As an entrepreneur, most of my days are a blur of excited, intense, getting-s#!t done productivity. Solving problems and moving our company forward is what I live for.
But… not all of my days are like that. Some days are unfortunately spent slogging through, waffling between decisions, unproductively jumping between tasks, or watching for the clock hand to twitch rather than actually accomplishing anything. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. Let’s face it: sometimes we all get burned out by the daily entrepreneurial grind, and when you feel like you’ve been working non-stop for the last five centuries, it’s hard to muster up any motivation.
Yeah, you probably have days where you feel like you’re a lethargic slug being crushed by a man- eating plant. It’s okay! It happens to the best of us.
So… is there a cure? Is there a fancy anecdote you can take that will magically imbue you with the power to slog through another god knows how many more hours of teeth grinding, edge-of-the-seat stress? Luckily for you, there is! (And no… it is not illegally acquired Adderall.)
I think we can all agree that credit cards are pretty nifty things. They let you make spontaneous purchases that you probably can’t afford, but it’s okay because you don’t have to worry about it until you get the bill at the end of the month! Plus they’re nice and shiny, and it’s super satisfying to slide the bar through the card reader.
But, let’s talk about something a little less nifty, a little less convenient. Let’s talk about how some dude who knows how to use a computer a little too well can steal all the credit card data a business has on file and use it to prance around buying whatever they please while a few million people poop their pants when they find a bunch of charges on their cards that they DEFINITELY were not responsible for.
For example, between November 27 and December 15th of 2013, more than a whopping 40 million customer credit and debit card numbers were stolen by cyber thieves from Target when malware was planted on cash registers in stores across the United States.
According to The Nilson Report, card fraud losses worldwide (including credit, debit, and prepaid cards) reached $21.84 billion, and is estimated to get worse. The projected amount of losses worldwide due to card fraud in 2019 is $32.82 billion.
In other words: yikes. The world is teeming with credit card thieves, and they are thriving. Unfortunately for you, this means that if you handle credit cards, you’ve got some extra responsibilities to fill. Specifically, PCI compliance.
Have you been alerting your customers of recently expired or soon expiring credit cards? Not notifying customers when their credit card has expired or is about to expire can result in declined payments and lost revenue for you. And of course, if you have to focus on reminding customers and chasing declined payments, that’s less time and resources you can put towards developing and growing your business.
Ever had a client that didn’t pay you for weeks? Or months? Or… longer?
If you’ve had a services business for a while, you know the frustration of unpaid client invoices.
You’ve done the work. You just don’t know when you’ll get paid.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Recurring revenue.Read More
Cash flow is the bane of nearly every marketing agency owner. One survey shows that two thirds of marketing agency owners consider unpredictable cash flow one of their top three challenges, and 19% of them called it their top concern.
That makes sense, because when you can’t predict cash flow then you can’t plan for the future. Can you afford to bring on another full-time copywriter? “I don’t know.” How many billable hours will the advertising team have next month? “No lo sé.” Will we collect enough revenue to cover salary, contractors, and overhead next quarter? “Je ne sais pas.”Read More
The invoice due date came and went. Now the thoughts creep in:
“It’s only been a day, no reason to alarm anyone just yet.”
“It’s been a week… Maybe I should say something? Would that seem desperate? I’ll just wait a bit longer.”
“It’s been two weeks since the invoice was due; I should definitely say something now. So, how do I phrase this nicely?”
You’re not alone. In 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that around 64% of small businesses have invoices that go unpaid for 60 days or more, and 14% of small business owners said that late payments are their biggest business challenge.Read More
Recently we encountered a few SaaS companies that exhibited what we consider to be bad SaaS behavior.
Doubts crept in. As painful as it is to admit, we’re not always right. Perhaps we’re just easily offended. Why would a SaaS operate in a manner so counter to driving growth?
So we consulted the interwebs and its collection of SaaS-related content for a second opinion. While not all of the over 5,000 SaaS “influencers” are like SaaS savant Lincoln Murphy or the wizards at Price Intelligently, not one recommends the practices we share with you here.
