It doesn’t matter what industry you work in. Your business needs a steady and reliable incoming flow of cash to be able to keep everyone paid and all your services paid for. However, there are some models where that steady income isn’t always guaranteed. So, what can you do to nail down more of the cash you need and get paid quicker by clients? Let’s look at some of the practices and help on offer.
Don’t let clients hold all the cards
This is a piece of advice that’s most essential to freelancers or small businesses that are just setting out. You have to be able to independently find the value of your work, set your price point, and convince your clients that it’s worth that much. If you fail to set the boundaries of what you get paid or any other part of how you work, you can expect clients to test your boundaries. Not all of them will do this. But there are some who will try to set your prices for you and tell you what they think your work is worth. Rarely is it an estimation in your favor.
Taking advantage of a done deal
Sometimes, your line of work means that you’re going to have to be waiting for some time until you see the results of what you’ve done. There’s a good chance, however, that someone has a financing option available to help you tide over that time. Invoice freelancing might work well for generic purposes, but you need to consider the industry specific options as well. Finding partners can help real estate agencies get their commission when they need it, rather than having to wait for everything to clear between the seller and buyer, which can take a lot of time. Similarly, there are legal funding agencies for law firms that can pay an advance on an expected settlement. When you know a deal is done, there’s usually an option to ensure that you’re paid for it.
See the money in your account sooner
Sometimes, not getting paid yet isn’t down the fact that your industry has you waiting. It might just be down to the customer as an individual. This is most true of the businesses that rely on an invoicing process. Small Business Trends has some helpful ideas on how you can improve that process. By automating your invoicing systems, for instance, you can make sure that you’re not the one holding the payment up by being tardy. But it’s a good idea to have a payment policy in place with terms including arranged dates or periods for payment. Don’t be afraid to send an email to people late on paying the invoice as well. You can be polite, but if you do have those policies in place, you can also remind them that you might have a fee for late payments.
Don’t be afraid to get rough
One of the risks of business is that sometimes you might just have a client who isn’t willing to pay. You shouldn’t be ready to just chalk that up as a loss. If you have the proof, including the agreement, any policies you have and invoices you’ve sent, you can use them to make sure you get the money you’re owed. You can use a collections agency, for instance, or pair up with a local business lawyer. To make sure that these disputes go in your favor when they should, again you need to make sure you have a standardized policy.
Always be closing
If you’re waiting on payment, don’t be waiting and sitting on your thumbs. Your lead generation processes and qualification of new clients should be constant so that you’re never just relying on one person or company. Depending on the industry that you’re working in, diversifying the kind of clients you take on can be essential, too. For instance, a freelance copywriter might find the bulk of their work by completing individual pieces of copy for different clients on a daily basis with some returning customers. But they can make sure they’re looked after if that work dries up for a period by taking on contract work on a longer term with another business.
When the methods above just aren’t working for you, then you need to consider how truly sustainable your current model is. You might have to scale back your operation, whether that means looking at alternative vendors, aiming for optimal efficiency, or even letting some of your staff and resources go. It’s not pretty, but sometimes it needs to be done.