Few things are more thrilling than making the decision to open your own small business. Be it cupcakes, haircuts, clothes, or childcare, starting a physical business where you get your product or service to customers, local and worldwide, is the beginning of dream fulfillment for entrepreneurs of all sizes and stripes.

We are increasingly operating in a cashless world. The card now is the most important POS (point of sale) transaction choice. When you’re a new small-business owner, the cost of a POS system can be quite daunting. But, a POS system is absolutely necessary to not only complete transactions and make income, but track costs and inventory, and offer other key reports as well.  But if you’ve just leased a couple thousand square feet in your local downtown and invested all your savings into product, how can you afford it?

The Small Business Association says that mobile payment platforms that turn your iPad or cellular phone into your cash register and approval system may be the way to go. At literally pennies on the dollar compared to full, traditional POS systems (which can be as much as $50,000), a cloud-based system allows you to transact and track like the big retailers. They have the added feature of being portable too. If you’re an artisan traveling from festival to festival, or a specialized retailer traveling the country for conventions, the mobile POS system is practically designed for you.

If you haven’t seen a mobile POS system in action, it’s a wonderful experience to do so. For example, you go to the hairdresser and instead of completing your sale at the front of the shop, she just whips out her cell phone, attaches the POS scanner, and swipes your card, all while you’re still in the chair. The cloud-based system allows you to add a tip and sign with your fingertip. She can even text or email you your receipt.

To use a cloud-based system, there is a monthly subscription fee, but it is substantially less than purchasing a full POS system ($75 per month and under $700 to buy the scanner). For under a thousand dollars, your new business can begin to transact, approve, and track your inventory and services.