What If You Don’t Get Paid?
Running a successful Business is like no other feeling; but what if you don’t get paid?
There are many reasons that people want to work for themselves and everything can be hunky dory until you get a bad clients.
On the one hand, there is freedom to work when you want, with whom you choose to work and how much you will work. It’s all on you. But so is everything else.
On the other hand, it really is all on you. You wear all the hats and you make sure the business is profitable. You will be in charge of timelines and deadlines, assigning projects, dividing schedules, taking care of yourself and your family.
We have been “Virtual”since 1996 so we know. It takes time, patience, money, strategy for both your business and marketing plans, the ability to be proactive, to learn on your own and to own it. If something goes wrong in your business (let’s say an assistant or you missed a deadline), it’s up to you to apologize to the client and be sure to let them know that it was your fault and what you plan to do about it.
We are professionals and we know any business can fail if you don’t manage it right. However, if you don’t have the right people on your Team you could get in deep trouble. I recommend having the following people on hand and the following tools so you are covered everywhere in business.
People You Need on Your Team
Even if you don’t have them with you full-time, you need these people close at hand.
Mentor/Business Guide. Everyone thinks that all you have to do is hang out your sign and you are going to get business. This is obviously not true or you wouldn’t be reading this post.
Business Planner. Very similar to the Mentor, but a planner has the systems and guidelines that you must follow and the order in which you must follow them to have a successful business. This business planner can also help you create and execute your business plan. Yes, you MUST create and update your business plan annually.
Financial Service. Whether you choose to do your own bookkeeping, which I would discourage, or if it comes to tax time and you have no idea what a Schedule C is. You need someone you can go to that you trust to give you great financial guidance and keep your business in the black.
Attorney/Paralegal. There are so many things that can go wrong in business. Cover yourself and your business by working with someone who can tell you if you have issues or if things are going along all right. These people know what is by the book and what is sliding by. Don’t ever slide by. Some day you will get caught.
Insurance. You are going to need to get business insurance. Without that, your clients or others can sue you and they can take your personal property (homes, cars, etc.) as payment for wrongful deed. This goes for copyright infringement, mistakes in contracts, etc. The insurance is called Errors & Omissions Insurance. It can be expensive, but if someone were to sue you and take your personal belongings, that would be more expensive. Call around and get quotes. Start with your own insurance company but not all insurance providers include plans for O&E.
PC/Geek. Find someone you know and trust to have on your Team. When your computer goes down or freezes up, you can’t afford to wait for those big box stores to get to your computer and get it fixed right away. They will also charge you for the small questions like, “is it turned on?” Sounds funny, but that’s the way they make their money.
Speaking of money,
we spoke about the financial Service who can help you with bookkeeping, invoicing, accounts payable and receivable and your taxes. But what if your client doesn’t pay you? What if, for whatever reason, they cease communication and decide they don’t want to pay for the work they have done?
This is an unfortunate reality for many freelancers and virtual workers, not just writers. At some point you may encounter a client who won’t pay you or who pays late, after you’ve already invested a lot of time and effort into a project. But although it’s one of the risks we take when we become Virtual Assistants, there are some tips and strategies that can help us. We’ll talk about those later.
“On May 15, 2017, New York City became the first city in the United States to protect freelancers and independent contractors from nonpayment. According to a recent article, the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act now sets a deadline for when clients must fully pay freelancers for work worth $800 or more – either by a date set forward in writing or within 30 days of task completion. This law also protects freelancers from employer retaliation and promotes the implementation of written contracts.” (Posted by: Jena Kroeke, VANetworking.com)
Is this not incredible news? Virtual Professionals finally have someone to go to who is on their side. Someone who will work with them to re-coup any payments due to them $800 and up. Make sure you get paid.
This has only been in law since May in New York, but the “Freelance Isn’t Free” Act website has a Petition that people in other states can sign to get these benefits in your state as well. It’s a process when you have to go after monies owned to you. It takes time and the clients aren’t always as nice as they once were. So sign the petition and stick together with other Freelancers and Virtual Professionals.
The best case scenario, is the law will scare employers straight before a freelancer has to resort to claims court. The other thing tool to have and use is a Business Contract that states your terms of the Relationship. It must be signed by both parties to be valid. This will stipulate the type of work you will do, your time frames for work, your fees, etc. There is a lot that goes into a Business Contract and this is where your Attorney will be helpful. One of the stipulations in the contract refers to Non-Payment. The best part of this portion is that if you ever get into a situation with a non-paying client and need to take them to Small Claims Court, it will be in your State and City. Your client has to take the time to meet you in court and you will have home court advantage.
But court is still a possibility. And while the new law mandates double damages and attorneys fees if the judge rules in the worker’s favor, the prospect of acquiring an attorney can still be a daunting one for tight-budget freelancers.
In an effort to smooth this road, the Freelancers Union today launched the Freelancers Union App to connect workers with attorneys who both specialize in small claims, and are eager to take on these types of cases.
Don’t get ripped off. Take it from someone who knows.