The best methods to keep track of the payments in a business deal

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"Money makes the world go around" as Liza Minnelli (and many others) sang in the classic musical Cabaret. So when you're doing a business deal or just running your business to keep things on a good financial track, you need to keep close tabs on what is going on in terms of your finances.

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When you are focused on your core business – the ideas you have brought to fruition after a long gestation period, the marketing you need to do to develop your market share and encourage new customers and the day-to-day management to try to ensure the business runs smoothly – you can sometimes sideline probably the most important aspect of your business: the finances.

Financial control

For many entrepreneurs and small business owners, finance is often not a strong point. It's not always the case, of course,but everyone still knows you need a sound financial plan to ensure the business runs successfully and doesn't come up with serious cashflow problems. These can happen when there is little or no effective control over the income and outgoings of the business. There are ways to ensure you keep control over any business deals and you should put them into practice.

Get clients to pay on time

Payments on time are the lifeblood of your business. The same is true of businesses you owe money to, so look after them too, as you may need their goodwill in the future.

If you think or know you have cashflow problems, then get your books open and find out what's happening with your invoices. You need to find out what invoices have been issued and those that have been paid and received. If getting a professional invoicing or receipt template has been difficult for whatever reason, you could look to an online company for professional templates. Visit website resources such as Invoice Home for a free invoice template in a range of designs.

You need to make invoicing a priority because that's where your income comes from. When you've finished some work or a specific project don't let the invoicing wait. The sooner you invoice the sooner you are likely to get paid. It doesn't matter how busy you are, make sure the invoices go out and, if there is a delay in payment, follow them up.

You should always ask clients what they need on their invoices. All businesses have different practices so you could get payment delayed if it doesn't work with their systems. For example, will a client want a purchase order number? Will it be enough to supply an invoice number?

Finally, check how detailed the invoice needs to be and find out who to send it to so that it will be dealt with by the right person in the right department.

Keep in touch

When you run a business you can't always keep in touch with every aspect of it. You rely on other people as you grow it. But if you put the right systems in place, especially on the financial side, you can track how things are going and, if there are problems, deal with them quickly.

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