Play our Business Match game this Valentine’s Day!

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, do you know who’s your perfect match when it comes to running your business?

Pawsforthought
Could Paws for Thought be your perfect business match?

Check out our new Business Match game and sign up to CreditHQ this February for only £15 per month PLUS, we’re giving all new Standard subscribers a box of chocolates plus entering all new subscribers into a draw to win a meal for two at the fabulous Resident of Paradise Row in east London (or if you can’t make it to the big smoke, we’ll give you the equivalent in vouchers for a great national restaurant).

So head over to www.credithq.co.uk/businessmatch  to take advantage of this great offer and make sure you’ve found the perfect business to trade with. And good luck!

New CreditHQ partnership with The Formations Company, aims to address the growing problem of late payment to small businesses

Small business founders registering their business with The Formations Company, will now be offered access to CreditHQ when they form their new companies, allowing them to check the financial health of the suppliers and customers they invoice, and know whether those trading partners are likely to pay on time.

“Late invoice payment is one of the biggest reasons for the cash-flow issues that many small businesses are facing in 2015,” said Martin Campbell, Managing Director, Ormsby Street. “But most small businesses don’t think to check on the financial health of a customer or supplier. Making CreditHQ available to customers of The Formations Company not only provides an easy way to check this but will also recommend whether a company is likely to pay on time or not.”

The Formations Company is the most cost-effective way for a new business to form and has helped more than 100,000 UK small businesses form since its launch in 2009. It offers a range of extra services from a free consultation with an accountant or web developer to £25 free credit for business cards and stationary. The addition of CreditHQ to this suite of services looks to protect small businesses from late invoice payment and the cash-flow issues that can bring.

CreditHQ uses data from seven million company records to check credit status and general financial health, and uses a traffic light system to advise small businesses whether a company is likely to pay them on time. It also provides regular updates on credit ratings, so a small business will be kept abreast of any changes in a customer’s ability to pay. 

“Forming a business can be bewildering, so we want to provide our customers with the very best services and tools to help them as they start their business journey,” said Piers Chead, CEO, The Formations Company. “CreditHQ absolutely falls into that category. Late payment of invoices is a major issue for SMEs, so a free tool that enables them to check the financial health of potential clients before beginning work with them will be invaluable.”

For more information, or if you’re ready to set up your limited company: https://www.theformationscompany.com/

How to get the most out of CreditHQ

firstIf you own a small business, then knowing what your competitors, suppliers and partners are up to, and when you will get paid is a must. Here at CreditHQ, we know that this part of the business may not be the most exciting, and usually is quite a struggle and misunderstood. This is why we have made CreditHQ the easiest possible tool for you; simple, smart and focused on the important information you need to run your small business.

So how does that work?

Getting started & searching
Landing on the CreditHQ homepage you can search for a company you would like more information on . Try to be precise with your search terms – there are a lot of companies out there. You can also search by company ID. Once you’ve entered your search criteria, our engine will provide you with a list of companies matching your initial search – just choose from the list to see details. If you already have an account, you can sign in via the top right menu of the page.

Company details & Free account
On the company details page, you have access to general information about the company (such as address, phone, company status etc.). Creating an account with CreditHQ will give you access to credit & payment indicators, credit events and insights on what to do next. CreditHQ doesn’t only give you info about a company, but also helps you make the best choice regarding the credit information that you’re provided. Oh and yes- it’s free!

2Creating an account, and why?
To create an account, just follow the “create an account link”. You’ll be asked for the usual credentials and also your company details. You can either search for your company in our database, or manually enter your company details. Creating a free account is that easy.

So why should you create an account? Well, this is where CreditHQ unlocks its true power. Having a free account will give you access to your dashboard, where you can add companies and follow their credit & payment indicator evolution. You will be given meaningful insights on how to act if, for instance, a company has a low payment or credit indicator, and the reasons why that is happening. You will also be given information or your company score and how to increase it and keep it healthy. Basically we will help you and guide you through the process. You can also set up email alerts, to know all the changes of all the companies on your dashboard. All of this won’t cost you a penny.3

Upgrading
Once you are fully set up, and want to unlock even more features. just follow the link on the side menu to upgrade to a standard subscription. Standard users will get access to accurate credit and payment indicators, credit events plus recommended credit limits and detailed valuable financial information for each business.

An insight to the future
CreditHQ is still young, and growing every day. New features such as debt management and action letters are on their way to make your life as a small business user, much easier. We aim to be as small businesses are; close to their customers and listening to their needs. We read all our emails thoroughly. If you feel that the product could be using some new features and improvements, we really want to hear your ideas! Use the contact page, and get in touch with us, we don’t bite!

www.credithq.co.uk

 

Your rights with overdue invoices

You’ve worked hard to win a new customer. You’ve worked hard to deliver a quality product/service for the customer. But now the customer is making you work hard to get your invoice paid. That can’t be right, can it? It isn’t right, but there’s nothing you can do about it is there? Wrong. There is! You have rights and you shouldn’t be afraid to exercise them in order to get paid. You’re (probably) not running a charity. You have bills to pay and employees who have families to support; so getting your money is really important. And the government know this so they’ve put in place mechanisms in order to support you in getting paid.

business man and invoice

Payment terms It’s always best to have your own payment terms laid out because these will more accurately reflect the needs of your business and you can set these to be whatever you need. 7 days, 30 days, or 100 days. It’s up to you. However, if you haven’t explicitly given terms to your customer then the default is 30 days and it’s within 30 days that they have to pay you.

