Updated 2/8/2017. This was first published in the Huffington Post
Whether making or receiving a payment you need to be ready…
So, let’s talk about the one aspect of payments every entrepreneur (this includes you & your side hustle) deals with: billing. When you are thinking about starting a business or if you already have one, you need to set up your billing structure. You should be able to bill and receive payments. This is 2016 guys, there is no need to wait to get paid.
Preventing late or no payment
To avoid the mess of late payments or worse, no payments, I recommend billing on a month to month basis with either payment upfront or at minimum a portion paid in advance.
This payment structure is specifically intended for services like social media management or website maintenance.
For other services like building a website, require a deposit with a certain portion of that being non-refundable.
If it’s a business coaching or tech training session I require full payment upfront with a 24-hour cancellation policy. Your time is valuable and so is mine. This makes it work for both of us.
WHY DO THIS?
So that you and your client stay on track and know this is business. I’ve had (I’m sure you have too!) experiences working with clients who don’t deliver on their payments even though the work was done.
Yes, things happen and can push payments back, but in today’s world, anything past a day or two without clearly communicating the issue is just not acceptable.
Personally, I’ve heard too many horror stories from others and I’ve realized that at the end of the day, payments are not just about the money; it’s the principle of the matter. Of course, we want to get paid, but what you’re really telling someone when you don’t pay on time (if you did not clearly communicate the reason ahead of time) is that you don’t care. And if that’s the kind of attitude someone is going to have whether they mean to or not, who’s going to want to work with them? Don’t be one of those people.
THINK OF IT THIS WAY:
Timely payments help you decide whether or not to continue to work with a client. That’s why it’s important (whether you’re making or receiving a payment) to make sure you pay on time. Nobody has time for games and, frankly, nobody wants to work with someone who can’t deliver. If something comes up that prevents you from paying, then clearly communicate that with the other person.
How do you set up processes to be a reliable business professional?
Utilize online tools like Stripe and/or PayPal. For booking appointments online use Acuity Scheduling (my affiliate link). For all of my invoicing Quickbooks (my referral link which saves you money).
Don’t forget to add a note to your invoices regarding your payment policy (this came from a good friend/mentor who is the best web designer around). She taught me to put this at the bottom of all my all my invoices: “All clients please note: If invoices are not paid within 15 days, work will not continue on your account until payment is received. Also, I do not continue to work with clients who pay late.”
Bottom line: As a business professional, you need to deliver professionalism and BE professional. So take some time and get organized. You need to set the right expectations and establish a seamless process so you can be sure to get paid on time. No one can use the excuse “I’m busy” when you have a seamless process like this setup. It literally can take someone 30 seconds, maybe a minute to send your payment. So don’t let that excuse come between you and getting paid.
Looking for advice on how to Say No To Friends?