Small Business Guide
1. How to use Quickmas software independently?
Login to the Quickmas software. See the instructions in homepage
The software interface design by to menu list in your screen. one is left menu in left side and another is top menu in header. Find what you want or your module from both menus.
In the time of using the software you will see a overview icon and a video icon in necessary pages. You will guided by quick reading user guide or watching a small video for using steps.
2. The purpose of bank reconciliation
Bank statements are reliably accurate financial records. By checking your books against them you can:
1. Find and fix errors: You’ll spot your bookkeeping mistakes and clean them up.
2. Catch wrongful payments and fraud: Reviewing expenses is a good way to spot incorrect payments or suspicious activity.
3. See how the business is doing (rather than guess): A regularly verified set of numbers keeps you in tune with financial performance.
4. Get tax breaks: You can classify tax-deductible expenses while doing your bank rec.
5. Be prepared for filing taxes: You need a fully reconciled record of business income and expenditure to do tax returns.
3. Choosing an inventory valuation method for your business
The bookends of inventory accounting are your buy price and your sell price. They can both change a lot. If your supplier starts charging more, or you sell a bunch of product on discount, your margin will drop quickly. There are a couple of different ways to link your buy price and sell price.
First in, first out method (FIFO)
Under the first in, first out (FIFO) method, items are assumed to be sold in the order they’re bought. This doesn’t have to happen literally. You can sell them in any order you like. But from an accounting perspective, you imagine that it all happens in sequence.
When a new item comes in, you note what it costs and place it in a queue to be sold. When that sale happens, you record the price. Now you have a buy and sell price for each single item of stock.
Weighted average cost method (AVCO)
Rather than tracking the purchase and sale price for each individual item of inventory, you can use averages. For each product line, work out:
1. average buy price: divide the money you paid over the year by the number of products you got.
2. average sell price: divide total revenue for the year by number of sales made.
While it’s a simpler method for doing annual accounts, AVCO doesn’t work well when there are big price fluctuations. It can also cause confusion if a manufacturer introduces a new version of a product. You could end up with two inventory items that have the same name but very different prices.
Not all inventory valuation methods are equal. And nor are they always possible. It may depend on the inventory management system you have in place.
What is an inventory system?
1. Periodic inventory system:
Under the traditional periodic inventory system, businesses physically count their stock at the end of an accounting period. The stock count is reconciled against purchase and sales records. If required, adjustments are made to match the two.
2. Perpetual inventory system:
Perpetual inventory systems – also known as dynamic inventory systems – are an automated alternative to the manual stocktake.
When you order stock, your software adds the count to your inventory. And when you sell an item, it does the subtraction. This type of software is often sold as an app that can plug into your point of sale (or invoicing) systems and your accounting software.
What is inventory cost?
It’s not always enough to know what you paid for a product, and what you sold it for. Some businesses have to spend a lot on inventory while they have it. These costs typically include things like storage and insurance but there may be others. Dangerous goods, for example, may require you to take expensive health and safety precautions.
Quickmas developed the best inventory management system for you
Quickmas perpetual inventory management system keeps track of inventory balances continuously, with updates made automatically whenever a product is received or sold. Purchases and returns are immediately recorded in the inventory account. As long as there is no theft or damage, the inventory account balance should be accurate. The cost of goods sold account is also updated continuously as each sale is made. Perpetual inventory systems use digital technology to track inventory in real time using updates sent electronically to central databases.
Beside using this dynamic inventory management system you can take a periodic physically count stock and reconcile with the Quickmas perpetual inventory statement.
4. Cash, accrual and hybrid accounting explained
Difference between cash and accrual accounting
The difference between cash basis and accrual basis accounting comes down to timing. When do you record revenue or expenses? If you do it when you pay or receive money, it’s cash basis accounting. If you do it when you get a bill or raise an invoice, it’s accrual basis accounting.
Accrual accounting is a far more powerful tool for managing a business, but cash accounting has its uses.
What is cash basis accounting?
Businesses that use cash basis accounting recognise income and expenses only when money changes hands. They don’t count sent invoices as income, or bills as expenses – until they’ve been settled.
Despite the name, cash basis accounting has nothing to do with the form of payment you receive. You can be paid electronically and still do cash accounting.
