Late payment is a constant problem for businesses in the UK and overseas. Credit terms are ignored and following up can be difficult for some companies, especially if you are a very small or micro business.
This is not how it should be. Every business, irrespective of size, should expect their customers to honour the agreed credit terms and pay in full and on time.
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.
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.
Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli took a hard line in Hungary by invoking a prompt payment policy that left Lotus with no tyres as the first practice session approached on the Friday.
Payments are due on a quarterly basis and, according to reports in the Telegraph and other national newspapers, Lotus owed about £350,000 for three months' worth of wheels.
We always say that in good credit control, prevention is better than cure - collections and recovery action should be for the bad debts you didn't see coming, not the ones you did.
But how do you know who's going to pay on time, and who's not going to pay at all?
If you've worked in credit control for long enough, it will be instinctive, a kind of sixth sense based on the myriad different factors that contribute towards a company's risk profile.
Two directors of Lancashire-based Worldwide Sports Investments Limited have been disqaulified following an investigation by the Official Receiver’s Public Interest Unit. The directors operated a high pressure sales scam purporting to offer investments in a golf course and hotel development in Portugal.
44 year old director Mr Christopher Smullen received a disqualification order on the 26th May 2015 banning him from managing, promoting or being a director of a limited company for 13 years from the 16th of June 2015.
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.
Mr Lawrence McGovern, director of Railtrades Ltd (“Railtrades”) has received a 6 year disqualification order for disposing of the company’s assets worth an estimated £52,000 and paying almost that amount to connected third parties.
Mr McGovern’s disqualification from 15 December 2014 follows a disqualification order made in the County Court at Romford on 14 November 2014 by Deputy District Judge Dudderidge. The application on 28 May 2014 was by the Insolvency Service on behalf of the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
We all know healthy cash flow is the life blood of any small business, but when your cash flow is interrupted, survival depends on having funds in reserve - and the same is true of your customers.
So it helps to know how many small businesses out there have savings set aside 'for a rainy day', and how many would be unable to pay you if their own income was interrupted.
The figures don't make for encouraging reading - according to a report from British personal and commercial banking providers Aldermore, fewer than one in three businesses have a savings account at all.
Of those that do, 21% have less than £5,000 saved, and 7% have nothing at all.
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.