For accounting and tax purposes, your accounts receivable are considered an asset, but if you're trying to write payroll cheques, pay your utility company, order new inventory or make other purchases, the stacks of unpaid invoices in your office certainly don't feel like an asset. If you want to turn your accounts receivable, an asset on paper, into cash that you can spend, you have a few options.

1. Business Process Outsourcing

Instead of making calls to your clients about paying their bills, outsource this process to the pros. There are collection professionals who are willing to represent you to your clients. They contact your clients and speak to them about paying the bill, in a manner that fosters your relationship while also convincing the client to pay the bill.

Handing this task over to the professionals allows you to focus on your core business pursuits. As the money is paid thanks to the urging of the collectors -- who have taken time to study the way you want them to speak to your clients to ensure it's consistent with your brand -- you have the working capital you need to keep your business running.

2. Factoring

Factoring companies work in a couple of different ways, but they all start out by giving you an advance on your accounts receivable. Once you receive the advance, you can simply wait for your accounts receivable to be paid as normal, and when they are paid, you give the factoring company a small percentage of the invoice. Some factors also collect the debt on your behalf, so if you would like to expedite the collection process, you may want to look for a company that provides that service as well as an advance on your accounts receivable.

3. Commercial Debt Collection

Finally, consider simply turning over your unpaid invoices to a commercial debt collection agency. These companies do not take ownership of your invoices, but they contact your clients as a third party. This is ideal for accounts receivable that you were thinking about writing off as bad business debts. Once the funds are collected, you receive a portion of them, and the debt collection company takes a small percentage as commission.

Some commercial debt collection services are also willing to buy debt. They typically pay a certain number of pennies on the dollar, depending on the age of the debt and other factors.