Advantage of cash accounting
1. It’s simple and shows how much money you have on hand.
2. You only have to pay tax on money you’ve received, rather than on invoices you’ve issued, which can help cash flow. But not all businesses are allowed to use cash basis accounting for tax. Check with your tax office.
Disadvantage of cash accounting
1. It’s not accurate – it could show you as profitable just because you haven’t paid your bills.
2. It’s doesn’t help when you’re making management decisions, as you only have a day-to-day view of finances.
What is accrual basis accounting?
Businesses that use accrual accounting recognise income as soon as they raise an invoice for a customer. And when a bill comes in, it’s recognised as an expense even if payment won’t be made for another 30 days.
Advantage of accrual accounting
1. Accrual basis accounting allows you to share more meaningful information with business partners and associates.
2. You have a much more accurate picture of business performance and finances.
3. You can make financial decisions with far more confidence.
4. It can sometimes be easier to pitch for long-term finance.
Disadvantage of accrual accounting
1. It’s more work because you have to watch invoices, not just your bank account.
2. You may have to pay tax on income before the customer has actually paid you. If the customer reneges on the invoice, you can claim the tax back on your next return.
Hybrid methods of accounting
Some types of businesses use a hybrid accounting system. They may base big financial decisions and things like loan applications on accrual accounting but use cash-basis accounting to simplify some elements of their tax. There are lots of rules around who can and can’t do this. Speak to an accountant or tax professional to find out what applies to you.
Cash vs accrual vs hybrid accounting
Accrual accounting gives a better indication of business performance because it shows when income and expenses occurred. If you want to see if a particular month was profitable, accrual will tell you. Some businesses like to also use cash basis accounting for certain tax purposes, and to keep tabs on their cash flow. But it’s rare to use cash accounting on its own.
And while it’s true that accrual accounting requires more work, technology can do most of the heavy lifting for you. You can set up accounting software to read your bills and enter the numbers straight into your expenses on an accrual basis. It will also record your invoices as income as you raise them. And if you run a hybrid accounting system, smart software will allow you to switch between cash basis and accrual basis whenever you need.
5. How to treat overdue invoices?
Some people – like credit control managers, accountants and debt collectors – make a living out of getting invoices paid. Their methods aren’t rocket science. Just a mix of persistence and courage. If you’ve got outstanding invoices, try their techniques. Here are their tips on how to collect money (and many experts recommend starting at number 4, by the way).
1. Write a payment request letter or email
This is your first move when someone is late paying an invoice, so there’s no need to overthink it. Open your note with a polite greeting, quote the invoice number, say when it was due, and ask when you can expect payment. There’s no need to explain what the invoice was for. The details should be on the invoice itself. Keep the letter or email really short.
2. Send a past due invoice
You could send a past due invoice, which is really just the original invoice with a ‘past due’ stamp on it. Or you could simply re-attach the original invoice to your payment request email, with or without the past due stamp.
3. What is a statement of accounts, and when should you send one?
A statement of accounts shows all the outstanding invoices a particular customer has with you. If someone has a few, by all means summarise them into one document or use your accounts software to generate a statement. But don’t expect it to hurry them up unless you follow with a phone call.
4. Make the dreaded phone call
Businesses that chase late payers by phone tend to get the best results. Customers can always screen your call but, once you have them on the line, it’s hard for them to ignore you. Don’t say too much. They’re the ones who need to do the talking. Just identify what’s overdue, ask when it will be paid, then wait in silence. Don’t get off the phone till they’ve told you when payment will arrive.
5. Charge a late payment fee on your invoices
You can demand more money if payment is late, but you can’t do it out of the blue. You need a late-fee policy and it must be clearly communicated up front in your payment terms. This is a great reason to get an agreement signed before supplying anything.
Identify late fees on the invoice, too. Don’t make it complicated. Some businesses quote it as a percentage but you’re better off to do the maths for your customer. Say something like:
Total due by 1 June: $100
Total due after 1 June: $110
Write (or call) to tell a customer when they’ve entered late fee territory. You could even offer to waive the fee if the customer pays right away.
6. Cut them off until outstanding invoices are paid
Why would you keep providing goods or services that you’re not getting paid for? It’s unsustainable. If a customer stops paying, stop filling their orders. And tell them what bills need to be paid before you’ll start supplying them again.
This is an aggressive move and some customers will take offence. You need to be prepared to lose the business to do this..
