So,when you run a small business, one of the tasks you need to take care of is invoicing your clients. This is a dull task, one of going through logs, checking to make sure receipts are in order, entering numbers into a computer program, and making sure that you are going to be able to pay your outsourced vendors.
When you first start a business, you most likely will be doing this task by yourself. You haven't managed to make enough money to hire out, and you want to be very careful with your money. I recently read the book The Home Office from Hell Cure by Jeff A. Landers, and it was about Transforming Your Underperforming Time-Sucking Homebased Business into a Runaway Success. Well, my business certainly isn't a home office from hell, but it did address the question of whether you should outsource your bookkeeping, and their answer was yes. But I don't feel comfortable doing that just yet.
So, I invested in a quickbooks program and I invoice every month so that I can add that personal touch to my new clients. I feel it's good to have a strong relationship with them, so while the invoices may arrive electronically, the receipts are sent by me personally, with a note or a little reward for their valued business.
For the most part, 99% of my clients pay on time. I'm not equipped to handle Credit Cards that well, although I can send requests through paypal, so most of my payments will arrive by cheque or through paypal. The day is coming when I will be accepting credit cards, and believe me, I can't wait.
After all, without clients, you have no business. Of course my business is a little different than others. I work as a publicist and an agent, which means I usually have at least half a dozen manuscripts sent my way with people expecting free advice. At first I was happy to give that, in the hopes that they would become clients. Big mistake. It was a huge time sucker, because as soon as I answered an email from one person, each email that arrived would ask for more and more help. And I have to say that sometimes I am much too nice to cut them off.
But then I remembered that I'm running a business, and my expertise is valued in my industry. Now I offer a 1/2 hour consultation which includes a reply to their email and a quick read through of their manuscript with suggestions. And that's it. If they would like more of my thoughts about their work, then they need to hire me.