Being a small business owner I frequently get asked what to do when clients don’t pay me for completed work. There are 3 things you can do to minimize the risk of not getting paid:
First, any entrepreneur or freelancer who doesn’t take basic small business courses from SBA.org (many for free) or some similar program is asking for trouble. If you pay self-employment tax you are a full-fledged business in the eyes of the IRS – so act like it. Learning about how to set up your business plan will help you get organized; so that non-payment will either not happen or you will have some type of recourse set up in advance.
Second, get it in writing. If you are a business you need a good contract. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a lawyer, you just need to make sure that you include all the points about the service, product or work you are providing to your client, and points about situations that may or may not occur.
Finally, sometimes you need to “Just Say No…” thank you! If you have a gut reaction to a client that doesn’t sit right with you for more than 24 hours, say ‘no thank you,’ and move on. Chances are your gut is right. It’s your business and you can decide who you choose to work with and for.
The real difference between being a business or not is getting paid for your work. Setting up your business plan, service contracts and trusting your gut can go a long way in being perceived and feeling like a real business person. It doesn’t matter what you do or where you do your work – it just matters if you get paid.
Colleen Rice Nelson is a self employed business woman who runs a multimedia consulting business,The Ultimate Answer, helping her clients answer their questions about the world wide web.