When I started out running my own business back in 1997 (actually it was a joint venture with my brother) one of the biggest struggles we had -after acquiring clients was getting them to pay on time.
Depending on the size of business, most would take over 30 days to pay -which were the standard payment terms we offered back then. A lot would take between 30 and 60, some over 90 or even in one case nearly a year!
When starting out there is a ‘desperation’ to bring in clients and so the very specifics of the payment process and how important it is be to getting the job done is often not discussed with clients, -not in direct terms at any rate. It then becomes a muddle and an assumption that ‘when my client sees the great job I will do, they won’t be able to pay me fast enough!’. If only.
Get paid quick
These days I rarely have a client who takes more than 30 days to pay and most pay within 7 – 14 days of issuing an invoice. Why? What’s changed?
Firstly, I am far more efficient in my invoicing and payment process. The killer app I use is Freeagent. I wrote a separate blog about it as I rate it one my top 5 most useful web apps for self-employed people. I won’t repeat what’s in the blog (so check it out), but suffice to say Freeagent (and there are many other finance apps out there) enables easy sending of invoices and automatically sends email reminders to clients who have outstanding payments. You have to understand your invoice is the last thing on the clients mind so you need to make sure its on their agenda so they can settle it.
Secondly, and the most important part to getting paid is being upfront with your client right at the outset so you are pushing payment for the job as an integral part of the whole process of completing the job.
Include all the information; your payment terms and deposit required to start the job, in your initial contract (you do have a contract don’t you?) so everything is clear. Then discuss this with your client so they haven’t missed anything.
Don’t assume that your client will have it all in hand and are dying to pay you. As wonderful as they may be, if you don’t bring up the subject of payment, your client may not bring it up either. Its not a dirty subject. Its fundamental to continuing to do what you enjoy.
Over to you
Have you got any payment stories -either good or bad? Let me know in the comments below.
Love this video about what some of us freelancers have to put up with regarding pay. Funny, but very true.