But could we business owners be the worst offenders of all?

How to deal with late invoice payments from your customers. But could business owners be the biggest offenders of all?Hands up who enjoys hassling customers about late payments?

Hmm. It’s all gone very quiet.
It’s perhaps fair to assume that dealing with overdue payments is not exactly one of the biggest pleasures of running your own business.

But here’s a controversial suggestion;
Are small business owners amongst the biggest culprits of all when it comes to failing to pay suppliers on time?

In just a moment, I’ll reveal the facts and figures from a recent report which indicates that small business owners are just as likely to be the perpetrators as they are the victims.

I’ll also be taking a look at some quick tips and pointers on how you can increase your chances of actually getting paid on time for your hard work!

But first, I just want to tell you about Wonky Simon, my old entrepreneurial friend who supplies products and services to other businesses.
Last time I bumped into him whilst queuing down in the Sweet Pastry Shop, he was ranting and raving about how overdue payments were crippling his cashflow.

“How hard can it be for people to just pay for something on time like they agreed?” he wailed.
“I’m sick of wasting my time on chasing up money that should already be rightfully mine. And now I’ve been forced to put some of my future plans on hold because I’m still waiting for my own customers to pay up! It’s a ridiculous situation!”

I can see his point. Very clearly, in fact.
Wonky Simon’s payments for his latest custom projects from Martin Print have just gone overdue.
His order included Transparent PVC Business Cards, Brochures, and, ironically enough, Invoice Books!

I was going to bring this up with him, but I could tell he was already having a bad day.
I knew he would get the polite email reminder tomorrow anyway.

But whilst small business owners can be hugely impacted by the hassle of late payments, a recent report from Vistr reveals that we’re also amongst the biggest offenders…


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How to Choose the Best Range of Payment Methods for Your Business Customers.

As Martin Print becomes the first Australian print and design company to accept Bitcoin as payment for our business-boosting services, we take a closer look at some of the popular payment methods that your business could be making available to customers.
Everything from Cash (remember that?) to Cheques, from Direct Bank Deposits to Online Payment Gateways, and from Paypal to Cryptocurrencies

 Bitcoins roll into Martin Print! We’re Australia’s first print and design company to accept Bitcoin as payment for our services.The Bitcoins are now rolling into Martin Print!
This week, we’re celebrating our decision to become Australia’s first known print and design company to accept Bitcoin as payment.

If you’re fairly new to the concept of Bitcoin, I should just quickly explain that it’s a purely digital peer-to-peer cryptocurrency which has been generating headlines around the globe.

Although not universally recognised as a ‘genuine’ currency, the online payment system is growing in popularity with buyers and sellers wishing to ‘cut out the middleman’.
Bitcoin actually empowers users to deal directly with each other by placing instant deposits into electronic wallets with no input from a central authority or bank.

I’ll return to the subject of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in just a moment.
(By the way, if you’d like to use Bitcoin to pay for your next batch of custom-crafted goodies from Martin Print, please just mention this when placing your order!)

But this decision got me thinking about how many businesses I come across that don’t have a particularly wide range of payment options available.
I’ve lost count of the number of occasions when I’ve felt a sense of crushing disappointment after realising that I couldn’t pay with the method most convenient to me at the time.

In certain cases, it’s even prompted me to look elsewhere for a more suitable arrangement.
I suppose this is how Old Bert feels all the time when he gets told by a business that they sadly don’t accept ballads, long-winded jokes, or pearls of wisdom as payment.

But could you be losing some of your own prospective customers because you’re not offering them a wide enough range of payment options?

Here’s an overview of some of the most popular preferred payment methods which members of your own audience may well be hoping to choose as their ideal option…


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Why You Should Never Follow These
Mythical ‘Unwritten Rules’ of Business

False! Wrong! Bogus! Untrue! Let’s take a look at a list of some of the worst unwritten rules in Small Business and why you should never follow them…Are you following any of the so-called Unwritten Rules of Business?
If so, could you be making a very dangerous mistake and putting your business health at serious risk?

I was having a catch-up with my good friend Wonky Alan last week down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar.
I’d spent what seemed like two hours listening politely to his latest news, updates, and plans for the future.
In fact, I’d managed to get through four Fizzy Frothy Fruity Fusion drinks before it got round to my turn.

