I've been fortunate enough that after a very slow bumpy start, my VA business has really started to take off and I have several clients on my roster. While I enjoy working with my clients and appreciate their business, the last couple months have been a bit challenging in terms of the amount of time it's taking to get paid for my services. A couple clients in particular have been dragging out the process and it's starting to become a problem.
I blame myself for this problem because I let the late payments continue so that I didn't upset my clients. In the meantime I continued to provide quality service even though I should have stopped per the terms of my contract until those invoices were paid. Again I let my clients' needs outweigh my own and it was starting to affect me financially.
The issue of getting paid and client payments just came up in one of the VA groups I belong to on Facebook and I took that as a sign that I needed to get myself together. I commented in the group that I intended to send out a notice to all my clients addressing the issue, and that is exactly what I did on Friday.
I sent an email out to each of my clients letting them know that as of January 1st, I would be actively enforcing the terms of my contract and all invoices had to be paid in full before any work would begin and that all work would stop if there were any outstanding invoices. Most of my clients were fine with this and one even apologized for the late payments, but there was one who got upset that I wanted to do this.
The reply I got back from this client basically said that they did not want to agree to these terms (even though they signed a contract) and basically said they wanted to continue working with me but wanted to be able to pay me when they could because it was ‘tough out there'. My reply back to this client was very professional, even though I had to count to ten a couple times to keep my emotions in check. I let the client know that since they didn't want to abide by the terms of the contract they signed, I would no longer be able to work with them and would be ending my service at the end of this month.
I also told the client that most service providers require payment up front or immediately after service is received, and I had put up with this client paying late two months in a row with no interruption in service. I let them know that as a new business owner I could no longer let this continue because as they said, ‘it's tough out there' and late payments don't help. I wrapped up by saying that it was a pleasure meeting and working with them, wished them continued success and a prosperous new year.
By ending my relationship with this client, I will be taking a financial hit but I have gained a tremendous amount of confidence in myself as a business owner because I am making sure that I'm conducting my business on my terms and not letting my clients do it on theirs. I respect my clients by providing them with quality service and I expect them to do the same by paying me on time!
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