Years ago when I first started to work for myself I found out quickly that a lot of people want your work but when it comes to paying they either take their time, forget or consistently try to renegotiate. Of course old ladies were the worst in the area of retweeking the deal. At the time I really had a hard time saying "no" and that was very costly to me. There were days that I actually wondered where my next meal was going to from. I was told that I am a "nice guy" or my favorite was when people would call me "friend" in person and their "computer guy" to their real friends. Back then I thought that getting paid was like pulling teeth. Today I think it is worse. I am not dealing with old ladies anymore but professional businessmen that simply forget to pay or refuse to pay their invoices on time. Not paying is costly to all parties, it also makes me a lot less likely to do business with you in the future. A few years ago, I worked a legal case for a lawyer, we discussed a retainer and at the time I agreed to simply work out estimated hours and invoice after the case was finished. It took me over a year and a half to get the lawyer to pay. That won’t happen again.
Not long ago, I worked for a reputable organization. I have a really great relationship with the leadership and so I found myself trusting again. It was a net 30 invoice and we are now going towards four months and I still haven’t received payment. Working for yourself is hard enough but chasing after payments is work within itself. I know it just isn’t me. This past week a friend of mine on one of the social networks complained of the very same thing. If you want people to perform work in good faith, be prepared to pay in good time. I read an article from Micheal Hyatt that talks about the "The total customer experience" I think these same concepts can be applied to consultants.
- Appreciate the value of your consultants’ time. Yes, I am working for you. But, I have other people to work for and I have other things to do. I want to do the best I can for you but I am only me and my time is of value.
- Don’t make your consultants wait. If you know that you need me to work for you, have an idea of what you need me to do. If you don’t know what you want, I am not going to know what to do once I get there. If the task is figuring out what you need and want then let me know as I we are engaging so that I can plan for this early on.
- Keep me updated on your progress. I definitely want feedback on my work and on progress of the project even if I am no longer currently involved. If for some reason you need me back keeping me up to date will also allow me to have a rolling start back to work.
- Give me an incentive to come back. Pay me. It seems too simple but it isn’t. I work for you.. you pay me.. that is incentive for me to come back. If for some reason you have to push back payment see step 4.