You’re looking to start a business – congratulations! You want to be a sole proprietor so you can run your own show, but you’re not sure exactly what it entails. There’s more to going into business for yourself than just getting business cards printed and getting a website online. If you’re looking to sell items, whether in a store or online, you’re going to need credit card processing. As a sole proprietor, you can accept credit card payments through an online website, in person or over the phone, by opening an account with a credit card processing company. Here are four steps to take if you want your business to accept credit cards:

Sign up for a merchant account

Before your business can accept credit cards, you’ll need to sign up for a merchant account. Look for companies that offer a digital application and set up time. When it’s time to go into business, you’ll want to be able to start accepting payments as soon as possible, and you’ll want the least amount of paperwork and hassle. Also, look into the monthly fees and transaction fees. Merchant services make their money with every transaction, and although the fees may be small, the costs can add up quickly. Knowing all of the costs associated with your merchant account upfront, will save you from any surprises in the future. Other features you’ll want to look for are: credit card systems for point of sale transactions, virtual terminals, a payment gateway, online shopping carts and fraud protection.

Know what types of credit card payments you’ll need to process

Next, you’ll want to write down the types of credit card payments your business will need to process. If your business primary sells through a website, you may not need to process point of sale or telephone transactions. If you only sell through your store, you may want to accept telephone transactions but not online transactions.

Do your research

Research a variety of merchant accounts and credit card processors. Compare their terms of use along with the services they offer. Make a list of all of the services you’re looking for and compare them to what each company offers. Some companies let businesses take internet payments, while others offer packages that help integrate credit card processing with business finance software, such as QuickBooks. Third-party credit card processing companies may require you to submit an application and obtain account approval before signing a contract. Additionally, some companies offer a variety of packages, so make sure you know what features each package offers and the price point for each.

Visit the bank where you have your business account

Call or visit the bank where you have your business account. Traditional banking institutions sometimes offer traditional merchant accounts and credit card processing equipment. Even if they don’t offer these services, the bank will be well versed in a variety of options and will be able to give you advice on choosing a credit card processing company. They’ll also be able to advise you on what you need and what to look for.