Eventually, I got the chance to share some of my own new stories and anecdotes from the continuing design-driven adventures of Martin Print.
However, I was only really starting to get to the good bits when I was abruptly cut short after less than ten minutes.

“Stop!” yelled Wonky Alan, dramatically. “Have you been feeling unwell or something? It sounds as if you’ve been breaking every unwritten rule of business in the book! Maybe it’s time you took a holiday?”

Well, I wouldn’t say no to a holiday. But I strongly disagreed with Wonky Alan’s reasoning.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem with ‘unwritten rules’ of anything.
If a rule is so good, why on Earth has nobody ever bothered to write it down?
Could it be because the rule in question is actually a bit rubbish?
Is there even perhaps a small chance that the unwritten rule could turn out to be completely wrong?

At this point, Wonky Alan pulled out a curiously named book from his pocket called The Definitive List of Unwritten Business Rules.
Hmm. Surely a contradictory title? Unless all the pages were blank.

But no, the pages weren’t blank. In my honest opinion, the pages were crammed full of very bad business advice which should definitely have remained unwritten and unspoken.
Wonky Alan seemed to have been absorbing all this nonsense recently, so I decided to postpone sharing my own stories and news until our next catch-up.

I felt our time would now be better spent on exposing the lack of logic in many of these mythical guidelines, and ripping up The Top Four Completely and Utterly False Rules of Business


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Opening Up Your Small Business Tax Books with Accountants and Bookkeepers!

Is it time for your business to hire an accountant or bookkeeper? Which profession could help ease your own tax worries?Are you happy to take a Do It Yourself approach to business bookkeeping and tax returns?
Could you save a big chunk of money in the long term by investing in a professional accountant or bookkeeper?

What’s the difference between the two professions anyway?
And which of them, if any, would you really need to help untangle your Small Business taxes?

There’s a guy down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar called DIY Donald who defiantly insists on doing just about everything himself.
“I’m a perfectly capable human being and I can grasp most basic concepts,” he’ll happily tell you at the bar.
“I don’t see why I should pay over the odds to call in so-called ‘professional’ help. Big waste of money if you ask me. Just use your own brains and skills. If you’re as passionate about business as I am, you’ll probably end up doing a better job anyway.”

So, DIY Donald fixes his own computers whenever they develop a fault, prints out his own business cards, designs his own websites, and even cuts his own hair.
And he sorts out his own taxes, too.

He once brought all his business tax books into the bar to help him prove some point or other to a fellow entrepreneur with whom he was enjoying a petty argument.
I can’t remember now what that particular argument was all about, but I do clearly remember that these books eventually ended up in the hands of an accountant friend of mine who had been enjoying a fizzy apple cocktail with me at the bar.

He glanced through the books, and made a quick-fire rough estimation of how much money DIY Donald could have saved over the course of the last ten years if he’d called in the professionals.
When he actually said the number out loud, poor old Donald seemed to go a little dizzy, and he eventually had to be carried out of the bar by Smokey Joe himself.

By the way, I should also point out that DIY Donald never seems to have a computer that works properly, his website is a mess, his business cards are cheap and tatty, and his hair looks terrible.


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Essential Questions to Ask When Looking for a Courier Service

Not all Couriers provide exactly the same service…so has your Small Business settled on the perfect Courier to meet your unique needs?Are you using the perfect Courier Service that matches your unique Small Business needs?
What questions do you need to ask before picking out the ideal provider of such a crucial service?

For quite a while now, I’ve been waiting in eager anticipation for a certain package to arrive here at Martin Print H.Q.
This particular package has nothing to do with business – but I’ve been reliably assured that it was despatched via a very trustworthy business courier.

It’s actually a birthday present from my Great Uncle Tom. He reckons that it’s going to be the most original and exciting and genuinely useful birthday surprise that I’ll ever receive in my life.

“I know there’s been a slight delay in the arrival,” he’ll cackle down the telephone whenever he calls me at work.
“But I’ve been in touch with the courier, and they’ve assured me that your birthday present is on its way, and should be with you very soon.
“Believe me young Martin, it will definitely be worth the wait, I promise you that! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

Well, I certainly hope so. It’s been over seven years now.
I’m not quite sure what’s taking them so long. Our office door isn’t that hard to find.

