EOW Reflections: #PayDontDelay

My head is full. I can’t reflect because there’s such a jumble of thoughts going round in there that I can’t find the end of any one thread to pull.  But there’s a word that keeps surfacing out of the mass of ‘mince’ and that’s detriment.

What is the detriment? I’m specifically thinking about people who don’t get paid when they expect to be paid or have no choice but to accept that they will do the work and deliver the goods but not be paid for several months. What detriment does that cause? What are they missing out on? What is the impact? Can they recover or do they have to rebuild?

Detriment is injury or damage but to my mind it’s more than just something that can be plastered up and fixed. There’s a longer-term element to detriment than simply a clean cut that heals leaving no scar. When it comes to the online marketplace sellers affected in recent weeks by the suspension of their accounts and interruption to trading while waiting for their VAT verifications to be checked, what’s the detriment? When it comes to the small suppliers who ask us for help with getting paid by their recalcitrant customers what’s the detriment? When it comes to firms used to being paid in 2 weeks and on time, what’s the detriment when they’re told that they’ll be paid in 60 days, ‘take it or leave it’?

I’ve just come off a call with an MP who explained his own issues as a small business owner before entering parliament. He talked about not being able to pay his bills and mortgage and about the worry and impact on health. He talked about businesses having to find a way to ‘recover’ from that detriment. He may have moved on but I suspect there are still scars.

I’ve just had an email from an extremely grateful online marketplace seller who had his account verified this afternoon and has funds to work with for the first time in weeks. He said he’d get back to normal ‘apart from the trust’. Another detriment to add into the mix.

There’s often the detriment you can see plus the detriment you can’t see. If a small business has a period of interruption because the money hasn’t come through and there’s a cashflow hiatus, the business at best stalls, income is down on forecasts and expectation meaning plans have to be shelved, debt piles up, bills go unpaid and if it is possible to borrow your way out of the hole, your costs soar. It can take a long time to recover and get back to the position you were in before the interruption. But the bits that often go unseen are the health and stress, the relationship damage, the pressure on other family members and friends, the damage to confidence and self-esteem, the scars that take time to recover from. Detriment can take a lot longer to build back from than the time taken to refill the coffers.

And there’s trust. How do you trust again, someone or an organisation, who has done you harm or injury or damage? How do you know who you can trust in future and is there a long tail of damage to trust in yourself and your judgement to contend with?

I love a word like detriment because there’s layers to unpeel to uncover the physical and mental damage, the long-term injury, the recovery process, the personal and emotional scarring that lingers long after the rest has healed. I hate the word detriment because to me it sums up the slow, long-lingering energy and motivation sapping drain on creativity, productivity and innovative mindset.

When you finger is hovering over the ‘pay’ button this afternoon, and you’re contemplating delaying that payment until next week because ‘what harm can a few more days do?’, think about all the possible elements of detriment that delay could cause. Do the right thing. Press ‘pay’.