Every once in a while there may come a time when payments just don't seem to arrive when you most expect them. And worse, it sometimes comes when bills are due to your internet or electricity which is vital for the continuity of operation of your work. Should you then get the phone and ring your clients every 30 minutes to say they are late? Or approach them like you are begging for what you have worked for?
If you are that frustrated and unprepared, you might just end up doing both, but here's some suggestions to ward off this kind of situation to save both your business and your reputation.
Pay on Time
If you are the type of person who is inclined to procrastinate, you have a higher possibility of getting more frustrated and bogged by late payment scenarios. It's funny, but it's true! Before you demand your clients from paying on time, you may want to check if you are actually paying on time yourself! Fix your payments too! Pay on time! You simply can't pass the blame to your clients' delayed payment of your unpaid bill. Sometimes we are tempted to delay payment ourselves. LaToya Irby has outlined pretty clearly the advantages of paying on time in her article 7 Reasons to Make Your Credit Card Payment on Time.
The talk gets really boring to many when the discussion turns to budgeting. No wonder there are only a few who can withstand a financial crisis and still live like a king because only a few really knows budgeting and why it's important! But budgeting has its hidden treasures that only those who stick to it can actually discover. It's not how many clients or how big your salary that matters, but it's how you handle what you have. If you don't know how to budget, then it's time to learn. There are many budgeting software available that can get you started. Mint, Buxfer and Quicken are just a few of them, but even your ordinary excel or word can actually help you create a functional budget.
Saving is perhaps is one of the most overused and neglected terms that people only recall when they are in “dire need”. But when everything is working smoothly, nobody cares to at least get a piggy bank and drop a few coins for future or emergency use. You should know by now that as freelancer, your line of work and the financial aspect of being a freelancer has an equal uncertainty that goes with it. You simply can't rely on your projects to last and so is the cash flow. There is a myriad of reasons to save and if you have time you may check this article from About.com that provides the Top Seven Reasons to Save
Paypal is by far one of the most convenient way of invoicing and receiving payment. And one good thing you'll like with Paypal is it's ability track if your payments have been completed. Otherwise, you can just send out a reminder. I've had a few experience where a client had to get back to me and ask for the bill 2 weeks after I've actually sent out the invoice. And guess what, email piled up so fast that he was not able to read it. So don't be afraid to send out reminders. This way, you will be able to ensure that your client's are well advised. Don't assume things, be certain.
Setting the right expectation when it comes to payment is essential in establishing a harmonious client-provider relationship. Before you start work, make sure that all gray areas are clarified most especially when it comes to payment and payment conditions. Set the proper expectation when it comes to invoicing your customers and when you expect them to complete the payment. If you think that a 2day wait of Paypal withdrawal to your bank account is too long then provide alternatives, like LMS Remittance (UK), MLhuillier, Xoom, or Western Union money transfer.
The late payment scenario is avoidable and trivial if you are prepared. Understand that emergencies always come every now and then and unforeseen circumstances can happen that even the most prompt client can't anticipate. If your client delays in payment, try to understand his/her case. Ensure that your terms and payment options are convenient for the situation. Otherwise, be prudent and wise to prepare yourself when your client fails. It doesn't have to be a cause of a strained relationship, but if you can agree on this area, then you're increasing your chances of building a lasting partnership.