How Long Does It Take to Get Paid?

How long does it take to get paid? Have you ever wondered how long other small business owners wait to get paid? Or whether having a long-distance client means you'll have to wait longer?

How long does it take to get paid? Distance vs. time to pay: This graph shows the mean average time to pay over distance. The blue line is the predicted mean average, and the gray area is the confidence interval for that prediction.

How Long Does It Take to Get Paid?

Have you ever wondered how long it takes clients to pay other small business owners? Or whether having a long-distance client means you will wait longer for payment?

The FreshBooks data team got to the bottom of these questions by looking at a random sample of 460,000 FreshBooks customer-client relationships and over 2.7 million paid invoices.* Here is what we found out:

Most Businesses Are in Close Proximity to Their Clients

As you might expect, since small businesses are so intrinsically connected to their local communities, the data shows that 57% of the businesses are located within 50 miles of their clients.

Interestingly, the remaining 43% of small businesses invoiced clients from 50 to over 3,000 miles away—a wide distribution.

We also noted some strong business connections between the East Coast and West Coast, particularly between New York and LA. This isn’t surprising, though, given the number of creative professionals (advertising agencies, design firms and freelancers) who are FreshBooks customers.

Long-Distance Clients Don’t Affect Time to Pay

The data revealed that while many of you are doing business all over the U.S., even very long-distance clients are paying within the same reasonable payment window of approximately 30 days. And oftentimes, even less.

In contrast, there is a surprising trend for small businesses with clients that are fewer than 50 miles away.

Businesses with clients in their immediate region seem to be waiting a little longer to get paid. Although it’s promising to observe that the majority of these payments are received well within a 30-day window.

Our analysis further indicates that the time to pay an invoice actually decreases slightly as the distance of a client increases. This indicates that clients who are relatively “close by” are distinctly slower to pay.

Paid on Time, from Anywhere

In conclusion, the data showed that 21st century-style billing with a service like FreshBooks means getting paid on time, no matter where you do business. Better still, as a small business owner, you can feel confident that when you work with clients across the country you can get paid as quickly (and actually a little quicker!) than if they were in the same city.

* The invoice distance was calculated using the zip code of the invoice sender and the invoice recipient. The time to pay was calculated by looking at the difference between the invoice date and the payment date. For invoices that were paid online, the payment date would be the online transaction date. For invoices that were paid by check or cash, the payment date would be whenever the FreshBooks customer marked the invoice as “Paid” in FreshBooks.

about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for businesses owners and their teams. Today, over 24 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.