For most businesses, repeat customers form the backbone of their revenue. Cultivating returning customers allows you to reap the benefits from these customers, including lower marketing costs, larger purchases and dependable revenue. However, recurring customers don't come with your storefront; attentive service and community outreach are just some of the steps you'll need to take to develop a loyal group of core customers.

Share Your Knowledge

Content marketing is one of the most effective forms of online marketing — and it costs nothing if you create the content yourself. Does your website have a blog section? Write informational content that you believe would appeal to your potential customer base. Within your field, you have unique knowledge that your customers may lack. By sharing knowledge, you'll attract search engine traffic from people who are seeking information in your industry. Every time the information that you provide helps someone, you'll strengthen your brand and establish yourself as an expert within your field.

Offer a Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are a relatively simple way to incentivize customers to return to your business. You can structure them however you like, but they all boil down to the same format: for each set amount of business the customer gives you, you give them something. To maximize the effectiveness of your loyalty program, give your customers a head start when filling out their first loyalty card. The head start you give your customers increases the completion rate of your loyalty program, encouraging customers to make more repeat visits to your shop.

Provide Excellent Service

In today's ultra-competitive marketplace, few things help a business stand out like excellent customer service. Providing great service doesn't mean you have to just cave in to your customers for every little demand, but it is important to demonstrate to your customers that you care about them and their needs. When something goes wrong, own up to the mistake and work to fix things for the customer. Train your staff to say yes to your customers whenever possible and focus on finding solutions to customer problems. 

Become Part of the Community

Hosting regular events for your community provides you with an opportunity to bond with potential customers and increase the visibility of your business. These events don't have to relate directly to your business, but focusing on your business' mission is an easy way to come up with ideas for your events. For example, if you run a nursery, you can host gardening classes on native plants. A bookstore could hold release parties for popular books or host readings with local authors. Your business could also host parties for important local events, such as a local school's homecoming week.

Listen to Your Customers

If you aren't afraid to listen to your customers, they'll tell you exactly what will get them to come back to you. Sometimes, you might have to bite your tongue to hear a customer complaint, but other customer suggestions are more positive. For example, one of your customers might have a favorite brand that's difficult to find; providing them with a source for their favorite product is an easy way to garner a repeat customer. Of course, you'll always have to use your best judgment when you decide whether to act on customer feedback; some suggestions simply aren't viable. If you can't see an obvious downside to a customer's suggestion, however, err on the side of making your customer happy.

Provide Something Unique

If you want to stand out in today's marketplace, you need to provide something that your customers can't find elsewhere. You can't expect to simply bring in products, put them on the shelf and instantly sell out; if your customers want that kind of experience, they can find it in a million other places. That unique flavor that you provide might be a service that can't be duplicated, a viewpoint that's unique to your shop, or advice that's tempered with your years of experience. Whatever it is about your business that can't be found elsewhere, don't be ashamed of it; embrace those elements and trumpet them in all of your advertising. 

Provide an Easy Checkout Experience.

Customer Information Manager from Authorize.Net is a service which allows you to store your customers' sensitive payment information on secure servers for use in future transactions. CIM helps eliminate steps in the checkout process for repeat customers, potentially increasing loyalty and revenue. It can also help you reduce the Payment Card Industry (PCI) scope, since customer information is no longer stored on your local servers.

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Guest Blog Writer - Zach Walker- SecurityMetrics

Learn about common security issues and what you can do to secure your e-commerce business.

E-commerce merchants sometimes face confusion and difficulty when it comes to truly securing cardholder data. With this in mind, the Payment Card Industry Security Standard Council (PCI SSC) recently released a supplement with additional guidance for e-commerce websites.

This new guidance updates and replaces the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) E-commerce Guidelines published in 2013. It offers specific guidelines for e-commerce businesses with reference to the PCI DSS version 3.2—which will go into effect on February 1, 2018.  

Here are a few tips based on the new guidance to get your e-commerce business PCI compliant.

