Why you should avoid NET 30 billing terms

Why you should avoid NET 30 billing terms

May 22, 2015

Are you starting a company or are a freelancer and think Net 30 billing is what 'real' businesses do? It's not. Net 30 is a trap. Here's why.


The ‘Net 30’ Billing Trap

(Why You Should Avoid This Much-Too-Common Business Practice)

It’s the year 2010 and I’m talking to a colleague of mine. She’s a full-time freelance editor. Very talented. Very busy. And it turns out, very miserable. I’ll call her Helen and here’s our conversation:

Helen: I haven’t had a week off in months.

Me: Congrats. That’s terrific. A lot of freelancers are finding it tough to hunt down work, much less stay busy.

Helen: You don’t understand… it sucks. My client owes me $50,000.

Me: Uhhh… excuse me?

Helen: His clients aren’t paying him – so he can only pay me from money that comes in on other jobs he’s doing.

Me: I’m sorry. $50,000? Why the hell are you still working for him?

Helen: I don’t have a choice. He also owes a lot of other people money. The only way I have a chance of getting paid is if I stay front and center. I have to keep working for him. I can’t afford to lose 6 months of salary…

At this point, Helen is visibly upset, frustrated and embarrassed.

Helen: And I recently found out that this guy has shut down businesses in the past to avoid paying people. I can’t let him run away from me like that.

Me: I can’t believe you let him get into you for $50K.

Of course, Helen didn’t let that client get into her for $50,000 all at once

It happened slowly, over 18 months. She explained…

He’d miss a payment on one job. But pay fully on the next, promising to make good on the missed job. Then he’d start paying late but make up a portion of it later. Finally, for the last 6 months when she’d start making noise he’d find just enough money to shut her up and make promises about future jobs already lined up.

And since he was keeping her fully booked—she was busy, unlike a huge number of her freelancing friends. But now, she’s owed $50,000 and is terrified her client is going to disappear on her.

Our conversation turned to billing practices:

Helen: Doesn’t everyone bill Net 30?

Me: I stopped doing that. Once the job is done, I’m just a line-item expense—they’ve got no incentive to pay up.

Helen: Tell me about it. And I had no idea he was going to delay paying me until his clients paid him. I had done a few small gigs for him and he paid on time. But now, I’m at the mercy of his clients and their ability to pay. You know, I’ve got one invoice that’s a year old. He says his client went belly-up—but he’ll make it up to me when the next big job rolls in.

I felt bad for Helen… and mad at her.

It didn’t have to happen this way. Helen didn’t have to find herself in this terrible situation (not her real name, but the $50K number is accurate). And that’s what this Insight is about.

Helen got herself into this mess because she followed poor business practices

She followed the business practices espoused by Business School graduates who fail to realize that their advice is designed for multi-million dollar businesses. Business School financial practices completely disintegrates on sub-$1 million businesses. This includes advice on leverage (borrowing money) and advice on billing practices. It’s advice I despise because it completely discounts RISK.

This is especially true of NET 30 payment terms. I call it: The NET 30 Trap

We’re going deconstruct why the NET 30 payment terms for freelancers is fundamentally flawed

In this Insight we’re going to cover:

  • What is NET 30 payment terms?
  • What is the NET 30 Trap?
  • If you must, how can you make NET 30 work for you?

I’ll also cover some common objections I hear from professionals in post-production about why they can’t move away from NET 30.

Let’s start by answering, what is NET 30?

I found this good definition of NET 30 (the emphasis is mine):

In the business world, “net 30” refers to the length of time (in this case, 30 days) that a customer has to pay their outstanding bill. Many companies will extend short-term credit to their customers by performing a service or selling a good, and then billing their customer after the fact.

Notice, if you offer NET 30 billing terms… you are extending credit to your clients. We’ll come back to this in the next section of this Insight. Now – when it comes to paying in 30 days, there’s a complication as you can read in this NET 30 definition from the question/answer site, Quora.com

Suppliers can set their payment periods to start from either (1) each individual invoice date or (2) from the end of the month in which all the purchases for the month are collated and summarized into a statement.

