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While looking through your business objectives, you suddenly feel your organization needs to shake things up a bit. Unfortunately, your in-house team doesn’t have the required expertise to push through change.
So what do you do?
Hire a consultant, hands down.
A consultant can provide your company with specialized knowledge to help solve specific problems, allowing you to gain a competitive advantage.
In a nutshell, they can give you expert opinions, analysis, and recommendations that can help ensure a more objective-based approach to grow your business and maximize sales – all at the same time.
Plus, an outsider’s perspective can likely improve strategizing and troubleshoot problems effectively too.
Our team at Neil Patel Digital has compiled the ultimate guide below to help you understand the nuances of working with a consultant for the best results.
Let’s start by reviewing how you can find the best consultant for your company.
Let’s face it: None of us know everything about growing and managing a business.
The scope is big, and covering every part of the syllabus isn’t possible.
Hence, it makes perfect sense to seek the counsel of experts who are right for you and your business.
And no, no one is going to judge you because you can’t solve your problems, whether it’s reducing expenses or creating an audience for new market entry.
When hiring a consultant, make sure you follow these five simple and important guidelines:
A good consultant must have an unimpeachable character and be a thorough professional who is willing to put the best interests of your company ahead of their own.
For instance, they must be willing to tell clients things they need to hear but may not want to – even if it means losing business. Ever ready to put their best foot forward, the expert should deeply care about helping their clients achieve their business objectives.
The only way that a good consultant can meet challenges and identify opportunities is when they have years of experience and expertise to create effective strategies.
The consultant doesn’t need to know your company or industry niche, but they should have the relevant knowledge to understand what to do next to enhance campaign efficiency and deliver results.
Additionally, they should have applicable certifications and technical knowledge. So if you want to launch paid campaigns, find out whether the prospective consultant has the niche-specific qualification.
For instance, a Facebook ad consultant should know how to use Facebook Pixel, Facebook Ad Manager, and Power Editor. On the other hand, an AdWords consultant should be Google AdWords-certified and know how to improve ad Quality Score.
If there is one thing your consultant should be, it‘s an outstanding problem solver.
After all, the whole point of hiring a consultant is to solve specific pain points, along with taking advantage of opportunities.
Most of this is highly dependent on the mentality and excellent analytical skills to create and synthesize campaigns or business processes. Consultants have to be quick and effective learners and have the capability to solve problems through an imaginative and creative thought process.
You need to trust your consultant if you want a successful collaboration, especially since revealing intimate details of your business is a necessity here.
Think of it as a relationship similar to that between a doctor and patient.
In the absence of complete candor, the consultant’s efforts may not be very effective, and hence, won’t help solve problems.
So make sure you choose a candidate who you feel you can develop a professional relationship of comfort and trust with.
Strong communication skills – oral as well as written – is mandatory for a good consultant.
An articulate thinking process and writing eloquently can also have a positive effect on your company’s target audience.
Communication is a two-way street, though.
No matter how great a consultant is, they won’t be able to help you until they fully understand the challenges you face, so make sure you’re clear about your pain points, vision, and challenges.
Remember, having the right consultant can create tremendous value. But if you get it wrong, it can also destroy value.
Once you’ve chosen a consultant, there are certain expectations on both sides that you should know to ensure consultancy success.
One thing that you can expect from a responsible consultant is availability and responsiveness.
Make sure all the credentials are verified and that the necessary HR paperwork and background checks are properly performed. Once everyone is on the same page, formal documentation should be signed and delivered to the involved parties.
During onboarding, make sure you maintain open dialogue to make the process smooth and fuss-free.
Everyone involved in the project or task should be clear about what is expected from them and why they’ve been hired.
You can give the consultant your company‘s mission and vision statements, along with other key documents to help them see the bigger picture.
Don’t be afraid to give the consultant measurable goals. You can work with them to set SMART goals that not only clarify all your expectations but also set parameters to measure the overall progress and performance.
It’s almost impossible for a consultant to create any strategy for your company without having an in-depth understanding of your business objectives.
Hence, you have to be prepared to answer a lot of questions from your consultant. In fact, make sure that the consultant does clear their doubts as otherwise, the campaigns will likely fail. This includes:
Once the consultant understands your current situation, they‘ll work out a game plan to tell you your final destination and think of ways to help you get there.
At this stage, the consultant will present their tailor-made ideas and strategies to suit your business needs in front of you and your employees.