Here at Martin Print, we’ve been fortunate enough to find the perfect mix of professional couriers to handle the distribution of our custom-crafted marketing goodies.
But I’m not here to tell you about those couriers.
After all, they may not necessarily turn out to be the ideal match for your business.

I’m much more interested in learning about the specific questions that every Australian Small Business should be asking potential courier service providers before settling on a final winning decision.


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Is Your Small Business Pricing as Clear as Crystal?

Yikes! Nobody enjoys a surprise hidden cost right at the end of the ordering process. But is your own Small Business Pricing System as clear and transparent as it should be?In a seemingly sneaky world of hidden costs, last-minute extra fees and unexpected nasty surprises, just how transparent is your own Small Business pricing?

Could you be accidentally driving away customers with a pricing policy that isn’t quite clear enough?
Or is it a perfectly acceptable and rewarding strategy to hide certain costs until the very last second?

A strangely popular school of thought exists which maintains that there’s nothing wrong with holding back a few vital chunks of the final invoice until the very last step of the process.

After all, you’ve already hooked the customer.
They’ve spent valuable time and effort on jumping through your hoops, filling in your registration forms, giving you bank details or credit card information, choosing the exact desired options available from your range of products and services…
They’ve already made a mental commitment to buy. They’ve made up their minds and now they just want to get to the end as quickly as possible.

Unless you do something really silly at this point, it’s surely too late for anyone to turn back now?
After all, who could seriously object to just a couple of unexpected extra costs popping up from nowhere right at the last step?

Well, I would suggest that plenty of people would object. Myself included.
In fact, some people would probably get very angry about it indeed, whilst looking at your business in a whole new negative light and making a solemn vow never to return ever again…

I got thinking about this today after trying to place an order for a cat playhouse in the shape of a fire engine.
It’s not normally the kind of thing that I would buy. Honestly. I don’t even have a cat for starters.


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How to Improve Your Small Business Results Without Blowing a Tiny Budget

Short of cash? No money? Tiny business budget? All is not lost! Here’s how to grow and expand your business without blowing a fortune…“I wish I could concentrate more on growing my business. But I just don’t have the funds for it. A big shame, really. I don’t suppose there’s much I can do about it.”

Oh dear.
I could see that Gloomy Graham was unlikely to provide much merriment and laughter today down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar.

To be honest, when I’d first walked through those doors and caught a quick glimpse of his long face, I made a clumsy attempt to walk right back out again.
But it was too late. He’d already spotted me.
Hitting my head on the door and yelping like an animal probably didn’t help my effort to slip out undetected.
Gloomy Graham insisted on waving me over so that I could buy him a drink and listen to his tales of business woe.
I sometimes wonder why I ever bother coming to this place…

“It’s so frustrating,”  he grumbled in his typically less-than-uplifting manner.
“I look around and I see everybody else happily moving forward and expanding their businesses by pouring more and more money into them. But I just can’t compete with that at the moment.
I don’t have that kind of budget. It looks like I’ll just have to keep plodding on and hope that things pick up eventually.”

That last sentence almost made me choke on my Fizzy Watermelon Surprise.
The very idea of Gloomy Graham ever actually hoping for something positive seemed a bit of a far-fetched prospect to me.


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How to Develop an Expense Policy
and Tame Your Staff Spending Habits…

Do your staff employees go wild with business expenses, leaving your budget hanging in the balance? Here’s how to tame over-spending on expense accounts…Are you in the sometimes prickly position of trusting your Small Business employees with an Expenses Account?

It’s an expensive world out there.
I should know. Yesterday, I came back from the Sweet Pastry Shop in a state of shock after I discovered that they’d tripled their prices for the second time this week.
I’m starting to suspect that they’re just trying to drive me away on purpose for some unfathomable reason…

When your team members are forced into situations where they have to spend their own money to keep your business productivity running in the right direction, it’s clearly important to make sure that they don’t end up out of pocket whilst they were helping to line your own.

But does your Small Business have a clear and robust Expenses Policy?
How do you create an effective and workable new policy from scratch? And how do you ensure that these expense accounts don’t end up spinning wildly out of control?

