It’s a spooky time of year, but the ghouls and goblins are not just reserved for Halloween. In business, the road ahead maybe be full of challenges and risks that are the stuff of nightmares.

To help you banish any nagging fears and ensure that you don’t wake in a cold sweat at 4am, we’ve picked out some small business nightmare situations and a few insights that will hopefully keep the monsters at bay.

So have a read and ask yourself, what are you afraid of?

#1 Late Payment / Cash flow catastrophes

Late payment is a recurring nightmare for small businesses, with billions reportedly owed every year. If you’ve been in business for even a short period, it’s likely that you’ve come up against the problem of tardy clients – and the impact on cash flow and growth that they create.

While certain sectors and regions seem to experience cash-flow problems more than others, it can be a problem that affects the future of your business — especially when you don’t have sufficient protection from your small business insurance. This means when the funds dry up and the banks don’t lend you’ve got to get start thinking outside of the box.

Even if you do manage to get your hands on an overdraft or a bank loan, the interest rates can be crippling. One alternative method of freeing up cash when times are tight is invoice financing. This is where a third party buys your unpaid invoices for a fee. They give you a percentage of the invoice amount up front, then collect the debt originally owed to you by your customer and give you back the remaining balance.

#2 Credit panic

Borrowing isn’t always bad – in fact, many businesses rely on credit of some sort to grow and succeed.

But what happens when you can’t access the funds that you need? This has become a more pressing problem since the economic downturn, and many conventional lenders remain reticent to extend credit lines, especially to newer or unproved businesses.

If you’re struggling to find the funding you need, there’s a number of new avenues you might want to explore. Peer-to-peer lending, for example, can be a cost-effective way of borrowing when you might otherwise not be able to, or if you’re looking for a medium-term solution you might consider running a crowdfunding campaign.

#3 Insurance nightmares

Nobody likes to think about insurance, but in the event that the worst happens it can help to protect your business against potential disaster. Are you properly covered?

A good business insurance policy can help to guarantee your business’s future in case of an accident or mistake. Whether you need public liability, employers’ liability, or professional indemnity, a tailored policy can help you avoid a real scare.

#4 Stock shocks

If your business trades in goods, the last thing you want is a last-minute stock disaster. Whether you’re overstocked or understocked, a shock to your inventory can be devastating.

Inventory management is a cornerstone of any retail or wholesale business, and by making that process as efficient as possible you can help to minimise the risk of stock problems. Want to know some top tips and tricks for effective inventory management? Read our guide on how to do the perfect stock take.

#5 Dangerously dependent on one client

So you’re up and running and not doing too badly? Now’s the time to look at where your money’s coming from. Being too dependent on one client makes your business vulnerable, should the status quo suddenly change.

That single client could run into financial difficulty themselves, refuse to pay for your service or be unable to for long periods of time or simply no longer have any need for your business. While you just have this client as your one source of income, you’ll be at risk of having your entire income wiped out in one go.

Ask yourself, does the client have a consistent need for your product or service? If the answer’s no, then you’ll need to start winning new business.