Just say no to bad SaaS behavior.Read More
Welcome to the QuickBooks Connect Hackathon
Keith Palmer Jr. and Ryan Bantz, our co-founders, spent early last week at the 2015 QuickBooks Connect event. Over 5000 accountants, bookkeepers, small business owners, and app makers attended this year. It’s kind of a big deal.
The co-founders first stop at Connect was the QuickBooks Hackathon.
For Keith, Ryan, and 152 other developers, this year’s QuickBooks Hackathon was an opportunity to build something awesome, to spend 30+ hours communing with code, to drink way too much caffeine, and come up with something great for the Intuit App Center.Read More
Transforming your small business or professional services business into a recurring revenue model business? Smart.
Carefully managing that transition so existing customers will accept the change? Very smart.
Alienating an existing customer while your company makes this switch is all too easy to do. A few proactive steps can make sure that customers — perhaps the same customers you have faithfully served for years — won’t feel any pain.
In this post, we’ll assume that you have selected your recurring products or services and priced them.
What lies between your business and recurring revenue now? Customers.Read More
Why We Searched for Business Startup Calculators
No one on our team loves Excel enough to build spreadsheets from the ground up. Besides, we can find more productive uses for their talents than duplicating the business startup calculators that others have shared on the Internet.
Here’s the best of what we found on our search for business startup calculators. Most of these tools have a lot more than equations to offer. It turns out that the wisdom and experience of their makers can’t be duplicated.
Are Productivity Leaks Lurking in Your Business?
If you answered “no” to that question, you’re still reading because. . . why, again? Seriously, productivity leaks happen to the best teams in the world. It’s not just you. How do you think we know about this stuff?
Good news: we’re here to help with an easy exercise to identify your worst productivity leaks. No consultants or safety equipment required.
Tough Mudder is Intense
It’s a 12-mile course that forces “mudders” to face their fears — of heights, suffocation, abandonment, and more — by overcoming twenty or more obstacles.
Consider the “Funky Monkey,” a set of monkey bars (greased up with butter and mud) hanging over a pit of cold water. Perhaps “Electroshock Therapy,” where live wires dangle above a pit of (surprise!) mud is more your style.
We humbly suggest that Tough Mudder isn’t the way ordinary people spend a summer day.
Yet ChargeOver’s co-founder, Keith Palmer Jr., is a four-time veteran mudder. Next summer he’ll complete two Tough Mudders.
He thinks it’s not a big deal.
The ChargeOver workspaces are “monkey bar-free” (so far, anyway), but overcoming obstacles is something we do as startup founders and team members every day.Read More
Sell SaaS When You Least Expect It
In today’s infographic, we’re sharing what we have learned about how to sell SaaS to reluctant prospects. Some prospects don’t have much experience with SaaS yet. Hard to believe, but true.
A lack of experience is just one explanation for a SaaS buyer’s reluctance. A bad SaaS experience is even more problematic.
Depending on how high-touch your sales process is, figuring out why our prospects are holding back is no small task. Get a head start and set yourself up minimize common issues of prospects who aren’t SaaS-savvy. Here are 10 tactics that we recommend.Read More
SaaS non-payers are the cruelest joke in our industry. Many businesses choose a recurring billing or subscription billing model because they won’t have to deal with things like collections. Unfortunately, payment problems are all too common in SaaS.
–Leo Farina, Founder, SaaSMetrics
As Leo Farina notes, unintentional churn is preventable, and we’re going to show you just how to do it. Here’s a solution that makes working with SaaS customers who have payment issues easy and painless.
SaaS businesses and utility companies are typical users of metered billing. Metered billing has significant advantages for businesses and their customers. Customers can economize by paying only for what they need. At the same time, SaaS and other businesses can compete in crowded marketplaces with flexible offerings that are lower in cost and pay-as-you-go.
Often developers and business owners ask if ChargeOver supports metered billing (also known as usage-based billing or variable billing). The answer? A big YES! ChargeOver absolutely offers metered billing, and it’s pretty slick.
If you’re a techie and need an automated way to charge per gigabyte, per minute, per user, or per hour, this article is for you.
Since you already know what you need, let’s just skip to the good part: the making things work part.
What are we going to build?