1. Know the security considerations of your payment solution

E-commerce businesses have options when it comes to accepting payments. Here are a few examples, along with respective security needs:

Merchant-Hosted Payment Form: In this case, the merchant website hosts the payment page and form. All cardholder data is processed by the merchant web server (and other parts of their system) before being sent to the payment solution provider (PSP). Since the merchant handles the cardholder data, the entire set of PCI compliance controls used on the merchant’s systems is in scope.

iFrame: These methods embed a separate and protected payment page within the merchant’s
webpage. Monitoring and alerting controls will increase security.   

URL Redirect Model: Usually used by small- to medium-sized merchants who aren’t concerned with customizing or adding advanced features to the customer payment experience. The consumer is redirected from the merchant’s website to a third-party page where account data is entered into a payment page hosted by the third-party PSP. In this case, the merchant system doesn’t touch cardholder data, so fewer security controls are needed.

JavaScript Form: JavaScript-based solutions like Accept.js use JavaScript to intercept payment data and submit it directly to your PSP. It is also used by larger merchants who want to control the “look and feel” of their payment form.

To learn what PCI compliance means for your business, consult the PCI DSS Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) table. E-commerce merchants who outsource their payment processing will generally fall under SAQ A or SAQ A-EP, and you can learn the difference between the two categories here.

2. Update your SSL/TLS Certificate

You should be using the most current and up-to-date TLS (Transport Layer Security) certificates. Do not use any version of SSL, which is outdated and has been proven to have multiple exploitable vulnerabilities. The PCI DSS 3.2 requires that all businesses stop using any version of SSL—as well as earlier versions of TLS—by June 30, 2018. Authorize.Net plans to disable outdated versions of TLS  by February 28, 2018.

3. Encrypt, encrypt, encrypt

Make sure you know exactly where and how you are sending cardholder data. Use encryption to secure data in transit and in storage (even temporarily).

PCI DSS Requirement 4.1 requires that cardholder data must be encrypted when sent across open, public networks. Be sure you are using the latest TLS standards. And if you do need to store cardholder data for business or legal reasons, PCI DSS Requirement 3 says that you must encrypt it or store it through tokenization.  

4. Review code

Successful attackers find routes to sensitive data through poorly developed code. Common coding problems can create vulnerabilities, which could then allow attackers to successfully use tactics like cross-site scripting. Cross-site scripting is an attack strategy where hackers embed malicious code into vulnerable websites. Their intent is usually to gather user data like passwords and credit card numbers.

You should take measures to involve objective parties in any code review. To sum up the PCI DSS on this issue: you should review any code that could possibly interact with your payment card environment in any way. For large code introductions, such as product releases or when introducing a new website, consider a penetration test.

5. Limit employee access and train on protocol

Access to cardholder data should only be given to those who absolutely need it to perform their job. But, even if an employee does not have access to cardholder data, their workstation or device may store usernames, passwords, and other info that may be valuable to a hacker. All it takes is one unwitting employee to accidentally introduce malware into your system. Train employees quarterly, if not monthly, on your company’s security measures and protocols regarding email, attachments, downloads, passwords, etc.

 When it comes to e-commerce security, make sure you’re taking the right steps to secure your card data. E-commerce guidance from the PCI SSC is intended not only to help merchants become PCI compliant, but to help them understand the foundational principles of cybersecurity—creating a safer online payment environment for everyone. Remember that you’re not just protecting your clients; you’re looking out for your business and its reputation as well.

Zach Walker is the Director of Technical Support at SecurityMetrics and has been with the company for over 6 years. He has worked in the IT/security field for over 10 years, and has A+, Network+, Security+, CISSP, and ASV certifications. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in IT Security.

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The Price of a Fast, Growing Business. How do I manage all these customers?

For business owners, scaling your business and managing that growth effectively is always going to be one of your top priorities. There’s no better testament to your business's success than a quickly expanding customer base. However, with every victory tends to come a new challenge to tackle. For example, more customers could lead to the potential for billing errors, which in turn means time, money and resources that you will have to dedicate to the problem.

The good news is, if your business operates on a subscription-based model, there are tools available that offer an easy way to automate and simplify payments. You can find examples of successful businesses using the subscription model everywhere.

So what’s the secret to managing recurring billing?

