As a business owner I can tell you that starting and growing a business is exciting, yet challenging; unfortunately, one of those challenges I’ve had to endure in the past is making sure I got paid and did not get ripped-off! Going into business for yourself is one of the most risky, character-testing, yet rewarding journeys that one can take. It usually does not take a full year before one realizes that, though you may be smart, it takes strength and courage to keep committing to your business everyday and to not get discouraged by people who make it more challenging for you by not wanting to pay you. Don’t let anyone rob you of your dreams!
I am quite empathetic, and I am someone who is sensitive to others’ pain. But my work and life experiences have taken me through enough where I am not affected while doing my job. If you are anything like me, you like to help people. However, while you are busy caring and they are busy not paying you, what does that do for your business? It puts you in the hole and they get services for free. If you’re like me, you can’t fathom how anyone could do this. You can’t fathom how you could be taken advantage of. You can’t come to grips with how you were on their side trying to help them and they treated you like the dirt you walk on.
No one wants to admit that something like this has happened to them, but I’m here to tell you that, unfortunately it happens to business owners more than it should. But what can we learn from it?
This is what business owners need to do to protect themselves:
Always Have a Contract and Enforce It
It must be signed by both parties, it must spell out how much will be paid and when, it must explain what the consequence is for non payment. You must adhere to your policies and enforce them.
Offering Payment Plans are Okay, But Under a Contract
Sometimes you want to help people who don’t have all the money up front. That can be okay with honest people. But as mentioned above, all terms must be spelled out, and your contract needs to be signed by both parties.
The Contract Must be Terminated if a Client or Customer Does Not Pay
Have policies, and put them in your contract, that you will stop services or not provide goods if the client or customer does not pay. They should not get a free ride from you. Where will you be if this keeps happening to you? With no business and no money. You have to earn a living.
Take Non-Payers to Collections
There are collection agencies that will go after unpaid debts for you; get to know one that will fight for you. So, you can save the headache of having to chase people down and make repeated phone calls while trying to earn a living.
Sue If You Have to
Don’t let people use and financially abuse you. If a client or customer failed to adhere to the terms of the contract that they signed that gives you a legal cause of action to get your money back. So, use the legal system if you have to.
Of course, the reality is that, as a business owner, you want to succeed! As many pieces that you have to juggle, you want as few worries as possible. Put the practices above into place; you will be a business owner who takes control; manages risk; and who gains more than you lose!