This, of course, will depend on the project and the consultancy provided by them. For instance, a digital strategy consultant should cover various aspects related to advertising, such as media, public relations, digital marketing, and print advertising.
You can also propose reviews by looking at the presentation and examples from the previous clientele of the consultant.
Here’s what you can do:
Once you give the final go-ahead to the plan, the consultant will then launch the business campaign or start implementation.
After execution, the consultant should collect and analyze data to give you insights about the campaigns. You can allow suggestions made by them to enhance campaign effectiveness or adjust budgets accordingly.
You may not see immediate results, but you can still use the gained insights for crafting better campaigns.
Measuring the ROI of a consultant can be a challenging prospect. More so, because they help in several areas – many of which are measured in long-term growth.
In fact, according to the Predictive Index Consultant Report, nearly 27% of companies don’t want to hire consultants because measuring ROI is too difficult.
The first thing that you should do is approach the consultant-owner relationship with an actionable viewpoint by doing the following:
Additionally, you can use certain metrics, such as:
Make sure that you select the right KPIs that allow you to analyze your business campaigns effectively. Otherwise, you won’t be able to measure the success of the consultant’s strategy.
For measuring intangible benefits, gauge the difference in your team’s confidence before and after hiring the consultant. You can also carry out an internal survey or reference feedback.
We’ve already established that you need to define the problem you’re facing before hiring outside experts.
Once you’ve done that, you can get on the task of finding the right consultant for your business.
Usually, the best way to find good consultants is to use word of mouth. Talk to your past clients and ask them for references. Ask them about the problems the consultant helped solve, objectives they helped achieve, and whether they would hire them again.
The other way is to post project details on platforms like Reddit, Guru, Upwork, Freelancer.com. You can also select a freelancer profile from these marketplaces.
Another excellent way is to scan the respective consultant on LinkedIn profiles and blog posts. You can learn a lot about their personality, work ethics, and value that you may not identify while interviewing them. Twitter is also another platform to consider.
However, if you want to work with seasoned consultants – something that we highly recommend – you can do a basic Google search. Visit the websites of these companies and fill in their inquiry forms to schedule a discovery call.
Make sure you pay a lot of attention to the consultant’s personality and consulting style. It’s necessary for them to fit in with your corporate culture and gel with your team – just as any new employee should.
Do they listen to you properly? Do they have high emotional intelligence? All these are important questions you should consider before hiring.
Make sure that you do your homework on the prospect, whether a person or firm, to determine their suitability to solve your exact situation.
The worst thing you can do is force a square peg into a circular hole, which will only lead to time, energy, and money wastage. In other words, you’ll end up in the same place you started.
A good consultant will always ask the budget before chalking up campaign frameworks or strategies.
Some consultants work with clients having a monthly budget of $400 for ads, while some only go for businesses with budgets greater than $3000 per month.
So you have to decide the kind of money you are ready to spend and then find candidates who have previously worked with similar budgets.
As for pricing, every consultant charges their own fee depending on their expertise, experience, and goodwill. Typically, there are three pricing models:
Hence, you can either offer them a “set rate,“ provide an upfront retainer fee for the work the consultant will do over a specific period, or finalize an hourly rate.
Also, don’t be afraid to negotiate – even consultants expect it.
A consultant often specializes in specific fields where clients need in-depth expertise. This makes them better equipped to solve particular situations by using expert tools and a greater target audience understanding to avert any crisis.
Consultants generally fall into five categories. These are:
These consultants have a market-specific understanding and know the best practices of your industry niche. As a result, they can offer the following:
These consultants work specifically on employee needs.
Whether it’s recruiting top talent, determining compensation to align with company goals, or improving employee retention, an HR consultant can streamline everything using their leadership and communication skills.
IT is one area that is experiencing tremendous consulting growth.
With the rapidly increasing relevance of technology and tech support, companies have started hiring consultants to facilitate better integration and improve their computer or phone systems, upgrade servers, and ensure efficient storage space.
These consultants are also known as ICT or digital consultants that help clients with the development and application of information technology within their organization.
These are individuals or agencies that can help clients improve operations efficiency and performance.
Activities in this segment vary from advisory services to hands-on implementation support for primary functions (sales, production, marketing, etc.) and secondary functions (finance, supply chain, HR, legal, etc.). They can help to improve quality, minimize steps or mistakes, increase margins, and decrease costs.
As one would expect, sales and marketing consultants primarily focus on the marketing and advertising aspects of organizations. They perform the following tasks:
These are consultants who operate in the financial advisory segment. Their main job revolves around working on questions that address financial capabilities as well as analytical capabilities within an organization.
