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Get paid on time by your clients and customers

Author: Liz Barclay, Small Business Commissioner

Published: 10 Nov 2022

No matter how exciting a piece of work is, ask: how do I get paid? If you don’t get paid it’s a hobby not a business.

In 2021, small businesses averaged 4.5 months of negative cashflow. If you don’t get paid quickly you could run out of money before the next job starts. If you can’t manage your cashflow you risk not being able to pay wages and bills, invest in your business, or even going bust.

There may be costs involved in a business bank account, but most banks offer advice and support when you need it. Software packages or apps take the time and effort out of invoicing and payments. These are investments rather than costs.

If the customer says you’ll be paid as per their standard terms, ask what those are. You need to know so you can negotiate to get paid sooner. And get everything in writing or disputes may arise.


  • what information has to be on each invoice;
  • how you get a purchase order number;
  • what the due date is for each payment, and;
  • who makes the payments.

Make sure your invoices are correct, with your bank details or other payment options on them. If the payment is late, chase it straight away.

If you do get into a dispute, the Office of the Small Business Commissioner provides free support and advice and has got back over £8 million in unpaid invoices for small businesses.

  • Visit our website for guidance and contact information – we’re free and here to help.