7. Hire a debt collector to go after your overdue invoice
Debt collectors have a skill for getting overdue invoices paid. It should cost nothing to put them on a case, but they’ll take 25% or more of the money they collect. This is likely to bring an end to your relationship with the customer so make sure you’ve exhausted all your other options.
8. Call in the lawyers
If the debt collectors don’t make any progress, then you could go all the way and hire a lawyer. The specific legal action will depend on the type of organisation you’re dealing with. It’s different for sole traders, partnerships and companies. In other words, it can get complex – so use a specialist lawyer. Your debt collector might have inhouse legal expertise, or they may introduce you to a lawyer.
If your outstanding invoice stays unpaid
You have a lot of levers for getting paid, but sometimes none of them work. You may get stuck with an unpaid invoice. If that happens, you should write it off so your accounts reflect the lost income. That’s especially important if you’ve already paid tax on the income that was expected. The act of writing it off allows you to claim the tax back.
6. How to create your first export invoice?
So you’ve got your first international order. How do you invoice your customer? Which currency do you choose? And what do you do about tax? Here are the basics.
Which currency should you use?
There are no rules around using the exporter’s currency or the importer’s currency. It’s easier for whoever gets to deal in their home currency, so your customer may request you use theirs – or you may offer it as a courtesy.
How will you handle exchange rate risk?
If you’re billing in your customer’s currency, then you may be affected by exchange rates. If your home currency falls against theirs, you’ll end up getting less for your goods. Small businesses generally either:
1. accept the going rate on the day payment is made, knowing there will be ups and downs
2. get forward cover through their bank
What is forward cover?
When issuing an export invoice, you can ask your bank to lock in the current exchange rate for you. That way you won’t lose if the exchange rate moves against you while waiting for payment. Of course you won’t win if it moves in your favour either. There are other ways to hedge against currency risk, but this is the most common for small businesses that don’t do a lot of international trade.
Where do you pay tax?
You declare the income you make from exports in your tax return, and pay tax at the same rate as if it were local. Nothing changes there. However, you won’t need to collect any sales tax for your home country. Don’t just leave sales tax off your invoice. Include a line showing it was 0%.
It’s not common to pay tax in the importing country, but that could be starting to change. Australia, for instance, may require you to collect 10% tax on goods you sell to their residents through Amazon. Check with an accountant or bookkeeper if you’re unsure.
Do you need to worry about tariffs?
The government of the importing country may apply a tariff or duty on your goods. If that happens, your customer will be charged the tariff costs when your shipment goes through customs. There will be nothing for you to do.
What about shipping and insurance costs?
When negotiating the deal with your overseas customer, make sure you’re really clear about who’s picking up the shipping and insurance costs. There are all sorts of ways you can split the costs. Spell it out in your terms of trade – a contract that should be signed before the deal is confirmed.
If you’re paying for any part of the shipping or insurance, you’ll pass those costs onto the customer. Add them as a line on your export invoice.
Email your export invoices (don’t post them)
You should really email invoices no matter where they’re going, but it’s especially helpful when exporting. Foreign postal addresses follow unfamiliar formats, which can be hard to get right. And besides, international post is slow. Email your invoice as a PDF attachment or send an online invoice.
Receiving money from abroad
When trading overseas, aim to use a well-established international payment gateway. Debit card, credit card and automated clearing house (ACH) are trusted and convenient methods. Just be aware that there will be a transaction fee of 2% to 4% of the total invoice, so it’s not ideal for really big orders. See our guide on how to accept online payment.
For larger orders, consider a telegraphic transfer through your bank. If you’re worried that your customer may not have the money to pay, request a letter of credit from their bank. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get your money, but it will assure you they have the cash available to do the deal.
Make payment instructions very clear on your export invoice. It pays to get them translated into the official language of the country you’re exporting to.
What are the traps for exporters?
Some businesses are nervous about trading overseas because it’s harder and more expensive to resolve disputes. And if an international customer refuses to pay, there are fewer options for debt collection or legal action. Keep these risks in mind when deciding whether or not to enter an international negotiation.
