December 6th, 2014

Getting paid – our top tips for creative businesses

You work hard, right? Your clients think you’re ace. Right again? So why is it so difficult to get paid?

Here’s our top tips.

Follow the rules

Lots of companies, particularly bigger ones, will process invoices in a purchasing department. The people processing the invoices won’t know that you’re a great guy…have done a big favour…could really do with the cash. All they’ll be looking for is the right information on the invoice. This could be purchase order numbers, project numbers, the person who authorised it. So, before you send in your invoice, make sure that you’re making it as easy as possible for the person dealing with the invoice to pay you.

Easy pay

The easier you make it for people to pay you the quicker you’ll get paid. Provide your bank details as a matter of course. If you want a cheque then make sure you say who it should be paid to and where to send the cheque. The last thing you want is your invoice sitting on a query pile. These days it’s really easy to accept credit cards (check out E-way) and Paypal so it’s worth doing the sums to see if the fees you’d pay would be worth it to get the money quicker.

Split up your invoices

If you’re invoicing for a number of things then think about sending more than one invoice. You don’t want to get a payment for designing a massive website getting held up because of a dispute about a banner ad you bashed out.

Tech is your friend

Users of cloud based software, like Xero, report a 26 day decrease in the number of days it takes to get paid. This is simply the result of having up to date information at your finger tips.

The Three P’s

Polite Persistence Pays. It’s perfectly acceptable to phone people to check they’ve received your invoice and to ask when to expect payment. It’s then perfectly acceptable to call back on that day to check payment has been made. You don’t need to be rude, demanding or anything like that. Just call and ask if there’s a problem…and always finish the call with an action you’ll take next written in your diary. Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the oil…

It all starts in the beginning

When you get commissioned to do a piece of work then send a brief email outlining what’s been agreed, the price and the payment terms. OK, a fully blown contract would be a good idea but if you’re not in that league then at least a friendly email with a summary could help to prevent any misunderstandings.

Automate stuff

Too busy to be messing about chasing up debtors? Then you can use software like Debtor Daddy to do it for you. This will send a series of email reminders out so you don’t need to do anything.

Good Luck and let us know of any ideas you’ve got and we’ll add them to the list.

Jonathan Ford & Co are chartered accountants to a range of creative businesses in Liverpool and St Helens.

For a free consultation as to how we could help you and your business call us on 0151 426 4512.

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Freelancers Getting Paid


John manages a wide portfolio of owner managed businesses and oversees the smooth operation of the firm’s payroll department.

After obtaining his degree in mathematics from the University of Liverpool, John joined Jonathan Ford & Co in 2004 and qualified as a chartered accountant four years later. John likes to keep abreast of developments in tax and accounting and is responsible for the mentoring of junior staff.

Outside of work, John enjoys powerlifting and is a Liverpool FC season ticket holder.

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