Around 10% of people in work (nearly three million people) have been engaged as freelancers or under self-employed status in the UK over the last 12 month. Like most entrepreneurs they enjoy both working for themselves and controlling their own destiny.
However, freelancers do face a major challenge when it comes to getting paid. Recent research reveals that only 19% of freelancers are paid on time, with related invoices being paid on average 18 days after their due date. Precious time spent chasing payments could instead be used for further revenue generating work.
Being a freelancer also creates additional administration, requiring individuals to raise their own invoices and manage their own cash flow. This in itself can be quite stressful, creating uncertainty about not getting paid, alongside anxiety for some about having to manage and maintain their own admin and cash flow. This is an increasing problem, with recent data showing that 52% of SME owners blame poor cash flow for impacting their mental health negatively.
However, these issues can be solved by recent advances in cloud technology, which allow freelancers to automate their invoicing, conduct frequent credit checks on clients, and set up reminders for overdue invoices. Cumulatively, this allows freelancers to rest easy, adding efficiencies to their cash collection, as well as helping them avoid the stresses or worries associated with late payments.
Gain insights by checking customers’ credit status
Checking and monitoring the credit scores of customers can be an effective way for freelancers to have up to date information on their clients’ ability to pay their bills. A credit score is a numerical indicator of a consumer or business’s ability to service debt. They are based on a number of different factors such as records of servicing credit, County Court Judgements (CCJs) and a history of applications for credit.
These were once the preserve of large businesses, but consumers are increasingly becoming familiar with them due to companies like ClearScore (sold to Experian for £275 million in 2018) giving them the tools to manage their own credit scores in order to make sure that they are able to access a wide range of personal finance products.
This has created an opportunity for freelancers and SMEs to become more switched on about how credit scores work, and has resulted in established credit scoring companies offering the service to a wider customer base. These companies allow freelancers and SMEs to check on the financial health of their customers, and subsequently provide them with the insights and indications into how long both new and existing clients will take to pay them. This technology also helps them to identify any adverse changes to their credit activity.
Reduce admin with automated invoicing
Processing invoices is cited by freelancers as being one of their top five administrative burdens. 29% of those surveyed by The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) listed is as being a task which could otherwise be spent on winning or completing new work.
Whilst many freelancers still generate invoices with their own basic Excel or Word templates, there are now a plethora of cloud invoicing tools on the market which can save time around both processing invoices, as well as chasing for associated payments.
Cloud invoicing, either used as a feature within cloud accounting software or as a stand-alone tool, allows freelancers to create invoices on the fly from smart devices, include direct payment options, monitor open rates and set up automatic chasers.
Additionally, the fully customisable features of cloud invoicing allow creative freelancers to imprint their own unique identity on their paperwork.
These services can help freelancers reduce the time they spend on chasing late invoices and also help them better manage their cash flow due to collecting payment faster.
Combine invoicing and credit scores for greater productivity
There are a number of options on the market for cloud invoicing and credit score data. However, utilising one solution to take care of both of these needs can save time, creating further productivity benefits. Using an all-encompassing product aggregates insights from both invoice and credit score data. This provides enhanced insights into the likelihood of customer behaviour and their ability to make payments. The information can then be used to collect payments faster through a combination of both human intervention, as well as automated reminder.
Chasing payment is a frustrating chore for freelancers. Who wants to spend around 20 days a year doing this, and deal with the stress? This technologies and options discussed above will help to reduce the time wasted, and speed up payment, which can only be an improvement.
Inna Kaushan is co-founder of Solna, a smart invoicing platform powered by credit score data. Solna speeds up the invoicing and payment process for freelancers and small businesses. Through leveraged credit data that is overlaid on the platform’s invoicing and reporting functionality, users get a clear picture of their customer’s financial health and their overall exposure to risk. The system’s automated credit control functionality automatically chases overdue invoices – freeing up time and ensuring faster payment. Web: https://solna.io/