Unpaid invoices are one of the biggest problems small business face and can cause a huge amount of stress and anxiety. Nearly 1 in 7 small business owners have been left unable to pay employees because of cash flow issues. This equates to a huge 2.2 million people in the UK not being paid on time. Plus, 38% of small business owners who have suffered cash flow problems have been left unable to pay debts. We often see the effect that cashflow and especially late payments has on our clients, so here are OBP’s top management strategies for dealing with cashflow.
- Get disciplined with your invoicing and raise invoices immediately! Customers won’t pay if they haven’t been invoiced.
- Consider asking for deposits and/or milestone payments if you are working on long projects as this will ensure that you are paid throughout the process.
- Sell unused/redundant stock or equipment at a discount price even if it’s sold at a loss. This way you can free up capital and space that could be used for some other purpose.
- Make it easier for customers to pay you by setting them up on an automated payment service, for example a direct debit facility like GoCardless or get them set up on a standing order. This will help you get paid promptly and will also allow you to predict more accurately when you will receive money into the business. The automation of payments also saves a huge amount of time in chasing customers for payments. You can also offer various ways of paying such as PayPal, apple pay, bacs etc so the customer has options.
- Offer incentives for early payment i.e. early payment discounts and/or penalise for late payments. There are fixed prices and interest rates that you can charge for late payments.
- Chase bad debts quickly because the sooner customers realise that you will be chasing up missed payments, you will be a priority on their list of people to pay. If you are having problems with this ask advice from your accountant on whether software would be able to help with this process.
- Have a look at the information provided by The Office of the Small Business Commissioner (SBC) which provides advice and support on ensuring that small businesses get support in resolving their payment disputes with larger businesses and ensures that fair payment practices are adopted.
It is important to remember that all types of businesses struggle with managing cashflow at some point. However, there are ways of dealing with difculties in cashflow by being pro-active. Along with the strategies discussed above we also recommend speaking to a good accountant.