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How to Burn Your Bridges in Business


April 16, 2019 / fbcadmin

Kerrie Sheaves
Foundational Business

Every year I’ve been in business, I’ve come across small business owners who don’t pay their bills on time (or at all) for services they have received from other small businesses.

It seems crazy that a fellow small business owner wouldn’t understand that their colleagues also have cash flow challenges, and by not paying their invoices, they’re choosing to hurt another small business owner, their staff and suppliers by extension.

Where there’s a dispute or a problem, it’s reasonable to raise that quickly and agree terms for rectification and payment – this isn’t what I’m talking about.



I’m talking about the business owners who go AWOL, are deathly silent and ignore multiple emails and reminders and phone calls. They never raise a complaint or advise you if they’re having trouble affording to pay you on time.

The fastest way to burn your bridges in business is, don’t pay your bills on time.

We have all heard of Six Degrees of Separation – well the small business community is very small – probably a lot smaller than you realise. If you let someone down and do the wrong thing by them (especially financially), there’s a pretty high chance that you’ve seriously tarnished your brand and cut off possible customer channels, without even knowing you have.

What can you do to avoid burning your bridges and protect your brand and reputation?

  1. Make it a rule to pay people on time. It’s ok to delegate your processing, but know what’s due and make sure payments happen on time.
  2. Count the costs (in detail) before you commit to buying someone else’s services or products.
  3. Keep on top of your own Accounts Receivable and collections processes, so that you have good cashflow to help you pay your own debts.
  4. If you’re a micro business doing all your own admin and service/product delivery – get organised, so that you don’t forget when things get busy, to take care of your AR and AP processes.

So, what do you do if you get in trouble and can’t afford to pay your bills?

Pick up the phone and talk to the business you owe money to – be honest and be humble – ask for some options to spread out payments over time, to help you to fulfil your commitment.

Stay committed to communication and fulfilling your agreement to pay over time.

Everyone has challenges along the way that make it hard to do what you said you would do – if you want other business owners to respect you for your integrity as a fellow business owner – rather than blackballing you in their networks – have the guts to admit when things aren’t perfect, and proactively seek ways to overcome them together.

It’ll build a stronger brand and relationships with your business community, which will generate business growth.

Call us to find out more today!


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