How do you make sure you get paid?

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Let's face it, we've all been down this road; a client/company commits to paying by a certain date but ends up not paying or severely delaying.

You follow up but at some point it feels like you are a nagging individual.

How do you ask for your pay/compensation & ensure you get paid?

How do you deal with clients that don't pay or delay payments?

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Contracts. And don't start ANY WORK until you have a non-refundable deposit. Make sure you lay it, in very specific terms, the agreement of work to be done, payment schedule after that, and the time limit in which you'd like to be paid.

Never transfer files or work over to a client's server / email / system until you've gotten paid.

 

Definitely agree with this.

The last part is the one that's usually a challenge at times. How would you go about it assuming they end up not paying even after all this?

 

I ran my own freelance consultancy for 5 years. This question brings back lots of unpleasant memories. Here's my advice based on that experience:

Have them sign a contract before you get started with penalties for late payment. Make sure you have a lawyer review the contract to make sure it's enforceable. When the payment is late, have that lawyer send them a not-so-gentle reminder that they are in breach of contract, and a penalty will then be applied. The longer they delay, the greater the penalty will be, as the penalty should accrue over time, e.g. 5% penalty if 1 month late, 10% penalty if 2 months late.

If you didn't get them to sign a contract, then invite them out for coffee/lunch/drinks and test your skills of persuasion. Depending on the person, you might guilt them into paying you by telling them just how badly you are being affected by their late payment.

If you find out that they just don't have the money, negotiate a payment plan that at least gets you some money now, rather than having to wait for a lump-sum at some arbitrary point in the future.

 

The penalty concept seems to curb the delayed payments issue.

negotiate a payment plan that at least gets you some money now, rather than having to wait for a lump-sum at some arbitrary point in the future

Wise. Is this in written form?

Say after negotiations, they agree but ghost afterwards. What further measures would you take?

Also curious, why did you stop running the firm? What did you find to work better for you

 

If you got them to sign a contract initially, yes - you shouldn't need a payment plan.

If they ghost, tell your lawyer to go get 'em: Lawyers are good at tracking people down and sending scary letters.

Why did I stop running my firm? I couldn't get the damn clients to pay on time! I learned the power of legal contracts way too late in running the firm (I was young and dumb), and by then was fed up with freelancing, and took a leadership job at an enterprise.

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