Greater risks for SMEs if economic growth weakens
Since the introduction of stricter legislation a year ago, payment behavior in the business sector has generally deteriorated. On average, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) have to wait longer for payment than a year ago. This is shown by a survey by (, the initiative that strives for short payment terms for SMEs.

In July last year, it was legally stipulated that large companies should not use longer payment terms than 60 days for their suppliers of SMEs. However, this has not led to a better payment behavior: while large companies with their SME suppliers have agreed payment terms of an average of 35 days, the payment only comes after 43 days – this takes two days longer than last year. The survey, conducted by the independent research firm DirectResearch, also shows that entrepreneurs must contact their customers more often about the payment of invoices: according to 30% of the entrepreneurs this often or almost always has to be done, compared to 15% a year ago. The research results (in Dutch) can be downloaded here.

Risks as economic growth weakens
One in five SME entrepreneurs is regularly asked to accept a longer payment term than desirable. Half said they agreed to a longer payment term last year. However, few SMEs object to a longer payment period, even though they indicate that it is detrimental to their income and to their liquidity. This makes them more vulnerable to setbacks. By accepting longer payment terms now, they run the risk that that they will get in trouble sooner if economic growth slows down.

SME entrepreneurs increasingly receive the request to give a discount on the invoice, in exchange for quick payment. Last year, two-thirds of SMEs had never received such a request, but more than half had this year. This concerns a weighted average discount of 5% to be paid two weeks faster.

SMEs pay quickly, but send invoices late
Half of the SMEs from the survey send an invoice only five days or later after delivery of their goods or services, some even thirty days later. SME entrepreneurs are rarely offered chain financing, but they also seem to have little interest in it: only a quarter of the cases in which it is offered are actually used. SMEs themselves use a payment term of 25 days on average, with payment being received within 30 days.