Freelancers & Small Business Owners: 10 Ways To Get Paid On Time, Every Time

Last Updated Aug 17, 2011 9:12 AM EDT

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 
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

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    Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who has been published in dozens of magazines (including Glamour, Self and Redbook), websites (including, and and newspapers (including The New York Post and the Boston Globe). To read more of her writing, visit