All around the world we see small businesses grapple with the problem of chasing overdue customer payments. Our recent late payments research study found that it’s no different in Singapore.

Most Singapore SMEs are affected by late payments

Late payments ranked as the greatest challenge faced by the majority of the small businesses we surveyed. Our study shows that 90% of Singapore’s small businesses have customers that don’t pay on time. That’s a staggering figure.

Late payments have a detrimental effect

Being paid late has an adverse effect on the running of a small business. The issue needs to be addressed urgently. Singaporean businesses spend a total of 25 days a year chasing overdue invoices, with 59% saying that late payments create a backlog of work that slows them down.

A further 25% of small businesses say that unpaid invoices mean they struggle to pay their staff. So the consequences of a culture of late payments extends to have a broader social impact.

Why late payments are so prevalent

Common reasons for late payments include:

  • delays sending invoices
  • invoices that don’t stand out
  • disorganised customers

Time pressure is a common underlying theme. Most small business owners report being stretched to their limits. So many of their customers are other small business owners who are rushed off their feet too.

Online accounting software helps beat late payments

By moving their accounting online to Xero, small businesses can invoice immediately and make it easier for their customers to pay them. My advice to small business owners who want to get paid faster is to:

Invoice as soon as the work is done

Online invoicing lets you raise an invoice and send it as soon as you’ve done the work, even when you’re out and about. There’s no need to wait and send all your invoices at the end of the month.

You can preset item descriptions and prices for your standard products and services and easily convert a quote to an invoice. If you regularly invoice the same customer, setting up repeating invoices will save you time and money. 

Make sure your invoices stand out

Making sure your customers actually see your invoice when it arrives is an essential step to getting it paid speedily. With an online invoice, the customer can simply click a link in the email to see the invoice rather than waiting for a pdf file to load. And you can customise the look and content of your invoices to include your payment terms and personalised branding. Then they’ll stand out if they’re printed.

Give your customers easy ways to pay

An online invoice lets the customer pay instantly with a single click of the ‘Pay now’ button. You can accept credit card payments or offer the use of payment services like PayPal and Stripe. This removes barriers and speeds up the payment process. And if you’ve ensured the invoice details are right, you’ll avoid any back and forth that might delay the payment.

Send automated reminders to pay

For customers who don’t pay straight away, Xero’s automatic invoice reminders gently prod customers to pay on time and save you a lot of bother following up on late payments. All reminders are fully customisable and you have control over who gets them.

Online invoicing in Xero removes the most common obstacles to payment by streamlining the process for business owner and customer alike. It frees up time for more important work, improves cash flow, and also takes away an source of ongoing stress for many small businesses.   

You can view the Singapore late payments research report and learn more about how Xero can help Singapore SMEs beat late payments by visiting

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