“I speak to everyone in the same way, whether he is the garbage man or the president of the university.”– Albert Einstein

 “Don’t be embarrassed by your failures. Learn from them and start again.”– Sir Richard Branson

 “The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.”– Tony Robbins

“Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow."– Lawrence Clark Powell

 “In many ways, effective communication begins with mutual respect, communication that inspires, and encourages others to do their best.”– Zig Ziglar

 "The goal is to provide inspiring information that moves people to action."- Guy Kawasaki

Just about every small business struggles with invoicing. A study of our users found that:
• about 60% of invoices are paid late
• more than a third are at least 2 weeks late

It doesn’t matter where in the world we run this study – or who among our 860,000 small business subscribers we ask – the results are essentially the same. Small businesses have a hard time getting paid.
However, things are changing. Business owners are taking clever steps to improve their invoicing process and get paid quicker. We asked 1,500 business owners for their tips and tricks – and looked at changing habits among Xero users – to bring you advice on invoice payment terms and best practices.

You have more control than you think
If a client doesn’t want to pay on time, it’s hard to make them. For that reason, many business owners feel powerless to improve the speed of payment. However, if you focus on the things you can control, there’s still a lot you can do to get paid faster.
Your invoice payment terms can set the tone for the whole transaction. But you can also improve your chances of prompt payment by invoicing quickly, communicating clearly and reminding clients when they owe you.

Invoice payment terms
Invoice payment terms spell out how you expect to be paid, and might include details like:
• accepted forms of payment (maybe you won’t take credit cards)
• the currency you deal in, if you work across borders
• late-payment penalties, if you charge them
But perhaps the most important payment term of all is the due date. When do you expect to be paid? Businesses used to always give 30 days but this is changing.
Most business these days send online invoices and most payment are electronic. The long payment terms, the days of snail mail and payment by cheque are long gone, make sure you are up to date to!!
If you're serious about the work you do, and you hustle to meet your clients' deadlines, there's no reason why you shouldn’t be paid within a week.

Short payment terms are common
You needn’t feel bad about giving shorter invoice payment terms. Most small businesses do it now and expectations are changing. Our study found that:
• between 70 and 80 percent of businesses give 2 weeks or less
• more than half of those request payment within 7 days

Get clients on the clock quickly
It doesn’t matter how short your invoice payment terms are if you don’t send the bill on time. Whether you give 30 days to pay, or just seven – the clock doesn’t start ticking until the invoice is out the door.
Invoicing can be a pain. Other commitments and interruptions get in the way. As a result, most businesses only send invoices once every 2-4 weeks. But when you delay, you’re essentially pushing back your payday.
Try to use templates that speed up invoicing. Then you can pull up a fresh invoice, punch in the job details and costs, and send the bill quickly. A lot of software packages can do this. Some allow you to do it from your smartphone, so you can send invoices when you’re out of the office.

Chase the payments
Don’t wait until an invoice is two weeks late before reminding a client they owe you. Try sending a friendly email as the due date approaches. Follow up again if they go past due.
If clients don’t respond to emails, pick up the phone. Don't let it drift. It may not be the funnest part of being in business – but it could help you stay in business.
If you don’t have time for all the follow-up, consider:
• using invoicing software that automatically sends reminder emails for you
• asking your accountant if they’ll call overdue clients for you

Top seven tips to get paid faster
Getting paid and having a healthy cash flow is the lifeblood of every small business, but it’s not always as easy as sending an invoice. The 1,500 businesses that spoke to us about invoicing offered these practical tips:
1. Discuss payment terms before you get started
Getting this sorted upfront means that there’s no confusion down the track. It also sets the client's expectations around payment before you start the work.
2. Keep detailed records of inventory and time
Don’t work out your costs at invoicing time, as that will just slow you down. Keep a running record, so the numbers are at your fingertips when you need them. You’ll also be less likely to miss something this way. And if costs are going over budget, you can let your client know, instead of sending them an expensive surprise at the end of the month.
3. Make the invoice clear and easy to understand
List the details of the job in a way that makes sense to the client – any confusion could create a payment lag. It’s also good to personalize your invoice with your business logo – it helps carry on the professionalism of your work.
4. Address the invoice to the person paying
Make sure your invoice goes straight to the person who makes payment to avoid getting lost in someone else’s inbox. That will probably be different from the person who ordered the work,. If you’re unsure exactly who’s in charge of accounts, give them a call – it pays to know the person paying the bills.
5. Invoice as soon as possible
Send your invoice as soon as possible, the sooner a client receives an invoice the sooner they will make payment. It also means they will receive it when the value of your work is still fresh in their mind. Accounting software that lets you create professional recurring invoices will streamline the invoicing process.
6. Keep talking to your debtors
The squeaky wheel gets the oil. When things become overdue send reminders, monthly statements or make a phone call. It will help remind your client that you are serious about getting the invoice paid. Some accounting software sends you an update when the invoice has been opened.
7. Add 'overdue' fees
If you've set your payment terms out clearly on your invoice and the client has ignored them, you’re entitled to charge interest in the form of overdue fees. Be prepared for robust feedback from your clients if you go down this route, and consider reversing the charge once the lesson has been learned.

