Decorated-apparel businesses, embroiderers and screen printers wrestle with cash flow for one simple reason. Shop owners essentially go into debt for their customers when they operate on net 30 or 50% upfront terms. That makes the struggle really real: to pay your staff, your bills and yourself—and you even risk shutting your shop doors.

The Small Business Administration reports that 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of starting up, 50% shutter during the first five years, and 66% close their doors during the first 10. The top reason they fail? Cash flow problems. In fact, 82% of small businesses fail because they haven’t mastered how to manage their money.

A New Age of Payment Terms

Consider this: If you invoice net 30 or request a small deposit, there’s a good chance your customer may never pay for (or pick up) those screen-printed shirts. That’s business-soul killing.

That means you’ve created the art, ordered the shirts, set up your screens and equipment, and run the job—even worse, you might have shipped the order. Yes, while many customers do pay, a good number wait up to 90 days and beyond to pay. And, there are those who don’t pay at all.

One foolproof solution? Create new invoicing terms: 100% upfront payment before your team ever starts the job. While that might feel mind-blowingly scary, here’s the thing: Many companies are moving in that direction. 

For example, mammoth Custom Ink requires 100% upfront payments,. The online decorator’s sales cha-chinged in at more than  $300 million in 2018. When most people make purchases on a personal and professional level, they expect to pay upfront. In fact, Amazon, which terrifies most industries (including ours), runs on 100% upfront payments and raked in $232 billion in sales for 2018.

And it’s not hard to do this in your business right now. Say good-bye to net 30. Wave a not-so-fond farewell to 50% upfront and 50% when the order is complete. 

From now on, your business only works with customers who pay in full upfront. 

Will you lose some customers? Maybe. However, most people understand this is how business transactions are trending, and if they know the value of your work, they’ll be happy to meet your terms.

Welcome to Financial Stability

Yes, this can be your new normal: A business that’s flush with cash, and a clean zero next to your accounts receivable balance. Can you visualize it?

Take a look at where your business is right now. Even though your P&L statement might look great, if you don’t have cash money in the bank, you can’t produce the hundreds of orders waiting in your system. Plus, when you need to repay debt, make inventory purchases, and send out equipment payments, salaries, taxes and more, that lack of cash hurts even more.

Cash reserves are the lifeblood of your business, as they say. One of a business owner’s biggest stressors? Waiting for payments to trickle in—it’s even worse when you’re collecting snail-mail checks. Some decorators carry the burden of more than six figures of outstanding money owed to them past 30 days.

You can literally change course right now. By asking for 100% upfront payments, you’ll score tremendous financial stability. You’ll scale your business and enjoy more financial independence.

Here’s how in four simple steps:

  1. Define and set your new 100% upfront payment terms.
  2. Share the new terms with your staff, and explain in detail how the policies work.
  3. Share the new terms with your customers. For new customers, it’s a breeze: Just state the terms for getting fantastic decorated solutions from you. With existing customers, share the new terms and set a grace period where they can perhaps place one more order “the old way” before switching to 100% upfront payment.
  4. Post your terms in your shop, on your website, in your proposals, and on your invoices. That way, everyone’s on the same page.

Use InkSoft Proposals to Get Paid

Many decorators (perhaps even you) are stuck on repeat in business-squelching habits of relying on reactive, untimely and unsightly invoices that don’t get the job done. The good news? You can cut old school invoicing and approvals loose.

That means no more time-consuming invoicing and chasing payments that single-handedly killed your efficiency and cash flow.

InkSoft Proposals helps decorators close deals even faster with beautifully designed proposals—and invoices with built-in e-payment options. Since you can customize each proposal for each unique client, you seal the deal faster with personal, visual products and easy art approvals.

Once your clients sign on the e-dotted line, InkSoft Proposals seamlessly allows them to pay 100% upfront online before you start the job. You can also set your payment plans to match your shop’s cash flow goals.

Even better? We’ve added a simple way to access shareable links directly to invoices created in InkSoft Proposals. This allows you to quickly copy a direct invoice link so you can send it manually using your email client.

A New Shop, A New You

Once you make the leap to 100% upfront payments only, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. Of course, you’ll still be collecting back payments, so give yourself that lean-in period.

Yet: Imagine that glorious day when your bookkeeper shows you the account receivables balance: $0.

Your shop has arrived at cash flow nirvana.

Take a virtual tour or request a demo of InkSoft Proposals today.


A few more insights on cash flow and getting paid.

Hear what our good friend and industry expert Marshall Atkinson has to say about cash flow.

What does Marshall Atkinson have to say about cash flow?

How does your ‘sales presentation’ affect cash flow?

See how your sales presentation can help or hinder cash flow acceleration.