Furthermore, every consultant can have varied profiles, ranging from M&A to risk management to real estate consultancy to tax.
Agency and consultancy: Two words, but they are worlds apart in approach.
The main differences between these two terms ultimately boil down to the following:
Agencies – whether big or small – are almost always larger than consulting firms. As a result, they have a wider range of creative talent, team members, and skillsets. You are also assured of more resources with them.
Despite the smaller size of consultancies, there is a built-in rhythm that makes them more agile when adapting to rapidly changing business landscapes. They often have specialists in specific fields that can solve pain points – provided it fits their suite of knowledge.
Also, agencies commonly implement more activities, such as advertising, digital or media plan, web designing, and so on. On the other hand, consultancies are more focused at the strategic level, which involves building brands for long-term health and commoditizing strategy execution.
Any reasonable professional will always consider the overall cost to make sure it fits their budget.
This is precisely why you should decide between an agency and consultancy after determining your business size, budget, as well as the breadth of your mandate.
For instance, if you run a small operation that requires a quick turnaround time, heading consultancies will be right up your alley. But if you have more wiggle room, resources, and time, you can opt for an agency.
We would highly recommend getting roadmaps with key deliverable dates and timelines from respective partners after you finish aligning your budget and timelines. This will help you understand the overall projected costs more effectively.
If you choose to work with creative agencies, you get the option to choose your partner based off on your vision and past campaigns. They give you hundreds of options to choose from after taking your idea to make things easier for you.
Also, since creative processes go through several rounds of conceptualizations, the turnaround time is a bit longer, but you are assured of high-quality campaigns.
Consulting firms allow clients more latitude to push their vision and opt for a more hands-on experience of collecting data and designing campaigns.
Since consultants usually try to immerse themselves wholly in their client’s team, the turnaround time is typically faster as well. That said, the size of a consultancy can increase time, in case they have a huge reserve of past work.
Agencies are popular for creating some of the most engaging, inspiring, and emotional (you can insert more positive adjectives here) brand campaigns.
While the process is definitely a little longer than working with the consultant, they do specialize in distinct areas that facilitate better strategy execution.
Consultants, on the contrary, dig deeper to solve your problems. You‘re assured of more direct and quicker solutions thanks to their hands-on approach.
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
Running an agile team effectively is nearly impossible without the right software.
But agile project management tools can make your life much easier. It’s the best way to collaborate with your team, manage changing tasks, and keep track of various projects at scale.
In addition to the managerial perks of agile project management software, your entire team will benefit as well. These tools will make it easier for everyone to work efficiently, communicate, and meet deadlines.
Recognizing you need to invest in agile project management software is only half of the battle. Finding the right software for your business and team is a different story entirely—which is why I created this guide.
After extensive research and testing, I narrowed down the top five agile project management tools available on the market today.
There are certain factors that must be evaluated as you’re shopping around and assessing different tools. By following the buying guide I’ve outlined below, you’ll know exactly what to look for and what’s important in an agile project management solution.
The very first thing you need to consider is the agile framework you plan to use. For those of you who are already familiar with the concepts of agile management, you probably have a preferred methodology.
Do you want to use Scrum or Kanban? Lean? Crystal? Are you using agile framework variations such as Scrumban?
Depending on the answer, you’ll be able to find an agile tool that specializes in your preferred framework. It’s worth noting that not every agile project management software supports all agile management frameworks. So make sure the options you’re considering offer the methodology you need to implement.
Team collaboration is a crucial component of agile management. You want to make sure the software you’re considering comes out-of-the-box with collaboration tools.
Most solutions should come standard with features like team tagging, comments, file sharing, and other basic tools. Some software will have more advanced features, depending on your project type, industry, and team needs.
Just because an agile project management tool offers collaboration features, don’t assume that the tool will be robust enough for your specific team.
There are solutions on the market made for small teams with a handful of users. Those won’t be ideal for businesses that have multiple teams, hundreds of users, and multiple projects across several departments.
It should be relatively easy to determine if the tool in question is built to scale. If not, you can always express those concerns with the sales team during a free trial or demo.
The complexity of your projects will also play a significant factor in choosing the best software for your team.
For example, software development teams and internal IT departments typically have more advanced needs since these projects have a higher level of complexity. In these cases, you should avoid beginner tools and look for industry-specific solutions tailored toward your project needs.
On the flip side, managers and teams who are just starting out with agile project management should be seeking basic solutions to manage simple projects.
