Being a contract employee comes with a number of perks. In addition to being able to set your own hours and personally select which clients to do business with, contracting affords one the opportunity to work in a variety of different settings. It’s important to note, however, that contracting also has its fair share of disadvantages. Many contractors lack the security of regular paychecks and benefits, leaving them in a perpetual state of financial unease and facilitating the need to constantly seek out new clients. Since most contractors can’t count on consistent paychecks, it’s particularly important that they be compensated for their services in a timely manner. This is where smart invoicing practices stand to pay off. Contractors looking to receive their payments in an expedient and stress-free fashion will be well-served by the following tips.
1. Don’t Assume the Work Will Be Done for You
Many fledgling contractors believe that clients will contact them whenever they’re ready to receive their invoices or simply compile their invoices for them. While some clients do operate in this manner, it’s generally a safe assumption that you’ll be expected to create your own invoice and submit it for processing ASAP. Unless other terms have been worked out, simply assume that submitting invoices is your responsibility. Furthermore, you should make a point of submitting them in a timely manner – ideally, within 48 hours of finishing the work you were contracted for. The later a client receives an invoice, the more cumbersome processing said invoice is likely to be for them.
When submitting invoices and estimates, you can add an air of professionalism with an attractive template. To that end, why not download this professional estimate for free?
2. Keep Track of Your Hours
If you’re working with a client who pays by the hour, it’s incumbent on you to meticulously keep track of your hours. Taking a stab in the dark and simply guessing how many hours you spent on a job while creating your invoice is liable to lose you money and draw the ire of clients. Guessing a low figure will result in lost income, while guessing a high one may make clients think twice before enlisting your services again.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out
When invoices aren’t processed in time, many contractors are too afraid to reach out to clients. After all, if they make waves, a client may not be amenable to working with them in the future. While this concern is understandable, it’s also important not to allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Fortunately, in the vast majority of cases, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for late payments. Of course, in order to get to the bottom of things, you’ll need to reach out to clients. When doing so, take care to maintain a polite tone and don’t assume that your payment was withheld maliciously.
Earning one’s livelihood as a contractor has its ups and downs. On the plus side, contractors generally enjoy more freedoms than full-time employees. However, on the negative end of the spectrum, they lack the job security that comes with full-time employment. Any contractor who needs help obtaining payment for their services should put the previously discussed pointers to good use.