Boss Lady

Business start-up: Checks and paying bills

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Paper checks in check-book form are not being used as much as they use to, but people still do write checks, including people who live in small towns.  Banking customers who still write checks do so to pay an individual and then the person comes into the bank to cash the check, to withdraw money from an account.  Small business owners also still use paper checks to hand write checks to their employees using business checks and personal checks.

Around the world, people still use checks to pay bills by sending a check in the mail, paying with a check over the phone, or taking a personal paper check into a bill service provider inside of a grocery store to pay a phone, mortgage, or utility bill.  If a person runs out of checks, places to order more are through the person’s bank branch, using check order services found in daily newspapers, online through check ordering services like Vistaprint, Quickbooks (desktop or cloud), Wal-Mart, Office Depot/OfficeMax, Costco (which also offers mortgages interestingly), Checks Unlimited, and Harland Clarke.  Most brick and mortar banks only use Harland Clarke and Deluxe and have for years since a long-term relationship is in tact.  This could vary depending on the country your business is located in.  Luckily, for business owners, Office Depot/OfficeMax is a multinational company, so where ever they are, you can still get business done and bills paid while traveling abroad, which is highlighted within this article.

Online bill pay checks

When some clients pay business owners, they print checks from their bank on their office computer and mail the check to the business.  Printing can also be done through the “online bill pay” service many banks have.  The printed checks are professional in look, for example from Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. business accounts many clients use to send company checks to organizations.  Online bill pay is an online feature of a personal or business checking account whereby the account holder enters the payee information (company name, address, etc.) online, similar to making an online purchase, submits the information online, and then the bank sends a paper check, type faced, to the recipient to cash or deposit.

The advantage of bill pay service is all of the bills an individual or company normally pays can be entered one time, in advance of the bill due date.  Whenever the bill is due, the account holder would need to either click send or adjust the payment amount and then click send.  No longer will the account holder have to write separate checks, prepare envelopes, purchase stamps, and mail each bill.  Online bank account access is usually free from banks, but can vary depending on the country your bank institution and account is located in.  This also applies to the cost of bill pay, which is not free, but low in cost, like $6 USD, or a little more or less after conversion into your country’s currency.

Account information security

On the other hand, some things to keep in mind with ordering checks from companies listed in the newspaper as an advertisement or coupon insert is security of business bank account information.  Also, when printing checks yourself from a business account, if an typo occurs in the company name you are paying, banks will not deposit the check, have to send the check back to the person who printed it, and then another check has to be printed and re-sent.  There are fees for returning the check with the typo, reprinting, cancelling the previous check, and then sending a new one, even if there is only one typo.

“Available money”

Local bank branches must send all deposits and bank activities for the day to a local processing or operations center for overnight processing and then to a “main” processing center which is typically regional.  So, if the local branch accepts the typo in the check for deposit into your business account, the check can later, even 30 days later, be reversed out of your account by a real person validating and checking information or a computer who picks up the typo and cannot locate your account.  As precaution, ensure all information on checks written by hand or electronically are perfect and never spend money from an account until all checks have cleared the bank and the funds are truly available for spending, which is why some businesses have a net 30 days payment policy.

Too, consider this, the typo is only recognized if there are 5 or fewer checks.  For example, if a business owner physically comes into a bank branch to deposit say 60 checks at once, a bank teller or representative does not have to look through every check to ensure it is correct, you do and a back office/operations office does when all checks from the branch for the day are shipped to a local operations center for processing an updating accounts overnight.  This is why there are “cut off” times for deposits displayed at bank branches.  If operations finds a typo after all of this, the check will be returned to the customer/account holder by being reversed out of the account, and typically some sort of reversal fee is assessed to the account.  Correct, the account holder, not the writer of the check, will have to monetarily pay for the error and then to recover the fee from the payor.  This is why account holders should not begin writing checks or spending money from their business account after depositing checks they did not check for accuracy and not waiting for checks to clear overnight in which overdrafts and numerous fees are usually the result.

Restocking checks and paying bills

If you still write paper checks instead using modern day payment methods or online approaches to make purchases, pay bills, employees or vendors, you will need to consider what will you do if you run out of checks and did not order far enough in advance to restock prior to running out.  Bank accounts that offer free checks are money market accounts, but the number of checks is limited to usually between 3 and 8 checks.  Free basic checking accounts at any bank offer considerably more paper checks, but at a cost, and with a 2-3 week shipping timeframe.

Some online banks like Nerdwallet and Green Dot Bank through Walmart’s Wal-Mart Money Card offer checks, but usually at a small cost for up to 12 checks.  Wal-Mart Money Card works with Visa and Mastercard, so you can use a debit card like a debit card, online, or either like a credit card through Point of Sale (POS) pin number purchases at stores, even while traveling.  These kinds of bank cards are great for security purposes when you do not want to give an organization your business debit card number.  Yet, after conducting thorough research on check ordering over the last 20 years when observing how people can still function in daily life or run a business when they run out of paper checks to write, the conclusion is, although checks may be free or not, you still have to wait for them to be shipped to you in the mail.  Most companies have the same shipping time-frame of 7-10 business days, but no less than 5 business days, so essentially 1-2 weeks.

Learning how to print checks is feasible, but you will need the paper for printing checks, ink, the envelopes, a computer, and the proper computer functions adjusted/set in the document before printing.  Remember if there is a typo or some sort of one small error the printed check is likely to be a problem.  And for online bill pay, if there is a typo the bank will typically resend the check for free, but customer service in operations would need to be utilized.  These departments are usually connected to a “phone bank” or 1-800 number.  On a more positive note, if a person runs out of checks, some bank branches offer counter checks and local print shops like none brand name and Office Depot/Office Max, the multinational business printing and office supplies retailer, can print checks the same day, in store, but you have to check with them first.  And of course, there is a cost.

Five Key Tips and Take-aways:

  • How you run your business financially and pay bills must be planned to avoid unnecessary costs, especially if you are new to entrepreneurship.
  • When conducting business, particularly with ordering checks, consider how you are doing so to keep your account information secure.
  • Never spend money you do not have, in this case, from a business account, which can negatively impact your company, employees, vendors, and clients, all at once.
  • Your business and business account is not your personal account, so you are responsible for more persons than just yourself.
  • To keep your business running smoothly, especially if you have to travel, consider doing business with global and multinational companies who have locations where you travel to in case you need them. Office Depot/Office Max and many other business and office supplies retailers have business rewards card programs where you earn rewards on every purchase to quality for free purchases.  Sign up!

These are just a few tips and take-aways that can help women to further their business goals to ensure continued success.  The tips and take-aways should help business women plan ahead to avoid business interruption.

About Kyla L. Tennin

Kyla L. Tennin, DM(c)(Hons), MBA, BA is the President and Global CEO for the conglomerate Lady Mirage Global, founded the enterprise, works with Fortune 100 and 500 corporations, and has worked with the firm for 15 years. Kyla’s career background is in the financial services industry at 3 banks and 1 alternative lending financial institution, in front office at brick-and-mortar branches and in back office in operations, consumer banking, and business banking. Prior to financial services, she worked for well known retail, hospitality, food & beverage, health care, and health insurance companies, completing practitioner doctorate courses and a 485 page dissertation on executives in multinational and global corporations with honors. Companies she worked “for” in the past in various sectors prepared her for businesses she now works “with” as clients. Lastly, Kyla is the recipient of over 30 organizational awards with the majority of them from the financial services industry as a consistent top performer for sales, product knowledge, business development, customer service, and quality assurance. You can find Kyla on Instagram and Facebook.

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