Flaky clients – a step by step guide to dealing with late payments

Dealing with flaky clients – part one

 

Sadly, late payment is something which every contractor and freelancer will probably have to deal with at some point. Whilst it can be considered the nature of the beast, it’s not something which you as a professional should expect nor have to put up with.

 

This blog examines the steps you can take to prevent late payments. Keep an eye out for our next blog that explores how you should deal with them if a late payment occurs.

 

Prevention is better than cure – our top tips for helping to prevent late payments:

1. At the contract signing stage, ensure your payment terms are clearly stated.

2. If you’re dealing with a new client, you could offer a discount if the client pays in full and in advance. Alternatively, you might incentivise your client by offering an early payment discount, within X days of invoice.

3. As soon as the contract is finished, send your invoice promptly. State clearly the payment due date. A shorter billing cycle of 14 or 21 days means it’s not so easy to forget to pay. The date the invoice was issued should also be included as well as the methods of payment.

4. It’s advisable to introduce a late payment clause into the contract (eg 1.5% per month after the due date), and ensure the client is aware of it, both at the point of signing the contract and when you issue your invoice.

5. Include “dispute resolution” terms in your contract, including an “arbitration clause” giving the name of the mediation organisation to be used in the event of disputes. There may be a fee for mediation (based on the amount owed) but it will be less than taking a client to court, plus it’s usually quicker.

6. If payment on a contract is in stages, ensure you’re paid after the completion of each stage. Don’t start the next stage without prior payment.

7. Check their payment history. A quick Google search will reveal if there are any disgruntled contractors who found payment an issue from your prospective client. It’s then up to you if you wish to continue with the contract, or include some late payment clauses to protect yourself.

8. As a contractor or freelancer, time means money so using a time tracking/invoicing app would be beneficial and could improve efficiency. Set up automatic reminders. The longer you wait to remind clients about an invoice, the harder it’s going to be to collect on it.

9. When you send out each invoice, it’s good practice to add a note thanking the client for using your services. Let them know you appreciate their business and hope they will use you in the future. You can also say you would welcome a testimonial from them and add a link to an email address setup for this purpose.

10. The invoice itself should look smart and professional and include the following:

 

  • All of your information
  • Your logo
  • Your customer’s contact information – name, address, phone and email address should you need to contact them in future
  • A detailed list of the items you are actually invoicing for. This could avoid conflict later on
  • Your payment terms – date due and late payment penalties
  • Any early payment discounts you offer
  • A list of acceptable forms of payment
  • Ensure you send the invoice to the correct contact and department, to avoid unnecessary delays

 

We hope that you are now comfortable with invoicing and discussing payment terms with your clients. Remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! In part 2, we will address what you can do if a client misses a payment deadline, so keep an eye out for next week’s blog.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Final top tips for setting up a great home office workspace – part two

Our final 5 tips for setting up a great home office workspace

In last week’s blog we shared five top tips to help you start setting up a super home workspace. Now you’ve got the basics covered, here are another five tips to help you set up a workspace which is not only pleasant to work in but also highly efficient:

 

1. Get equipped The equipment you’ll need depends on your type of work and you probably have the basics – computer, printer, scanner, shredder. It is useful to have a smart phone specifically for business which you can set to voicemail after hours.

 

Insider knowledge: Don’t buy expensive equipment to start with. You’ll soon find out what’s essential.

 

2. Where to put it? When planning, make a list of all the materials you’ll need to store – books, ink, paper, stationery…  It’s easy to underestimate your storage needs and end up with a cluttered and inefficient workspace.

 

Insider knowledge: It’s cheap to source smart boxes and files in co-ordinating colours.

home office

 

3. Getting together Unless you have a dedicated room for your home office, consider whether you might prefer to meet clients elsewhere, either at their base or in a meeting room rented by the hour in a hotel or large office building.

 

4. Decorating and finishing touches How your workspace looks affects your mood and motivation so consider colour, texture, comfort and ambience. Have a look online for ideas.