Recurring billing software such as Authorize.Net’s Automated Recurring Billing™ (ARB) Customer Information Manger (CIM) and ChargeOver can be a huge help with handling the heavy lifting of managing subscriptions—freeing you to focus on growth. What used to be a painstaking process full of endless paperwork and spreadsheets can be handled almost effortlessly. And, as you’ve heard, two heads are better than one—so if you want to create a real recurring billing powerhouse, integrating
ChargeOver and Authorize.Net is the answer.

Customize and Automate Your Workflow

Authorize.Net’s ARB solution allows you to create subscriptions that include a payment schedule, the billing amount, and the customer’s payment information. If you need to bill a different amount, CIM offers that flexibility. Once a subscription begins, it will run without any added labor required from you. You can also customize the pricing for your subscriptions, and even trial periods!

For businesses that need a more comprehensive tool, ChargeOver is fully compatible with Authorize.Net. ChargeOver allows you to customize your invoices’ look and feel, allowing you to stay consistent with your brand and identity. ChargeOver also provides you with plenty of email templates for you to personalize. And if you don’t see what you need in a template, ChargeOver also allows you to build yourself custom events, giving you full rein to configure notifications to you and your customers according to your specific needs. You can also set up as many pricing plans for products and services as your business requires—tiered, unit, volume pricing, etc.

Don’t Leave Yourself, or Your Customers, Out of the Loop

Each solution does a great job of keeping you ‘in the know’ about important details like upcoming subscription and credit card expirations, reducing your worries of failing to renew a customer’s subscription, or losing sales due to an expired credit card. Each solution also offers reporting and other tools as well. Authorize.Net has the added advantage of being integrated to our new Account Updater service which automatically updates expired or replaced cards, so you never lose out on a sales. 

The Ultimate Solution to your Subscription Billing Woes

For those who have been searching for a way to manage their recurring billing process smoothly and effectively, ChargeOver and Authorize.Net both offer intuitive, flexible and powerful tools potentially saving you time and money. Getting started is as simple as visiting the Authorize.Net Merchant Interface or entering a few of your Authorize.Net details when signing up for ChargeOver.

To get a hands-on experience of how you can automate your subscription billing, sign up for a free trial with ChargeOver. It's easy to get started!

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While it may be true that you need to spend money to make money, small businesses often have limited funds to spare. To keep your small business profitable, you need to make every marketing dollar bring the highest possible return. Here are six great tips that can help you get the most out of your marketing budget.

Share Your Knowledge

Content marketing is one of the most effective forms of online marketing — and it costs nothing if you create the content yourself. Does your website have a blog section? Write informational content that you believe would appeal to your potential customer base. Within your field, you have unique knowledge that your customers may lack. By sharing knowledge, you'll attract search engine traffic from people who are seeking information in your industry. Every time the information that you provide helps someone, you'll strengthen your brand and establish yourself as an expert within your field.

Connect With Your Customers

Word-of-mouth advertising is free — and people love to tell others about the great experiences they've had with local businesses. You already do everything you can to delight customers when they visit your shop or online store. Do you capture their online contact information to connect with them in the future? Harness the full potential of social media by connecting with your customers on social media and making yourself available to respond to their questions and concerns. 

Hire Online Freelancers

Freelance aggregators offer access to both local and national talents who can provide a wide range of services to enhance your business. From search engine optimization, to writing and photography services these professionals are well-suited to meet the needs of small businesses and in an affordable and time-efficient manner. Use your imagination for how you can leverage this talent pool—need a logo, promotional art or a blog post—it's easy thanks to these sites.

Use Templates for Everything

Does your company regularly incur large expenses creating product brochures, newspaper advertisements or online promotional pages? If you start from scratch every time you create marketing material, you're increasing your costs and extending the amount of time needed to produce the material. When you create a promotional item that works well, save it as a template. When you want to run another promotion, simply change the details in the template to save time.

Partner With Other Local Businesses

Is there another local business that doesn't compete with you but has a similar customer base? Team up with them for cross-promotional benefits. If you have a graphic design company, for example, you could partner with a printing company. If you have a restaurant that serves juices and smoothies, you could partner with a local gym. Set up a partnership in which both businesses display advertisements for the other. You could also offer exclusive discounts to customers who patronize both businesses. 