The basics of export invoicing
Exporting can be complex, but the invoicing isn’t. Here are the main things to remember:
1. Make the invoice out in the agreed currency (probably the destination country’s).
2. Don’t charge sales tax like you normally would. Include a line on your invoice saying sales tax is 0%
3. But check if you’re required to collect sales tax in the importing country and, if so, follow their local rules.
4. Declare exports as part of your revenue, just like any other sale.
5. Offer online payment options like credit card, debit card, ACH – or telegraphic transfer for larger amounts.
6. Send your invoice by email.
7. How to do bank reconciliation?
Bank reconciliation is part of life as a small business owner. It keeps your bookkeeping accurate, alert you to fraud, and allow you to track cash flows. So how do you do it?
Bank reconciliation steps
1. Get bank record You need bank transactions from the bank. You could get that from a statement, from online banking, or by having the bank send data straight to your accounting software.
2. Get your record: Open your banking transactions from Quickmas bank ledger. Here show all unreconciled mark as unrealize and uncleare
3. Reconcile all deposited: Your bank ledger shows unreconciled deposited transactions with a button Realize? or Bounce? find those entries from bank statement and click the realize button to realized amount. If can't found, customer payment might have bounced so confirm the bounced from bank info and click the Bounce button to update the bounced record in your ledger.
4. Reconcile all withdrawals: Your bank ledger shows uncleared withdrawal transactions with a button Clear? or Bounce? find those entries from bank statement and click the Clear button to clear the amount. If can't found, it might have bounced so confirm the bounced from bank info and click the Bounce button to update the bounced record in your ledger.
5. If both statement are not balanced: After reconciled all entries if you see both statement are not balanced, you may see bank fees are shows in the bank statement which you might not have accounted for yet. record immediately as payment for bank expense.
8. What is inventory accounting and why do it?
One of the most challenging aspects of running a business is learning how to effectively manage your inventory so you have what your customers need and want without having much excess. Whether it's deciding what and how much to order, when to order, keeping an accurate count of your products, and knowing how to handle excess and shortages, knowing how to control inventory properly will help ensure your business's success.
In Quickmas you can manage all of above with four types of inventory:
1. Finish Goods
2. Fixed Asset
3. Consumable Goods
4. Raw Material
What is inventory accounting?
Inventory has a value – even before you do anything with it – and so it’s listed as an asset on your business balance sheet. But it can lose its value fast if it gets old, out of date, damaged, or the market price for that type of product drops. It also costs money to store.
Quickmas Inventory accounting helps you figure out the value and costs of your inventory. That’s important for things like setting prices, getting insured, budgeting, working out taxes, and selling your business.
Benefits of inventory management
Here’s how inventory accounting and management can help you both save money, and make money:
1. Maximise sales: Make sure you never run out of a product that people are buying.
2. Lower bills: Reduce storage costs by ordering fewer of your slow-moving items.
3. Avoid waste: Keep tabs on write-offs due to damage, product expiry, and theft.
4. Get better deals: Learn what you should be ordering a lot of, and shop for bulk discounts.
5. Show where the profit is: Properly tracking inventory costs will tell you the true margin on each product line you sell.
6. Help your marketing: Identifying seasonal sales trends will help you plan promotions.
Good inventory management will also help your cash flow. Instead of tying up money in slow-moving stock, you can keep it as cash and use it for more productive things like paying down debt or improving the business.
How to do inventory accounting?
To understand your inventory, you need to know how much there is, what you’re spending on it, and how much you’re selling it for. Costs include purchase price plus things like transport, storage and losses suffered when things get damaged or go out of date.
You can use rough estimates or get super specific in how you work all this out. It comes down to your inventory accounting methods, and the systems you put in place.
9. What is depreciation and why should I care?
Depreciation affects your bottom line, your tax bill, and the value of your business. Those are three good reasons to learn what depreciation is and how it works. Here are the basics.
What is depreciation?
Depreciation is what happens when a business asset loses value over time. A work computer, for example, gradually depreciates from its original purchase price down to $0 as it moves through its productive life.
There are techniques for measuring the declining value of those assets and showing it in your business’s books. This area of accounting can get complex so it’s a good idea to work with a professional.
Purpose of depreciation: 3 main functions
Depreciation accounting helps you understand the true cost of doing business (because wear and tear is an expense), reduce your tax bill, and estimate the value of your business.
1. Depreciation as an expense (cost of doing business)
To understand how profitable your business is, you need to know all your costs. Depreciation is one of those costs because assets that wear down eventually need to be replaced.