In other words…

NET 30 means different things to different people—and it’s more complicated than that

If you’re going to extend credit to your clients you can modify your NET 30 terms to incentivize them to pay early. In accounting, that incentive is called a Discount Term and here’s a good explanation from AccountingTerms.com of how’d you show the Discount Terms on your Invoices:

Discount terms. This is a two-part statement, where the first item is the percentage discount allowed, and the second item is the number of days within which payment can be made in order to receive the discount. Thus, terms of “1/10 NET 30” mean that a discount of 1% can be taken if payment is made within 10 days.

For a great little table showing different NET invoicing schemes, be sure to click that link for AccountingTerms.com.

If Discount Terms are the carrot, is there is stick?

In a NET 30 billing scheme there has to be a penalty for late payment and that’s called: The Interest Rate. If you use a computerized accounting system, then it’s super easy to set up your interest rate and have that calculated automatically for you. The key is to charge a high enough interest rate that your client has a big incentive to pay on time. All you need to do is research at how much consumer credit costs and you’ve got a good idea of what an ‘effective’ interest rate looks like.

There’s only one problem.

How many of you reading this who bill NET 30 charge interest on late payment? My guess: None. And if you do, are you charging consumer credit interest rates? Almost definitely not.

And that gets us to the next part of this Insight, why NET 30 is a really bad idea for most small businesses and creative freelancers.

Understanding the NET 30 Trap

If you’re a small business or freelancer, NET 30 is almost always a trap for a very simple reason. Again, from AccountingTools.com (emphasis mine):

A large customer may use its purchasing power to force a supplier to agree to terms that are more favorable to the customer, such as a longer period of time in which to pay the supplier, or relaxed rules for returning goods.

NET 30 is a power play

You, the small business or freelancer, are extending credit to your client… because both of you believe the client has the balance of power. The client has work to be done. The client (in theory) has the cash. You? You’re one of many. There’s a ton of other freelancers and businesses that want the client’s business. If you don’t take NET 30, surely someone else will?

Is THAT any way to start a relationship?

It’s like when I take on a ‘free’ job. I never do a job for free. EVER. I always require some kind of token payment (not a barter, but real money transacting hands). Why? It sets the tone. I’m a professional. Even when I do a ‘free’ job, it’s not truly free. When a client hands transacts real money for your services—even if it only pays an hour of two of your normal billing rate—the relationship changes. Completely.

What if you refuse NET 30 and the client walks away?

How much did that client value YOU? Your specific talent? And how likely do you think they were planning on paying in a timely manner?

And let’s take it a step further…

If you currently offer NET 30, are you charging interest?

I don’t know a single freelancing creative that bills interest to their NET 30 clients. And even fewer sub-$1 million businesses that build an interest rate into their terms. Why?

Talking about charging interest is extremely uncomfortable!

Suddenly you’re not only negotiating your rate and the cost of the job, you’re negotiating the payment terms. Who the heck wants to do that? And yet, if you’re not willing to have that discussion then, frankly, you have no business extending NET 30 credit.

Think about it: Where else in life does credit get extended without the threat of interest? Yet clients constantly gawk at the notion of paying interest to their vendors if they pay late! The horror, I know.

Have you defined when NET 30 actually begins?

Does NET 30 start on your invoice date? The date the client gets the invoice? The date work was completed? The 30 days after the end of the month you posted the invoice?

Or does NET 30 start 30 days after your client invoiced their client?

Early in my career—when I extended NET 30 before understanding that NET 30 is extending credit—this happened all the time. At 45 days I’d call my client and they’d tell me they just invoiced the client 5 days ago and we shouldn’t expect payment for at least 45 days.

45 days?!? AFTER my NET 30 invoice is already 15 days late? That’ll put payment 60 days late!

Seriously: Who precisely are you extending credit to?

It drives me nuts when I extend NET 30 only to discover my client has no intention of paying me until THEIR client pays them! And the reason I got surprised? I trusted them and didn’t have this discussion with them.

If you extend NET 30 to your clients, before they hire you are you asking if they’re going to pay you without regard to their client’s pay schedule? If not, you have no business extending credit to your clients and you WILL get burned.

