|Small Business Information|
Bringing Home the Bacon
In general, all of us know how to accomplish the task and get the work done. The problem is in how to actually 'get paid' for what we do. If you, like me and most of the entrepreneurs I've worked with, have completed the project, turned it in and been left holding the proverbial bag waiting to be paid for months on end, you are probably just as tired of that scenario as the rest of us. So what can we, as entrepreneurs, do about that particular scenario?
A few months ago ? I might have answered that there is not much that can be done about it. However, great strides have been made in my business sense in the past several months. I got tired of turning the other cheek and taking it in the pocket (bad pun intended).
There are many scenarios that just don't work in the process of collecting for completed work, if you are a 'one-man show'. Some of those include 'traditional collection agencies', legal action against the client, repeated billing for completed jobs, and the tiger claw through the phone ideology. These are just a few of the techniques tried and failed. The reality is that the majority of other businesses are either looking for a free handout and you are the hand providing it, out to stiff you, really don't have the financial backing to pay you for the job you do for them, or once the service is completed you are no longer a necessity for them and they avoid you.
Many of us have resorted to the deposit and final draft methods of collection, leaving only a small balance unpaid at the time the client receives the completed project. This is highly effective, and you do get paid for your work.
Development of this type of collection takes some thought and development of the process using the following steps:
Work by bid/proposal contracts.
Develop a process of billing that allows you to provide a proposal for the job you will be doing for each client. This proposal or 'bid' (if you will) is a description of the job you will be doing in as complete a form as possible and acts as a contract for the job you will be doing. It includes a collection process that you will carry through during the time you are working for the client.
Collect an initialization fee.
When you get the signed contract portion of the proposal and the initialization fee from the client you begin work on their project. This initialization fee should be substantial enough to cover the majority of the cost of the job.
Collect a 'final stage' amount.
At approximately 50% completion, you should collect a final stage amount as formerly agreed upon in the contract. This amount should be all but a 20 ? 25% balance of the entire contract and should actually pay for all the costs of fulfilling this particular proposal/bid.
Final collection on delivery of product/service.
The final payment should be due on delivery or installation of your product or service, or at the very most within thirty days of delivery. This amount should not in anyway include your personal pay or costs of delivering the product. It should be only a portion of the profit for the completed project. Any discounts allowed to the customer should come out of this amount and only at the time of completion of the job and payment, never prior to this.
Using this method to collect for a job ensures that you will be paid for the job you do and establishes a contractual agreement with the client that the job will be done. It is actually a secure way to provide the excellent service and product that your clients want and deserve while assuring your business financial stability. The financial stability of your business determines your personal financial status. Your personal financial stability is at risk in this manner, you need to be shrewd and creative in solving the problem of collections for your company from the earliest development of your business plan. If your collections process is not working in your business, you cannot bring the bacon home.
Copyright © 2001 ? Jan Verhoeff Printed in the USA
Jan Verhoeff is a business consultant who specializes in the development of new businesses throughout the Greater Great Plains States. She educates business owners in the process of developing business and marketing plans for their businesses that will encourage them to set and meet productive business goals.
She is the author of a variety of articles published in a variety of business and trade publications throughout the USA.
She may be reached by phone at 719-336-4036 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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