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5 signs your client invoice isn’t getting paid

Written by Pauline Campbell • Senior Accountant
Published on 06 Dec 2018

As a business owner, if you know only one thing, you know that Cash flow is king. Cash flow is an absolutely vital element in the success of any business.

The thing about good cash flow is that it is heavily reliant on your client’s paying their invoices when they are due. It is estimated that 16% of all work completed by small businesses goes unpaid. To put some real figures in front of you, a business that is turning over 1 million dollars a year is losing 160k when that estimate is applied.

Terrifying when you look at it like that.

I know what you are thinking – “there must be some signs to look out for, right?”. Right.

Here are 5 signs your client invoice isn’t getting paid


1. Obvious Indicators.

Examples of this include your client wanting to pay by cheque rather than electronically, being hesitant about moving onto a direct debit payment method, or being price sensitive.


2. Questioning Fees, hourly rate, or time spent

Clients who question your fees, hourly rate, or overall time spent on a project is a massive red flag. Also look out for clients who have a tendency to say the following regarding your time and services:

  • Could you just quickly do…
  • That shouldn’t take to long right?
  • That should be easy enough

Clients or would-be clients who say these things don’t value your time and skills and are more often than not price sensitive.


3. The Disappearing Client

Unfortunately, one big hallmark of a client who isn’t going to pay your invoice only rears it’s head when it’s too late. A client who suddenly stops returning calls and emails after a job is completed is a client who is either delaying payment of their invoice or has no intention to pay it at all.


4. Broken Promises

Funnily enough, clients who aren’t good at keeping their word while you work with them are usually not that great at paying invoices on time or at all. Who would’ve thunk!


5. Personal Problems

If you are aware that a client is going through personal issues such as divorce, illness, or loss of a loved one – this is a pretty obvious sign that your invoice might not be getting paid on time. This is probably the only legitimate reason on our list – but you still need to get paid. A polite reminder is a good way to make sure that you still get paid.


This is happening to me! What should I do?

  1. Contact the client and try and come to some sort of payment arrangement.
  2. Start to charge late fees on your accounts to deter late payment.
  3. If all else fails – seek legal action if an invoice remains unpaid despite your best efforts.

If this is occurring regularly within your business, you might find that your issue stems from how you are managing client expectations.

It may be worth your time to visit your internal procedures and processes when managing a client.

Check out another recent blog in this category.

A valued member of Fitzpatrick Group since 2000, Pauline has a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Accounting. Pauline specialises in business and company tax returns.
Authour | Pauline Campbell

Senior Accountant, Fitzpatrick Group

Post Categories: Small Business

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