Photo Credit: 401(K) 2012 via Flickr
Another client I had for several years always paid me with a bank draft, and bank drafts require a trip to the bank. Service at the bank was painfully slow. If my client got busy or wasn’t in the right mindset, then guess which to-do got pushed back and? Yep. Getting this guy paid.
To make matters worse, there were a few months when the bank drafts disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle of the United States Postal Service. I’d have to call my client and deliver the bad news: “No, the invoice still hasn’t shown up.” This reset the clock. I’d have to wait for my client to cancel the lost draft and mail a new one. Oh, and the client was in another country.
Someone else’s schedule or busyness or emergency or lack of foresight or cash flow issues can hold your money hostage.
If you’ve got a business or personal emergency fund, then the client’s delays won’t cause you undue stress. If, however, you really needed the money, then those delays can cause serious problems for your business, for your personal finances, and for your emotional and mental well-being. A cash flow shortage only compounds the stress and anxiety.
Send more invoices more often, and you’ll feel less stress more often.
4) Use regular invoicing to keep your clients engaged in the project.
If they keep seeing money leave their accounts, they’ll stay motivated. They’ll want to get value out of that spend. They’ll prioritize communication with you and critical decision-making.
In short you’ll have a rapt audience.
The faster you finish projects, the more profitable they will be. And you’ll bring them to a successful conclusion before your enthusiasm starts to ebb.
5) Invoice often to keep your clients in the habit of paying you.
You don’t want your clients to commoditize your services or work, but you do want to be a regular line item in their monthly burn rate.
As they grow accustomed to paying you, you can create value for them and drum up more work for yourself by staying embedded in their businesses processes and finding new problems to solve.
- You can sell a retainer on the tail end of a consulting gig.
- You can turn a one-off web content project into a regular blogging engagement.
- You can parlay an identity design package into marketing collateral, infographics, slide decks, and custom product page designs on their website.
If you proactively look for ways to solve a problem, meet a need, or otherwise make your clients’ lives better or easier, then continuing to send you money becomes a no-brainer.
6) Invoice often to get paid faster.
Hat tip to my friend Glenn Stovall for his insights into how marketing directors handle their budgets. Some big expenditures require approval. A controller or CFO has to sign off on them. This takes time, and you want a new project now.
Can you sell a productized service at a lower but strategic price point?
A Roadmapping session, code audit, or analytics analysis at $499, $1450, or $4750 could sneak under the maximum of the marketing director’s monthly discretionary budget or credit card spend and enable you to jumpstart a relationship with her while you sort out the details on a larger project with more red tape and decision-makers.
An invoice with a $X950 total instead of $X000–the difference of $50–could mean the difference between landing a new project right now or being punted to next quarter.
So what entry-level productized service do you sell? Make it part of your sales funnel.
Regular invoicing is all about regulating your cashflow.
Freelancers and consultants often bemoan the feast-or-famine nature of creative work and self-employment, and as often, we fail to see the part we play in our own problems.
You must heal your cashflow, and a better invoicing process is a step in the right direction.