minds such as Aaron Patzer of Mint.com fame and Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software, Sprouter provides an instant connection to a wealth of information, potential investors and expert knowledge instantly, all in an easy to use web based platform.

Western Union and MasterCard team up to make electronic payments more convenient

Thursday, 16 February, 2012

 

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It is estimated that 2.5 billion adults worldwide do not have access to standard financial products and services. Traditional money transfers and pre-paid credit cards are helping to bridge this gap and offer consumers convenient, low-cost options for financial services.

Western Union and MasterCard have recognized this need and see an opportunity to develop a crossover network between both companies’ electronic payment networks. Over the last year, both companies have been collaborating to develop a partnership that would see MasterCard become the pre-paid card of choice for Western Union and Western Union the preferred money transfer solution for MasterCard. As such, cardholders will be able to access these global networks to reload funds at any MasterCard rePower location as well as selected Western Union Agent locations. Consumers using the Western Union money transfer service will also now be able to send funds directly to eligible MasterCard holders, offering a viable, non-cash solution to these financially underserved clients.

According to Hikmet Ersek, President and Chief Executive Officer of Western Union, “This agreement sets the stage to globalize prepaid services. We’re opening up more options for consumers around the world by combining Western Union’s global network of money movement solutions with MasterCard’s world class global electronic payments network.”

“The primary focus of our global partnership is to enable greater financial inclusion for consumers and provide additional electronic payment options that create efficiencies in their daily lives,” said MasterCard President and Chief Executive Officer Ajay Banga. “We look forward to all of the benefits that our partnership will bring to consumers around the world.”

Product Spotlight: Verifone VX810 Duet

Saturday, 11 February, 2012


This pay-at-the-counter device is the perfect solution for high-traffic / high-volume retail, restaurant and service environments looking for a hassle free and complete point-of-sale option. Boasting a lightweight hand-over device perfect for end-consumer usage at cash registers, the terminal is equally suited to multi-lane environments.

Complete with a powerful user-friendly PIN Pad and extensive POS capabilities, the Verifone VX810 Duet leaves merchants with many options to expand. Using the Electronic Cash Register interface (ECRi), the device can be connected to existing POS systems enabling control of transactions directly from the cash register if needed and compatible.

Entirely secure, the VX810 Duet is backed by 3DES encryption, Master/Session and DUKPT key management, is PCI PED approved and uses VeriShield authentication to keep all transactions covered and safe.

Through a simple set-up, the VX810 Duet is easy to implement and does not require additional certification for merchants, bringing you EMV capabilities right away!

A quick guide to savvy social media

Wednesday, 8 February, 2012

It’s understandable that smaller businesses may be overwhelmed on how to utilize social media to capture the essence of designing and implementing content for these platforms and to capitalize on this low-cost marketing initiative.

Here a few simple steps that will start you in the right direction, and pave the way to savvy social media marketing for years to come.

Develop a cohesive plan: Like any project or business planning, detailed framework is necessary to keep your content organized, time appropriate, and platform appropriate. This plan will also allow you to focus on creating content that is more relevant to your consumers and social media blueprint.
Use social platforms independently: An effective technique that should not be overlooked is linking your content to all the various social media platforms. For example, a blog post on Tumblr can link to both Facebook and Twitter. Although this is a good start, each platform behaves and interacts with users differently. Your content needs to reflect this contrast in audience and social media channel.
Market research is your friend: You can seek out your target market by noting which pages users like and which blogs and tweets they follow/re-post. Posting content blindly in each platform can be exhaustive. Ease into it slowly, and tailor your marketing based on what generates the most response. The choice of platform and type of content becomes easier to select and develop once you’ve tapped into the attention of your consumers.
Measure, measure, measure: Analytics are powerful tools built into most social media platforms; they allow you to measure all kinds of data about your audience. The geographic location of your target market can be a powerful metric in your marketing.
Advertise: People need to find your social media pages and sites, begin this process by using services like Facebook Ads and Google AdWords; both are low cost and can grow your audience exponentially.
Consistency is king: Remain consistent with your content subject matter, tone, and timing of posts. Too much alternate material may confuse your audience. Define “character” traits, values and specific interests your target market is attuned to and always build your content using these same principals and influences.
Engage your users: Quality versus quantity. Indulge your audience; give them creative, thought-provoking yet easy-to-digest content and they will keep coming back while spreading the love of your brand.
Be smart about content: Sensational gossip will only provide an audience for a fleeting amount of time. Most groups of consumers form an interest in content that is relevant and interesting.

No matter how daunting it may seem, the operative rule is to ease into the process by starting with the go-to platforms of Facebook and Twitter. Take the time to look around, see what is happening within the various sectors of your market and fine-tune your content and messaging before the full blown launch. Good luck!

Couch Commerce, rising mobile payment trend

Sunday, 5 February, 2012

Merchant service account evo canada payment processing The recent US Thanksgiving holiday weekend showed positive retail sales comparatives to the previous year, indicating that the economy is showing signs of improvement.

Shoppers were out and about in abundance, both in traditional retail and online before, during and after one of the most important holiday seasons for US retail. As online retail sales continue to trend upwards, so has the rise of mobile purchases and this holiday season was exceptionally positive for this emerging sector.

