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Entrepreneurs Panel

Debbie Pierce
Charlie Mullins
Jennie Johnson
Julie Meyer
Laura Tenison
Tony Caldeira
David Pollock
Richard O'Sullivan
Steve Purdham
Brian Hay
Jeremy Roberts
Michael Oliver

Cutting off my nose?

Brian Hay

Co-founded freight forwarding company Cardinal Maritime in 1998 using a £5,000 loan. The firm has offices in South Africa, Ireland and Holland, as well as its headquarters in Eccles and aims to open six more in Europe by 2012. It made a profit before interest and tax of over £1 million on a turnover of £38 million to March 2009.

Question: 

One of my biggest customers (about 10 per cent of last year’s business) has just undergone a pre-pack administration, leaving my courier firm out of pocket to the tune of five months’ invoices. Would refusing to work with them again just be cutting off my nose to spite my face? I’m really p*ssed off but I’m not sure I can afford to be proud.

Answer: 

Given the current economic climate, it is a dangerous game allowing any unsecured creditor the luxury of five months’ credit.

All clients, especially those representing such a significant volume of business activity, need to be carefully monitored. There are many reliable agencies that can provide accurate and useful financial information which can help you make informed decisions about the levels of exposure you feel comfortable with.

However, our own experience suggests that keeping close to your clients and taking the time to understand their business model, viability and strategy moving forward is the safest way to protect against unnecessary risk.

It is possible that your point of contact within the business was unaware of the critical nature of the business so be careful about taking the hit personally.

You are now dealing with a completely new business, pre-packed, cleaned-up and hopefully now fit for purpose. There will be a queue of other suppliers happy to take on their business. If you have the chance, take it on and learn well from your experience.

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