The best agile project management software will provide you with detailed reports and advanced analytics about your projects.
You can use these dashboards as a way to learn more about your team’s productivity, find out if the project will be completed on time, and if you’re staying on budget. As a project manager, this information is crucial to the big-picture operation of your business.
The usability of an agile management tool is often overlooked during the evaluation process. But it’s definitely something that needs to be taken into consideration.
What is your technical experience? How tech-savvy is your team?
If you choose a rigid solution that’s tough to use, it can do more harm than good. So you need to find a balance between a tool that’s robust enough to handle your project complexity while still easy for your team to navigate. This is another reason why you should always take advantage of free trials and demos as you’re narrowing down different options.
Not every agile project management tool is the same. Before we dive into the reviews and recommendations, I want to quickly explain the different options.
The easiest way to segment these tools is based on the agile frameworks that they offer. It’s also worth noting that some solutions will fall into more than one of these categories below.
Scrum is one of the most popular agile frameworks because it can be used for such a wide range of projects. Over the years, Scrum has gained popularity because of its simplicity, easy implementation process, and proven productivity boost.
With Scrum, the project manager will work closely with the team in terms of identifying and prioritizing functionality in the backlog. This backlog will contain whatever tasks must be accomplished to deliver the final product.
Kanban is the most popular visual workflow management methodology. Kanban boards make it easier for agile teams to manage various tasks in the project life cycle.
Similar to Scrum, Kanban is built to help teams collaborate with high efficiency.
The basic principles of Kanban include visual workflow automation, limited WIP (work in progress), and enhanced workflows. This process helps promote continuous collaboration and ongoing learning for agile teams.
It’s common for software development teams to leverage the lean agile methodology. This iterative framework is highly flexible and doesn’t have rigid rules or guidelines.
The main principles of lean management include team empowerment, enhanced learning, eliminating waste, delivering tasks as soon as possible, making decisions as late as possible, and seeing the big picture.
Individuals and small teams will have more decision-making authority, as opposed to a hierarchical flow. Lean management also helps ensure that the entire team is productive for the longest amount of time.
The Crystal agile methodology is another popular software development framework. It’s lightweight and typically comprised of a family of agile processes. These include Crystal Orange, Crystal Clear, Crystal Yellow, and others.
Each individual framework has its own unique rules and characteristics based on factors like project priority, team size, and more.
Crystal puts emphasis on the interaction between the processes and people involved in a project. Some of the key principles of Crystal include simplicity, teamwork, collaboration, and the ability to improve processes. It promotes high user engagement while removing distractions and bureaucracies.
There are lots of other agile frameworks out there. When you consider the variations and combinations of some, this number is in the dozens.
Other popular types include LeSS (large scale Scrum), SAFe (scaled agile framework), feature driven development (FDD), extreme programming (XP), dynamic systems development method (DSDM), Scrumban, adaptive software development (ASD), agile-agile hybrid, and FAST agile. The list goes on and on.
Forecast is an all-in-one project management and resource management solution. It’s built for project-driven companies that want to empower teams, automate operations, and unite all projects into a single tool.
With Forecast, you can automate tasks for project planning, resource allocation, and more. The software is powered by AI technology to help simplify monotonous tasks.
Here are some of the top reasons and why Forecast ranks so high on my list:
Overall, Forecast has everything agile teams need to improve communication. Create and assign task cards, file sharing, dependencies, subtasks, comments, and priority lists are just a handful of examples.
It’s a popular choice for agencies, consultants, and software teams. Forecast also has solutions for project accounting and business intelligence. The software seamlessly integrates with other popular tools that your team is using.
Forecast’s AI will learn from your previous projects and suggest the number of hours that should be allocated to similar tasks.
Plans start at $29 per seat per month (with a minimum of 10 seats). Try it free for 14 days; no credit card required.
Monday.com has quickly become one of the most popular agile project management tools on the market today. It’s trusted by 100,000+ organizations worldwide, including some big names like Coca-Cola, Adobe, Hulu, and the Discovery Channel.
This is a great choice if you’re new to agile management and need a solution for basic projects.
It’s one of the easiest ways to plan, track, and deliver team projects from a single workspace. Here are some of the other reasons why I like Monday so much:
Monday.com makes it easy for teams to collaborate. You’ll benefit from features like file sharing, task assignments, task priorities, visual boards, and other ways to see what everyone is doing at a glance.
