Where do small businesses turn for help when they suffer due to late payment? Under new government plans, there could soon be a Small Business Conciliation Service tasked with tackling that precise problem.
That's not its official name as yet - and in fact, you could be forgiven for thinking you already know of a 'conciliation service' for small business disputes, in the form of mediation.
Risk is an unavoidable part of business, particularly if you provide credit to your clients - even in the sense of invoicing for work done only once it has been delivered, let alone more complex credit arrangements that involve the lending of money.
The new year is always a good time to take a fresh look at things; for many companies it is the start of a new financial year too, while those whose accounting is aligned with the tax year have the first quarter of the new calendar year to put processes in place.
A fundamental characteristic of late payment legislation so far has been its voluntary nature - nobody forces big businesses to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code, and nobody forces SMEs to charge penalty fees on late payments.
Now one organisation is calling for this to change, with a policy paper that suggests making several aspects of late payment legislation unavoidable for creditors and debtors alike.
It doesn't matter how much you like a bucket; if it won't hold water anymore, it's time to get a new bucket, and that is just what the government needs.
They are now embarking on yet another review of the Prompt Payment Code to try and make it actually work, and their plan to do this is to take advice from organisations like the City of London Corporation, Aviva and Barclays.
Premier Foods - owners of the Mr Kipling brand, along with several other household names - have encountered their fair share of negative press recently, since it emerged that they were demanding that suppliers should invest in the company in order to continue receiving orders.
Yep, that's right - suppliers to Premier Foods, many of them fairly small foodservice businesses, were apparently told that if they wanted to keep receiving future orders, they had to put their own money into Premier in the form of investment finance.
For small businesses, the internet has proved to be a great levelling ground, making winning custom less about size and brand power, and more about simply topping the search results.
But as more people prefer to pay remotely for goods and services, are small businesses at risk of losing custom - or worse, going unpaid for work done - due to their lack of good electronic payments technology?
Lord Sugar, the artist formerly known as Sir Alan, has made his feelings on late payments very clear - and, like us, he's less than impressed with the government's efforts to tackle the problem.
In particular, during the second reading debate on the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, he criticised the lack of "practical, common-sense" solutions to the problems faced by small businesses.
This Saturday December 6th is Small Business Saturday, an annual initiative to support small businesses throughout the UK, and it's not just about visiting your local independent gift shop.
Much of the focus will be on the nation's high streets and town centres, where free parking and special offers will encourage many people to finish off their Christmas shopping at small independent retailers.
Finding a supplier for your business can be a tricky process at the best of times; so many online businesses rely heavily on customer testimonials. So what do you do if you are a new business, say a new Debt Collection business and you want to impress potential customers? Are you going to be honest about the fact the business is new and try and offer a great service or do you "fake it till you make it"?
Unfortunately for many businesses trying to find a reputable debt recovery partner the latter seems to be the preferred option, with many so called debt collectors recycling or just stealing testimonials from other sources. Now not only is this dishonest and as such contrary to the Advertising Standards Authority rules on misleading statements, it also shows a marked lack of invention and imagination. As such, we've decided to offer a helping hand to all those debt collection companies out there with fake testimonials by providing some suggested "testimonials" of our own.
A company called "The Emergency Services (Media Dept) Limited" that falsely claimed to be linked to the emergency services in an attempt to convince small businesses in to placing adverts in its publications has been wound up in the High Court following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
Telesales operators from the company would cold call small businesses across the country and claim to be "connected" to the Police or other emergency services and then try to sell advertising space in a magazine, with the funds raised allegedly going to support these services. In reality these funds were largely destined for the owners and no one else.