Creating an invoicing system that works
You may have made your first invoices in a standard software package like Microsoft Word. Maybe you even had to search the internet for tips on how to create an invoice.
As you grow, however, a business’s invoicing needs become more complex. Think about how you can create a system that incorporates these tips, speeds up invoicing, and improves cash flow into your business.
Invoicing software can help. As a bonus, it generally comes as part of an accounting package, which means your books are automatically updated as invoices are issued and paid.

Learn more about invoicing features on Xero’s accounting software

What startups should know about invoicing
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Most people don't know a great deal about invoicing when they start their first business, so it's good to learn from people who have already been there.
Businesses we spoke to said they initially underestimated how much time invoicing would take up. You can spend up to 10 percent of your work time creating, sending and chasing invoices. That can cause a drag on your other administration work, so be sure to factor this into your planning and accounting strategies – and set up the most time-efficient systems you can.
If you sell big-ticket items or expensive services, consider offering clients split payments. All businesses have to manage their cash flow and your clients are no different. Partial payments can make account reconciliation a little trickier for you, but it makes it easier for people to spend money with you – which is a good thing. Just make sure clients quote the correct invoice numbers on every payment they make.

Adjust invoice payment terms and look at your whole system
Being a small business owner often means you’re short on time, but it’s worth making the effort to get your invoicing set up properly. Having a process that helps streamline invoicing can drastically reduce the amount of time you spend collecting your hard-earned money. And that’s got to be great for your business.

Blackburn Accounting was honored to be the Major Sponsor of the Annual State Convention for Toastmasters in Western Australia from 26-28 May 2017.
The Convention was held at the newly renovated Tradewinds Hotel in Fremantle
It was a privilege to support the very talented up and coming speakers in Western Australia.
Some of the highlights were:
• The Keynote Speaker – Gary Schmidt DTM PIP the former International President of Toastmaster International

The highlight of the keynote was The Secrets of Successful Leaders
o Building Personal Relationships
o Communication: Are you building commitment from your member/staff
o Must get buying from stakeholders
o Be a service Leader

• The Workshop presented by Phillippa Henderson on Aligning your body language with your message
o The make up of a message is
     55% body movement (confident and poised)
     38% voice (tone and pauses)
     7% words
o Power of the smile - Can you hear a smile on the phone
o Primal brain is assessing for risk and will have instinctual behavior
o Trust your intuition
o Be Confident
     Personal presentation
     Eye contact
     Inhale confidence
     Exhale Doubt
     Build Trust
     Strong Body Position

• The Workshop presented by - Lee Broomhall in learning from your life experiences in providing Authentic Leadership
That creating opportunity for all people
o Be Authentic – be yourself and know yourself
o Be Genuine – this includes demonstrating your vulnerabilities
o Draw on the experiences of others
o BE interested - listen, acknowledge and serve authentically
o Express authentically – can’t always lead from the crowd. At some point, you need to take action based on what’s in the best interest of stakeholders.
o Be your own leadership story
• We were treated to master class session by Dr. Troy Hendrickson on Leadership Strategies and Techniques

'Getting the money you’re owed' is also known as Credit Control. When we first start out we don’t have many processes. We send out invoices and hope for the best. However, only about half of invoices are paid on time, so that's not a sustainable policy. If you're sending 10 or more invoices a month, it's probably time to develop a credit control process.