Repurpose Your Content

Even with templates and freelance workers, creating new content always costs
something. If you want to reduce your marketing budget even further, you need to do more with the content you already have. Does your website have a large archive of blog posts that have always brought you consistent Web traffic? Gather the best of those posts and release them as a free e-book that you can give away to new mailing list subscribers or social media followers. Each time you post a new article, record an audio version of the same article, and release it as a podcast. Alternatively, film a video and upload it to YouTube. Repackage your most successful online advertisement as a product brochure for direct mailing. By doing more with the content that you already have, you can make the content more effective and reduce the cost of creating it.

Marketing is an important part of any business. The challenge is finding cost-effective ways to market your products/services and brand without going over budget. The good news for small business owners is when it comes to marketing you don’t have to be a marketing professional to get the word out about your business. The right planning can help you ensure that every dollar is being spent most efficiently. Give these tips a try and see how they work for your business. 

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With over 440,000 merchants, Authorize.Net has one HUGE small business community, which is just one of the reasons so many third-party solutions integrate to our payment gateway. This series of blog posts highlights our partners and their unique offerings that meet all of your business needs.

Today’s Topic? Form Solutions.  

We know that many merchants do not need a full shopping cart or online store. Additionally they may not be ready for a fully integrated custom solution. If you are one of these merchants, a form solution to accept payments might be the perfect fit. 

Benefits of form solutions include:

 • The ability to accept payments on your website easily and securely

 • A payment experience that blends seamlessly with your website’s design

 • The flexibility to make minor changes without hiring a developer or Web agency

“Collecting money should be simple,” says Authorize.Net Marketing Manager Richard Holder. “Form solutions allow businesses to get rid of paper forms and start easily collecting payments with an online form.” 

Authorize.Net currently includes three form solutions in our Certified Solutions Directory: Formstack, JotForm and Wufoo. Read on to learn more about each solution and how to contact them. 

Formstack is an easy-to-use, secure online form builder that allows you to quickly create and deploy any type of order form to collect payments online. No coding is needed with its simple drag-and-drop interface, allowing you to create order forms in seconds. Formstack's secure payment forms integrate with Authorize.Net and adhere to the strictest security standards, and give you the power to route information wherever you need it. Set up payment calculations, gather coupon and discount codes, and keep your data updated with over 35 popular Web app integrations. Multiple security features like 256-bit SSL, data encryption and password protection ensure that you can safely gather personal payment. Whether you need to create a simple online order form or to run your entire business online, Formstack makes it simple to collect the money you need to grow your business.

Learn More About Formstack

JotForm allows users to easily create powerful payment forms to collect orders, register event guests, process application fees, and accept donations – all without requiring any coding experience. Many businesses choose JotForm because of the tool’s ability to enable recurring Authorize.Net subscription payments, sell multiple items on the same form, and include product images. JotForm has 10,000 ready-made form templates, dozens of integrations with popular CRMs, e-mail marketing services and 400 widgets to make it one of the most popular form builders for companies in the world. Major JotForm features include an analytics tool to measure form performance, a form theme designer for fantastic styling options, and custom autoresponder e-mails sent to customers. Plus, with recent JotForm updates, you can even create a payment form that integrates with Authorize.Net straight from your mobile phone. If you collect fewer than 10 payments each month through JotForm, it’s completely free.

Learn More About JotForm

Wufoo's online form builder lets you create any form you need. Within its Form Gallery, you have over 90 templates and form examples to choose from — whether you're looking for contact forms, invitations, registrations, even survey templates. You can collect data, registrations and online payments you need without writing a single line of code. Its powerful payment integration features help you easily process credit cards and build your business securely. After designing your form or choosing a template, you can quickly assign prices to selections on your form, choose custom currency and select specific collection settings. Once you've shared your form, Wufoo's form analytics lets you dive into your data to track views, submissions and conversion rates. Wufoo's got the security you need so you can generate revenue with peace of mind. To learn more about how Wufoo and Authorize.Net can help you build your business today — click away!

Learn More About Wufoo

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Authorize.Net partner, 71lbs, has made a name for itself by helping businesses optimize their shipping spend. We invited Christine Ridgely, partner manager at 71lbs, to share her thoughts as our guest blogger.