Charging interest Once the invoice becomes overdue then you are perfectly entitled to charge interest on the amount owing. This would be either your own rate of interest if you’ve included it within your terms, or it could be the statutory rate of interest, which is 8% PLUS the Bank of England base rate for business to business transactions. Don’t be afraid to do this, because it’s your money that they’re stopping you accessing. You could be gaining interest on that yourself if it was in the bank, or you could be investing it in obtaining further work, and you can’t until they pay you.

Statutory demands If all else fails, anyone who is owed money can make a statutory demand and you don’t need a solicitor to help you. Once the demand is received by the company owing the money, they have 21 days to either pay the debt or reach a payment agreement with you. If this isn’t forthcoming then you can start a winding up order against the company. But hopefully all our customers will pay on time and we don’t need to worry about any of this!

Top 5 Tips For Chasing Invoice Payments

invoicejulyDon’t you just hate it when people don’t pay their invoices on time?

You’ve done the work.  You’ve given them 30 days to pay it.  And when day 31 arrives you still can’t see the money in your bank or a cheque on your desk.

You now need to spend time chasing payment when you really want to be doing more work.

So how can you reduce the time spent chasing payments so you can do more productive work?

1. People pay invoices not companies

It’s easy to think that “Company Y” owes me money, but when it comes down to it, it is Person X in Company Y that will write the cheque or transfer the cash.  You need to find out who that person is, by name, and get them on the phone.  If you’re not speaking to them then you’re not speaking to the person who can do what you want.

2. Keep to the point

Once you’ve got them on the phone, make sure you don’t get sidetracked into discussions about things that aren’t any of your business. You don’t care that they are in the middle of an audit, or that the financial controller is about to go on holiday to Greece for a week.  You care about when your invoice will get paid!

3. Get specific promises

Sometimes there will be reasons why they haven’t paid on time, but find out what they are and determine what your new best friend is going to do about it. Get them to tell you that they’ll pay it next Monday when the boss is back in and can sign the cheque.  Get them to tell you that they will make the transfer this afternoon.  If it’s specific then you have something to go back to them with in case it doesn’t happen.

4. Make sure everyone wins

It’s always difficult to push one of your customers for money.  After all, they’re your customer and you don’t want to annoy them and risk them going somewhere else.  So if you need to negotiate on when you get paid, make sure that they get something out of it too.  Tell them that they can pay 50% now and 50% when they get paid by their big client next Tuesday.  Tell them that if they can get payment to you by this Friday then you’ll make sure that they’ll have you available next month when they need something doing.  There’s always something they want, so find a way to give it to them in return for your money.

5. Don’t give up

It’s your money they’re holding on to, so don’t give up until you get it.  If they really aren’t paying you then do you really want them as a customer anyway?  If they aren’t giving you any money then they are the same as all the non-customers that you have.  So keep on the phone to them when they fail to deliver on their promises, and if that doesn’t work then you have rights to chase them for payment  – so take action!

5 simple steps to improve your cash-flow

cashflow

Cash-flow is the lifeblood of every business.  If you don’t have money coming in from your customers you won’t have money to pay the bills, so you can’t keep trading.  It’s a basic concept that we tend to follow in our own lives, but when it comes to running our business we do what we can to “get customers” and we leave the flow of money to look out for itself.

Many surveys of small businesses report that the problems encountered with cash-flow lead to concerns about the operation of their business. However, it needn’t be too taxing to put in place a few simple activities that will help smooth out the cash-flow pain.

Agree your terms of sale before you do the work

It might seem obvious, and it’s easy to not do it in the excitement of getting a new customer, but it really isn’t a closed deal unless everyone knows who has to pay what and when.  You don’t want to get the work done only to find out that your customer always pays on 60 days terms.  If you’d have known that at the start, you might have decided not to work for them, or you might have arranged to have longer terms on any payments you might need to make in order to deliver this work.

Invoice promptly and accurately

It’s often convenient to say “I’ll do all the invoicing at the end of the month all in one go because it will be quicker for me to crack through it when I’m in the invoicing zone”.  In reality what this means is that the customer who gets your service or buys your product on the 1st of the month, gets a whole month’s free credit because you won’t even raise their invoice for a further 30 days and then they have 30 days to pay it.  Great for them, not so great for you.

Invoice when you’ve done the work or sold the goods.  The sooner your customer gets the invoice, the sooner they have to pay it. And make sure they’re accurate so the customer doesn’t have an excuse to delay paying whilst you correct the mistake.

Chase up invoices that haven’t been paid

There’s no point raising all your invoices promptly if you aren’t going to chase them promptly.  Before the invoice is due, get in touch with your customer to remind them that payment is upcoming and check everything is OK for it to be paid on time.  This way if there are any issues, you can deal with it before the invoice becomes due.

Get in touch with them again once the invoice becomes due and get confirmation of when it will be paid.  And keep communicating if payment isn’t forthcoming.  This gets the customer into the mindset that they need to pay you to get you off their back.  If they think you’re not on top of things then they might not see your payment as being their highest priority.

Offer ‘pay now’ options so you can get your cash even sooner

Why wait 30 days to get your money when you can get your customers to pay by credit card and you get it now.  Yes, you might have to pay a fee to the card company, but is this really much more than any interest you might have to pay because you’re using an overdraft or financing the business on a loan because you don’t have cash on hand?

The other option might be invoice factoring, where a third party agrees to buy your unpaid invoices for a fee, and they give you a percentage of the invoice value up front.

It’s not for everyone, but can help get the cash in the door more quickly.

Think ahead and plan for the known and the unknown

There are always bills that come in throughout the year which don’t relate to your sales cycle or to a regular monthly payment, such as tax bills, or office refurbishments.  So make sure you are saving cash up to cover these activities when they’re due so they don’t sneak up on you and steal all the cash you were going to use for paying salaries or purchasing new stock.  Keeping a cash-flow forecast up to date will help with this planning.