Depreciation accounting helps you figure out how much value your assets lost during the year. That number needs to be listed on your P&L report, and subtracted from your revenue when calculating profit. If you don’t account for depreciation, you’ll underestimate your costs, and think you’re making more money than you really are..
2. Depreciation and tax
Because depreciation lowers your profit, it can also lower your tax bill. If you don’t account for depreciation, you’ll end up paying too much tax.
You can gradually claim the entire value of an asset off your tax. However there are rules around how quickly you can depreciate certain assets from a tax perspective..
3. Valuing your business (depreciation on the balance sheet)
As assets lose value, so can your business. A transport company with old trucks may not be worth as much as a transport company with new trucks, for example. Your assets are listed on your balance sheet, on what is called the fixed asset register. Make sure you update the register whenever you work out depreciation. It's also worth remembering that assets are often used to secure loans. As they drop in value, they offer less security, and you may find it more difficult to get finance.
What can be depreciated?
While most business expenses are tax-deductible, they’re not all depreciable. There’s a difference. Consumables like stationery can be deducted from tax but you have to claim for them in the year you bought them. For most businesses, only fixed assets can be depreciated.
What are fixed assets?
A fixed asset is something that will help you generate income over more than a year. It includes things like tools, machinery, computers, office furniture, vehicles, and buildings. You don’t always have to own them. Some leased items may be depreciable, too.
Intangible assets, which are non-physical things like patents and copyrights, can also be depreciated (or amortised). They’re incredibly valuable to your business and that value gradually shrinks as they near their expiry.
Choosing a depreciation schedule
To depreciate an asset, you must first estimate its lifespan. A computer might only last three years. A kiln in a factory could last 30. You’ll probably find that the tax office has a depreciation schedule for the types of assets in your business. It’s common for small business owners to simply follow those recommendations.
Methods of calculating depreciation
You also need to decide how an asset’s value will decline over its lifespan. Will it lose most of its value early, or will it lose value at the same rate every year? There are many different methods of calculating depreciation, and some of them are quite complex. Three of the most common are:
1. Straight line depreciation
Under this method, the asset depreciates the same amount every year, till it has zero value. For instance, an asset expected to last five years would depreciate by one-fifth of its ticket price each year.
2. Diminishing value depreciation
Under diminishing value depreciation, an asset loses a higher percentage of its value in the first few years. That rate of depreciation gradually slows down as time goes on.
3. Units of production depreciation
The lifespan of some assets is better measured by the work they do than by the time they serve. For example, a vehicle might travel a certain number of kilometres, or a packaging machine might box a certain number of products. You could depreciate these assets based on usage rather than age.
Depreciation for small business
Depreciation can seem tricky at first, but it’s nothing to be scared of. It will help you better understand your costs and lower your tax bill, which are good things.
It doesn’t have to be complex either. Most businesses simply adopt the depreciation schedule provided by the tax office. Once it’s set up in your accounting software, the maths happens automatically and the numbers flow straight through to your tax return. And, as always, an accountant or bookkeeper can provide advice along the way.
10. What is accounts receivable and where can it go wrong?
What is accounts receivable?
Accounts receivable is the money you’re owed by customers. Once you send an invoice, it becomes part of your accounts receivable – until it’s paid.
Accounts receivable is the name given to both the money that’s owed, and the process of collecting it. So the accounts receivable process includes things like sending invoices, watching to see if they’ve been paid, taking steps to chase payment, and matching payments to invoices (also known as invoice reconciliation). The accounts receivable process is sometimes called bills receivable, and some people simply call it invoicing.
What is ageing of accounts receivable?
If an invoice hasn’t been paid by its due date, you start to age it. You do this simply by counting each day that’s passed since it was due. If it was due four days ago, you give it an age of 4 days.
What does an ageing report do?
An ageing report shows all the past-due invoices, from least overdue to most overdue. At a glance, you can see which bills you’re waiting on, and which have been outstanding the longest.
The more an invoice ages, the less likely it is to get paid at all, so review an updated report often and act decisively. Decide what steps you’ll take to recover debts as they age. Will you email at day 1? Will you call at day 3? What’s your next move? and when will you make it?
Get tips from our guide on how to treat overdue invoices.
Is accounts receivable an asset?