Why Understanding your Shipping is a "Merchant Must"

As a merchant, you may know how important it is to stay on top of your business transactions. Shipping spend influences your overall profit margin. However, analyzing shipping spend often goes undone.

If the details of your shipping activity are not reviewed and understood, it can be very difficult to fully capitalize on each transaction processed. Many businesses do not actively monitor their shipping because they lack the time and resources to do so. Others expect late deliveries to occur as a part of conducting business, so they don’t hold their shipping carrier accountable for service failures. Some are simply focused upon fulfilling orders and don’t look back, only forward. The fact is that businesses are doing themselves a disservice if they are not auditing their shipping activity and the associated costs.  

By actively monitoring your shipping, you can ensure that your business not only pays for the service that is promised by the carrier but also optimizes your overall shipping spend. Are you aware that if you ship with FedEx or UPS, the service includes a 100% money-back refund when a package arrives late, even by 60 seconds? 

The first step is to commit to tracking your shipments on and/or and then cross reference deliveries. Once you identify a service failure, you must file a claim. Note that the process of manually filing a claim is highly intricate and difficult to successfully navigate. Claims need to be filed within 15 days of the package’s delivery and should include all necessary documentation and inspections.

Build your business smart and do not stand idle as it pertains to your shipping spend. It is more important than ever for merchants to stay informed about all facets of shipping, especially if refunds are involved. Whether you handle it internally or externally through a third party, you can and should identify and understand exactly where your shipping dollars go. 

71lbs is a leading expert in helping businesses optimize what they spend on shipping. Their human-powered software solution monitors, identifies, and files claims on your behalf, allowing you to focus on your business and not use up valuable resources. All found refunds are credited directly to your FedEx and/or UPS account. No start-up or monthly maintenance fee is necessary. 

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If you run a business from your home, you know it comes with amazing freedoms and challenging distractions. It's important to take steps to optimize and maintain your effectiveness so you can continue to enjoy the excitement and freedoms of being your own boss. The following tips will help you be productive as you run your home business.

1. Create an Office

When running a business from home, it's easy to work from your living room or bedroom, but doing so can add unnecessary distractions. Having a dedicated work area will help you to stay focused. You can turn a basement, spare bedroom, or garage into an office. If doing so is not an option, consider turning a small section of one of your rooms into an office and make it the dedicated space. The Internet also has lots of good ideas for how to turn a vintage trailer or backyard shed into a workspace. 

2. Create a Schedule

Many business owners who work from home say they are “always at work” since there is no separation between their office and house. The work day doesn’t end when you leave the office like it does in a traditional job. Some make a habit of working all day without taking any breaks, which can cause stress. Others fall into the trap of not getting started at the same time each day. To help you stay on track, set a daily schedule and stick to it. Let work time be work time and off-time be off-time. Having a set schedule and taking planned breaks will help you be more effective when you are working.

3. Remove Distractions

Distractions can be an issue for those who work from home, so you need to prepare yourself. To stay on track, let your friends and family members know that you have dedicated a certain amount of time to your business each day. Getting distracted is easy, so setting and enforcing boundaries will allow you to keep your business moving in the right direction. Apps like RescueTime and MyMinutes can track how you are spending your time and even block distracting websites while you work to stay focused.

4. Separate Your Personal Life

Working from home makes it easy for your business responsibilities to conflict with your personal life. Avoid taking personal phone calls during your work hours and doing personal chores like cleaning the house, cooking meals, and grocery shopping. Even though you are home and doing these things is tempting, you need to limit them to your off hours. Similarly, avoid engaging in work-related activities outside of your normal schedule.

5. Keep Records

Some business owners procrastinate when it comes to keeping meticulous business records, but doing so can make things that much more difficult in the future. Keep separate bank accounts for your business and personal items and keep accurate records at all times. You can use software programs like QuickBooks that are designed to make the process simple.

6. Stay Social

Running a business from your home and potentially staying inside most of the day makes it easy to lose touch with people, but not socializing can impact your emotional health in a negative way. No matter how busy you are, always take the time to stay in touch with your friends and loved ones.

