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When Invoices Are Paid Late: the Crippling Effects Small Businesses Suffer

If SMEs were paid on time, they could hire an additional 2.1 million employees
By Eyal Shinar |



Owning and operating a small business is no easy feat. There are so many moving parts, and you are essentially the head of all departments: IT, marketing, accounting, HR, sales and customer service.


And then even when everything is running smoothly, and you and your team get a job done, the realization occurs that you may not be paid on time for that service. Worse, you may not get paid at all.



If you were to analyze all the unpaid invoices across the U.S. economy, you would see how dramatically those delinquent payments harm small and medium-sized businesses and the overall economy. At Fundbox, we recently did something similar: Our team conducted a nonscientific survey of over 200 customers in order to better understand the microeconomic impact of unpaid or late payments.


Our central finding was the massive trickle down effect that takes place --  in terms of forced spending cuts and effects on employees. We were also able to analyze the good things that would happen if all those small and medium-size businesses out there were paid on time.


Key findings included:


- 79 percent of small business owners can’t pay themselves

- 23 percent can’t hire new employees

- 23 percent can’t invest in new equipment

- 20 percent stop marketing efforts

- 18 percent hold back on pay increases or bonuses for employees

- 17 percent cannot build up inventory



If paid on time, Fundbox estimates that SMBs across the U.S. could hire an additional 2.1 million employees, which would reduce unemployment in the U.S. by 27 percent


We then extrapolated our findings nationwide (again, nonscientifically), finding that, if paid on time, SMBs across the United States could hire an additional 2.1 million employees, which would reduce unemployment in the United States by 27 percent. 


Clearly, when a small business is not paid on time, it can’t grow. It can’t take on new projects; it can’t hire a new employee (or employees) to allow it to scale. It is unable to fill large orders; revenue stagnates; employees leave; and the company loses its competitive edge. Additionally, nonpayment can affect the company's personal finances, and it may fall behind on bills and mortgage payments.


This scenario, however, would play out much differently were small businesses paid in a timely manner. Our team estimated that if paid on time, each SMB owner could pay himself or herself an incremental $30,990, purchase $9,207 in new equipment, invest an incremental $8,308 in marketing, spend $7,411 in pay increases or bonuses to employees and build up an incremental $6,737 in inventory.



The below infographic highlights the cause and effect of late payments on the entire supply chain.








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This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editors.

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