Keeping a close eye on expenses may seem like a tricky business in itself, but it really doesn’t have to be complicated.

To be honest, I learned several valuable lessons on expenses the hard way.
I can remember sending Old Bert into town one Friday lunchtime with rather vague instructions to “buy something nice for the whole team.”
We’d had a really good week, the team had worked their socks off to meet every tight printing deadline, and I just wanted to thank everybody for their hard work and dedication.

In fairness to Old Bert, he questioned my instructions and requested slightly more specific details.
But I was incredibly busy.  At that exact moment, I was actually trying to take three telephone calls at once. It really had been one of those weeks.
So, I just waved him away and told him to do whatever he thought best. I promised him that I’d pay back however much he spent from his own money.
“Just stick it on your expenses tab!” I said, half-jokingly.
We didn’t really have a clear policy in place at the time, you see.
Big mistake.


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The Secret Art of Good Business Negotiation

Have far too many Australian Small Business owners forgotten how to negotiate with potential suppliers and fellow businesses?
And what steps can you take to sharpen up your negotiating skills and improve your chances of a winning result?

In a world of widespread fixed prices and fixed rates, it often seems as if many of us have lost the secrets of the ancient art of negotiating a good business deal.

Have Australian Small Businesses forgotten the secret art of good negotiation? Here are some tips and pointers to help sharpen your negotiating skills…When a supplier or fellow business is offering you a clear price for their products or services, the very thought of striking up a negotiation makes some business owners feel uncomfortable.
If it’s not an activity that you engage in on a fairly regular basis, then it might just appear to be rude or even plain wrong.

But when your only alternative is walking away from a price that you deem to be far too high, many of these suppliers will actually appreciate the opportunity to discuss the matter further in a sensible and professional manner.
A shrewd supplier or fellow business owner will be surprisingly open to the idea of offering you a reasonable discount and possibly securing your long-term custom in the process.
It’s got to be a more fruitful proposition than running the risk of losing your business forever.

Quite a bit of healthy negotiation goes on down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar every day, although far too much of it revolves around trying to get Smokey Joe to knock a few more dollars off the price of a plate of Oxtail Dumplings.

Old Smokey Joe is never interested in bringing down the price any further though.
He argues that the blue crab toast and spring vegetables which accompany the dish are worth the asking price on their own.
I’m not sure if he’s telling the truth. I’ve never tried the dish myself. It’s a bit too expensive.

So, it’s certainly worth bearing in mind that not everyone will be open to polite negotiation, and not every attempt will deliver the result that you were hoping for.

But if you’re brave enough to strike up a round of healthy negotiation to try and secure a better deal for your business, here are just a few quick tips and pointers to help you bring down the asking price…


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Why You and Your Business Customers Could
End Up Paying the Price for Cheap Bargains

Are you losing potential business customers to rivals offering a cheaper but poorer service? It’s time to communicate the true value of your products and services…Do you often find yourself battling against certain pesky business rivals who charge much less than you do for similar products or services?

How do they do it?
I’m sure that in many cases, it’s simply because they’re not offering or delivering the same levels of quality and excellence as your own business.

But it can be frustrating trying to get this message across to some potential customers who are keen to sniff out a bargain, and who are only ever interested in snapping something up at the lowest possible price.
Especially when you know that these supposed ‘bargains’ will end up costing the customer far more in the long-term…

It was a visit to Old Bert’s little office, just down the corridor, that got me thinking about this today.
I’d just popped in there to deliver his lunchtime sweet pastry, and I noticed for the first time that his office chair was beginning to look a little worn.
I suddenly realised that Old Bert had been using the same chair for years and years and years without a single complaint. I actually started to feel a little guilty, as I knew that I’d probably been through about 10 or 12 different chairs in the same period.
So, in a fit of spontaneous generosity, I offered to buy him a brand new one.

I was quite taken aback by his startling reaction to my offer.
“Get out of here with that kind of nonsense talk!” he bellowed.
“I’ve had this chair for twenty years, and I’ll keep it for twenty more! There’s nothing wrong with this chair! It was built to last, not like the sort of cheap rubbish that you keep buying for yourself! Get out of here! And give me that sweet pastry before you go!”


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