Royal Mail, stunting the growth of SMEs everywhere

2 11 2009

Being a small business in the UK in 2009 is certainly a test of a person’s mettle.  Since I started my own business, only a few months ago, I have joined the masses like me who rely on project work to get by and, by default, rely on the Royal Mail to receive payment where companies are unable to pay electronically.

It’s hard enough winning business at the moment without the added stress of never being sure when you’re going to get paid.  Most companies have been understanding but some, especially big national organisations, have onerous processes to adhere to and still, despite the issues of the last 12 months, prefer to use Royal Mail than process payments in an alternative way.

Try and alternative

Try an alternative postal service

I don’t have the answers but the damage that the postal strike must be having on businesses all over the country must be significant.  I wonder how many of you are in the same boat and whether you have any tips for those of us in the same position?

My view?  Here are a few things I am doing to try and ease the pain:

– Organise e-payments where possible with all your clients / creditors

– Build a ‘just in case’ contingency into your contracts so that you will always receive payment, even if the Mail chooses to strike further

– Encourage the companies that you interact with to look at alternative methods of dispatch – Hermes has been offering some particularly competitive deals on parcel delivery and so it’s worth looking at alternatives

– As a freelancer, the 30-day payment terms enforced by many companies can feel unmanageable – especially when you can’t always guarantee that they’ll arrive on time – negotiate a better payment term.  I usually try for 7 – 14 working days at completion

– Never be afraid to ask to be paid in person, by cheque.  If you anticipate industrial action, ask that you be paid by cheque and that you receive it in person, to avoid delay.