One of the most aggravating things about being a private contractor, or owning your own business, is dealing with clients who tend to put your invoices on ice. Over the last six or seven years, I’ve had to put up with the usual set of excuses and promises clients make about their outstanding invoices.
I can’t begin to count the number of times clients have told me, “It’s in the mail!” only to discover, weeks later, that the client did NOT in fact put your check in the mail. It’s aggravating for a number of reasons the least of which is that your client is LYING to you. It throws off accounting, makes you have to scramble to cover third-party contract invoices, and is just generally stressful.
In the past I’ve toyed with the idea of penalizing my clients who do not deliver on their promises, but being a private contractor means having to cut people A GREAT DEAL of slack because you want their business. For 2012, I made the decision to completely do away with paper of any kind in my business practices.
What this means is that aside from saving a few trees, my clients can no longer write me a check. All payments must be submitted electronically. If the payment doesn’t show up on the date it is due, I put a hold on the clients project, or take it down from my servers for failure to pay.
Now I am sure some of my clients will be unwilling to adhere to the new practices, but in those cases, they are clients I am willing to lose. On December 28th, all my clients will receive an email that informs them of the new business practices. They’ll be required to log in to the secure area of my website and digitally sign a document saying the understand and accept the new terms. If they don’t, they will receive an email the following week explaining that I’ve decided to void our contract (if any is currently in place), and that they can download their files from the server over the next 72 hours, after that time the files will be archived on CD/DVD and be sent via postal mail.
It may sound crazy, but ultimately I’ll be a lot happier and a lot more flush with capital.