This week Sheffield Chamber of Commerce hosted a live webinar and we were honoured to be asked to participate. Our CEO and co-founder Glen Morgan spoke with the Small Business Commissioner Philip King about late payments, how to ask for overdue invoices, and what the future holds for small businesses.
Our purpose at itsettled is to provide an automated credit control software to businesses at a fraction of the cost of a credit controller. We hope to eradicate the need for businesses to approach the Small Business Commissioner's Office in the first place by providing a preventative process with our software.
Philip says that along with government run business growth hubs and the business support helpline, his office can give free advice to businesses and advise on contract set-ups and invoices. If they can’t give advice, they will signpost to the relevant organisations that can, and the commissioner's office can also collect owed money on behalf of small businesses. The Small Business Commissioner's Office also identifies poor practice and publishes public reports, as well as focusing on education for both small and large businesses on payment culture.
When asked for practical tips for the businesses on the call, both Philip and Glen spoke of the importance of having good systems in place to ensure a healthy cashflow, as well as honest and transparent communication at all times.
Glen spoke of having a standard process, and using it for all your invoices consistently. Here’s how the process works:
Glen also spoke of the importance of spending a few minutes each day on credit control. This way, it can become more manageable and easier. If it’s something you struggle with, getting it out of the way first thing will ease your mind and give you a higher chance of getting your owed money on time.
Philip spoke about carefully managing your business’ cashflow, and how important it is to find a solution such as itsettled which works for you, and use it. Philip also highlighted the four most important questions to ask, which are;
1. Who is buying from me?
Beforehand, try and establish whether the customer is likely to pay you - are they signed up to the Proper Payment Code, or can you look at their Payment Practice form? (Linked here.) Make sure you invoice the right company too!
2. When are you going to be paid by them?
If you can’t get a contract, exchange emails so you can get something in writing. If you’re able to, ask for a deposit or advance payment.
3. How are you going to be paid?
What system will your customer use to pay you? Does your customer have a particular system they use to clear their invoices? Find this out beforehand and get on to their system as early as possible.
And most importantly of all…
4. Ask for what’s yours.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and be proactive in asking for payment. Don’t leave it until after the payment is due - you can call beforehand as a customer service call to ensure everything is going well.
To round up the webinar, Philip and Glen discussed what the future holds for businesses in 2021. Although Philip acknowledged that 2021 is going to be tough, he stated that it’s vital for businesses to think about their credit control process, and to be consistent with communicating with suppliers and customers alike. He went on to say that businesses need to be agile, innovative, and flexible. Glen also spoke positively of the future, and how he believes that with good procedures in place, businesses can be hopeful.
The Small Business Commissioner's Office is working with the government to improve business practice, and along with our credit management and debt recovery software, we truly believe this can make a huge and very necessary change to the lives of SME owners. If you have any questions for us at itsettled, please don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find out more about the help that the UK Small Business Commission provides here.
The webinar is available in full from Sheffield’s Chamber of Commerce Youtube Channel, and you can watch it here.
Want to know how to read a credit report on your customers? You're in the right place.
Sign up for your 7 day free trial of itsettled today.
Start chasing payments now