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The Fair and the Unfair Inequities of Business

The problems remain the same, only the amounts get bigger

I have operated my own small businesses for nearly 25 years and I have a theory: the problems remain the same, only the amounts get bigger.

I am a small business professional working, in many cases, with the largest businesses in the country – FORTUNE 500 territory.

Our small business is buying the same products and services that the big guys are, only we’re paying more. And I’m fine with that. My Fedex rates, my technology costs, my long-distance – you name it, I am fine with paying the going rate, because I know most of my suppliers give us modest discounts off our modest purchases, in an effort to command my modest loyalty.

After all, I extend volume discounts to my best clients and would expect all vendors to do the same. It’s a sound capitalist principle, in my view. So there are inevitable inequities to the system that I understand and even support.

But there’s one major inequity that I find disturbing and would like to know how it evolved. Putting “Net 30 days” on an invoice has become almost as quaint as my Dad’s old 30-pound Borroughs adding machine. While I am expected to pay my credit card bill upon receipt, my largest clients — to a company – make no apology for a 55-60 day payment schedule. Some even proudly proclaim they pay within 55 days. And alas the all-too-frequent snafus can delay that schedule to 75 or even 90 days.

Now I know bureaucracy and the time it might take to receive, process and prioritize payables. But I also know that electronic transmissions have sliced the manual handling by days, if not weeks. In other words, that’s not a plausible excuse.

Nevertheless, while I struggle – and never more so than in the present economic climate — to pay all of our payables within 30 days, my large corporate clients continue to adhere to the arbitrary 55+ day schedule of payment. If I don’t meet the deadline, I hear about it instantly – usually from the Big Business vendors rather than the small ones. The Big Boys are also the one that are quick to tack on a late fee, at the very same time they are delinquent in their payments to us.

I contend that if these big boys decided – in the interest of national fiscal health – to issue payments to their small business vendors within the old-fashioned 30-day window, the economy would see an immediate improvement.

Aren’t we always hearing how small businesses are the backbone of our economy? Well let’s quit breaking the back of small business by forcing them to borrow money to meet their own obligations.

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More Stories By Karyn Price

Karyn joined the Bailiwick Company ten years ago, and spends the majority of her time managing media relations and corporate, employee and marketing communications for her telecommunications and technology clients. She currently leads the company's public relations practice. With an eye toward results, she works diligently to secure meaningful coverage for clients in relevant print and online publications, as well as in key financial and analyst reports. Her new-found passion for social media has ignited additional interest for the clients she serves. Prior to joining Bailiwick, Karyn was the communications manager for the Bucks County Conference & Visitors Bureau, where she publicized the beauty, art and culture that the region offers to leisure travelers. Under her direction, the county saw a 43 percent increase in travel leads. She has also spent time in advertising. Karyn holds an M.A. in Professional Communication from La Salle University and a B.A. in Communication from Elizabethtown College. Outside of the office she enjoys music, spending time with family and reading great novels. Please note that the views expressed on this site are mine and do not necessarily reflect the views of the clients I represent.

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