4 min read

Being able to make money doing what you love is part of the American dream. It was Walt Disney who said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” Small businesses are the backbone of America, providing 66% of all new jobs since the 1970s (SBA.gov).

As a new business owner, there is so much to be proud of and so much to do. Your idea turned into a plan that has been put to action, so now what?

You have many important decisions to make. From visual identity and marketing, to point-of-sale (POS) decisions and procurement—the due diligence can seem endless.

At the forefront, there is one question you need to answer from the start: How can you protect your business and customers from credit card breaches and fraudulent activity?

This is important because small- to mid-size businesses (SMBs) are at the greatest risk for cyberattacks. The costs of customer notification alone can be enough to cause a small company irreparable financial harm, not to mention legal and Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance fees, plus reputation loss. It’s mandated by the PCI that anyone accepting credit cards adhere to set compliance regulations. This is not only to protect the business owner, but also the card companies and the consumer.

What makes or breaks a business, especially an SMB or startup?

The customer is key. Word of mouth is the best marketing out there, but it can be just as powerful in the other direction, should you lose consumer trust at any point in time.

Usually, the choice of a POS provider is one that ends up lasting for years. It’s therefore very important to do your homework and ensure that the company you choose has the right tools and technology to support your needs as you grow your business.

Selecting the correct POS provider can help prevent negative activity in your payment card ecosystem. In honor of National Small Business week, we are arming you with five tips for finding the right POS provider for small- to mid-size businesses.

Five tips for selecting a POS provider

  • 1. Do the math.

    Will you have more small transactions or very few large transactions? It’s tempting to utilize a processor that doesn’t charge you a standard monthly fee. However, they end up taking a very large percentage of every transaction for using their service. Over time, depending on the average size of each transaction, this service fee can add up. If you choose a processor without a standard monthly fee, watch your monthly statements very carefully and add up what you end up paying in service fees. It may be worth it to switch to a service that offers a fixed monthly fee, plus a much smaller per-transaction fee.

  • 2. Be forward thinking.

    Do you plan to expand or open multiple locations in the future? Some smartphone providers may offer credit card readers and online portals. The problem with this option starts when you expand your business—maybe you open several more locations and you need more options than what those smaller processers can provide. It’s not to say that these solutions may not be right for certain circumstances, but they usually are more focused on the smaller business operation and typically have fewer overall features than the more well-known POS solutions offer.

  • 3. Consider POS packages.

    Are you starting with multiple physical locations or an online ordering system? If you know up front that your new business will need the ability to share data across locations, with a corporate office, or an online ordering system, then you should consider a POS package that has integrated payment abilities and built-in interface capabilities with online services.

  • 4. Think compliance!

    Your business will most likely need to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) regulations. Most all merchants need to comply with these regulations, which can be daunting and very confusing for some new merchants. The regulations include the need to ensure that your payment ecosystem is inventoried, documented, and secured. Without help, this can be a very large task that takes many hours per year to properly address.

  • 5. Partner with someone who knows your industry.

    It’s smart to seek out a POS provider that has experience with serving your industry and business type. It is also important that the provider understands data security protection. It’s very hard to go back later and try to redesign systems, networks, and processes to be compliant.

Essentially, your POS provider is a business partner and should operate as such. It is wise to do your homework, interview potential companies you may work with, and ensure that the choice you make is best for you and your business for the foreseeable future. This choice is important for not only protecting your clients and their information, but also protecting your brand and how clients view your business.

Are you compliant? Take our PCI Compliance Quiz to find out!