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Holiday sales can bring cheer to the heart of any small business owner. However, you need more than Santa's magic to have a successful holiday season. Good preparation is one of the key ingredients to produce a record-breaking holiday season for your business.

Prepare Inventory Early

If you don’t prepare your inventory ahead of the holiday season, you may find your shelves empty of your biggest sellers, forcing you to miss out on big sales. Consulting previous holiday season sales records can help you determine which items you need to stock in large quantities. If you're running special promotions on certain items, be sure to stock up with extra quantities of those items. Check with the sales representatives of your most important vendors; they may be running holiday specials of their own to make it easier for you to stock up ahead of the holiday season.

Refresh Your Website

Updating your website with a seasonal look will inspire your customers to start thinking about their holiday shopping. In addition to giving your website a facelift, an investment in upgrading your server’s capacity can help you meet a rush of demand from your customers. Make sure your website also offers the latest security measures. Help minimize and prevent authorization and chargeback fees as well as possible inventory loss resulting from fraudulent transactions by adding Advanced Fraud Detection Suite included with your Authorize.Net Payment Gateway account.

Plan Promotions

Promotions are an excellent way to attract new customers and bring back former customers. If your business is online, free or reduced shipping is always an attractive choice. You can also offer coupons and discounts on orders. You'll also need to decide if you want to offer special deals on popular shopping days, such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Once you've decided on your promotions, you can use your social media profiles to advertise your special deals and keep your customers in the loop about shipping deadlines and your store's holiday hours.

Hire Seasonal Employees

Seasonal employees are a great way to handle the extra large crowds that often accompany the holiday season. Carefully consider where you need the most help; you may need extra hands on deck to staff your warehouse or run the cash registers. Hiring extra help before the holiday shopping season starts can give your temporary hires time to become fully trained before the rush of crowds overwhelms your business. 

Add Flexible Payment Options

During the holidays, your customers may feel stressed with party planning and long shopping lists to complete. Offering easy and flexible payment options is a great way to remove some of the stress from holiday shopping. With Authorize.Net you can accept payments anywhere. Accept credit cards and eCheck.Net® on your website. Accept payments in person using the Authorize.Net mPOS mobile app and secure card reader available here. Or set up Visa Checkout where your customers can easily pay online with a single sign in.

Brush Up Customer Service Skills

Good customer service is always a plus, but during the holiday season your customers will appreciate it even more. Take time to work with your employees to instill a positive customer service attitude and teach them conflict-resolution techniques. Delight your customers with candy canes in their shipments or hot apple cider in store. Employees who can handle difficult situations with a smile will be remembered by your customers and boost your company's reputation.

The holiday season can bring challenges to small businesses, but also opportunity for great successes. Planning your holiday strategy early can help you meet those challenges and make your customers happy.

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

Business owners face new challenges constantly. These challenges can be particularly daunting for new business owners as they trade their 9-5 job for a 24/7 passion. Learning the attributes of successful entrepreneurs can help new business owners understand they are not alone, and provide motivation to keep navigating to their own success.

See the Big Picture

Many new business owners get caught up in the present. They are focused on navigating the problems that arise each day. However, successful business owners focus on the future. It is key to see the "big picture" and remain on a path that keeps a company meeting long-term goals. The market moves quickly, so it is essential to stay true to your vision and map out a road that gets the job done for tomorrow and beyond.

Experience Failure and Move On

Failure is an inevitable part of life. However, the way a person handles setbacks can have a profound effect on their business. A successful business owner works to understand the reason for the setback and understand how to avoid similar setbacks in the future so that when the next opportunity pops up the business will be well-positioned to achieve a positive outcome.

Take Risks

Taking risks may seem scary, but it extends the possibility of achieving success. A strong business owner assesses a situation and tries something that has the potential to maximize success without causing unnecessary jeopardy.

Mark Pincas, founder of the gaming company Zynga, walked away from a guaranteed source of funding for his first venture. Despite being short on cash, he decided against the deal, which did not fit with his vision. Not accepting the investment was a worthwhile and successful risk. Pincas secured money from a different source, remained in control, and eventually sold the company, which allowed him to establish Zynga. 

