In our line of work, we come across some colourful characters to say the very least. We all know the stereotypes about the shady circles debt collectors have to move in. Well, while we’re not always keen on the cliches, the truth is in the course of recovering debts, we do have to deal with a motley assortment of fraudsters, conmen, chancers and career criminals, all often operating under the guise of supposedly legitimate business interests.
What we certainly never do is feel any ill will towards anyone we attempt to collect money from. At the end of the day, it is a professional service we provide, to look after the interests of the small business owners, freelancers and contractors who come to us, often at their wits end, to try to get back money that is rightfully theirs. But whoever it is that owes the money, and whatever their reasons for not paying their debts, they are still people.
In May 2010 Safe Collections became the first company to release a free iPhone App to help UK business owners. The app makes it easy to calculate both the late payment costs and interest on any overdue invoice.
Business overdrafts have been called the 'hidden credit crunch' following the news that while traditional bank business loans have fallen 9% in the past two years, the banks have called in 23% of overdrafts in the same period.
The figures come from a report by finance providers LDF, who say traditional bank business loans fell from £187 billion to £170 billion in the two years to March 2014, while overdrafts fell from £18.2 billion to £14.1 billion.
The government's much-anticipated Business Bank got a kickstart of its own in the 2013 Budget, with the news that at least some of its measures are due to be introduced ahead of schedule.
But while a £300 million investment programme for SMEs was officially launched on April 10th by business secretary Vince Cable, just how far does it go to give small businesses the boost they need to grease the wheels of the UK's jammed economy?
A married couple and their son have been banned as company directors after failing to pay more than £186,000 in tax. Heather & Lance Shepherd and their son James Shepherd, who ran a company called Shepherd Security Ltd in Preston have been disqualified from acting as directors for a total of 15 years following an investigation by the insolvency service.
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 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.
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.
Credit control is an important part of running any business effectively, but for small-business owners it can have an even greater significance.
When you rely on a regular income to cover your outgoings, overheads and employee wages, any delay in payments from clients can have a severe impact on your company cash flow.