Again – think about real life. Why do we need to provide Social Security numbers whenever we want to take out a loan? Or get a credit card? It’s so financial institutions can run background checks and check to see our repayment history.

Are you willing to ask your client for their Social Security number so you can check on their payment history? And if they’re only going to pay you after they get paid… then you’re not only extending credit to your client, you’re extending it to your client’s client!

NET 30 is a trap if you don’t have the resources (or stomach) for due diligence

If discussions about payment schedules, interest rates and when precisely your client will pay are not part of your protocol, then extending NET 30 will destroy your relationships with your clients. You will get burned. Frequently. Your clients WILL pay late. Or never. You’ll have to learn how to navigate small claims court. Or even hire a lawyer.

It. Will. Happen.

And after being burned so many times, you’ll come to distrust EVERY client who walks in the door. You’ll hate freelancing (or running your own small business). You will experience Famine more often than Feasting. But if you’re afraid of moving off NET 30, what can you do to be more successful at it?

How to make NET 30 work for you (if you must)

Let me make clear, in Part 2 of this 2-part Insight I will offer a much better alternative to NET 30. It’s an alternative that’s an accepted practice in the television and film industry. It will help you maintain a healthy relationship with your clients and with yourself, as a creative professional running your own business.

But there are times when NET 30 can work for you, if you’re careful and diligent.

  • Only extend NET 30 to new clients if they are legitimate, multi-million enterprises: If you read about this client in the financial section of the newspaper, that’s a huge enterprise. These companies usually have strict financial controls in place… which include using their market clout to force favorable terms upon their vendors. BUT they also expect your invoice terms to include a carrot and a stick—which makes it easier to accept NET 30 terms.
  • NET 30 must include a carrot: If your client is big enough, their corporate charter may require them to pay all invoices early that include Discount Terms for early payment. Don’t ask. Just include 2/15 NET 30 (or something similar) as part of your quote.
  • NET 30 must also have a stick: If your client is big enough to make the financial news, it’s big enough to expect to pay Interest on late payments. Include that on your Invoice. Talk to your accountant about what interest rate their other clients are charging and then make that as part of your Quote. If a client objects to paying ANY interest on late payments… that’s a red flag you should not ignore. For trusted clients, I’ve been known to negotiate away interest payments.
  • Don’t extend NET 30 to new clients: Again, this invoicing scheme is you extending credit to a client. 30 days after you’ve performed your work, you’re just an expense—they no longer think of you as an asset. If you haven’t built a relationship with this client, with a proven history of prompt payments, simply state, “I don’t extend credit to new clients.” If they can’t accept this answer, consider it a red flag that you should not ignore.
  • Ask point-blank: Will you pay me before (or after) you bill your client? Their answer can be very instructive. If they say anything other than, ‘I’ll pay you within 30 days of your invoice date’ you can be sure you’re not getting paid on time. And remember, if your client only pays after they get paid then you’re not only banking the creditworthiness of your client you’re banking on the creditworthiness of their client… which elevates your risk even more.
  • You must be willing to walk off a job for non-payment: Remember Helen and the $50,000 her client owed her? She should have walked off the job the minute her first invoice went unpaid. At what point should you do the same? That depends—how much money can you afford to lose? The bigger your savings account, the longer rope you can hand to your client. But know that number up front.And if your client hasn’t paid and walks in with a new gig? Make working on the new gig contingent on full payment of the old invoice… and don’t accept NET 30 on this new job. NET 30 is a privilege to be earned—it’s a courtesy. Once the trust is broken, NET 30 is re-extended only after a period of prompt ‘on delivery’ payments.

Wait Patrick! I’ll never get jobs if I don’t take NET 30

What’s the point of working if you don’t get paid? The one asset you’re truly selling that is un-recoverable is: Time.

A client who pays late? They’re stealing your time from you. They have benefited from the fruits of your labor and are now refusing to compensate, as agreed. That’s why NET 30 invoicing is so reliant on your client accepting Interest Rate Terms. It helps compensate you for not being able to use the money they promised you. And it helps you ‘red flag’ a client who doesn’t intend to pay (if they loudly object to paying interest).

