Do the work. Get the money. OR Do the work. Wait for the money. And wait and wait and wait.

Sigh. One of those sounds much much better than the other, right?

Doing good work and then not getting paid on time stinks. It’s a whole lot of extra stress and worry, and it’s hard to feel very enthusiastic about clients when it keeps happening.

I’ve got a great article on the blog all about what to do when that payment is late.In it, I share the steps you can take to track that payment down and get it where it belongs…in your hot little hands.

But today, I want to take a different approach to dealing with late payment, and I’ll let you know right now that for your challenge this week, I want you to take 1 of these and put it into place within the next 5 days. Got it? Good. Here we go.

Late Payment Tip #1. Lower the stress by creating a cushion.

The biggest reason for freakouts when a payment is late is that we have expenses to cover. Not knowing if you’ll make Monday’s rent payment is incredibly stressful – and that gets in the way of running your business or enjoying your already limited time off. What you’re going to do instead is start adding a buffer into each of your client fees. Start small – 1-2% and earmark that money as back-up cashflow. You’ll breathe a bit easier.

Late Payment Tip #2. Pre-empt the problem.

Beef up your contract to include consequences for late payment – try a late fee, or a stop-work clause. Adding a late fee creates a financial incentive for a new client to get their act together from Day 1, and including a stop-work clause – for example, that if payment is more than 5 business days late, you press pause on your services – creates an operational incentive to send that money your way.

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Late Payment Tip #3. Deal with the dilly-dalliers.

If a certain client is late time and time again, the answer isn’t to get better at chasing them. It’s to put a solution in place to make it less likely to happen again. My friend Gwen – a super successful freelance writer – negotiated to change the payment terms on her worst offender client from invoice on project completion, to invoice on project kick-off. So even if it still took them 4 weeks from date of invoice, that whole payment process started – and ended – sooner. What can you ask for to transform the payment terms on a late paying client?

Which of these 3 actions will you take this week to nip the late payment problem in the bud?
Let me know in the comments below.