I’m not sure if I’m going to make payroll next month. Help!

Dear Aunty B,

I’m really panicking. I’ve got enough cash to make payroll this month, but the next month is looking very touch and go.

My problem is a few key customers are shocking payers. The money comes eventually, but it takes forever. In the last few weeks there have been even more delays than normal and things are getting stretched to breaking point.

What do I do? I’ve harassed the accounts payable people at my key customers, but I’m worried that if I shake the tree too hard I’m going to damage the relationships. And then I’ll be in more trouble.

I need some advice Aunty, and I need it fast.

Hanging by a thread,



Dear Hanging by a thread,

You need to be bloody careful. It sounds to me like you are running the risk of trading while insolvent, which is obviously a breach of the Corporations Act. I’d be getting some help from your accountant – actually, pick another accountant, because clearly your first one didn’t give you much advice about organising your cashflow.

Then you need to stop pussyfooting around with your key customers. Don’t ring the accounts payable people, call the CEO of the company and tell her that if they don’t start paying, you’ll have to stop supplying. Be brutally honest – tell her your company and they need to come to the party. It’s not the risk that you think – chances are your customers will respect you for sticking up for yourself instead of allowing yourself to be walked all over.

Finally, you need to look at your cost base. Are there any things you can quickly cut? Anything? Even little things could help.

You might also want to read SmartCompany interviews about the experiences of Michael Doyle and Alfa Aminudin, who both had similar problems to your business.

You’re in for a rough few months, so make sure you’ve got a good support network around you too.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

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