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Getting paid

I used to worry about asking to get paid. I still do. There is (was?) some part of me that feels like a scumbag because I’m asking for money.

But it’s not actually like that. I realised that my clients WANT to give me money.

One client is struggling because their client can’t afford to pay them. But they are putting a plan in place to make sure I get paid. They want to pay me.

I’ve got a new client and I was holding off writing the contract because I thought they weren’t ready. He rang me up, interrupting me, and made me do it.

I had a coaching client and I was struggling to charge him because I was unsure if what I was doing was helping or not. He kept ringing me up reminding me to send him an invoice.

People WANT to pay you. They want to give you a fair rate. They trust you to do a good job and they know what that’s worth.

The clients who battle you on price – they don’t believe in you – and they’re invariably the cheapskates who never get what they want.

So don’t work for them.

You know you’re good at what you do. That’s why you dropped everything to work for yourself.

Find the clients who can see that. Find the clients who value what you do.

They’re out there. You just need to look in the right places.

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So your client keeps ghosting you.

You ask for feedback and don’t hear back from them for weeks. And then they reply with “oh I thought I told you it was approved”.

Even worse, they leave invoices to go unpaid.

Work is slow and they (eventually) pay well but how do you deal with this?

First – I would make sure your contract details how you communicate and how you get paid. If you don’t have a contract get one, NOW!

Second – I would explain that all communications have to go through a project management system; something like Basecamp or Asana. That way, when you need something from them, like an approval, you can set them a reminder and it will ping them until they respond. And most systems keep an audit trail so you can see (and prove if necessary) that they didn’t reply or react to your questions.

Put these in place, give them a fixed time period (say 4 weeks) to improve how they respond and if they don’t then call it a day.

That’s how I would deal with it. What about you?

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How do I deal with cheap clients who always pay late?

A common problem when working for yourself – especially in a service business where delivery of the project can take some time – is late payments.

Now there are a number of things going on here and it’s not necessarily going to be what you’re going to want to hear. But, underneath it all, there are two possible reasons that they’re paying late.

Firstly – they simply don’t have the money. This is a bad situation to be in. They’re not a good client for you, they shouldn’t have signed up with you and you should not have accepted them. It’s an easy mistake to make. I’ve got a client right now who owes me thousands, and I keep kicking myself over the situation I’ve put myself in.

Secondly – they don’t trust you to do the job. This is a bad situation to be in. They’re not a good client for you and you failed completely during the earlier stages of your relationship to remind them that the work you are about to embark on is important enough, vital even, to the success of their business.

In both cases it’s your fault.

So now you’ve found yourself in this situation, what do you do to deal with it?

Step 1) Stay in touch. Email and messaging isn’t enough. Schedule a weekly call with the client and keep them up to date on the progress made on the project every week. Just remind them that things are going well. I really don’t like talking to people but this has to be done. If they’re the “don’t have the money” type they will start to feel a bit of pressure to find the cash. If they’re the “don’t trust you” type they will start to understand that you’re actually making progress.

Step 2) Get some help. If things get too bad, ask someone else to get in touch with the client for you. I don’t know why, but having someone else’s voice delivering the message that payment is due makes a real difference. They don’t even need to be some muscly heavy type.

Step 3) Make sure it doesn’t happen again. Be more careful in how you select your clients. Add “guard rails” into your sales process where you inform yourself as to whether these are good clients or not.

Step 4) Give yourself time to find new clients. Make sure you understand what your pipeline looks like – if things are looking good, just feed your marketing activities in the background. But if your pipeline looks a bit empty, in three months time1, now is the time to take action. That way, you aren’t desperate for work the next time a dodgy client shows up and you don’t end up in this situation again.

If you’d like to take control of your time, escape the constant firefighting and build a business that works for you, the easy way to get started is to build a 12 Week Plan. My free planner shows you exactly what you need to do.

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