If you’re not having a discussion with your potential NET 30 client about payment terms, timetables, carrots and sticks—then you’re not executing NET 30 the way it’s supposed to be executed.

In Summary, NET 30 is extending credit

When large corporations agree to extending NET 30 terms to their clients they have people on staff who research the creditworthiness of their clients. They perform due diligence to minimize the risk of extending credit.

Are you performing the same due diligence on your NET 30 clients? Or are you blindly hoping they’ll pay you? If you’re not doing due diligence then you’re not executing what’s being taught to those corporate MBAs.

Also remember: You must be willing to cut off clients who don’t pay on time. Keep accurate records in your accounting software. Read your aging reports. Timely payment is more than just a courtesy. If you keep working for clients who never pay on time, then you need to own your misery. It’s not your client’s fault. It’s yours.

And what about Helen? I ran into her 2 years later. She was still miserable. She was still ‘freelancing’ for the same guy. And no, she didn’t change her billing practices. Beyond that, I can’t say… I couldn’t continue our conversation.

Up Next: Part 2—Several Alternatives to NET 30 Invoicing

It would be criminal for me to put all this doubt into your mind about the much-too-accepting practice of extending NET 30 to our clients without offering a few alternatives. That’s precisely what I’ll do, offer two big alternatives to NET 30 in Part 2 of this Insight.

The cool thing: One alternative follows the standard practices of film studios and television networks to their production companies. If you offer your services following these protocols, you won’t be asking for crazy payment terms. You’ll just be asking to get paid the way your clients get paid themselves. And if your client is looking for a signal of professionalism, asking to get paid this way is a huge signal that you’re a working professional.

The second alternative I’ll suggest is a little more non-standard but can work for new clients if you’re getting hired on an hourly basis by a corporate client. The key here is to time your payment schedule to their salaried staff payment schedule.


Homepage Forums Why you should avoid NET 30 billing terms

  • Robbie Carman

    Patrick –

    Even though we chatted about writing this article – great job! And I’m sorry about the massive length of this comment!

    It is so vital that we as an industry (especially) freelancers think about these concepts and discuss them so people don’t get burned or at least are armed with the knowledge of what the risks are of extending credit and how they can take steps to protect themselves.

    I want to add a few things to this discussion.

    First, I think extending terms or not extending terms speaks a lot to holistic financial approach that people have.

    I don’t think I’m divulging anything here when I say you are in general, very conservative financially – cash only, don’t use credit cards, don’t splurge etc.

    So I think your extremely consistent on your approach with your feelings about extending credit to clients in this article.

    i’m keen to read part 2 of this series and learn more about your hybrid approaches.

    Even though you’re conservative financially, there are people who use credit leverage quite well – both on the giving end and receiving end. We can debate the morals of that but I feel like I’m in the middle when it comes to an overall financial philosophy.

    Personally the way I run the businesses I’m involved in (and you elude to above) is much like a financial institution.

    In other words it’s about track record, trust and the client building ‘credit’ with you.

    We have a steadfast rule (like you) that any new job is 50% upfront, 50% on delivery or we don’t release the final elements.

    But repeat clients that have built ‘credit’ with us (regardless of size) we extend terms to. I don’t think it matters the size of the company but rather the trust one has in that company i.e. payment history.

    To build that credit we do exactly what you describe and I’m so happy you have brought up the 1/10 type net rules – that’s how clients build that ‘credit’ with us. And yes, clients that are large are bound by those discounts – great point!

    Generally after 4-5 projects we’re at a true net 30.

    Next, (I’m going to do an Insight on this) we operate with two contractual concepts – the service agreement and then a project order.

    The project order defines the things in that project – TRT, schedule, deliverables etc.

    But everything thing else including rights issues, termination (i.e. kill fees), payment terms, interest charges, the process of what happens for non payment including accepted payment schedules, mediation, and yes, the fact that after 180 days and refusal of mediation they will be sued and agree to cover ALL court costs regardless if they win or not is in that client services agreement.

    That is my safety blanket.

