Late payments threaten to derail the freelance industry

UK freelancers are increasingly struggling with late invoice payments, with around half admitting they have considered quitting life as a freelancer because of worries over continued late payment, and 46% stressing about having enough cash to live on.

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Our latest research here at Ormsby Street, also reveals that one in ten freelancers have faced difficulties paying their mortgage or rent because of late invoice payment, and many have turned to family (37%) or even payday loans companies (36%) to cover a shortfall brought about by late payment.

While a fortunate 19% of respondents say most of their invoices are always paid on time, a freelancer’s invoices are paid on average 18 and a half days after their due date. At any one time, a freelancer in the UK is owed on average £5,431.03 in late payments and 79% of freelancers say that cash-flow is the number one concern for their business.

“Every freelancer knows that late invoice payment is one of the biggest frustrations, impacting cash-flow and causing much stress, from paying the mortgage to having enough money to live on,” said Martin Campbell, Managing Director, Ormsby Street. “For a freelancer to be owed more than £5,000 is clearly unacceptable and threatens the emerging freelance economy in the UK, which brings flexibility and work / life balance to so many.” 

The Office for National Statistics revealed in 2015 that 4.55 million Britons are now their own boss and research by the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) found three in five businesses agree that it would be difficult to operate without hiring freelancers. The Ormsby Street survey of 1,002 freelancers and sole-traders, revealed that 40% of respondents have taken out a County Court Judgement (CCJ) in the last year to chase a bad debt, and more than half say that late invoice payment is getting worse not better.

It remains a problem for many freelancers when it comes to chasing clients over late payment, partly because they do not have the time to spare, but also because of fears this might impact future work with that company.  57% of respondents say they worry that if they chase for payment that client might not use their services again, while two-thirds say they feel uncomfortable and awkward chasing clients for late payment.

“Why should a freelancer waste their own billable hours chasing payment for work that has been successfully completed and is already due for payment,” continued Martin Campbell. “If customers are not willing to pay within the agreed terms then it’s time for freelancers to become more informed over whom they work with, and either ask for payment upfront or even choose to not work with company.”

Special Freelancer rate!

With 49% of freelancers having had to turn down a contract because of concerns over a client’s ability / willingness to pay on time, we’re offering access to CreditHQ for the special freelancer rate of £12.50 for the standard subscription; allowing freelancers to obtain financial insight into every company they trade with. Sign up here to take advantage of this offer

“Freelancing has grown in popularity because of the choice and flexibility it gives people over their career, but its success relies on the prompt payment of invoices, which is not happening enough,” concluded Martin Campbell. “Credit-checking potential customers and partners is straightforward to do and should be done by a freelancer every time they work with someone, to protect themselves against late payment.”

About the research

An online survey of 1,003 freelancers and sole-traders was undertaken by TLF Research in March and April 2016.

CreditHQ, the credit-checking tool built by Ormsby Street, collates credit and trade information from Companies House, Experian and Dun & Bradstreet and presents that information in simple-to-understand credit and payment indicators, so a freelancer can assess which businesses are likely to pay them on time, or after 30 or more days.

Formed in 2014 to take over the operation of the financial data proposition of BCSG, Ormsby Street is developing the next generation of financial data services for small businesses. Its team of high-performing product innovators and software engineers are quietly taking sophisticated financial information and turning it into a next-generation digital tool to help businesses make good decisions about customers, suppliers and themselves.

Which football club’s finances need a kick-start?

Swansea and Southampton top premier league of invoice payment!

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As this year’s football season reaches an end, here at CreditHQ we thought we’d take a look at how good the top football clubs are at performing where it matters – in the payments department!

Small businesses wait on average, 72 days for payment of invoices, and our analysis last year showed the average overdue invoice to a small business was worth a whopping £6,142. 

The Payment Premier League was compiled by combining figures for payment performance and credit risk.

“If a small business wins a contract with their local football team then it is easy to let the heart rule the head, and just go ahead with the work regardless – people love the idea of working for the team they support,” said Martin Campbell. “But our analysis shows that just because a team is good on the pitch, it doesn’t necessarily follow that they will be as strong when it comes to paying invoices on time.”

“Winning a major contract with any sizeable local company is a big deal for a small business, but few would think to run a credit check. Yet the average time for a small business to be paid is 72 days, a period of time which could be seriously problematic for a small business if the figures involved were big enough.”

