(This article originally appeared in The Guardian)
As Washington debates whether to tax big corporations that don’t pay a higher minimum wage, maybe now’s the right time to also fix another corporate sin: paying their smallest customers on time.
For me – and countless others like me – getting paid by big companies and big government is the worst part about running a small business. Sure, most of my clients pay their bills when asked. But there’s always a few that pay well past 30 days. And those few are almost always my largest customers.
Ask any small business owner and they’ll tell you how frustrating it is to get money from their biggest clients. Corporations, because of their power, dictate the terms of payment. They oftentimes require onerous paperwork. Their systems are purposely impersonal and bureaucratic. And while my smallest clients almost always pay on time, it’s the bigger ones that push their payments out 60 or 90 days, regardless of our pleas for cash. “It’s just our policy,” a bored accounts payable clerk told me recently. “You’re just going to have to wait.”