AS AN acting coach, many people think I’d be the perfect person to ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ whenever I come across a difficult problem.

That’s true, to a certain extent. But as a business owner who wants to focus on sharing my passion for acting and helping others reach their potential, there are certain admin tasks that I’d rather leave on the cutting room floor. Chasing late payments is definitely top of the list.

That’s why new research from GoCardless really resonated with me. Through a survey of 500 small business decision makers, they found that 38 per cent feel awkward chasing customers for late payments. More than seven in ten (73 per cent) would actually be willing to forgo up to 10 per cent of their annual revenue in order to dodge the discussion.

I can relate to all of that. In the past, unpaid bills would make me frustrated and upset; I would write off debt just so I didn’t have to think about it. And I admit that just a few years ago, I had some terrible business practices which made it hard to keep track of my outgoing and incoming payments. I was working on set with high-profile, celebrity clients, but then, for the acting classes, people were coming to me and paying ten quid into a tin. How professional is that? When you think about it, it’s quite embarrassing.

If people didn’t show up, they didn’t pay, but my costs remained the same. I was still hiring venues and preparing the classes. Finally, my accountant suggested using a company to automatically collect payments via direct debit every time they’re due.

This helped me avoid having awkward conversations about missed payments because, all of a sudden, there were none. And, more importantly, I was able to devote the time I would have spent chasing payments to expanding my services which, I’m fortunate to say, really took off during the pandemic.

I overcame my ‘money muteness’ by adopting new technology. But there are other ways, too - one is to think from the perspective of a customer. The research found that, although many small business leaders avoid talking about ‘the m-word’, it’s often the payer who is left red-faced: when they learn about a late or failed payment, the research found, 42 per cent of people feel embarrassed, 28 per cent feel apologetic and 22 per cent are grateful to have the opportunity to resolve it.

Even more interestingly, 92 per cent of people believe every business should be paid on time.

What this means is that those conversations that you fear to be extremely awkward may turn out to be extremely easy. So even if you, very understandably, dread sending that e-mail or picking up the phone, remember that the statistics are on your side.

It turns out nearly everyone wants to be prompt with payments; sometimes they just need a little nudge.

Finally, the biggest piece of advice I could give to any business person struggling with this issue is to change your mindset. I believe asking for payment is tough because you can have certain limiting beliefs about yourself in relation to your customer. Your own self-worth and the value that you have genuinely offered comes under scrutiny, when it shouldn’t.

Feeling awkward around asking for the fair-value of exchange for your product or service may be a sign that you psychologically doubt its value. I would say, put your mindset on exactly why you have added ultimate value to the client. If you think this way, it’ll never be a problem to ask for what is fair in return.

Female business leaders are disproportionately affected by this taboo topic, with 32 per cent indicating that they feel awkward talking about money, compared to only 22 per cent of male leaders.

The research found that, when dealing with customers, more than half (54 per cent) of women say it’s because they don’t want to be seen as rude, in contrast to 40 per cent of men.

GoCardless has partnered with Emma Gannon, award-winning author of The Multi-Hyphen Method and host of careers podcast, Ctrl Alt Delete, to raise awareness of the issue and get small businesses talking more openly about money.

Gannon said, “Money is an emotional topic as it is, but add in the problem of late payments and it’s even more stressful. Chasing payments causes a huge expenditure of emotional and mental energy and has affected almost every single freelancer I know.

“Research tells us women worry more about being seen as rude or could sometimes feel intimidated, which means they’re at a greater disadvantage.

“Small business owners and solopreneurs deserve more respect, and they deserve to be able to do their work without having another job on top. Late payments are a massive problem, and it is a scandal how normalised they’ve become. I’m really excited to be working with GoCardless to raise awareness of this problem, but more importantly, to offer solutions.”

*Matt Zina, from Bradford, is the founder of and principal at Matt Zina Acting, an acting school and talent agency which also offers mindset coaching and mentoring services. Over the past 20 years, he has worked on set and behind the scenes with many actors featured on the BBC, Channel 4, Netflix and more.

He has trained many well- known actors who found roles working in the industry, appearing in productions ranging from Hollywood films to high-end dramas, comedies and advertisements.

*For more information on Matt’s acting school visit