    We get EVERY single client to sign it – no exceptions.

    In 10 years of running my post company, I can count a single hand the number of times someone has refused to sign it or modifications to agreement have been objectionable.

    My point being that there is middle ground between not extending terms and just digging a ditch like your friend – contractually protect yourself.

    I know what you’re probably going to say – ‘you can’t get blood out of a rock’.

    Yes you are right. If ultimately you go to claims court and the client folds and establishes bankruptcy and you’re at the mercy of the court like other creditors and you’re claims are dismissed – yeah you’re screwed.

    And yes, you have to ask was it really worth it. I get it!

    But that is exactly why our client services agreement establishes payment schedules for non-payment, agreement to mediation etc. Incentivizing prompt payment in a number of ways.

    You’re probably also thinking – if I charged 5k I want 5k! Payment schedules, taking a hit on credit card processing fees etc is unacceptable!

    But for a client that that is 90 days late wouldn’t you rather have them reach out and build a payment schedule (hopefully for the full 5k) even if it only gets you 4k?

    I would. I’d rather see something than nothing.

    And I have no interest in ‘fighting’ I want to give a late client incentive to pay – and as you outline between interest, accepting credit cards etc there are a lot of ways to do that.

    If you do get a partial payment there is something not enough people do – That loss can be written off for tax purposes.

    Sure its not cash in hand but it does hold value to the bottom line of your company.

    Regarding interest charges – you’re right that many people don’t do this out of fear and the percentages they assign are better then prime minus a few points!

    Charge interest people!

    We charge 10% interest per each 2 weeks of late payment, and that compounds.

    Indeed, in our client services agreement we have a chart that shows a sample $5000 project and how the interest compounds for that amount.

    Having that chart puts a little fear of god in someone just like how the bank shows you that table of how much you’ll ultimately pay on your mortgage!

    And yes they’re agreeing to this PRIOR to the job starting because its in the client services agreement.

    You make some really good points about the semantics of net 30 and terms in general and when they start.

    In our services agreement we define the start period of those terms +4 days of date marked on invoice. While we generally email invoices these days, 4 days is long enough for an invoice to be mailed ANYWHERE in the country.

    We don’t always put it on the invoice – but need to. Your article as made me think that start date should always should be on the invoice

    Regarding the ‘real client’ and your client getting paid by the ultimate client – again simply contractual protection helps.

    here is the clause from our agreement:

    client agrees that they are bound to payment of services as described in section 4F and payment shall not be delayed or excused based on availability of funds from client or based on the availability of payment to client from a third party.

    Ok one more thing I want to make you and everyone else aware of.

    Why is extending terms a difficult decision?

    Because you have no guarantee (read data) that the person will pay.

    But how does that make you different then a credit card company or a bank? It doesn’t!

    However, those companies use credit worthiness as an indicator of potential problems.

    For large jobs we use a credit checking service – well, two actually.

    Dun and Bradstreet for working with companies and Experian for individuals.

    Both have plans for small businesses to do credit checks on companies or individuals that you wish to extend credit to.

    I’ll have to dig up the exact cost figures but we’ve used this a lot recently with some large museum jobs. And its not really that expensive.

    And yes, in our services agreement, we have a paragraph outlining that if requested the client will submit to a credit check to ensure credit worthiness

    Now, I 10000% understand that the work to get a strong agreement like I have, costs a lot of money with a lawyer and that there are lots little things like the credit checking that can add up – but as they say – that’s the cost of doing business.


  • Awaiting P2 !! This is pure gold 🙂

  • Marc Wielage

    I know of quite a few “million-dollar firms” that scoff at Net 30. Disney pays Net 90, last time I checked. As an indie freelancer, I get paid 50% upfront and 50% when the client receives the final files. No credit for nobody, not in this particular cesspool of showbidness.

  • Ian Grey

    This happened to me last year, I lost about £8,000 (currently that would be about $12,000) because I worked alot for one company doing Net30 and I managed to amass that within a period that fell between the payment dates. So by the time the first invoice was due I was already £8,000 billed. The company then went bust and it turned out they owed so much money there wasn’t any left after the bankruptcy to pay debitors.

