In the simplest form, business is a mutually beneficial exchange between two people. One party provides products or services to satisfy needs and wants. The other party, in return, pays the first party for meeting their needs/wants. Ideally, this is how things should go – smoothly and with only the slightest hassle. Unfortunately, no matter what business you operate, there will be times when you need to learn how to handle debtors.

The need for this arises because, whether you like it or not, there are people who would much rather enjoy the benefits of your services without paying for it. To keep yourself from going bankrupt, you need to be able to manage these types of people properly. After all, the sole aim of a business is to make money. So, how do you handle debtors effectively?

  1. Make your payment terms as clear as possible in writing

When you provide services to an individual or a group of individuals on credit, make your payment terms crystal clear to them. You can’t just stop at emphasizing it over a phone call. Put it in writing and have both parties sign to it. If the amount is a particularly huge sum, you could get a lawyer involved. The last thing you want to do is to make them believe that the money doesn’t mean that much to you. With well-defined payment terms, it becomes virtually impossible for the second party to deny your agreement.

  1. Provide gentle reminders occasionally

Keep in mind that the purpose of this is not to become an overly pesky individual who is constantly bombarding debtors with calls. However, as often as is appropriate, depending on the total sum, remind your debtors. Don’t be rude about it. It could be as simple as an email in their inbox. To make it a little less menacing, you can professionally remind them of the benefits they’ll gain from your business by paying you back early enough.

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  1. Make it easy for your debtors to pay you

One excuse that debtors use sometimes is that payment channels are particularly difficult. Some might say that the queue at the bank is far too long. Others might complain that they couldn’t get enough network coverage to make a transfer. In reality, for a person who is bent on cheating you of your hard-earned cash, there is almost always an excuse to be made. However, it would still be worth it if you make it very easy for your clients to pay you back. From PayStack to PayPal, among others, there are several payment channels that are particularly easy to use.

  1. Remain calm

It is understandable if you get agitated when a person refuses to pay you back. However, if you act based on your agitation, it is likely to do more harm than good. So, do your best to stay calm in the process. Do not threaten. Do not insult. Do not speak passive-aggressively. Remember that this is business, and your emotions shouldn’t be at the steering wheel of decisions.

  1. Take legal steps

If your debtor still refuses to pay after several reminders, gentle appeals, and well-defined terms, get your lawyer involved. However, the cost of hiring a lawyer, among other bills, shouldn’t be higher than the actual debt you are trying to recover.


Sometimes, it can be particularly difficult to handle debtors. Some push you to the edge of frustration and leave you hanging by a thread. However, you cannot merely let them go as this consistent behaviour wouldn’t put food on your table or keep your business running. So, as much as you can, apply these tips to that you can handle your debtors efficiently.