TotalStart

Lifestyle Business & Passive Income Talk With A Side Of Travel And Gadgets

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Step 13 – Easy Credit Card Processing For First Timers

You’re building a business at an incredible time, it has never been easier than right now to get your own business up and running.   Back when I first setup credit card processing 15 years ago  it was a giant pain in the ass, now you’re going to be up and running almost immediately.  Just  few years ago if you wanted to process cards you first had to go setup a gateway system like Authorize.net then you had to get a Merchant account through a bank, then after going through a ton of approval you had to link the two up, and then get a developer to program it into your shopping cart.   This method still has its place especially if you want more control over your billing, negotiating fees, rotating merchant accounts, etc, but right now for what you’re going to need is something mind-blowingly simple.

The company Stripe has simplified down credit card processing to about as easy as it gets.   Their fees are really reasonable, especially for the ease of use for people new to setting up their own business.  You’re looking at only 2.9% + 30 cents per successful charge, with a 2 day deposit window.   Plus you’re able to tap into a bunch of awesome features and easily able to do live swipes of cards if you ever want to do offline transactions.   Once you really get cranking you can also negotiate down your Stripe fees at around the $80k/month mark.

Go ahead and create your Stripe account, you’ll need to provide some bank info and other stuff to activate the account.  Make sure you leave your account in test mode for right now until we’re ready to start running transactions through.

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WordPress With Shopping Cart Plugins

Now that we’ve got our web hosting up and running it’s time to figure out what kind of platform we want to run our e-commerce store on.   There are a ton of options out there you can use, but the name of the game here is keeping costs down so we can return a profit as soon as possible.   We can always upgrade our shopping cart to something more advanced if we ever need it, but I like starting small and getting a proof of concept down before spending unneeded dollars.

Over the years I’ve played around with a lot of the bigger shopping cart systems like OSCommerce and BigCommerce.   Both of those are nice but I’ve personally found them a bit confusing and bloated; not to mention they cost some decent money to use.   There are also systems out there like Shopify which is nice if you want a really easy to use all-inclusive system.  The problem I had with Shopify was the lack of control when it came to certain things like SEO and fine tuning pages exactly how I wanted.

Eventually I found an awesome WordPress shopping cart plugin called WP e-Commerce, which is ideal for small sites that are only selling a few products and don’t need all the bells and whistles.  The beauty of it is that it runs off the WordPress platform which is free and somewhat user friendly for novice computer users.    Not only that but the WP e-Commerce plugin is free for their base version and you only pay a la carte for the features you want; all of which are really reasonably priced.   Best of all, you’ll have complete control over the site and won’t be tied to any monthly fee’s that many of the other systems make you pay.

Here are the add-ons I went ahead and got.   Your situation might be different, and you can always add them on down the road; so don’t spring for them unless you need them.

– Gold Cart Plugin – $47.00
This just offers a bunch of little features that are good to have.  For $47 it’s worth the money to have them ready to go.

– Stripe Payment Gateway – $37.00
We’ll go over the payment gateway later, but I know we’ll be using Stripe so I grabbed this also.

If you’re not 100% comfortable with WordPress and the installation, they offer a $127 Gold Cart package where they will install it for you.   I think they’ll also install the Stripe plugin and help explain the system to you a little bit.   Another option would be to go on oDesk and hire someone who can do it for you.

I’m beat tonight, but at least we have all the software ready to go.   Next step will be grabbing a good design to use, stay tuned!

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Best Startup Web Hosting

The best web hosting you can get for your start up should be the bare minimum.   Surprisingly enough, you’re probably going to be able to get away with paying 10 bucks or less per month for some good, and reliable, hosting.  Don’t get in over your head by purchasing a dedicated server (unless you need to) or anything like that.  You can get a nice simple virtual hosting account that should  be more than enough to handle your business.   Whenever you need to upgrade you can generally do it without too much hassle.   Most hosting companies are willing to work with you as you grow and upgrade your account as needed.  When & if you ever get to the point of needing a beefier server you should be making enough money to have someone help you with the entire move over.  The great thing about running an online company is that you can keep your costs low & scale up when you need to.

I like BlueHosting.com and will be using them for this project.   They usually have some kind of promo going on, usually it’s if you commit to a 36 month term deal, I personally would avoid that.  I’m just going for the $5.95/mo plan & then adding on the site backups for $1.67.   Having backups is insanely important, so make sure whatever host you go with keeps routine backups of your data.  If there’s one thing you take away from this post, it’s to make sure you have back ups!

Since you probably already have a domain name by now, when you go to setup the account.

 

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The 10 Minute WalMart Stand Up Desk

For the past few months I’ve heard a lot about going with a stand up desk but with a price tag of $300 – $800+ for a decent desk I want to really make sure it’s something I’ll like before dropping that kind of cash on it.   So instead of having an 800 dollar  unused desk in my office, I wanted to put together a cheapy version to try out for a couple weeks before making the jump.   I saw the plans for an IKEA version online but since there are no IKEAs around here so ended up strolling over to Wal-Mart to see what the IKEA-Less people can do out there.

After perusing the aisles for a half hour trying to find everything, here’s what I was able to come up with.   The good news is it’s only 3 items you need to buy (4 if you don’t own a phillips head screwdriver).

Item #1 – Parson End Table ($18.00)
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Parsons-End-Table-Black/16451428
You can see the table above, it comes in 3 different colors, I grabbed the black one.   You can find it in the furniture section by all the desk, chairs, and assorted goodness.

Item #2 – ClosetMaid  2pc Shelf Kit ($18.97)
http://www.walmart.com/ip/ClosetMaid-2pc-Single-Slot-Shelf-Kit-Alder/16821257
All you’ll be using out of here is one of the shelves, I found them over in a home goods section with some other types of plastic shelving.  There’s a 2nd shelf included so if you want to talk a friend into chipping in for one of his own stand up desks you guys can split this item.

Item #3 – 4-Inc Corner Braces (4.95)
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Corner-Braces/17474016
This package comes with 4 braces, it’s found in the hardware section.  It’s all they had, so again you’ll have 2 extra braces if you want to build a second desk.   Maybe you could make one for your co-worker so you don’t look like the odd man out standing up in your office all day.

I got home grabbed my screwdriver and went to work.  The good news it takes all of about 5 minutes to put the whole thing together.  First thing you do is simply screw the legs into the table.  After that hold one of the shelves up to the legs of the table and mark where you want to mount the brackets.  Go ahead and screw the brackets into the shelving at the marked spots.

Now go put the table on your desk and then measure out how high you want to put the shelf.  You’ll want the shelf to be high enough so your arms are at a 90 degree angle when typing.     After that screw the shelf with the brackets into the legs of the table at the proper height for you.

stand up desk bracket

Brackets used for making your own stand up desk

 

Wha-lah!  Stand up desk ready to rock and roll!   I’ve only used it for a day so far and it’s a pretty big change.  Keep in mind I’ve been working 8 – 12 hour days sitting in a chair for the past 10 years so this is going to take a little getting used to.  I’ll definitely make another post in a couple weeks with a full update on everything.

standup desk up on table

standup desk up on table

If any of you end up making the WalMart standup desk I’d love to hear your thoughts and input on it.  Also if anyone out there uses or has used a stand up desk in the past and have some tips on how best to transition over to the stand up world please post them!