We’re going to build a simple but powerful integration between an external service and ChargeOver for metered billing. Read More
Code Always Seems Like the Answer
Code is what drives of developer-heavy SaaS startup team. Most of the answers we seek are in the code we already have or in writing more code. So when someone like lean startup expert Grace Ng advises us to test product concepts with a few web pages and a web form (read: NO CODE), we’re less than enthusiastic.
April has been a busy month for team ChargeOver, but a productive one. We just released a few minor product updates that we’d like to share.
Added support for advanced tax scenarios
Some states (such as Texas) have non-standard tax scenarios where certain percentages or dollar amounts of the total product or service billed is tax exempt, but the remainder is taxable. ChargeOver now supports these tax scenarios. It’s the least we can do!
Squashed a bug in custom welcome emails
When you get a new recurring billing customer, ChargeOver customers can choose to automatically send that customer a default or customized email. There was a bug in the selection of default v. customized email. Yikes! That bug is no longer.
A firm that more than doubles its account base year over year is doing a lot of things right. Security Alarm Now, the 2nd largest authorized dealer of ADT security products and services in the world, is such a company, and ChargeOver is proud to be one of its secret weapons.
Here’s how ChargeOver helped transform a small problem into a big opportunity.
Preparing for (More) Growth
Troy Nield, Sr. Accountant, Security Alarm Now
Security Alarm Now’s senior accountant, Troy Nield, joined the company in 2013. Shortly thereafter, he was asked to assess alternatives to the company’s legacy recurring billing software, a security alarm industry-specific tool called ProBill. The reason for the change? Growth, and lots of it.
At that time, Troy’s team charged each account manually, doing look-ups to check for past-due amounts. Soon, the team could not finish all of the invoicing on a single day. So invoicing was split into two billing days. This stopgap caused problems with prorating, which then had to be done manually with Excel.
As [we] started to grow… it just became ineffective. You can’t just manually manage a process like that when it becomes more than… a couple hundred customers. Even then, it was probably not effective enough.Troy Nield The potential for error – and exhaustion – in this scenario were high.
Do you spend time on the phone following up on accounts that are behind and writing emails on past due accounts? Wouldn’t it be nice to have an automated process that would take care of this for you? Well, you’re in luck because that is what automated dunning can do.
The benefits of an automated process:
- Increased cash flow – automated dunning increases cash-flow by making sure payments aren’t missed and forever left unpaid.
- Time Savings – now you have more time to focus on other tasks
- Lower costs – you no longer need administrative time/help to follow up on past due accounts
Let’s look at an example: Joe’s Security Alarm company bills 200 customers on a monthly basis. Joe’s average invoice to his customers is $29.95 per month.
Approximately 5% of recurring payments per month will not be collected. This is due to a variety of reasons:
- credit cards expiring
- credit cards temporarily over their limit
- credit cards being replaced
What is the key to collecting those missed payments? Consistency! If you let customers miss a payment here and miss a payment there they will miss payments more and more often. With automated dunning your customers will receive regular communications on those unpaid amounts, without taking up your valuable time.
ChargeOver is experienced in automated dunning and ready to help you automate the collection of missed subscription billing payments.
Do you have compliance fees on your credit card processing statement? Do you know what they are? If you have them on your statement you should definitely educate yourself. Call your processor and find out what you are getting for this fee. 3 might be:
1. PCI Non-Compliance Fees: Visa and MasterCard do not charge businesses or processors a fee for PCI non-compliance. However, the cards brands may impose compliance fines if non-compliance leads to a security issue or breach. PCI non-compliance fees typically range from $10 to $30 a month, but can go as high as $100 a month for processors. Sometimes you have have both! Typically, it’s a source of profit for the processor. If you are being charged this fee call your processor and find out what you need to do to be compliant. Most often the process is painless and should be completed to avoid unnecessary fees.
2. Data Breach Insurance: Some processors offer this for a monthly/annual fee. However, this does not guarantee you will be covered in the event of a data breach. This insurance also does not cover you for being out of compliance If you are being charged for this, get the terms or details.
3. Compliance Support: A typical annual fee for any type of support that you may need. For example, when your processor contacts you, helps you, answers questions, educates you, etc. The problem is that many processors don’t hold up their end of the bargain offering you something for the fee you are paying.
Bottom line: If you don’t understand the fees you are being charged call your processor to get more information. You might be paying unnecessary fees!