You finish the job and send your client the invoice. And then you wait for your payment. And then you wait some more.

You silently wonder if you should contact your client, but you know that they will pay – eventually.

Sound familiar?

We’ve all been there.

The problem is that not getting your pay on time not only causes a lot of stress, it can cause some serious cash flow problems. You probably have vendors on the other side that need to be paid!

What makes it worse is that you feel you have to walk a fine line because the client you need the money from is also the one responsible for providing you with recurring work and regular income.  That’s an important relationship not just now, but for future income.

You need to get paid on time, but what can you do? Here are four tips that can help you avoid all that stress and get your pay faster.

Discuss Payment Expectations Upfront

You can’t hold your client responsible for a late payment if you haven’t made it clear when they need to pay. During your initial sales discussions, establish up front when their bill is due and how much you expect them to pay.

Keep in mind that how you word your terms of payment directly determines how fast your client is going to come through with the money they owe. You can’t really blame them if they choose to pay on day 30 if that’s how long you gave them.

On the other hand, asking for immediate payment upon receipt turns some clients off. During your initial consultation, discuss the payment options upfront and decide on a timeframe that works for both of you. Put the due date on your invoice as a “gentle reminder” to help them remember what you have agreed upon.

Offer an Incentive

It may not seem like a big deal to you but offering a small discount on your client’s bill for early or even on time payment (if nothing else will work) is often a good incentive to make them pay on your schedule instead of theirs.

You can also use this idea in reverse and add a late fee if the payment is not made on time or within a certain number of days after it is due.

Make it Easy for Clients to Pay

Payment options have come a long way since the arrival of the internet. The accounting department used to create invoices, mail them out, and then wait for someone to mail them a check back. If you’re still using this method, however, you’re actually less likely to have your client pay you in a timely manner.

At ZipBooks, we provide a billing solution that allows you to email your invoice right into your client’s inbox and they can use an available payment processor to immediately send you a payment. Most modern accounting software will do the same thing, and you should make sure that your solution supports that workflow as well — since this method is so easy and upfront, your client is a lot more likely to just go ahead and pay.

If you’re trying to get more done in a day, you can’t spend lots of time chasing client payments.  Automate as much as you can — it makes it easier on your clients and on you.

Don’t Ignore a Late Payment

You may find on occasion that a client plans to cheat you, but more often than not the client just got busy and simply forgot to pay. It’s tempting to ignore that a payment is late and just hope they’ll pay, but you need to stay proactive.

Some invoicing and accounting apps will even allow for automatic late-payment reminders so you can email your clients if they haven’t paid a certain number of days after the invoice is due.

Make a point to follow up with reminders to ensure that you get paid. Keep in contact and above all else, stay persistent.  Value your work.  You deserve to get paid for it — in full and on time!

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Jaren Nichols is Chief Operating Officer at ZipBooks. Jaren was previously a Product Manager at Google and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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