Yes, I admit it … but probably not in the way you are currently thinking. The Square in my title is the credit card reader/application/service that I use for taking credit card payments – so maybe the title should be “I’m a Square user”!!
Earlier this week I was discussing with someone why I started my business and why my ‘focused market niche’ is in the entrepreneurial and small business space. Square is an example of one of the market drivers behind my decision to start my own business.
I left my last corporate position in 2005, after 30 years working for mostly large corporations. After doing some ad-hoc consulting, some of it with start-up businesses, I decided to start what would become Collaborative Xceleration.
The capabilities of ‘Software as a Service’ offerings was really starting to take off. I saw (along with many others) that things that, just 5 or 10 years earlier, would have taken many months, many people and many thousands of dollars to implement – and were therefore out of the reach of many businesses – were now available as web-based services. I wanted to take these new capabilities and help small business owners leverage them to obtain the same types of benefits that larger businesses already enjoyed.
The great thing about the best of these applications is that they offer “enterprise class” solutions, often with no up-front costs and a pricing model that is linked to usage. Even better for startups, many providers have a free version of the product – usually with limited functions and number of users – that you can initially work with, upgrading with more capabilities/users as the time is right.
Today, of course, the marketplace is very different. There are hundreds if not thousands of applications that a small business can use. A problem today is often which service to commit to – especially because as the small business owner you usually don’t have the time to evaluate the different options. So I thought it might help if I, occasionally, talked about capabilities that I use, or that my clients have successfully leveraged.
I got my Square over a year ago. While most of my clients pay by check, I wanted to start offering credit cards as a payment method. An important aspect for me was being able to take credit card payments at business expos and conferences where I might be an exhibitor, i.e., mobile. The problem I ran up against was the commitment level necessary with most credit card processors – setup fees, monthly minimums, hardware costs, etc. It just wasn’t economically feasible at my transaction level (I’ve had two  transactions so far this year!).
Square’s payment model is all inclusive – 2.75% for swiped transactions (3.5% plus 15 cents for non-swiped). Yes this is higher than other processors – but not if you have a low transaction level like me. Funds are in your account the next business day. Getting an account and the reader didn’t cost me anything – a low barrier to entry! If my transaction volume significantly increases then I will re-evaluate. Who knows, maybe Square will have extended their services by then – maybe lower transaction cost options; e-commerce versions; etc. – so that I will not need a different service.
My point here is not to sell you on how wonderful Square’s service is, but to illustrate how things have changed. Although, if you have the types of needs that can be met by Square then I would recommend it.
There are plenty of other applications that might be right for you. I’ll occasionally talk about others. Maybe there are some that you are using that you would like to tell others about.