Hire People Who are Better Than You

Winning business owners understand the importance of surrounding themselves with smart people. Learning to work effectively with others and use their strengths will help you gain success. For instance, if you develop a message that must be presented to the public but have poor social media skills, it might be wise to hire a person who knows the ins and outs of these platforms. A solid company has a team with various abilities and employees who unite their talents to form a powerhouse.

Find Trusted Partners

Partnering with trusted companies can help business owners run their business smoothly and effectively by taking the daily minutia off their plates so they can focus on growing the business. Partnering with Authorize.Net means business owners do not have to worry about how to accept payments from customers. From marketing needs to shipping products to customers, Authorize.Net has a Partner Directory and a Merchant Toolbox to help business owners find the right partners for their business needs. 

Have a Competitive Spirit

A strong business owner usually has a competitive spirit and enjoys winning. Since starting a business is a big challenge, it is the perfect way to harness this energy. A competitive spirit is essential to win customers and increase market share.

Help Others

Leaders of successful businesses recognize the importance of networking. Although it is common to take help from others, a successful entrepreneur gives assistance without haste. He or she shares useful information, helps finish tasks and presents opportunities to colleagues.


Beginning a new business is not easy, so it is important to examine the traits of successful business owners. Although these qualities do not ensure success, they can help provide a better chance of growing a business and enjoying prosperity. 

For more business tips and advice, visit the Authorize.Net blog weekly. Have a great small business tip or want your business to be featured with your small business advice? Submit your story.

Setting up shop to offer your products or services online and using Authorize.Net to accept payments are great first steps towards attracting new customers for your business. Still, many businesses face a constant challenge of attracting new and existing customers to their websites. 

Here are six ways to drive more traffic to your site, potentially increasing sales and online success. 

Create a Strong Opt-In Offer

Building a strong e-mail list is one of the first steps to online sales success. In order to build a list, though, you'll need to do more than just ask visitors to sign up for e-mails. You'll need to incentivize them to do so. How? Use an opt-in offer such as a discount or coupon code. For example, you might give all new e-mail subscribers a special code for 20 percent off their first purchase on your site. Of course, you'll need to promote your offer both on your website itself and through your social media profiles. 

Using MailChimp is an easy way to stay in touch with your customers and generate repeat business. Plus Authorize.Net customers get six free Inbox Inspections ($28 value) and free Advanced Reporting ($49 value) automatically added to their account. Learn More.

Build a Sense of Urgency

A highly successful sales tactic is to make customers feel as though they have to buy your product now. Talented sales people can do this in-person, but it's possible to pull it off online too. You can create urgency among customers by offering limited-time coupons and discounts, counting down available inventory of popular items, offering freebies for visitors who buy products by a certain time and advertising flash sales that last for 24 hours or less.

Create Sharable Content

You've spent a lot of time refining the product pages of your website, but it's essential to pay attention to your blog and social media opportunities too. Instead of broadcasting information about your products exclusively, share free info or tips that customers will be drawn to naturally. Linking to a helpful article orwriting a quick post with tips related to your industry appeals to new and old customers alike. The trick is to create content that your viewers will not only want to read, but will feel compelled to share with friends and co-workers too.

Incorporate Responsive Site Design

To provide your customers with the best experience possible, consider incorporating responsive design into your website. What does that mean? Put simply, it means that site visitors will have a high-quality browsing experience whether they're using a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. The goal is to make sure that potential customers can easily browse your products and complete an order no matter the device they happen to be using.

Post Your Customer Reviews

Posting customer reviews on your website itself and on your social media profiles will help to engender a sense of trust with shoppers. After all, people want to know what others think of your products before they buy. Of course, it's important that you're careful not to edit or cherry pick your reviews. Don't hide negative reviews but respond promptly, clearly and professionally so that potential customers know you're serious about fixing problems and meeting their needs.

Make Paying Easy for the Customer

Once you get them to your site, you want to do everything you can to make it easy to purchase. If you have the type of business that has repeat customers, you can reduce shopping cart abandonmentand make it easier for customers to pay by using Authorize.Net’s tokenization service, Customer Information Manager (CIM). By securely storing your customers' payment data with CIM, you eliminate the need for customers to re-enter information for every subsequent transaction, providing a quicker checkout process. 

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