For freelancers and small business owners, the more work you do, the more you should earn. That requires, of course, that you get paid in a timely manner. And anyone who is self-employed knows that the only thing more excruciating than dealing with the song and dance of contracts and invoices is waiting for a delayed check to appear in the mail.
I asked dozens of freelancers and small business owners for their top tips for getting paid on time. Here are 10 of the best. Please share your own tips--and thoughts on these--in the comments section below.
1. Do An Early Bird Special
Offer a discount for payment received in under than 30 days.--Diane Gayeski, Ph.D., Principal, Gayeski Analytics
2. Keep An Invoice Schedule I invoice everyone on Sunday night. I make it clear that that's when I do it. When there's a routine that's developed, the client just knows that it's time to pay. Because of this routine, there have been a couple of times where I haven't been able to send out invoices (because I'm ill or out of town) and my clients will actually reach out to me asking where the invoice is.--Andrea K. Rozman, Owner, Your Gal Friday Virtual Business Assistance and Administration
3. Invoice Carefully & Completely Make sure your invoice is correct with the proper dates of service, detailed description of services provided, and correct amounts. Get them your invoice as fast as humanly possible. Include a copy of your W-9 or W-4 -- they will need this and they will ask for it. [Plus] a copy of your work comp or liability insurance. Not all clients will ask for it, but providing a copy will up your credibility, and save time.--Cyndi Finkle, Art Works Studio
4. Send A SASE For Tough Cases Send a final demand letter in a flat rate priority mail envelope -- this has worked for me and my clients 98 percent of the time! I know it â€¨sounds simple or silly -- but it really works.--Michelle Dunn, author of The Guide to Getting Paid
5. Get Rid Of Worthless Clients...
We've "fired" customers because of their behavior during the job. The most important thing for freelancers and small businesses to remember is that even in this economy, not every job is worth doing. There will always be other customers.--Ken Champman, President, League Entertainment
6. ...But Don't Do So Prematurely Before you get rid of clients who don't pay or don't pay on time, ask the clients why [they didn't pay promptly]. If it's just a misunderstanding, consider possible future revenue stream down the road.-- Amy Zhang, CPA, Affinity Fund Services, LLC
Next Up: 4 More Top Tips Specifically For Small Business Owners
In addition to the prior tips, small business owners should also consider these:
7. Do a Credit Check
Make every client complete a credit application and use it to conduct a background check on your potential client. Entry-level business credit reports can also be purchased online with a credit card from bureaus like Cortera, Experian, Equifax and D&B. The credit reports provide a comprehensive assessment of the financial health of a business. These reports outline the business' payment history and help predict future payment behavior.--Alex CotÃ©, VP, Cortera
8. Get Paid, Then Work I simply do not begin work on a wholesale order until I've been paid in full. To do otherwise would mean that my small business would have to lay out funds for supplies, packaging, shipping / insurance, and I would not get paid for manufacturing time...until the invoice is finally paid.--Jen Sulligan, owner, Little Batch Apothecary by Little Batch Botanicals, LLC
9. Provide Payment Options I find it helps to accept a variety of payment types so the client can pick the one they are most comfortable with -- check, money order, or credit card. For credit cards, I use Paypal, and can take their payment right over the phone and enter it into my Paypal account. My clients really like this because they can take care of the payment with minimum hassle. And they recognize the Paypal name, so they feel more secure.--Kim White, Web Design For Writers
10. Use Technology To Help Clients I set up my QuickBooks to allow online payment for invoices via major credit card or check online. Now we have our monthly clients set up on automatic billing, so their cards are charged on the 1st of each month automatically. And if they don't like automatic billing, we give them the option of pre-paying for the year -- with a discount.--Angela Nielsen, One Lily Creative Agency
What are YOUR best get-paid tips? Please add yours in the comments below.
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