Recently, I sat down with Libby James, the co-founder and Managing Director of Merchant Advice Service, discover her back story, and find out more about what challenges she discovered when founding her start-up website, how she overcame them. We discuss her top tips for success and how she worked to become a thought leader within a fast-paced industry. Merchant Advice Service provides services that help businesses across a variety of industries with their merchant account and finance needs.
How did you come up with your business idea?
Libby James: My business partner and I worked together in Mortgages and Insurance, which is a heavily regulated industry. We were searching for a merchant account to accept fees from our clients. While doing so, we couldn’t believe the complexity of finding suitable card processing and how difficult it was for company owners to fairly compare providers.
From this the idea of Merchant Advice Service Ltd was born. We felt we offer customers something which is unique, as we are non-biased and free, there wasn’t and still isn’t a business like ours on the market.
Our business, which was then born with nothing other than a laptop, then expanded as we established the specific problems clients came across when accepting card transactions within high-risk industries, many experienced being served notice by their existing acquiring bank. High risk industries include, travel, furniture and jewelry companies to name but a few. To resolve these issues, we hand-picked partnering banks and brokerages providing alternative payment solutions.
Are there any entrepreneurs that you look up to, if so, who, and how have they impacted what you do?
Libby James: While working together David and I formed a love of Tim Ferris ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ which continues to influence our business strategy, and I hope it will do for years to come.
What are your tips for business owners who are new to merchant services?
Libby James: Merchant Services is a complex industry with weird and wonderful terminology which is difficult to unravel. I’ve spent years studying the industry and due to technology advancing I continue to do so.
A mistake we see regularly, is businesses who are searching for a merchant account is comparing rates alone. We work to educate company owners to compare all costs associated with card processing. We always suggest reviewing accounts regularly to ensure businesses secure cost effective card processing, and a solution which is suitable for changing business needs.
Name some books you recommend for budding entrepreneurs?
Libby James: A few –
‘The Four Hour Work Week’ I could talk about that book all day long! His others are great too.
‘No Excuses’ Brian Tracey – always a good book when facing challenges you find tricky or don’t enjoy!
‘Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod I start my day at 5am because of this book!
What are the next steps for Merchant Advice Service? What’s your dream?
Libby James: Our business and other payment businesses alike, is ever changing largely due to advances in payment technology. Contactless payments were the beginning, we continue to see growth in open banking, these have an impact on effect to the services we provide.
Our focus at Merchant Advice Service, is to remain a source of reliable and up to date industry knowledge, this is ever changing and we plan to stay ahead of the curve. We have, in recent months grown our partnership network providing our clients support in other areas of business finance, to include Merchant Cash Advance and alternative funding solutions. We will continue to do so for years to come.
As for my dream…it’s to work from a beach hut somewhere, isn’t everyone’s?