Owning your own business has some truly amazing benefits. You can make your own hours. You can take on the projects that you want, and turn down the ones you don’t. You can work on your terms, and do it your way.
Sending an invoice, and hitting the refresh button on your email over and over again waiting for the notification that your client has paid– like your inbox is an awful freelancing slot machine that mostly dispenses spam. Without the other regular recurring revenue, overdue invoices are especially painful for small teams and solopreneurs.
There is a surprisingly easy and simple solution to keep the late and non-payers at bay. It’s so remarkably simple I’m shocked not every does it. Ready? Here we go:
A Simple Fix
To avoid late and non-payers every single time, collect payment upfront. Collect payment before work starts. If the client doesn’t want to pay, the work doesn’t begin. It really is as easy as that.
The first step in collecting upfront payment is to make your expectations clear to your clients before the work even begins. Try this with your next new client. When you are approached by your next client set up your payment expectations right off the bat. Qualify your client to make sure that they are a great fit for you and your business.
This means making sure they are on board with your work expectations, your business needs, and your payment terms. When you are laying out the needs and goals for the project, payment expectations should be included in that discussion. Keeping the conversation open and honest when concerning payment is the easiest way to avoid disputes down the line. Consider asking prospective clients, “Can you presently afford to budget me as an investment in your business?”
Setting up your expectations before you start work is beneficial for several reasons. If your client understands how you work and what you need from them, you’ll avoid confrontation down the line. You’ll in turn have an understanding of their expectations of you. All of this helps you to find the clients you WANT to work with, and avoid the potential nightmare clients. Perhaps most importantly though, is knowing that when you set up expectations regarding payment, they wont be able to flake out on payments, or push scope creep when you send your invoice out.
>Changing the way you look at your billing practices can end past due invoices. Qualifying your clients not only helps you find clients you WANT to work with, but it makes your payment expectations clear before you even begin working. Charging upfront fixed prices ensures your rates are clear and avoids non-payment due to rate conflicts. Finally, ask for payment upfront. Every time. These simple changes ensure you are working with clients you want to work with. And will be the end to unpaid invoices.
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