Accounts receivable is money you’re owed, which makes it an asset. In fact your invoices are so valuable that some companies will even buy them off you.
Once an invoice is paid, it’s no longer an asset – it becomes cash in the bank, which is even better. And if you never get paid, you’ll ultimately write off the invoice as a bad debt. Once it’s written off it’s no longer considered an asset.
Can I sell my invoices?
Invoices are money you’re owed. If you sign them over to someone else, they can collect the money. Some finance companies will buy invoices from businesses that can’t wait for the customer to pay. This is called accounts receivable financing, invoice financing, or invoice factoring. These finance companies realise that older invoices are less likely to get paid. So you probably won’t find anyone willing to buy your really old invoices.
What is accounts receivable financing (invoice financing)?
Some finance companies will pay you up to 90% of the value of an invoice if you sign it over to them. It’s a way to get money you’re owed without waiting on a customer to pay.
The finance company will make a second (remainder) payment to you when the customer settles the invoice. You’ll never get the full value of the invoice, because the finance company takes fees. And they won’t buy old invoices so it’s not a dumping ground for bad debts.
Speak to your accountant or financial advisor before using these types of services.
What is a bad debt?
When invoices aren’t likely to be paid, you should write them off as a bad debt. It’s lost income, and it’s important to capture that in your accounting records – especially as you may have already paid tax on that invoice. And seeing as the income isn’t going to happen, you need to claim that tax back. You do this by writing off the invoice.
When should I write off a bad debt?
You should write off a bad debt whenever you think there’s no reasonable chance of getting paid. Your customer may have gone broke, or you might be locked in a dispute that’s not likely to be resolved, or they may simply be ignoring your reminders.
Whether you write it off after 6 months or 18, don’t give up on it. Even after you’ve written off the debt, keep sending innvoice reminders. If they finally pay, you can always declare the income on your next tax return.
The importance of a good accounts receivable process
When everyone’s late paying, business gets hard. You might run out of money to pay suppliers or staff. It’s one of the most common reasons businesses go broke.
It’s important to treat invoices like the assets they are. Set up an accounts receivable process that maximises your chance of getting on-time payment. There’s a lot you can do.
Check our guide on building an accounts receivable processfor more..
11. Building an accounts receivable process
There are many ways to get into business, but only one way to stay in – you have to get paid. That’s why a good accounts receivable process is critical.
What is an accounts receivable process?
The job of accounts receivable is to get money in the door. There are a lot of steps to that. You need to find customers that pay, bill them correctly, communicate clearly, and lay out enforceable consequences for slow payment.
Here’s your small business guide to accounts receivable management.
Don’t do business with just anybody
If you work for businesses, you already know that some are good at paying and some aren’t. It doesn’t have to be a lottery. Do some research before taking them on:
1. Run a credit check to find out if they’re regarded as good payers.
2. Or call someone else who supplies them, and ask if they get paid on time.
Put payment terms in writing (before you start)
Spell out when you’ll be billing your customer, and how much time they’ll have to pay. Point out the consequences of late payment – such as interest, fees or legal action. Get the payment terms signed off before starting work. Don’t leave any room for misunderstandings.
Get a personal guarantee
If you’re dealing with a fellow small business, ask the owner to sign a personal guarantee. That gives you the option of suing them or the business for unpaid debts. Just be aware that some business owners may take exception to this move.
Send your invoice quickly
Send your bill straight after the work’s done. It’ll take time for your customer to approve it and pay it, so why not start those wheels turning as soon as you can.
Make it easy for customers to pay you
Invoices get paid up to 30% faster when customers are offered convenient payment options like debit card, credit card, services like PayPal, or direct debit.
Watch obsessively for payment
Keep a list of all your invoices and check your bank account regularly for payment. Invoices should stay on your watchlist until they’re paid in full. Knowing what has and hasn’t been paid is absolutely critical to managing your accounts receivable.
Have a plan for stragglers in your accounts receivable process
Decide what actions you’ll take when invoices go past due:
1. When will you email a reminder? When will you call?
2. Will you send a past due invoice or a statement of accounts?
3. When will you involve a debt collector?
Make the big calls
Don’t try to handle all your accounts receivable by email. There will be times when you simply have to call. Check they’re happy with the products supplied or work done, let them know they’re overdue, and ask when you can expect payment. Make these types of calls part of your plan for overdue accounts.
