WARNING: Not fiber related. This post could be if you’re looking to make a business out of it, but directly this post is not affiliated with hobby crafting.
These are just some general points that come up time and again in my line of work. I work for a merchant processor and I wear a lot of hats. Hats being defined as: agent support, customer support, and administrative in every department from operations to legal to sales. I love my job.
- If you are a Sole Proprietorship, the legal name of your business is YOUR name. It isn’t your “doing business as” (dba) name. As an SP, you file your business taxes under YOUR legal name. This legal name is displayed on your social security card or it’s equivalent.
- In some states, you have to register your Fictitious Name to be legit. Don’t just assume you can dba yourself and think it’ll fly. Do your research first.
- Reconcile your bank account frequently. If you are unable to manage this task, hire someone to do this for you.
- Don’t spend your money before you receive it. If you are expecting money, verify it has been received before you start writing those checks.
- Stop using funky email addresses for your business! firstname.lastname@example.org does not send the right message for your business if you’re selling flowers! Buy a domain and get a @yourbusinessname.com email address. If you have a website, do not use a freebie email service like Yahoo! or Gmail. If you don’t want to purchase a domain or acquire an @yourbusinessname.com email address, at least use your business name as the email. John.Smith@yahoo.com does nothing for your business called, A Fine Car Wash.
- If you’re using a cell phone to run your business, always answer it like you would a business phone. The same applies to your voice mail. I’m not saying that you should use a different number if your business doesn’t require a land line, however you don’t want your clients calling you and leaving a message with a standard machine message via robot voice or some hippy trendy voice mail you thought your friends would like. They will find somewhere else that cares about professionalism.
- If you’re just starting out, don’t spend all of your start-up monies on the latest and greatest of technology. Wait until you start turning a consistent profit before you make it swanky. What are you going to do with all that fancy stuff when you’re out of business and no one wants to buy it?
- Do not sign your name on anything without reading all the associated paperwork first. If you sign off on a five year contract because you were too lazy to read something, do not call up that business and scream at them because you have to pay a large fee to leave. Ask questions and get all changes in writing. Ask for a fully executed copy of your contacts after they have been submitted. This means you sign and they countersign.
- Learn to use Google or any search engine you’re comfortable with. Stop calling businesses you work with and asking stupid questions. I work in customer service and you’d be amazed and how often I use Google to look up a phone number and pass it along to the person at the other end.
- Don’t call and yell at another business because something went wrong. That customer service representative did not directly cause your impending doom and if you want them to recognize the issue and fix it quickly, be nice. Your problem cannot be fixed if you refuse to listen to them and answer their questions. Customer service was not created for you to vent, it was created so they could service customers when something goes wrong. Think about a screaming toddler and the parent who ignores them until they are finished with their tantrum. It solves nothing.
Some of these points may seem obvious, however I can tell you from experience that many business owners fail at these. I don’t blame them or pass judgement, I try to educate as much as possible. I’m the customer service agent you want on the phone because your problem is now my problem and I cannot move on until it is resolved. In my business, it is not expected that our merchants will understand the credit card industry like we do. If you did, you would be in merchant processing and not running a retail store. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll search until it is found.