 

Insider knowledge: A notice board for uplifting photos, affirmations, letters of thanks helps with motivation and some people like to burn scented candles or play soothing music to inspire or encourage creativity.

 

Remember, if you will be video calling or conferencing your background should look uncluttered to avoid distracting the caller.

 

5. A place for everything… Before you decide where you are going to put everything in your workspace, sit in the chair and imagine going through a normal work day.

  • Is everything you need to hand?
  • Is your phone in its charging cradle in front of you?
  • Do you have to open a drawer to find a pen or notepad?
  • Do you have to get up to reach the filing cabinet?
  • Stretch to reach a much-used reference book?
  • Can you see the wall clock without twisting round?
  • Can you reach the switches for computer and peripherals?

 

Then move everything to its optimal position. The trick is to keep the most-used items nearest and the least used items farther away.

 

A tidy office is a tidy mind so having set up your workspace, keep it well organised so you can impress with your efficiency and ability to find information quickly.

 

And try to avoid this! :

 

great home office

 

Finally, sit back and enjoy your workspace and the exciting prospect of working from home.

 

In next week’s blog we’ll reveal how contracting can give you the professional and  personal lifestyle you’ve always wanted.


Meanwhile, if you have any tips or your own ideas on how to create a workspace to harness maximum productivity, we’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Intouch teams up with IPSE to offer membership discount to clients

Intouch teams up with IPSE to offer membership discount to clients

Intouch Accounting is delighted to announce that from today, any client who starts a new membership with IPSE can benefit from a 10% discount, year on year.

 

Who is IPSE?

IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed, is the largest membership body supporting contractors, freelancers and independent professionals. Their goal is to enable you to succeed in business.

 

IPSE membership

IPSE offers Standard and Plus memberships and now, with Intouch, you can get a 10% discount when you sign up for a new membership. You can pay through a monthly direct debit or a one off annual payment, it’s up to you, and the discount will apply for a long as you’re an IPSE member. As a member you will have access to a whole range of benefits to help protect and defend your business as well as discounts to help you save hundreds of pounds a year.

 

Don’t forget, you can claim membership costs as a business expense. Speak to your contractor accountant about how to do this.

 

A bit more detail

IPSE membership offers you peace of mind and money in your pocket so you can focus on running your business without worry. Highlights of what you’ll get include:

 

  • IPSE protect to help you out when you need extra support
  • thousands of consumer discounts on items such as Apple products, Dell and HP hardware, software, gym memberships, and cash back in many high street stores
  • IPSE representation as they lobby government and across industry to ensure contractors’ voices are heard
  • help planning for your future as well as negotiated rates for pensions, life assurance and private medical insurance
  • IPSE library so you can access all the resources you need
  • access to events, webinars, workhubs, online training and, if you’re a Plus member, 24/7 access to virtual Ashridge providing a wide range of online business resources to learn new skills and improve existing ones.

 

You can find out more about what you’ll get for your membership here, including a quick link to get you on your way to signing up or speak to a specialist membership advisor by calling 0208 8979970 or email intouch@ipse.co.uk.

 

Join IPSE today and take advantage of the 10% discount straight away.

 

What else?

If you’re already an Intouch client, once you’ve signed up for your IPSE membership, don’t forget to refer a friend and we’ll send you £150 Amazon vouchers if they sign up with us. Recommend another and we’ll do the same again! And again and again!

 

If you’re not already with Intouch, this is another great reason to speak to us today about joining. Give us a call on 01202 069 551 or email us and we’ll get back to you at a time to suit you!

 

* excludes renewals or upgrades to existing memberships

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

Election 2015: what’s in it for contractors and freelancers?

Election 2015: what’s in it for contractors and freelancers?

With 7th May just around the corner, it’s shaping up to be one of the most unpredictable elections in recent times. The Party leaders have been on the campaign trail, holding babies, petting animals, shaking hands, publishing policy papers and criticising each other at every opportunity.