    Once the production company/post house went bust the broadcaster was able to recover the material and the show was broadcasted. Some legal advice I had was I could have gone to the broadcaster and claim copyright infringement under article 6bis of the Berne convention. Because I hadn’t been paid the rights of my work still belonged to me. But I decided against that cause could have end up as a court case if they said no and also I didn’t want to burn any bridges with the broadcaster who I do other work for anyway.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Ian – I’m sorry to hear about this. If you have a good relationship with the broadcaster it may make sense to talk with them. After all, they’re profiting from the fruit of your (unpaid) labor. Even if you get back half of what was owed… it would be worth your time.

    In part 2 I’ll talk about some alternate ways of structuring deals for freelancers so you don’t get that deep into a single client… It could be as simple as they must cut a check every X number of thousand £’s—which will limit your potential losses. I’ll get more deeply into that in Part 2.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    I’m with you brother. 80% of my clients are structured this way. But like Robbie, I’ve got a few clients that have built up trust with me and I’ve moved to a NET 30 deal.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Robbie – Great comment! And you’re a shining example of what needs to be done to extend NET 30 credit responsibly. So many freelancers are bullied into doing NET 30 / 60 and your approach is the perfect real-life example of EVERYTHING they need to do to extend credit like a professional… including not extending it on the first few jobs.

    I also love the idea of showing how interest compounds on a $5,000 job. Terrific idea. And thanks for sharing how you charge interest. These are the things we all need to do if we’re to protect ourselves from clients who want to use us as a cash flow mechanism.

    One clarification that our accountant drilled into us about charging interest: He says we absolutely have to state our interest rate and penalties no later than when we submit the Invoice. At least in NY / NJ it’s a legal issue if you try to impose interest after the client has been invoiced and after they miss their payment. I don’t know if that’s a state-by-state thing… but it’s smart to do up-front, no matter the laws of your state.

    RE: Dun and Bradstreet – My only question about D&B is for smaller production companies that get formed for a specific project. They just don’t have the track record for D&B to be any good. I guess that’s when you do an individual credit check? I’d love to hear more about how those discussions go with clients, when you want to do a credit check on them individually and if you’ve ever declined to extend credit as a result of these checks 🙂

    Robbie – I look forward to hearing about your two contractual setups of a Service Agreement and Project Order!

    Again, thanks for sharing how you deal with NET 30 in your business. It’s a great example of how those business school grads talk about extending NET 30 if you’re going to do it. Just extending a client NET 30 with no controls surrounding it? You will be abused. 100% guaranteed.

  • Im not gonna confirm or deny, but Ill comment NET90 is the actual terms, not what the actual “average” payment ends up being in my experience working w a large studio. It also doesnt help that “Big iron” vendors like TCS, Deluxe, etc may be billing up to 6 to 12 months later for work. While they can handle that & studios allowed it, its impossible for a freelancer to survive w terms like that.

  • Steve Sebban

    A story I know too well… Sadly, in my country, no one is paying when you deliver files/masters and everyone’s using some sort of NET.

    Most productions used to pay NET 30 but with time, it’s slowly shifting to NET 45 or NET 60. If you’re working for a government organization, it might even reach NET 170 (yes, 170 day). Crazy. Of course, it is common to have delays in payement after the agreed NET period.

    It was even worse until two years ago when you had to pay taxes on those incomes that you have not yet received from your customers. Luckily, a two-years old law changed that and we are now paying taxes based on received incomes.

    Since NET is a de-facto standard, you won’t find any production here willing to pay at the end of a job and you are obliged to accept those terms because you know that everyone else is and everyone is scared to brake this cynical cycle.

  • Patrick Inhofer

    Steve – what country are you in?

    If you can’t break out of NET 30 then the key is to use the other elements I describe to make NET 30 work for you. Be sure to read Robbie’s comment below about how he executes NET 30. Robbie’s a great case-study on how NET 30 needs to work… otherwise you’re extending credit without consequence. And it sounds like you understand too well what that means.

    Remember: Executing NET 30 like an MBA means building in a carrot (discount for early payment) and a stick (penalty for late payment).

