Cashflow is the very lifeblood of your business, if it runs low a business will struggle to continue. If it runs out it will cause a corporate “heart attack” and kill even a profitable business stone dead.

So what can you do to minimise the impact on your business when you are faced with a short term cashflow problem?

When late payment goes beyond the limits of amicable pursuit, and it becomes apparent that the funds will never be willingly forthcoming, the remaining option is to go to court, in order to force the debtor to pay.

Depending on how much you are owed, you may be able to do this in small claims court, or you might have to launch more formal legal proceedings, which are likely to prove more expensive.

The so-called 'Late Payment Directive', officially named Directive 2011/7/EU on Combating Late Payment in Commercial Transactions, is due to come into effect in less than a month's time, on March 16th 2013.

With just 24 days to go until that time, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has revealed the results of its recent consultation on the Directive, along with the finalised set of regulations that will be introduced in March.

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are struggling to tackle late payments from clients who, in the worst instances, miss three or more invoices per year.

Almost half (47%) of SMEs surveyed by Barclays said that their least reliable customers fail to pay on time at least three times each year.

Web designer Frank Jonen has taken extreme action against his late-paying client, San Francisco-based gym chain Fitness SF.

Mr Jonen's web design firm has been working on the new Fitness SF website and brand identity for over six months; but he ultimately took the decision to replace their homepage with a simple text statement.

The Institute of Credit Management (ICM) and business minister Michael Fallon have warned that it is "crazy" to fail to credit check new and existing customers.

Each month, the ICM publishes a new top tip to help safeguard small businesses' cash flow, and at the end of January its latest advice, written in collaboration with Mr Fallon, was released.

Many small businesses are caught out when clients refuse to pay their invoices. For a small startup, a handful of unpaid invoices can make the difference between a healthy bank balance and a full-on cash flow crisis.

When your non-paying client is located outside of the UK, unpaid invoices become even more of a headache. Chasing the debt yourself might be expensive, impractical and fruitless. If you’ve researched debt collection online, you’ll probably have noticed that there’s plenty of self-help when your client is in the UK - but if they’re overseas, there’s very little official advice on what you should do.

“A sale is not a sale until the money is in the bank”

A simple sentiment, but one that can often be lost in the thrill of securing that next big sale.  But when the agreed upon payment day passes and you have no sign of the promised payment, what is the best way to go about securing the funds?

If you extend credit to your customers you are effectively providing finance to them for the credit period.

If your business does not have the cashflow to support the credit it has extended you could be just one bad debt away from insolvency.

The Daily and Sunday Telegraph have launched a series of articles reporting on late payments - and on the battle lines being drawn by those affected by and involved in settling overdue invoices.

In a Daily Telegraph report, for instance, Steve Sutherland - owner of architectural glazing specialist Dortech - is described as "putting his tin hat on" amid fears of a backlash from customers after he called time on a 13-year relationship with construction brand Balfour Beatty.

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