But what are our want-to-be Prime Ministers pledging for UK contractors and freelancers? All of the major parties have indicated plans that will be of particular interest to contractors – although none have made much noise about IR35, most of the parties are looking to clamp down on zero hours contracts. But do they really mean it?  Nearly all of the leaders have recently spelt out to IPSE* what they would do for contractors and freelancers if they are voted in next week so we’ve picked out the highlights:

Conservative Party manifesto

David Cameron is eager to stay in power (for just one more term, mind) and George Osborne claimed that his recent Budget “backs small business owners”. The subsequent Conservative Party manifesto promises to:

  • look at other ways to support the self-employed
  • make 30-day payment terms standard for small suppliers
  • eject companies who don’t comply with the Prompt Payment Code
  • establish a Small Business Conciliation Service, following Australia’s example.

Read our post-Budget blog to see what else the Conservatives are planning to do.

 

Labour Party manifesto

We said “nearly all” of the leaders outlined their plans to IPSE as Ed Miliband failed to contribute to the topic. In fact, in recent comments about rising levels of self-employment in the UK, Miliband simply commented “The rise of self-employment could in part be evidence of growing insecurity in the labour market”.

So we’ll move swiftly on…

 

Liberal Democrats manifesto

He’s had a taste of life in the hot seat for the past five years and Mr Clegg wants to continue the journey to economic recovery for the UK. He has promised a new tax system to help boost contractors and freelancers and says that they are “the sort of worker that will thrive in the new economy”, recognising the need for a labour market that reflects the realities of modern Britain:

  • Extend free childcare to all 1 and 2 year olds
  • Review the regulatory and tax environment to ensure it’s as pro-business as possible
  • Continue investing in physical and digital infrastructure
  • Improve and increase high speed broadband connections
  • Put the self-employed and independent professionals at the heart of their agenda

 

Scottish National Party

As her popularity continues to rise during the election build up, Nicola Sturgeon hopes to win votes in Scotland with her promises:

  • Be enthusiastic in SNP’s support for jobs and business
  • Have an ‘open-door’ to freelancers, entrepreneurs and the self-employed

 

UK Independence Party (UKIP) manifesto

He’s known for his ‘out there’ statements but Nigel Farage’s plans involve boosting the self-employed, who he cites “are our greatest innovators”. Here’s what his party is offering you:

  • Address the approach to repeated late payment offenders
  • End the exploitative lending practices of the largest firms
  • Clamp down on the requirement for small firms and independent professionals to demonstrate compliance in areas irrelevant to the public sector jobs they are tendering for
  • Extricate the UK from the EU to free small firms from onerous regulations.

 

Green Party manifesto

Recognising that “self-employment is vital to the UK economy”, Natalie Bennett has promised to stand up for small businesses:

  • Introduce legislation to ensure the self-employed are paid on time
  • Ensure unemployment pay is available to the self-employed on equal terms to employees
  • Help self-employed people with childcare costs and arrangements
  • Make broadband access more widely, and easily, accessible
  • Promote equal rights for self-employed people with employees in other sectors, based on their average income and hours of work.

 

Still undecided?

Ahead of the General Election the IPSE Policy Team will be hosting an hour long Twitter chat at noon, this Thursday. The chat has been set up to encourage conversation around the election and what it means for contractors.

Join in @IPSEWestminster  #ipseGE15  and then make your voice heard at the polling stations on 7th May.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on the election results and finding out how things stand for contractors after 7th May. We’ll share our thoughts and practical assessment with you.

 

IR35 not going away?

With little mention of IR35 in any of the manifestos, it looks like it’s here to stay. Check out our FAQs to make sure you’re in the know. As an Intouch client you are entitled to as many IR35 contract risk assessments as you request,  as part of your £92 + VAT all inclusive fixed monthly fee.

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisors. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.

*IPSE is the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.

They are offering a 15% discount to Intouch clients wishing to join – simply quote INTOUCH2015 when you contact them.

 

This blog has been prepared by Intouch Accounting. While we have made every attempt to ensure that the information contained in this blog has been obtained from reliable sources, Intouch is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from the use of this information. This blog should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional accounting advisers. If you have any specific queries, please contact Intouch Accounting.