IBM’s Coremetrics retail data division stated an annual increase of 39% in online sales over last year with significance on emerging mobile shopping trends. Consumers opting for mobile devices to visit retailers’ websites versus traditional computers or laptops, rose from 6.45% in 2010 to 15.2% this year and actual consumers making an online purchase increased to 11.09% up from 4.25% in 2010.

eBay has termed this emerging trend as “couch commerce” where most consumers find time in-between turkey, football and family, to surf and shop the web from the comfort of their living room using a tablet or mobile device.

As shopping gets more “comfortable” and more mobile devices become accessible to the general population, perhaps we’ll finally see the end to the massive pile-ups of people running into stores on US’s Black Friday and Canada’s Boxing Day.

Got creative? Get funding!

Thursday, 29 December, 2011

Merchant service account evo canada payment processing For most creative people, professional or amateur, it’s not about the money, but all about the process. That said, we are all part of a bigger wheel and unfortunately have no choice but to contribute financially to society…in other words: get a job, get paid and pay bills.

An often-daunting task for most creative people is securing financing for their idea or project. Kickstarter.com is here to help and hosts a revolutionary approach to funding projects. Not to be mistaken with a venture capital firm, business bank or investment fund, Kickstarter is an online community built around the encouragement and cultivation of new ideas and exciting projects. The online platform allows for everyday people to contribute financially or “pledge” to projects of their choosing and see them come to life. Projects vary in size and scope with a focus on the constructive spheres of music, film, art, technology, design, food and publishing.

Not being about lending money or investing, creators keep 100% ownership and in turn offer special promotions, gifts, rewards or experiences to “pledgers” depending on amount pledged and project type. Ranging from 3D printers to recording artists, product developers and theatre groups, a donor can pledge almost any amount to any project with a specific reward given back as a result.

Taking an “all or nothing” approach, each project must reach its funding goal in order for money to exchange hands. In other words, “sponsors” will not get charged until the project is successfully funded. By doing this, Kickstarter provides protection to its participants and creators.

New ideas are introduced through a project highlight page where creators post videos, documents, images and anything pertinent to explain the idea and encourage potential donors to pledge money. There are limits though and not every idea or project is accepted on the Kickstarter platform.

Gone are the days of hefty interest rates on a business loan or giving up your heart and soul to an investor who wants more equity, Kickstarter allows the idea and creators to take centre stage, changes the game for raising funds and helps keep creativity at the heart of a growing online community.

Run to the Cloud: Practical low-cost applications for small business

Thursday, 9 June, 2011

Central data hosting of business applications can be traced back to the 1960’s when IBM created a “service bureau” business by offering computing power and database storage to organizations. Just over four decades later with subsequent advances in modern technology and web based application development, this same service idea re-invents itself and is now coined “SAAS” or “Software as a Service.”

SAAS is generally referred to as a software platform delivered over the Internet having all related data hosted centrally in the “cloud” (over the Web) and typically accessed by users through a web browser. SAAS programs range in size and scope and at that site most commonly cover business applications such as accounting, project management (PM), customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise resource planning (ERP), content management and human resource management.
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So what does this all mean? Well, now more than ever small businesses can take advantage of world-class delivery systems for their everyday business needs. The solo entrepreneur can ease the invoicing and collections process through automation, a start-up distributor can use an intuitive ERP system at a fraction of the cost and creative agencies can pool resources efficiently throughout project management solutions.

Typically these web-based software solutions operate on a monthly access fee basis, some as little as $10 per month, dependent on application depth and scope offered. Here are a few examples of the top SAAS platforms in use today to get you started:

www.salesforce.com – an all-encompassing cloud platform that can help companies manage sales operations, customer service, social media management, CRM and custom app development for the force.com platform.

www.freshbooks.com – now even the smallest business can have professional invoicing complete with basic bookkeeping, account aging, tax summary and expense reporting.

www.basecamphq.com – brought to you by the creative and mindful people of 37 Signals, Basecamp is the benchmark for online project management and collaboration.

Mobile card readers: taking payments on the go

Sunday, 20 February, 2011

Move over carbon copy slip and say hello to the mobile payment revolution!

Personal digital devices such as smartphones and tablets are paving the way for new means of client interaction and transaction processing. Both small and large companies are tapping into the opportunity to build flexible and mobile payment terminals into their business model. From the local plumber on the go to a large-scale retailer, technology has allowed one to turn a phone or tablet into a cash register and process payments anywhere while connected to the web.
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On a service level, this can drastically change how you do business and the amount of time needed to process payments. Further, quicker processing can lead to increased sales, increased customer satisfaction and might even spark word-of-mouth talk about how innovative your company is for integrating new technology.

These mobile payment-processing devices are still in the early stages of development and may not be accessible to every region or country, regardless one should consider the possibilities on how it can change processing payments with clients and take business in a whole new direction.

EVO Canada Merchant Funding Program

Sunday, 13 February, 2011

By partnering with EVO Canada not only are your payment processing needs taken care of but your future growth potential as well. Many businesses struggle to find the necessary funding needed to grow as lenders usually have a long and extensive list of loan approval requirements.

EVO Canada is here to help its merchants and has a unique program that will allow your business to get up to $200,000 in additional funding. How? Easy, by leveraging an asset most don’t realize they have – their future credit and debit card processing funds.
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The requirements are quite simple: processing a minimum of $6,500 per month in debit or credit card payments at your business for at least 60 days. On top of it all, our approval rate is currently much higher than those of traditional funding sources.

If your business is in need of working capital to expand, renovate, purchase additional inventory, open a new location or just pay bills and don’t have access to the financial resources needed, inquire about our Cash Advance Program today!