    And based on your comment, I’ll add a few thoughts to my next Insight on this about some strategies to move late-paying NET 30 clients to your new payment schedule.

  • Eric Hansen

    A few years ago I took a project with a multinational athletic company. Their standard was Net45 and all new vendors take a few weeks to get approved and entered into their system. So I got paid about 2 months after invoice. This is the only way they would do business (but I was never worried that I wouldn’t get paid).

    For another company I worked for, when the money was tight, all invoices with terms went to the bottom of the pile. Anything with “Due on Receipt” or similar, was paid immediately. Just that simple line on the invoice changed how quickly they got paid. I stopped offering terms after that. Also, terms with discounts were almost always paid immediately.

  • Jim Fink

    Exactly, or we do a 33/33/33, first third at start of project, second on rough cut approval, final N-10 of master delivery If I trust them, COD for last third on final deivery if new customer. Why is nobody mentioning either of these scenarios. I have never had a problem with clients paying this way. Watched too many folks getting burned with N30, and most of my problems were with larger corporations who insisted on N30 and went to 45 or 60… but those were pretty few.

  • jjthejj

    And this is one of the cornerstones of Capitalism that is in dire need of reform. Net 30, 45, 90, whatever… These were put in place not to be administered as payment plans for vendors r workers, but as a method of financing loans given on Credit. Vendors are not creditors!

    We do Net5 on short projects and Net15 on larger ones, with the very odd exception of Net30 for big AND long term projects. Additionally, depending on factors (company profile, payment regimen, and industry reputation) we require a deposit of 1/4 to 1/3 up front. This is the best (and honestly only) way to ensure a committal from the client that lasts the duration of the project, and ensures at the very least we get our dead operating cost out before final delivery.

    If a client wont work within these constraints say ‘ba-bye’; we don’t waste time on clients who waste our time and undervalue our service. Life is too short.

  • Jenuinearticle

    I hesitate to post anything, because I am not in your industry and because this is several years later, but I thoroughly enjoyed your articles on this subject, and relish the fact that other people see this for what it is.

    I have been providing Bookkeeping services for over a decade and this is one thing I want more small business owners to recognize. Many people who claim to be small business owners are really just owners of their “job” as opposed to a fully operating company, but enough of those are only ‘accidentally’ doing okay—and by that I mean their administration, oversight and organizational structure is functioning just enough to keep them from going in the red. But sometimes they either wait until it’s too late or they are absolutely unwilling to change their policies, even if it means they starve instead of eat.

    Back in the beginning of my career, I was okay with working with that group, but no longer. Their high risk practice ultimately put me in a higher risk category than I want to be. There are enough people who are genuinely talented or offering a valuable product/service that perhaps don’t have the kind of nuts and bolts capacity for what it takes to get paid and keep their accounts in order (which is where I come in) and yet they recognize that it is their right to get paid…and not performing a charitable service. Personally, I consider the stewardship of time and money a high calling and one that isn’t to be regarded lightly, and I apply that same view to my clients’ time and money. If they value their time and money less than I do, then I know they will ultimately value my time and money less. This will not make for an acceptable working relationship in the long run.

    For the past several years, I have been compiling and instituting a multi-level credit checking system to vet the people who want my clients to lend money. Depending on the industry and what part of the project a client plays, there are ways to structure invoicing, payments and terms, to suit my client’s needs. Having not worked with clients in your industry it would be hard for me to state where you fall in the line of your client’s ability to achieve their goal, but I would venture to guess that it’s pretty dang important to the final outcome. And for that reason, you hold a valuable piece of leverage—the finished product—which you mentioned. It’s great that you see this for what it is and kudos for being realistic about business practices.

  • Evie M Warner

    I work as an independent contracter that does Net 30. But we have a specific date that we need to turn in invoice and then a specific date that they tell us they begin processing those paymetns. They also use a company calle Payoneer to help process timely payments. This last time there was a glitch of some kind and I understand it was the first time in years that people were late getting paid. But my guess is that Net 30 covers their but in this case. People were as long as three days late in getting paid.

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