It’s a popular choice for remote work, marketing, creative teams, HR, sales, and more. While Monday does have tools for software development, IT, and construction projects, it’s definitely better for simple projects.
Plans start at just $8 per seat per month (with a minimum of three seats). You can try Monday.com free for 14 days with an unlimited number of users; no credit card required.
Mavenlink is another all-in-one solution for project management and resource management. It’s a modern way for teams to collaborate from anywhere, which is perfect for remote work.
In addition to improving your team’s productivity on the operational end, Mavenlink provides deep insights into the financial performance of your projects and business as well.
Some of the top features, benefits, and noteworthy highlights of Mavenlink include:
Mavenlink is great for larger teams that need to manage projects across multiple departments. This works fine if you’re just using it for a handful of projects. But it works just as well if you have a project portfolio of 500+.
For small teams and enterprises alike, Mavenlink has a plan for everyone. Rates aren’t available online, so you’ll need to contact their sales team for more information.
Try Mavenlink free for ten days.
Jira by Atlassian is a bit unique compared to some of the other tools on our list. This agile project management software is built specifically for software development projects.
With Jira, software teams of all sizes can plan, track, and release exceptional products.
Let’s take a closer look at Jira’s top highlights for agile management:
Jira is arguably the safest project management tool on the market today in terms of data encryption and compliance. It integrates with 3,000+ apps in the Atlassian marketplace as well.
Software teams, look no further—Jira is the best option agile project management tool for you.
The tool is free for up to ten users. Paid plans start at just $7 per user per month. Try it free for seven days.
VivifyScrum is a versatile agile management solution. It’s trusted by small teams and large organizations alike.
Regardless of your team size and project complexity, this tool can help manage everything from a single platform.
Here are some of the top reasons why you should consider VivifyScrum:
The software comes with mobile apps, API access, file storage, unlimited integrations, unlimited active sprints, and so much more.
VivifyScrum starts at $10 per month for small teams. Contact the sales team for more information on Enterprise pricing. Regardless of your team size and project management needs, you can try VivifyScrum free for 14 days.
The only way to effectively manage an agile team is with the right project management tool. Which agile project management software is the best?
It depends on what you’re looking for. Factors like project type, team size, and other considerations must be evaluated for you to make an informed decision.
Follow my methodology and recommendations described in this guide to find the best agile project management tools for your unique situation.
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
Merchant services exist to help businesses process credit card payments. You might know them by the name “credit card processors.”
Regardless of what you call them, choosing the best merchant service isn’t easy. The “best” one is the one that is right for your specific business, and each of the following services offers particular features that may work for one company, but not for yours.
That’s why, in this guide, I’m catering to each type of business and finding the right merchant service for your needs.
Before we get into the best merchant services, we need to understand the criteria used to make these decisions. Keep all of the following factors in mind as you read through the reviews.
It’s all about the money, and credit card processing is not as simple as you think. You have to weigh the pros and cons with each gateway; otherwise, you can end up paying way more than you planned.
We need to look at the processing rates first. To get a lower processing rate, you usually have to pay a higher monthly fee. If you’re processing payments at high volume, it’s worth it for you to pay the higher fee because your volume will make up for it.
On the other side, if you’re not processing a lot of payments, having a higher transaction fee won’t hurt you as much as a high monthly fee would.
Flat-rate processing is a simple solution for small businesses, but interchange pricing is generally more affordable.
You want to look at what the payment processor offers in addition to credit card processing. Do they offer free POS systems, hardware, mobile payments, integrations, etc? Some merchant services even offer consulting, customer loyalty features, and invoicing tools.
Sometimes the “extra benefits” you get from a merchant service provider can outweigh some of the negatives.
There are two primary types of accounts, one is an aggregator (or middleman), and one is an ISO (or independent sales organization). Let’s compare the two and see why it’s important to understand the difference.
These are middlemen working in between the business and the bank, offering an easy payment processing solution for businesses. Square is an example of this, and while they make it easier, they usually have higher fees and transaction costs.
Payment Depot is an example of an ISO, and while they usually have a more strict acceptance policy, they offer lower rates and user-friendly software compared to a direct processor.
One of the most important factors to consider is, “how will this integrate with my current systems”?
Your payment processor should never get in the way or cause your conversion rates to decrease; it should complement your current process or even enhance it. Make sure you choose something that will easily integrate into your business without requiring too many changes or adjustments.
After much research and careful consideration, these are my top six merchant services for both in-person and online sales.
