Navigating Accounts Receivable

Accounts receivable is a term that most business professionals are familiar with, but not all fully understand its intricacies. This article aims to demystify the concept of accounts receivable and explain its importance from both an accountant’s and a company manager’s perspective.

What Are Accounts Receivable?

Accounts receivable refers to the amount of money owed to a company by its customers for goods or services that have been delivered or used but not yet paid for. These amounts are usually due within a short period of time, typically 30 to 90 days. Accounts receivable is considered a current asset on a company’s balance sheet.

Importance of Managing Accounts Receivable

  1. Cash Flow: Effective management of accounts receivable is crucial for maintaining healthy cash flow. If customers do not pay their bills on time, it can lead to cash flow problems for the company.
  2. Profitability: Timely collection of accounts receivable ensures that the company has enough cash to cover its expenses and invest in its growth.
  3. Customer Relationships: Managing accounts receivable also involves maintaining good relationships with customers. It is important to communicate with customers regularly and address any issues that may arise.
  4. Creditworthiness: A company’s ability to manage its accounts receivable affects its creditworthiness. If a company consistently collects its receivables on time, it is more likely to be viewed favorably by lenders and investors.

Best Practices for Managing Accounts Receivable

  1. Clear Payment Terms: Clearly define the payment terms and conditions at the time of sale. This includes the payment due date, any early payment discounts, and penalties for late payment.
  2. Regular Invoicing: Send invoices to customers promptly and regularly. This helps in reminding the customers of their payment obligations.
  3. Monitor Accounts Receivable: Regularly monitor the accounts receivable balance and aging schedule. This helps in identifying any overdue accounts and taking timely action.
  4. Follow-Up: Regularly follow up with customers regarding outstanding payments. This can be done through phone calls, emails, or letters.
  5. Offer Multiple Payment Options: Offering multiple payment options, such as credit card, online payment, or bank transfer, can make it easier for customers to pay their bills.


Let’s consider an example to illustrate the concept of accounts receivable:

Suppose a company provides services to a customer on credit on December 1, 2023, and issues an invoice for $10,000 payable within 30 days.

The journal entry to record the transaction would be as follows:

DateAccountDebit ($)Credit ($)
Dec 1, 2023Accounts Receivable10,000

As of December 1, 2023, the company has earned the revenue of $10,000, and it is recorded as accounts receivable in the company’s balance sheet. The company expects to receive the payment from the customer by December 31, 2023.


Accounts receivable is an essential component of a company’s working capital and plays a crucial role in its cash flow management. It is important for both accountants and company managers to understand the intricacies of accounts receivable and implement best practices for its management. This includes setting clear payment terms, sending regular invoices, monitoring accounts receivable, following up with customers, and offering multiple payment options. Implementing these best practices can help in ensuring timely collection of accounts receivable, maintaining healthy cash flow, and building strong customer relationships.