How to get paid when freelancing
Chaing payments and making sure you are paid as a freelancer can be a long-winded tiresome process. When running your freelance business, making sure that you are paid and on time can mean the difference between the success and the failure of your company. Business turnover and cash flow make or break in the business, and these are both heavily impacted if clients are delaying payments of even refusing to pay.
There are a great number of benefits of freelancing, however, one of the biggest negatives of freelancing is that making sure you are paid. It's the long hours and the huge stress when chasing payments that can make freelancers feel miserable. Some cases, freelancers have to wait 6 months to get paid from the date they issued their invoice, and sometimes to even get a payment the freelancers will reduce the original amount. These practices are unfair and can be incredibly damaging to a freelancers business.
There are no quick fixes to the debt recovery process, however, you can not completely helpless. There are a number of actions you can take which will ensure that your credit and debt recovery is within your control and does take over your whole time.
Try not to panic
If your payment hasn't yet made the payment, it might be your natural instinct to panic and worry, but try not. The most likely case is that your client has just forgotten, so send them a reminder to make them aware that you are still waiting for them to make the payment. As you may know from running a business, sometimes you need a few reminders to make the payment, and clients are the same.
Keep up with your client
For the health of business finance, it might be a good idea to ensure that you start and maintain a good level of communication with your client. Whether you give them a phone call or drop them an email, it can do wonders and assists greatly in ensuring your client is still trading. if you are keeping up with your client, then you will likely be fresh on their mind, as well as your unpaid invoice.
Make sure to update your database
It's important to know that you have the most updated contact detail for your clients, especially when chasing payment. Your client may cease trading or even move to new premises, so you don't want to spend months writing to a business that no longer exists or send letters/invoices that are being delivered to the wrong place.
Does the invoice have all the correct details?
It's essential that you double-check all the details on any invoice you send because if there are incorrect figures on there, it can cause a huge delay in the payment process. If the invoice you used is incorrect, a client might jjust ignore it, which will require more effort on your behalf to spot the mistake. It might also be in your interest to find out if the clients requires the invoice to be in a certain format. For example, they might want to be able to make a partial payment of the invoice. It will not take up too much of your time to ask their preference but it can take a long time getting paid if you have to re-issue the invoice.
Do you have a contract in place with your client?
If you have had a long-standing business relationship with a client/supplier, there might not be a formal written agreement/contract in place. However, having a contract in place should be a natural part of working with clients and suppliers. Having a formal agreement supported by written documents can provide a great foundation in establishing a business relationship between supplier and client.
How to do you deal with complaints?
Do you have a complaints procedure in place for your freelance business? If not, then you should put one in place because if your clients have complaints they will not pay. It will be rare to find clients that will pay you despite not being fully satisfied with your work. A swift investigation and speedy resolution of a client's complaint can pay dividends in a quick settlement and ongoing business.
Do you have evidence?
If you are chasing a debt then you will need to provide evidence to prove that the debt is genuinely owed. Your case might even go as far as the district judge in the County Court so solid evidence need to be provided. Having some of the following will put you in a good place: timesheets, invoices, receipts of delivery for goods/services that you claim to have delivered. If you do not have any substantial evidence to prove that legitimate debt is owed to you, may struggle to get paid and may need to find an alternative way to settle the dispute.
Is there any witnesses?
If you have any witnesses who can appear in the County Court to give evidence on your behalf will be great for your cause, should the matter not be resolved amicably? Bear in mind that your witnesses need to be reliable and credible.
Is there room for comprise?
Sometimes the possibility of doing business in the future can be offset by losing a small amount on an invoice. Invariably many businesses are 'offended' by the use of legal proceedings and may choose not to do business with you again. Compromise can help avoid this situation.
Seek professional legal advice
Don't allow personal feelings to cloud your judgment in respect of litigation - this can be stressful, time-consuming and expensive if handled badly. Make sure you have instructed a legal advisor or debt recovery specialist before launching legal proceedings.
Article provided by Clayton M Coke, PRMS