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$22bn in unpaid invoices means Christmas stress for business owners


Many will be chasing unsettled accounts instead of relaxing, Intuit QuickBooks survey finds.

By Philip King 9 minute read

Unpaid invoices to the value of $22 billion will leave small businesses on the edge over Christmas, according to the latest research from Intuit QuickBooks.

It said small-to-medium businesses would close on 25 December with an average of eight invoices unsettled from the run-up to the holiday season and nearly one-quarter felt the pressure from bills outstanding was worse than ever this year.

Intuit QuickBooks accounting and adviser group lead Damien Greathead said the cashflow shortfall over the shutdown period put extra pressure on the sector when cost-of-living pressures were already biting.

“It’s concerning to hear how exposed our SMBs risk being this holiday season, facing challenges with income and cashflow at such a busy and expensive time of year,” he said.

Intuit found financial strain from unpaid invoices was affecting 46 per cent of small businesses ahead of the festive season with almost a third turning to personal funds to pay suppliers as a result.

It also revealed that chasing up invoices was causing undue stress and costs, with 39 per cent of SMBs spending up to 12 hours a month chasing late invoices.

As a result, one quarter felt bad “chasing people for money” while 21 per cent felt angry pursuing unpaid invoices. Stress or a sense of being overwhelmed affected one in five.

With SMBs surveyed expecting an average of $8,684 in unpaid invoices at December 25, many would fail to benefit from resting and recharging with family and friends, Intuit said.

“It’s an overwhelming predicament which SMBs currently find themselves in – time poor, trying to keep on top of admin while running a business and getting paid on time to keep on top of bills,” Mr Greathead said.

Almost seven out of 10 were already sacrificing personal time to get on top of admin during weekday evenings while one-quarter sacrificed time when children were engaged in after-school or weekend activities.

Most felt managing admin on the go was a struggle although just 29 per cent engaged an accountant or bookkeeper to assist with tax time.

One in three would rather be at the beach or a barbecue with friends, another third would prefer to catch up on sleep, while 39 per cent would just like to kick back with a beverage.


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Philip King

Philip King


Philip King is editor of Accountants Daily and SMSF Adviser, the leading sources of news, insight, and educational content for professionals in the accounting and SMSF sectors.

Philip joined the titles in March 2022 and brings extensive experience from a variety of roles at The Australian national broadsheet daily, most recently as motoring editor. His background also takes in spells on diverse consumer and trade magazines.

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