It is almost a running joke about how often companies will leave freelancers and small businesses waiting for payment. In fact, getting paid in exposure might soon have to be a way to pay for groceries. If you make money online, through a blog, freelance work, or other, then you have potentially read (or lived) some horror stories.
When it comes to getting your money, on time (almost all of the time), here are some tips for you.
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All businesses need to have a credit policy in place. These will be guidelines that determine which customers can and will be extended credit and what the terms will be. If you have the ability to perform credit checks, then do so, and in general, don’t extend credit to new customers. You might opt for a cash or debit only payment system, which will help you avoid having to deal with credit cards or personal cheques.
If you are going to be invoicing for a relatively large amount, then make sure that you take 30-50% of the value upfront.
If you are taking large projects, or you provide services, then it is becoming increasingly common for companies to take a partial payment on high-ticket services. If you don’t like the idea of that, then you might consider breaking down the bill into thirds and having the invoices sent at set times.
Same effect but you aren’t required to negotiate for that 30-50%.
You can also choose to break down the project into deadline deliverables and have an invoice prepared for each piece of work completed.
It would be best if you invoiced as soon as the work is delivered. This will start the timer on your payment period, for example, your 30 or 60-day cycle. Included with your invoice should be information about your payment terms too. Just so that there can be no confusion in a few weeks when they are finally putting your invoice through to their own accounts department.
Follow Up Procedure
The more effort and pressure you apply to companies who aren’t paying the invoice on time, the more likely you are to have success. If your invoice terms are clear, then all you will need to do is follow your own procedures.
You can open the follow-up communications with a simple email ‘touching base’. This is often enough to remind people that the invoice is due. If that doesn’t work, then you can take the conversation to the phone. If you get no results this way, there are a couple of things that you can do.
You can always call it bad-debt and write it off. Or, you can get in touch with a debt collecting agency, sue for non-payment of services, or head to small claims court (in some countries). It pays for you to research further each of those options before choosing to take them. It probably won’t get as serious as this, and A Right Choice Bail Bonds probably won’t be called in to help. But you do have options.
Of course, when you are looking to make sure you get paid on time, every time then having a clear and proactive payment policy is the best option. The more detailed your policy, the more you can do when someone decides to let the invoice default.