There’s a common saying – apocryphally purported to be an ancient Chinese curse – “May you live in interesting times”. Well, it’s probably fair to say that citizens and business owners in the UK are certainly in the middle of some “interesting times” right now. With the country having spent the previous few years dealing with the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis and the government’s ensuing austerity agenda, 2016’s EU membership referendum moved the nation – and its economy – into a whole new period of uncertainty.
Strong & Stable?
While it remains to be seen whether the worst predictions of the Remain campaign’s so-called “Project Fear” will come to pass, the prospect of Brexit has already delivered uncertainty around factors such as the value of the pound, inflation, and house prices. Fast forward to June 2017, and the results of Theresa May’s snap General Election have only muddied the waters further. With a considerably reduced majority, the Conservative party has – at the time of writing – failed to secure a firm agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party to allow them to form a majority coalition. In the meantime, formal Brexit negotiations have begun, but as yet we have no clear view of exactly what shape our withdrawal from the EU will take, and how this will affect both international trade, and the wider economy.
Challenging Times for SMEs
All this means very real challenges for small and medium UK businesses over the next few months and years. While large businesses are more likely to have the resources and capital to see them through times of economic instability, SMEs don’t always have that luxury. For small and medium-sized businesses, protecting your cash flow is a must in times of uncertainty. For many businesses, encouraging customers to pay by Direct Debit can be a core strategy for minimising late or missed payments and reducing cash flow uncertainty. Direct Debits put you in control of payment dates and amounts, and once the Direct Debit mandate has been authorised by the customer, the recurring payment is fully automated – no more waiting for cheques, standing orders or online bank payments and, in practical terms, this usually means less time and effort spent on chasing missed payments that could impact on your cash flow in very real terms.
Dealing with Uncertainty
There are clear advantages for end customers, too, particularly in times when larger economic pressures may mean they are facing their own financial uncertainties. With Direct Debit they know exactly how much will be taken from their bank account, and when. The automated process means they can set up the Direct Debit and forget about it, while the Direct Debit Guarantee provides protections in the event of an error or disputed payment – and if circumstances do change, the Direct Debit can be cancelled quickly and easily. If you’d like to find out more about secure Direct Debit solutions for your business, please contact our expert payment consultants today on 0121 418 0022.