Premier Payment league infographic

Sunderland and Crystal Palace were the worst performers on our payment premier league, so if you’re thinking of doing business with either of these teams, follow these simple tips to ensure you’re taking the right precautions to ensure you stay on top of your business cash-flow:

  • Stay on top of your invoice process to get invoices out on time.
  • Follow up before the invoices are due.
  • Chase invoices when due and always charge interest on overdue invoices (or issue a letter of intent).
  • Review payment terms for this company, including payment up front if you are really worried about the impact of late payment.
  • For major concerns about a customer’s financial health, don’t be afraid to walk away from a deal.

Check out who you’re doing business with at www.credithq.co.uk

Ormsby Street selected to present at Finovate Spring

We’re heading off to San Jose next week, as we’ve been selected to present CreditHQ at the prestigious Finovate Spring event in San Jose.

Finovate Spring is a demo-based conference for innovative startups and established companies in the fields of banking and financial technology. Held in San Jose, California, the event offers an insight-packed glimpse into the future of money via a fast-paced, intimate, and unique format.

Finovate Spring

FinovateSpring is a conference on steroids and a great opportunity to see new technologies and upcoming companies changing the world of financial technology.  Victor Smilgys, Keypoint CU

Competition is fierce to appear at this event, with around 70 companies from the financial technology sector showcasing new products or technology over the course of two days – both on stage and on their company stands to an audience of over 1500; including investors, VCs, entrepreneurs, expert analysts and influential press.

Our CEO and co-founder, Martin Campbell, will be presenting some great new features of CreditHQ, including our new bookkeeping integration. Of the integration, Martin said:

When connected to Xero, CreditHQ, like a good financial controller, monitors every customer and every invoice the company has.  Unlike a financial controller, it has access to real-time credit scoring and payment performance information from multiple sources as well as insight into thousands of other small businesses using the product to chase invoices and recover debts.

Combining these data sources and feedback from tens of thousands of users using a patent-pending data-driven approach, the next generation Insight Engine is able to identify cash flow problems and credit risks for your business and highlight the most effective way to resolve them, and present a prioritized action plan to the business leader who can then simply approve the actions that the insight engine has planned.  

As well as highlighting actions for our own customers, our bank partners who provide the product to their SME customers, also gain insight to help them target the right products and support at small businesses customers they historically have very little data about.”

If you’re heading to Finovate, please come and say hi and let us show you how CreditHQ can help all small businesses combat the problem of late payments and focus on growth and success. For 20% off your ticket(s), use code: OrmsbyStreetCompFS16

We’ve been nominated for a Benzinga Award!

Ormsby Street have been chosen as a finalist for this year’s Benzinga Awards – in the ‘leveling the playing field’ category

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The Benzinga Awards (BZ), is a competition to showcase the companies with the most impressive technology, who are paving the future in financial services and capital markets.

Last year’s winners include HedgecoVest who were the overall winner, with Estimize taking first place for best startup.

If you’d like to join in the celebrations in New York on May 24th, click here for full information and details of how to grab your ticket.

Good luck to all the other finalists!

Ormsby Street to showcase CreditHQ at SXSW

We’re very excited to announce that we’ve been chosen as one of the  UKTI’s 33 Tech Ambassadors  (https://www.events.ukti.gov.uk/sxsw-2016-12/) to go to South by South West in Austin this week to showcase CreditHQ at SXSW Interactive (http://www.sxsw.com/interactive).

SXSW

As we move closer to a US launch, this offers us a fantastic opportunity to spread the word about CreditHQ to a huge audience! Thanks again to the UKTI for this opportunity. 

We’ll be at the Great Britain House demoing CreditHQ on Saturday 12 March from 12pm onwards – come say hi! 

Location: Great Britain House @ Wanderlust Yoga Studio – 206 East 4th Street, Austin, TX 78701 

It’s events and awards season in the Fintech world…here’s what we’ve been up to!

FInovate Trophy

September has been a very busy month so far here at Ormsby Street– we’ve just returned from New York’s Finovate Fall where Martin demoed CreditHQ to an audience of around 2000; ranging from directors of international banks to startup leaders in the Fintech world.

newyork from ferry

The next stop on our whistle-stop tour of Fintech events this month was Barcelona, where Ormsby Street was chosen from over 900 companies as a finalist in the BBVA Open Talent Finals. Here, we were able to talk to over one hundred attendees from BBVA bank, hear some fantastic keynotes about the future of banking, and meet the other sixteen companies who were lucky enough to be shortlisted. Unfortunately, we didn’t win this time (huge congratulations to both Everledger and Origin Markets who delivered great pitches and won) but we made some great connections and learned a lot about how Fintech’s innovations can work alongside traditional banking methods to improve banking practices for everyone.

