Secrets to Small-Business Success

Photo by Hannah Saleh
Whether you're grappling with cash flow issues or legal questions, author Melinda F. Emerson shares how to keep your enterprise running smoothly

What to Do When Clients Don't Pay Up

It’s nearly impossible to manage the books when clients pay late (or not at all). Here’s how to protect yourself:

Get it in writing. Clarify the payment process and terms with your clients up front.

Handle the paperwork. Print out a W-9 form and submit it with any invoice. Payments are sometimes delayed because you are not a registered vendor.

Be flexible with payments. Often you can get paid faster when you accept credit cards. Square, PayPal and the Sage Exchange Payment Management System all let you offer multiple payment options. Or ask new clients to pay via direct deposit.

Provide an incentive. Offer a 2 to 5 percent discount for early payments. Never offer discounts for payments made in 30 days, since that is standard.

Continue to inquire. After 30 days, get your assistant to make collection calls weekly. And don’t worry about being a pest. Follow up those calls with an e-mail, and be sure to reattach your invoice to any correspondence related to a payment concern.

This article was orignally published in the September issue of ESSENCE magazine, on newsstands now. 

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