Square is popular for its credit card processing and POS systems, but it offers much more. It hosts features such as the “Card on File” feature, allowing users to store customer card information that works great for repeat customers trying to accumulate loyalty points and rewards of that nature.
The processor also doesn’t have a monthly fee, and while Square’s features might not be as advanced as some of the other payment processors we’re talking about, for a POS without a monthly fee, you can’t beat the value.
The one thing that stands out most to me is the transaction costs and how they vary whether you’re doing business in person or online.
For in-person sales, expect to pay 2.6% and $0.10 per transaction. For online transactions, it’ll cost you 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction. There are other instances, such as:
These will cost 3.5% and $0.15 per transaction.
Based on these numbers, Square is not the most affordable flat-rate processor, but the transparency makes it easier for you to understand what the rates are and how they’ll impact your processing based on volume and price.
Flagship Merchant Services cut the tape in 2001 and was acquired by iPayment in 2012. Now, they primarily resell iPayment, so keep that in mind.
This company was one of the first to offer free account setup without any application or fees and real month-to-month contracts. They operate tens of thousands of merchants, and they have a strong reputation.
Since they’re not a direct processor, most of their merchant accounts are set up through iPayment. iPayment uses First Data as their processor, and it can get confusing trying to figure out who is processing what through what service.
For retailers, Flagship does offer a free credit card terminal, but you’re responsible for paying account fees and insurance on that terminal to keep it up and running.
For ecommerce, they offer either Authorize.net for processing and integration of an online cart onto your site.
One thing that was a little frustrating about Flagship is trying to find information on their rates. If you go to their website, you’ll see that you need to fill out a form to get any info about what they charge.
I’d like to see more transparency, but you may end up with a more catered package deal with this strategy.
My favorite feature is that you get a single line of contact with the company when you purchase a gateway; they act as account managers. If you ever have a problem, you contact that specific person, and this isn’t a feature I’ve ever seen with any other merchant service.
If you’re a small business owner, Helcim might appeal to you. With this service, you’re able to process credit and debit cards online and in person. You can also do some of the following:
With a Helcim card reader, you can accept all major cards, including Amex plus Google Pay, Apple Pay, and JCB.
Helcim charges $20 per month with transaction fees based on volume. They don’t have any contracts or cancellation fees, and they’ll wave your monthly fee if you don’t process any payments.
Overall, Helcim is affordable but much more for in-person payments than they are online. Here’s a quick breakdown of their pricing structure:
Helcim offers nice features for those of you looking to integrate this payment gateway into your online store. You can add a checkout to your site for invoicing and customer registration while also accepting recurring subscriptions.
Payment Depot uses a membership pricing model, making it simpler to understand but can sometimes result in you paying higher fees. Thankfully, Payment Depot’s rates are pretty competitive, and they include interchange-plus pricing for both online, in-person, and mobile payments.
This strategy actually makes Payment Depot one of the most affordable payment processors for established businesses that are doing a certain amount of volume.
Payment Depot accepts all major cards and contactless Apple Pay and Google Pay as well. You get next-day funding and integration with POS systems as well as ecommerce platforms such as:
I don’t think this is one of the best merchant services for small businesses because of how they structure their pricing. The transaction fees go down as you pay a higher monthly fee, and they seemingly force you to increase your plan because of strict processing limits.
Here’s a breakdown of their pricing:
So, as you can see – if you’re doing high volume, it would make the most sense to upgrade to the most expensive plan for the lowest transaction fees.
Fattmerchant is set up a lot like many of the payment processors. As you increase your monthly fee, your transaction fees go down. They offer Omni, which is where you’ll do your invoicing, payments, and reporting. The service is incredibly user-friendly, great for beginners, and it comes included with your monthly fee.
While Fattmerchant is a great choice for budget-conscious business owners, it’s also a great option for subscription-based businesses. If you’re selling monthly coaching packages, agency services, or counseling, you’ll benefit from Fattmerchant’s structure.
The processor accepts all major cards, including ACH, invoicing, Text2Pay, and more. Same day funding is available, and you get a free iOS and Android POS app and Bluetooth card readers that you can use on the go.
They have two pricing plans:
Fattmerchant has a higher monthly fee than some others, but the company says that is how they keep their transaction fees down.
If your business runs entirely online, Stripe is your best choice. It’s made specifically for ecommerce and internet business, and tons of startups and Fortune 500 companies trust Stripe.
The company offers sophisticated software and APIs that allow online store owners to customize their checkout experience. You can use the pre-built integrations to connect a Stripe checkout right away and then customize it as you go along.