Contact our team at Blackburn Accounting to help you to get on top of the credit control TODAY

9 Credit control mistakes to avoid

1. Slow invoicing
Send invoices as soon as you can. Immediately after delivering the product or service is the best time. That’s when your customer is feeling the most goodwill and will be most receptive to paying. The second best time to send an invoice is right now, so get busy. Customers simply can’t pay what they haven’t been invoiced.

2. Shying away from the phone
When the due date’s up, it’s up. Tell your customer they’re late. Chaser has found that 80% of unpaid invoices can be collected through email chasing alone, so start there. But when that isn’t enough, pick up the phone.
Customers find it harder to justify late payment when you have them on the line. And if there are issues to sort out, you can discuss them in real time instead of spending a few more days emailing back and forth.

3. Unclear payment terms

Spell out how long your customer has to pay you, and identify any late fees. Put these in a condition of sale document and get your customer to sign it (physically or digitally) before you start doing business. That way customers can’t use confusion or misunderstanding as a defence for late payment.

4. Assuming all clients are the same

It doesn’t matter if you have 99 customers who all process your invoices the same way, the 100th could be different. And if you don’t send the invoice just how they like it, you may not get paid. Whenever you land a new customer, always ask:
• who do I talk to about invoices getting paid?
• what information has to go on the invoice for it to get paid?
• when do you do payment runs?
With this information at hand, you’ll never waste time sending an invoice that simply can’t be paid, or chasing the wrong person when it’s past due.

5. Rolling over

Late payment is very common. It can be tempting to give in and accept it as part of life. But don’t. Review outstanding invoices regularly. Highlight the ones that are the furthest overdue, and the ones that are worth the most. Make a plan to get them sorted out.
Speak with the customer and consider things like offering different payment methods, giving early-payment incentives, or changing the credit terms. You have lots of options. Don’t worry if your first few strategies don’t work. Every customer and every invoice is unique. The only way to fail is to give up trying.

6. Making (empty) threats
Some customers always pay late. If you’ve had enough, you might decide to charge late fees and interest, stop supplying goods or services till they pay, send out debt collectors, or take them to court.
These are serious moves and your customer may react by taking their business elsewhere. Don’t make threats lightly. But if you do make a threat, follow through. An empty threat gets you nowhere. The customer won’t take you seriously again, and you could be stuck with late payment forever.

7. Forgetting your teammates
Late payment might be the finance team’s responsibility, but others can help. Tell sales staff and account managers when their customers’ accounts are overdue. They might be able to leverage their relationship to get an invoice paid. Or they might make new sales deals contingent on old invoices being settled.

8. Not thanking for payment
Say thanks when a customer pays, whether they were on time or not. These positive messages strengthen the relationship and actually increase the speed of future payments.
It takes no time to send a positive email. Work it into your credit control process. Just ensure it’s sent within 24 hours of payment to keep it relevant and genuine.

9. Not using the right tools
Once you’re issuing 10 or more invoices per month, credit control gets complex. There are lots of emails, phone calls, and handwritten notes floating around. Some information gets stored in a client relationship management system, but other data is only held by accounts payable.

To carry out quick and effective credit control, manage it centrally through one piece of software. Online credit control software helps you store all invoice communications and histories in one place. It also gives you insight into your customers’ payment habits, and helps you optimise your chasing strategies. With integrated online software tools, you can save hours each week and boost your cash flow by thousands.

Getting started on a credit control process
Effective credit control will get you paid faster, and that’s good for business. Write down some formal processes that explain how you’ll issue invoices, and what you’ll do if they go past due. Make sure your policies and processes avoid these common mistakes, communicate them to your team, and you’ll be on your way to better cash flow.

If you want to restore the control on your business contact our team at Blackburn Accounting and we will assist you in this process

Owning and managing your own family business is rewarding. Yet it can be a stressful and lonely job. So many things to do, so many great opportunities, so little time, such limited resources, so many people, so many problems. Where has it all gone? How long do I keep going? How can I regain control? How I do pass the business on? When can I retire?

The top 12 issues facing family business:

1. Succession planning
2. Family remuneration
3. Ownership structures
4. Family creed
5. Family members not in the business
6. Non-family management
7. Bringing family members into the business
8. Resolving conflicts
9. Strategic planning
10. Financial structures
11. Preserving wealth
12. Retirement and estate planning