Getting paid: one of the toughest issues every small business owner faces. As if building a great reputation, creating a stellar client list and securing sales isn’t hard enough – sometimes weeks go by and business owners are still waiting to see the money in the bank and get paid.
Last year, data from MarketInvoice highlighted Australia as one of the worst culprits globally for not paying up when it comes to business invoicing. The report showed that late payments were suffocating small businesses, with over $19 billion locked away in outstanding invoices and some customers delaying invoice payments by close to 27 days past the due date.
And while there are many advocates out there, including the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) and the Business Council of Australia, who are trying to get governments to implement the regulatory framework that ensures businesses get paid faster, it won’t come in time for the 2017-18 financial year.
However, before you assume there is nothing you can do, there are more business tools and technologies available now than ever before, all designed to help business owners take back control and implement clever steps to improve their point-of-sale and invoicing processes.
Here are four tips for small business owners to help them get paid faster this financial year:
Start sending simple and user-friendly e-invoices
Don’t spend hours manually writing up and mailing out invoices and then chasing payments. Business owners should use online tools to send invoices as soon as possible, the sooner your customer receives an invoice the sooner they are likely to make the payment. E-Invoices importantly also make it simple for customers to pay which helps them to pay your business faster.
Online platforms allow you to schedule recurring invoices and store cards on file so you don’t have to re-enter details for returning customers – a great time-saver. E-invoices also provide a user-friendly experience for your customers, allowing them to pay you quickly and securely directly from an invoice, without the fuss of having to log into their online banking platform.
Use online payment tools to your advantage
As any business owner would know all too well, customers don’t like waiting – if they want to buy your product or service, they want to buy it now. Don’t let the lack of access to hardware hold you back. Businesses can now use online payment platforms, like Square’s Virtual Terminal, that allows you to enter a customer’s credit or debit card information straight into a web browser, making payments over the phone easier than ever.
Accept new types of payments
The popularity of mobile wallet payments in Australia is starting to take off, with Samsung announcing last week that almost two million more Australians will be able to use Samsung Pay with the addition of 38 more banks and credit unions added to the smartphone and smartwatch payment service.
This is a huge amount of potential customers and Australia’s small businesses need to make sure they are equipped to stay competitive and cater to every way their customer wants to pay. Accepting mobile wallet payments is a great way to do this.
Use data to assess your payment processes
Having data and analytics tools is a must for business owners to enable them to gain important insights into what’s working and what needs to change in their business. By pulling reports that can analyse sales by categories – including the ways your customers are paying, time of day they’re paying and the employees that are helping them pay – you get the best summary of your customers purchasing habits and can adjust your business processes accordingly to maximise profit turnover.
Ben Pfisterer, Country Manager, Square Australia