That’s one of the main reasons why I love Stripe; it’s a payment processor that grows with you and allows you to change it as your business needs change.
With all of these features and moving parts comes complications. It’s not the easiest to set up, and if you plan on utilizing the many benefits of Stripe, you’ll likely need a developer to handle it for you.
Stripe offers a “pay as you go” strategy without monthly fees and transparent transaction fees across the board.
You can use all major credit and debit cards plus ACH, WeChat Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and much more. Expect to wait two business days for deposits or pay a one percent fee to get instant deposits.
Stripe integrates with WordPress, Magento, Squarespace, 3DCart, Zoho, Big Cartel, and more.
So, by this point, you should know which of these merchant services is right for you. They all have their pros and cons, and you should choose according to the type of business you own.
Square is an overall solid solution for all businesses, but the transaction fees are a bit high, and scalability is lacking.
I’m also a big fan of Helcim because they allow you to grow with your processor by increasing the monthly payment as your volume needs increase.
Regardless of which choice you make, keep the important factors in mind and choose carefully, so you don’t regret your decision down the road.
Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.
Think back to the last time you saw one of those giant, clunky fax machines sitting around.
It’s probably been a while, right? While that old-school hardware is undoubtedly outdated, faxing isn’t dead by any means.
It’s actually very much alive. But thankfully, we have better technology.
The best online fax services make sending secure communications via fax a breeze for individuals and businesses of all sizes with no ugly, expensive, or finicky hardware required.
However, there are dozens of providers to choose from, which is why making the right choice is often more challenging than actually using the service. So to help make your decision easier, I narrowed it down to my top six recommendations—and reviewed them.
There are dozens of online fax service providers to choose from. This makes it challenging to know which one’s perfect for your business, especially if you’re not quite sure what to look for.
All of the options on this list are excellent. However, they may not work for everyone.
So, don’t forget to use the following factors as you go through the decision-making process to help you narrow things down and find the perfect fit.
As a business, you probably need multiple user accounts. Different services have different pricing plans, so it’s essential to consider the number of accounts you need.
Some options may limit the number of users with no way around it. Others may offer extra user accounts with an additional monthly fee. So, this plays a massive role in how much you can expect to pay every month.
With that said, most smaller businesses won’t have problems with account limitations.
But large corporations with multiple departments who need faxing capabilities may run into problems with low-limit plans.
Most businesses rely on cloud storage tools. Whether you depend on Microsoft 365 or Google’s G Suite, your employees probably use these tools daily to create and archive documents.
So, it’s important to consider these integrations if you and your team need to store documents you send or receive via online fax.
This can help streamline your document management processes.
Most providers charge an extra fee if you go over the number of pages your plan includes. So, you need to consider your business’s needs when it comes to monthly fax volume.
A lot of providers place low limits on this to encourage you to upgrade to a better plan.
So it’s critical to choose a plan that offers enough pages per month along with a fair page overage fee (just in case). However, online fax services with unlimited plans are a better option for businesses that expect to send and receive high volumes every month.
If you’re using an online fax service to send and automatically digitize documents, it should come with document archiving as well. This can significantly streamline and automate your document management processes.
Some online fax services provide online databases so users can easily store faxed documents. However, some don’t, and others don’t provide archiving features at all. Without this, you have to print, scan, and store everything by hand.
Which… can be an incredibly time-consuming process.
So, pay close attention to this as you decide, especially if it’s something you need now or may need in the future.
There are lots of different all-purpose online fax services out there. However, sometimes particular providers are more suited to specific industries.
Healthcare is an excellent example of this because you’re dealing with sensitive information and legal regulations regarding how you handle it. So, you need a service that’s secure and compliant with those requirements.
However, healthcare isn’t the only industry like this. As such, it’s critical to consider your industry’s requirements and regulations before making your final decision.
Not all online fax services are the same.
So, before we dive into the reviews, let’s talk about the different types of online fax services so you know exactly what to look for as you go through the process.
The most common online fax services are cloud or browser-based. All you have to do to get started is create an account, and you’re ready to go.
Web-based fax services are known for high-quality faxes as well as ease of use.
And they often offer a wide range of cloud-based integrations with platforms like G Suite and Dropbox, making life easier if you want to archive your communications on the cloud.
Mobile fax services allow users to fax directly from their smartphones. Essentially, mobile faxing is as convenient and as easy as snapping a photo.
