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choosing suppliers web design business startup

Kissing Frogs

They say you've gotta kiss an awful lot of frogs before you find your prince. The same goes for business suppliers.

If you're a business owner considering taking payments for your products and services through your website then the number of payment options available to you are increasingly diverse. Do you go with the traditional merchant accounts, do you go with PayPal or do you consider the newer propositions from Apple and Android?

Yesterday I reached a decision and chose not to take my evaluation with PayPal any further. We all make mistakes now and then but, in the short time I've been engaged with PayPal, theirs are mounting ahead of them up as if they're being cleared by the world's worst snowplough.

A former Director of mine, Sean Whelan, once told me that he relished the mistakes of staff because it gave the business the opportunity to show how much it cares through the amount of effort it is prepared to put into making things right. This principle is one I adopted the moment I heard Sean share it and was one the many reasons for me nailing my colours to his wall.

Years later, I find myself spending weeks attempting to engage with PayPal and being left with the sense that the problems of setting up my business account are all my fault. I don't mind suppliers making mistakes because their [in]ability to fix what's broken tells you how good their people and their processes are.

Stick to vs stuck with

Spending the time to choose the right suppliers is critical. A business startup that focuses too heavily on the cost of an outsourced service will end up paying later. There are no shortcuts to this process. Test, test and test again. You'll soon get the feel for who and what feels right. The time and effort invested into evaluating PayPal hasn't been a waste, it will, ultimately, help me make a far better choice of online payment processor and, chances are, once that decision is made it'll be one I stick to for many years to come.

A Customer of ours in Harpenden is currently wondering whether to use PayPal for online business payments on their website so, in order to help that decision along, I've been attempting to setup a business account. For me the tipping point for considering PayPal was their low cost of entry - this is a perfect proposition for the small business or business startup website. Unlike traditional merchant services there's no monthly fee and there's also the PayPal Here (£45.00) contactless card reader for taking payment in person at tradeshows. Alas, I shall not be endorsing this method of payment and shall not be investing the time required to learn PayPal's API and integrate it into Web Diffusion or any of my bespoke websites.

The account application setup process for PayPal has been incredibly lumpy; their systems appear unable to get our address right. Thanks to their mis-appropriation of my address data to fields in their database, I have spent the past week and a half sending proof of ID to verify my identity. Yesterday PayPal told me I hadn't given them sufficient proof and requested a copy of my marriage certificate. PayPal, you may now kiss my business goodbye.

Last week my business credit card was fraudulently used for two rogue purchases. I have no idea how my data was breached but my bank, Lloyds, was on this in an instant - payments were cancelled and no money was lost. Seeing how lax PayPal appears to be when it comes to setting-up a simple business account, I have zero confidence in their potential ability to protect my data, resolve issues and clampdown on fraud.

As ghastly as this process of researching online payment processors for our Customers has been, you gotta continue kissing frogs. Finding the right suppliers in business is almost as important as selling. A web design business can't build everything it needs itself and depends upon resilient and dependable suppliers. If you're a business startup website you won't get your business proposition, user experience or your customer journey right first time every time. Last week I was referred to a chap who was desperate to find a reliable web developer for his business startup that was creating a video subscription service, similar to Netflix. His first website was lousy, the second website was a rip-off and was creating an unacceptable bounce-rate. He was fast running out of money and was looking for an expert to fix the site but couldn't envisage the site being replaced for another couple of years.

Nevertheless, you gotta keep trying.

Keep kissing frogs; eventually you'll find your prince and live happily ever after. Seeing first-hand how bad a company can be makes you appreciate and value others more.

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Sub@omic is an independent web consultancy developing cognitive designer websites, based in Harpenden, Hertfordshire, UK