One of the single most important aspects of effective credit control in any business is ensuring that you know exactly who you are dealing with, before any credit is provided.

If you don’t know who your customer is, it is impossible to correctly identify the risk involved in providing credit and means your company is doing business “in the dark”.

The Prompt Payment Code and the Supply Chain Finance Scheme - what's going on?

The current economy is turbulent enough, without seemingly conflicting schemes being launched to help businesses with credit control and late payment.

But in recent weeks, both the Prompt Payment Code and the Supply Chain Finance Scheme have been making headlines for companies with slow-to-pay clients.

Many businesses involved in the retail and supply sectors find the run up to the festive period can be the businest and potentially most profitable time of the year.  But it can also be one of the most difficult times of year to keep a healthy cash flow as it's not only legitimate businesses that are gearing up for a bumper holiday period; fraudsters are also busily laying the foundations for a variety of Christmas cons that could leave many already struggling companies out in the cold come January.

If you're a small-business owner and you've never heard of the Supply Chain Finance Scheme, announced today, sit down and put anything breakable well out of reach, because you're going to want to smash something pretty soon.

The SCFS is one of those initiatives that you hear about, think "how the hell did they come up with that?", and then realise it was a government idea.

Late payments are a pain for all of us, clapping the irons on our cashflow, disrupting client relationships and generally causing a world of stress until they're resolved either directly or through the intervention of a debt collections specialist like Safe Collections.

But on an international scale, late payments cause even bigger headaches for economies across the EU, leading to an annual debt of €23.6 billion (£19 billion) according to European Commission figures.

We regularly speak to Freelancers and Contractors who are uncertain on how to handle the credit control process after an invoice has been issued.  Credit Control (occasionally called "Dunning") is no black art and it is simply a mix of common sense and a considered approach to ensuring any monies are paid in full and on time.

Below you will find an easy to understand infographic outlining a suggested process for any contractor issuing invoices on 30 day terms.  If your business terms are longer or shorter then just adjust the steps below to suit your client.

You could be putting your business at risk by failing to carry out routine credit checks before extending a line of credit to customers.

Any time you conduct work on behalf of a client, or supply goods to them without demanding payment upfront, you are effectively creating a line of credit - and increasing the total degree of risk to which your own company is exposed.

We always say that a sensible approach to invoicing can help to cut down on the number of problems you face - and that's still true. Chasing up invoices, making sure they've been received by the client, and querying any payments as soon as they become overdue can all help to encourage clients to pay up on time.

But when an invoice goes unpaid, it's easy to find yourself becoming more and more lenient in the hope that your client will eventually pay - while they become less and less reasonable in their reasons for delaying.

The videogames industry is a key contributor to the post-industrial UK economy, at a time when the creative industries and services sector are steadily growing in importance.

But safeguarding this contribution means ensuring the continued health of companies working in the industry - and the sector's representative body TIGA (The Independent Games Developers Association) is doing just that by encouraging all those working in the videogames sector to sign up to the Prompt Payment Code and avoid late payment.

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