Most businesses function in a hand to mouth fashion - while you may be providing a service or product, you are also needing to pay someone else to supply a service or product to you.
The natural order of things would suggest that if you pay on time it would be a fair expectation that you would be given the same courtesy by your customers.
Unfortunately getting paid on time, every time, is a rare luxury. But with a few simple strategies you can attempt to make it a more regular occurrence.
Start by encouraging credit card sales or, depending on the nature of your business look at setting up automatic deductions wherever possible. This way, you are pretty much guaranteed payment irrespective of any ups and downs your customers may be experiencing. It may sound ruthless, but in order to prevent your own business from suffering you need to be be proactive when it comes to managing your funds. Consider merchant fees a cheap insurance premium to ensure on time payment.
Offering a small reward or discount for payments in advance, on time or payments in full can also encourage your customers to prefer you over others.
For larger projects or sales, insist on a deposit. Whether you are providing a product or a service, tangible or not, a deposit is useful. Particularly if a supply is over a long period deposits can help offset delays or even cancellations.
Be diligent when it comes to the paperwork. Make sure that a written agreement confirms the understanding of both parties so there is little room for confusion - which usually happens somewhere between product delivery and payment date. Ensure your invoices are sent promptly and are clear as to the nature and any agreed terms and penalties.
If and when it comes to it, do not be the proverbial 'rug' and allow yourself to be stepped on. It is your money and you should be prepared to recover it using legal recourse if need be.
Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.