Plus, you don’t have to wait until you’re at your computer or rely on team members sitting in front of a desktop to send and receive communications.
Some providers may also support desktop or web-based use, while others are exclusively mobile.
So, keep this in mind as you decide which provider is best for you and your team.
mFax is one of the most flexible and adaptable online fax services for businesses with numerous team members. Their flexible monthly plans allow up to 50 individuals to use the service.
Operating as cloud software, there’s no need to install or download any programs. And you can easily access the mFax interface from any web browser on any device.
With an easy-to-use interface and intuitive setup, it’s an excellent option for those looking to get started with their first online fax service.
mFax comes with various features and benefits, including:
mFax also has a beta version of international outbound fax for 24 countries. So, you’re not limited to one particular country.
Plans start at $7 per month for one user, making it super affordable for businesses of all sizes. Plus, you can try mFax for free or sign up for a product demo to learn more about it.
RingCentral Fax is another popular online fax service. With a solid feature list, flexible user numbers, and robust security suite, it’s my #1 all-in-one online fax service recommendation.
Their unique fax scheduling feature makes it easy to send faxes for future delivery. This is particularly useful if you need to send international faxes to users in other timezones or have employees who don’t work standard operating hours.
On top of that, you also get access to a ton of powerful features and benefits, including:
RingCentral Fax is a great all-around option for small and large businesses who won’t mind the slightly limited online fax storage (you can always store them elsewhere).
Plans start at $17.99 a month, and there’s an unlimited plan for just $24.99 a month.
HelloFax is the best online fax service for integrated cloud storage.
The service seamlessly syncs with G Suite, OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box. Users can also access their faxes directly on the HelloFax’s service from any web browser on any device.
Plus, it’s super easy to use. Faxes arrive directly to inboxes as a PDF where they are easily viewable, downloadable, and shareable.
There’s also unlimited storage for businesses that prefer not to use other cloud storage providers for their faxes.
With HelloFax, you can:
Despite having cloud integration with multiple platforms, HelloFax still offers unlimited storage, which is excellent for businesses planning on sending or receiving high-volume communications.
There’s a free plan for up to 5 faxes per month, so you can try it free before you invest. However, most businesses need more than that, and you’ll need to upgrade once you reach that limit.
But their paid plans are affordable, starting at $9.99 per month.
SRFax is a great option for businesses that have high-security concerns. Transferring information over the internet always comes with the risk of interception.
And for specific industries like healthcare, security is even more paramount.
Healthcare providers rely on faxing to transfer sensitive patient data. So, the fax services they use must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
SRFax provides multiple layers of data encryption while maintaining a user-friendly interface, making it an excellent choice for high-security industries.
In addition to HIPAA compliant fax services, SRFax has multiple tiers and plans suited to all security levels and sizes of businesses.
They also offer a variety of features and benefits to make your life easier, including:
For any company that prioritizes high-level security, SRFax is an excellent choice.
Pricing is affordable, with monthly plans starting at $3.29 per month. Or you can sign up for a non-healthcare specific 60-day trial to test it out before you commit.
FaxBurner stands out from other online fax services for its well-designed, user-friendly IOS and Android apps. With FaxBurner, sending faxes is as easy as taking a picture, and you can receive them straight into your inbox.
Set up is quick and easy. Plus, the platform gives users a temporary fax number that expires after 24 hours without upgrading to a paid plan.
On top of that, you also get various features and benefits, including:
For users who need the convenience and flexibility of a mobile-first fax application, FaxBurner is my number top recommendation.
Free packages provide up to 25 inbound faxes and five outbound faxes a month. And their paid plans start at just $12.95 a month, making it incredibly affordable for most users.
If your business is just looking to send the occasional fax, Biscom 123 is an incredibly affordable option. As a leading telecommunications enterprise, Biscom makes online faxing simple for both businesses and individuals with a straightforward interface.
You can also try it free for 30 days to see if it’s a good fit for your business, with no credit card required. However, it doesn’t maintain archival records of your communications. So, keep that in mind.
Depending on your faxing needs, Biscom 123 offers various plans that allow you to send up to 300 pages with support for multiple team members.
Plus, you can also:
Pricing starts at $7.99 per month. This entry-level plan includes 30 pages per month with a charge of 7 cents per additional page. So, it certainly won’t break the bank.
However, that doesn’t mean they’re suitable for everyone in every situation.
So, don’t forget to consider the factors we talked about and take advantage of free trials as you go through the process of picking the best online fax services for you and your team.
What company do you use to send online faxes?