Martin BBVA

We’re now gearing up for our next set of nominations as the award and event season marches on. We’re thrilled to have been shortlisted for The Growing Business Awards (Young Company of the Year), 2015 UKIT Industry Awards (UK Innovation and Entrepreneurship), The Credit Excellence Awards (Newcomer to the Industry) and the Great British Entrepreneur Awards. Hopefully we’ll be adding some more awards to the shelf here at Ormsby Street HQ. Wish us luck!

8 quick tips for on-page SEO for any small business budget

When you’re working on your small business website’s SEO, the main aim is to make your website ‘friendly’ for all search engines and get on the first page of Google.

Here are 8 initial quick tips how you can achieve search engine optimisation perfection (or as close as possible!) without spending a fortune.

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Make sure you’ve got 1 or 2 target phrases or keywords in mind for each of your pages, and use these keywords in the first paragraph of any copy….BUT try to only repeat your key words or phrases around ten times within the copy. If you over egg the pudding, as it were, you’ll run the risk of the text being read by search engine spiders as spam and you’ll lose your ranking. Make sure you’re not copy and pasting keywords and content from other pages of your site. Google, especially is great at picking up duplicate content and will penalise you for this. TOP TIP: Use Google’s Keyword Planner to improve your site’s keywords and get new ideas when you’re creating new content. It’s free to use, and can throw up words and phrases you might not have thought of, or ones that your competitors are using.

Poor spelling and grammar: Always proofread all of your content, use spellcheck and possibly let someone who’s a pedant give your copy the once-over. Search engines downgrade and/or blacklist sites where the content is badly written (plus it creates a bad impression for your customers!)

Try and keep all page copy to around 500 words and make sure that each page is full or relevant and interesting copy. It’s been widely commented over the past couple of years that ‘content is king’! And as overused as this phrase is, it does matter, and does make sense! Make sure that you’re continuously adding fresh and new content to the site. Keep it unique to pull people away from competitor’s sites and on to yours.

Add links to sites such as review sites, social media sites, user forums etc. PLUS if you add links to Google related products, Google will tend to rank your site more highly (think YouTube here). Try and add links to other sites that complement your business. Search do still engines pick up on back links so get in touch with these companies and make sure you’re both linking to one another’s websites – always be sure that they are good quality links. Don’t get caught in a ‘but I want to compete with this site’ if it’s a company that isn’t going to steal away users from you – it’s always better to get a higher ranking where possible.

Don’t forget about Google plus! This is a great article for some good Google+ tips

Try and include your main keyword or phrase in the URL of the page where possible.  Make use of the H1 –H6 tags when creating your page. Have a look at this video for more details about this and also here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_EVHTm1c4Q

Title Tag: Every single page on your site needs a meta title, this should be unique and contain the relevant keyword. If you’re unsure of what a ‘meta title’ is, it’s the TITLE of your company/business which appears in the Google results. Google has now got rid of the ’70 characters or fewer’ rule, and use a larger font to display a site’s title – so make sure all of your title will fit in the listing.

Meta Description: As well as a title tag, each page also needs a meta description. Search engines don’t actually use this in determining a site’s ranking but it is vital as part of your marketing efforts as it’s the thing which should catch a potential  customer’s  eye and get them visiting your site. Make sure you include the keyword or phrase you’ve chosen and always keep the character limit to around 150.

Index your content with ‘Fetch as Google’ tool: A great way to get your content listed in the SERPS (search engine results pages), is to submit your URL(s) to Google using the ‘fetch as Google’ tool in Google Webmaster tools. This will boost your submission to Google and avoid the weeks or months of waiting for your site to show up in its listings. You’ll need to verify your website using the Webmaster tools (check out this article for a good ‘how to’ do this) then click on ‘Crawl/Fetch as Google’ and follow the instructions.

Google change their algorithms all the time, so check out Moz to keep up to date with the latest changes: http://moz.com/google-algorithm-change – also Search Engine Land contains some great articles, blogs and aids of best SEO practice: http://searchengineland.com/library/google/google-algorithm-updates