As you are rapidly settling in to 2015, now nearly a quarter of the way through, you are probably thinking “how can this year be better than the last?” And by “better,” you doubtlessly mean “more profitable,” right?
That’s the nature of growth, and it’s exactly how you should be looking at your business, regardless of industry.To help you achieve the universal entrepreneurial aspiration of increased income, we’ve put together a list of nine tips to help you get paid. Note that this is not nine tips to sell; these are pointers to help you get paid, whether you sell goods or provide services. After all, there are plenty of resources for growing sales out there, already. If you’ve been in business long at all, you know that selling something and getting paid are different ballgames.Here, we’ll focus on the part where you get paid. Let’s go!
#1: Remember to send the bill!
The first tip may seem obvious, but it the milieu of getting the job done, it is all too easy to forget the all-important step of actually sending the bill!
To make billing one tick simpler, try creating invoice templates for each customer. When it is time to send the bill, simply pull out the right invoice template and fill-in the blanks. This also benefits you by saving time (which is always money), on top of providing your customers or clients with a consistent billing experience.
#2: Send reminders
Even the best paying customers sometimes forget to pay you or flat out overlook an email notification. You should plan from the outset to send billing reminders to customers who are seven days, two weeks, one month, two months, and 90 days late – at ever increasing levels of urgency, in terms of wording.
Be nice and, above all else, be professional. You can, of course, automate payment reminders using most modern billing tools, so be sure to check the dashboard of yours to make sure you have access to payment reminder automation. Manually chasing payments is never any fun, and the less you have to do it, the better off you are!
#3: Get paid – early and often
There’s a relatively nascent phrase floating around the entrepreneurial space: “fail early and often.” But that mantra is just bullcrap. Never plan to fail; never accept failure. Nowhere is this truer than when it comes to billing.
If you’re working on a milestone basis, don’t space them preventatively far apart. Consider this: the typical worker is accustomed to getting paid every two weeks or less. That means that, especially if you are a soloprenuer or small business, Net 15 billing is the ideal way to go for freelance/small business invoicing.
#4: Kill your ego
Done some work? Feel proud of it? Great! But there’s still no room to let your ego temper you actions. Simply put, humility gets you paid faster than self-aggrandisement. Don’t be afraid to proceed with a humble attitude. Think: “hey, I just noticed that you haven’t paid invoice #001.
“Is there a problem that I can correct so that you will feel confident moving forward?” is a question you should be ready to ask. Rest any and all “blame” upon yourself, even as you politely remind your customer/client that, yes indeed, it is time to pay up!
#5: Make sure you’ve completed the work – well!
On the Web, there’s a bit more ease in business – nothing is quite as “command and control” as it is in the real world. That doesn’t mean that the digital space is no place for meeting expectations. In fact, quite the opposite is true.
The same flexibility that gives you plenty of time to do what you do best. Before you wonder where your payment is, feel free to double-check the work itself. Is there an aspect you could have completed more thoroughly? Fix it! Get it done! Minor errors are easy to hammer-out in the digital realm; make sure a mistake is not what is costing you a paycheck, before you start pressing the panic button!
#6: Words to avoid
If you do have to manually follow up with your customer, don’t make it about “money” or “payments,” expressly. Find a way to emphasise your investment in the project, product, or service. “Is everything up to par?” is the ideal question. “Is there anything I can fix?” Take the pressure off your customer, whilst reminding them to pay their bill.
#7: Highlight ease – and urgency
When you have a customer who has an outstanding invoice, the last thing you want to do is make them mad and cause them to not pay in the process.
Soft language is preferential, as usual. Kill them with kindness, and look for them to pay!
#8: Set goals
When would you like to be paid? Every week? Every month? Every quarter? Each option is perfectly okay in certain situations, depending upon your unique needs. Whichever payment interval you need, set goals around it. Build processes, in turn, around those goals.
The only sure way to fail is to operate without goals; the only way to assure success is to execute your plans. Make sure you have goals in mind when it comes to billing, just as you have them in terms of sales.
#9: Know when to walk away
It is admittedly grim, but when a customer or client is severely behind on payments, you need to know when to cease to render services or shipments. Unpaid invoices can sink businesses. Don’t let it happen to yours by politely discontinuing services until invoices are cleared. If it takes more than 90 days, end the working relationship, even if you get paid. Slow payments beyond 90 days are a sure sign of trouble ahead, and it is best simply to cut your losses and move on.
Todd Spear is a journalist with experience in print and digital. He is a senior contributor to Anthill Online, as well as the PandaDoc blog, Not So Freaky University, and GetApp.com, among others.