Invoices. Whether you’re the the person billing someone for your services or the person paying the bill for someone else’s services…this post applies to you! And let me just say this right off the bat…

Don’t risk losing your client (or a potential client) over a petty invoice!

I’m going to back it up a bit and explain. Lately I’ve been researching business entities, specifically looking at the pro’s and con’s as far as taxes go. Part of that research process includes seeking out advice from those who specialize in both business formations as well as taxes. In doing so, I have met some very talented and well-educated advisors. Now whenever you are doing your research you should know what you’re looking for. That doesn’t mean you need to have the right wording of your questions (that’s what the advisor is there for),  but you should at least have some kind of idea.

[bctt tweet=”Don’t risk losing your client (or a potential client) over a petty invoice!” username=”Ed_Troxell”]

You also want to make sure that you find out how that individual can assist you and how much they’re going to cost. This is standard meet and greet/consultations, right? We all know that money is always tight and we want to spend it wisely especially when running a business. That being said, costs for the most part are not relvant when it’s something we need and we feel confident that the other person can deliver so we just pay the bill.

When it comes to bills and getting paid, it doesn’t matter if you are issuing the bill or paying it, you have to think twice. What do I mean by this? Let’s take a look at what a typical business transaction between two parties often looks like. For the purpose of this post, we are going to use web design as the service discussed:

  • An individual (we’ll call him Jim) needs a new website
  • Jim does a quick Google search, asks around, and finds a couple of web designers that might be able to help
  • Jim is super busy and really doesn’t want to deal with this task so the sooner and cheaper options the better
  • Jim meets with a web designer (first over the phone, then an email, and finally a video chat) and decides to hire the web designer
  • The web designer sends over a contract (pretty standard) clarifying the terms, cost, and the amount of deposit
  • Jim signs the contracts and pays deposit
  • Jim provides all the content needed for the web designer to proceed**
  • Jim goes on his merry way while the web designer creates the website of his dreams

**This is the one thing you need to be sure you are doing anytime you are the client. You MUST provide all the deliverables ON-TIME to the designer so that they are not waiting on you. Example, log-in credentials, copy, images, and other instructions they might need.

Weeks and months go by and Jim still doesn’t have a website up. The web designer, however, was paid and had committed to a timeline. Now Jim is so pissed/stressed that he decides to find another web designer because the trust has been broken. To Jim’s surprise, the web designer didn’t uphold his end of the contract. By now, you all might be able to relate. So, how should a client interaction go? Something like this:

  • Jim and the web designer find one another
  • The web designer follows up via email with details and specifics before moving forward (especially when discussing rates and expectations which will be covered in the more formal contract)
  • In the email conversation, both Jim and the designer ask questions and discuss services (this includes rates/billable time. Again, this will be in the formal contract.)
  • Both parties agree to the terms found within the final email clearly stating whether this would be billable or not at x amount dollars for x amount of time – it’s best to put this towards the top of the email by the way.
  • Once both parties are in agreement, the web designer bills accordingly

Simple! Even if you don’t want to create a contract (you should), write your emails like this to help protect yourself. Do not engage in any business expecting to get paid until you have done this – you need to set the right expectation up front in order to get compensated for your time.

[bctt tweet=”Make it about serving not selling & you’ll see a huge difference.” username=”Ed_Troxell”]

Here’s another example. When it comes to my one on one coaching services and website evaluations, I charge upfront. Yes, it might shock people since they are not used to that and, to be fair, they don’t want to get burned again which I totally understand. If you ever feel that way, always reach out to whoever is helping you and talk to them about your feelings. Remember, working with clients should be a conversation between two people and not just a transaction. So why do I charge upfront for these services? Simple.

I work too hard to be left on the side of the road trying to collect money on something I already gave away.

Once I deliver my consulting and website evaluation services that’s it. I can’t take back the knowledge and resources I just gave you, right? So if a client chose not to pay me then I am out of luck. Been there, done that, lesson learned.

I’d rather spend my time helping those who see the value I provide and are not bothered by paying upfront. Think about it, you can’t eat your sandwitch or take home that pair of new shoes without purchasing either first. Same thing should go for certain services. Now, tying back in with the web design business, that is a little different and should require a deposit with no more than 50% down. It gets really tricky and just depends on the situation, but at the end of the day it always comes back to setting the right expectations and knowing what is/isn’t billable.

If you’re wondering where all of this came from, it’s been coming up!  In fact, it’s why I wanted to start my own business! I am tired of seeing people being taken advantage of! This past week a few core examples came up and I realized that I needed to write this.

[bctt tweet=”When it comes to business I am passionate about things being handled the RIGHT way.” username=”Ed_Troxell”]

I may not know everything and I am, by no means, perfect. Things happen! But when it comes to business I am passionate about things being handled the RIGHT way. I only want the best for my friends, family, and clients. This is why I spend so much time researching and carefully looking for people I can recommend. I keep my standards high — that’s just how I was raised. I know that’s hard for others to meet, but it’s really not though.

If you do your research and make it about serving not selling you’ll see a huge difference. You know me, I am not afraid to recommend people. I love to recommend, but I am careful who I recommend.  I know I can’t change how everyone runs their business but I sure as hell am going to try through better education.

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