Make the even bigger calls
Check the payment history of your customers (which should be simple to do on your accounting software). Are some of them always late paying you? Maybe it’s time for a chat. Ask if they’d prefer another payment method. Or change their payment terms so you’re extending them less credit. You could start asking them for upfront payments, for example. If that doesn’t work, consider letting them go. Picking and choosing good customers is a big part of accounts receivable management.
The number one rule of accounts receivable management
Make sure you have a plan for your debtors. Don't treat invoices on a case by case basis. Do the same things on the same days for everyone that owes you money. A consistent accounts receivable process will help keep you in business so make sure you have one that:
1. makes new customers aware of their obligations to you
2. gets invoices out the door as soon as a job is complete, or billing cycle comes around
3. sets out the specific actions you’ll take if an invoice is overdue
12. How to cash in on direct debit for small business?
Technology has made direct debit far simpler and more affordable for small business. Now you don’t have to wait for customers to approve and pay your invoice. Learn how it works.
What is direct debit?
When you set up a direct debit with a customer, you can collect payments straight from their bank. Of course you have to notify them ahead of time what you’re taking and when, but the customer doesn’t have to do anything to make the payment happen.
Benefits of direct debit for small business
While it takes 30 days or more for a customer to pay an invoice, direct debit is almost instant. Payment is triggered as soon as you send the bill.
It’s convenient, too. Customers don’t have to approve payments or remember to make payments, which simplifies their life. And you don’t have to spend as much time tracking invoices or chasing payments. Businesses that use direct debit to bill customers say they get back a day a week in admin time (this is an average, and would obviously change depending on size).
Direct debit is ideal for:
1. subscriptions for things like gym memberships or software
2. regular invoices such as monthly retainers (for fixed or variable amounts)
3. accepting instalments to help customers spread out their costs
4. collecting rent from tenants
How does direct debit work?
Your customer fills out a direct debit form (also known as a mandate) authorising you to take payments from their bank. When a payment is coming up, you send the customer a notice saying how much will be taken, and when. The customer doesn’t need to take any other action. When the due date comes, the payment is made automatically.
How long does a direct debit take?
Customer payments can take up to five working days to clear. The transfer isn’t quite as fast as other online payment methods because you’re pulling money from their account. That’s a slower process than if they push the money to yours.
Direct debit collection options
You can take one of two approaches to direct debit.
1. Set it up directly through your bank
This can be easy or hard depending on where your customers reside. It’s a lengthy negotiation in some countries.
2. Use a direct debit provider
The levels of service and charges can vary a lot so shop around.
Easy direct debit for small business
Direct debit was first used by Unilever in the 1960s, but it was complex and expensive. And that’s the way it stayed for a long time. Online technologies have recently streamlined the process, making it affordable for smaller businesses.
As a result, you can now set up for free, and direct debit a customer for between 20 cents and $2 per transaction.
How to set up direct debit
If you’re a small business, you’re probably going to start with an off-the-shelf provider. Here’s how it works.
1. Choose your direct debit provider
Set up your account through their website (or through your online accounting software).
2. Add customers and invite them to pay through direct debit
They’ll be emailed a direct debit form. Once they fill it out, you can take payments from their bank.
3. Set up your payments
You can use it to collect recurring or one-off bills.
4. Your customer is automatically notified before a payment is collected
The notice period is regulated so make sure your provider complies.
5. Payment clears in your account – minus the provider’s fee
The fee will depend on the size of the bill but shouldn’t go higher than about $2.
Manage all your payments online
View and manage all of your direct debit accounts online. If you’ve chosen a system that talks to your accounting software, you can reconcile payments online too.
What about direct debit indemnity?
Customers have the right to cancel a direct debit transaction and receive a refund. The rules around this vary from market to market so, again, it depends where your customers are based. But it can be hard to avoid giving a refund when one is requested, even if you disagree with it. That's why direct debit is not recommended for really big transactions
Fortunately, only about 1 in 500 direct debit transactions gets disputed.
Direct debit services for small businesses
While a lot of companies offer online payment services like credit card, debit card and automated clearing house (ACH), there aren’t as many doing direct debit for small business just yet. That is changing, however, and there are still well-trusted options out there.
GoCardless and uCollect are respected operators that integrate with popular online accounting software.