Not being paid on time is one of the biggest worries facing small business owners. Trying to recover outstanding debts can feel like a very lonely process if you are not aware of the help available.
One important thing to remember is this - as a creditor, the law is on your side. Since 1998, UK businesses have been legally entitled to charge interest on overdue payments owed by another company.
In the current political climate, you can hardly move for hearing talk about borders, trade agreements, slamming shut doors and opening the windows of opportunity.
But let’s face it, for many in business, such talk is a mere distraction. Money talks, and the world is just one big open market of opportunity. Wherever a deal can be done or an investment can be made, business will follow.
When a client starts to miss payment deadlines and debts mount up, it is natural to start to wonder - do they have the means to pay?
When companies get into financial difficulties, it can leave suppliers who are owed money in a tricky situation. As the saying goes, you can’t get blood out of a stone. If a business does not have any ready money available, debts will go unpaid.
The Scottish government has been forced into an embarrassing admission after it was revealed that it fails to pay a fifth of invoices on time. After the late payments figures were made public by the Scottish Labour party, the ruling SNP’s Finance Secretary Derek MacKay had to confirm they were correct during a Parliamentary session at Holyrood.
The government has ordered all large businesses to disclose information on payment practices as it seeks to crackdown on late payment culture. From April, all enterprises which meet the qualifying criteria face a statutory Duty to Report information including the average time taken to pay invoices and details of payment dispute protocols.
The reports, which must be submitted twice a year, will be published online, giving suppliers access to critical information on the payment practices of potential larger clients.
In today’s economic climate, business customers and clients are increasingly asking for - and in many cases expecting - credit from their suppliers.
There are obviously many benefits to offering credit. It shows a willingness to be flexible which fosters stronger business relationships, and it helps to secure or keep important contracts. Used properly, extending credit for goods and services can give your business a competitive advantage and boost income.
In the B2B world, practically every enterprise will extend credit to a client or customer at some point or another.
For vendors and resellers, credit facilities are a familiar part of payment terms. But even service providers will regularly be in the habit of extending credit to clients - remember, time is money, and any work you do before the first payment date can be considered as credit.
Irish courts are experiencing sharp spike in the number of cases linked to international debt collection. A recent flurry of media coverage has brought attention to the operations of so-called ‘vulture funds’ as they apparently step up debt recovery in Ireland.
Vulture funds are financial organisations such as investment trusts, private equity firms and hedge funds which look for opportunities to make a profit from debt collection. They buy up debts at a discounted rate from organisations which no longer wish to be liable for them and then seek to recover more than they paid.
The scourge of unpaid invoices threatening the survival of small and medium sized businesses is an international problem. In Australia, things have got so bad that some companies are turning to desperate debt collection methods to try to recover money owed to them.
As a new report revealed that the average Australian business is typically owed £23,000 in outstanding invoices, one industry spokesman suggested hard pressed firms are ready to return to an old and infamous solution - biker gangs.
Consider the following scenario. You are a small, up and coming web design company contracted to create a brand new site for a consumer-facing business. They want the works, attention grabbing graphic design, cutting edge multimedia content, intuitive and interactive navigation, and quality text content. Your small team spends weeks painstakingly programming the source code and curating the content to the client’s specifications. Finally, the site is ready to go live. You are rightly very proud of what you have created.
At this point, the client suddenly goes quiet. Won’t answer the phone, won’t return emails. The payment period on your invoice lapses. You offer to negotiate, still nothing. What do you do?