When you work freelance, it’s easy to get lost in an avalanche of paperwork. You might think that it’s just a matter of being disorganized, however it can be so much more than that. Being unorganized as a freelancer or a small business owner could mean a poor reputation, erratic communication, and finally, lost payments.
Whether you work on an hourly basis, per project, or a combination of the two, tracking your time and expenses is something that you should be doing regularly. It will mitigate cases in which your clients can get away with extremely late or missing payments, situations in which suppliers need to chase and threaten you, and finally making sure that your finances reflect your agreements.
Thankfully, there are a number of different tools, applications and programs which you can use to ensure that you get paid the right amount at the right time.
- Invoicing Service
There are several different solutions which freelancers like to use to send invoices out to clients. From creating your own custom one and manually updating it with your client’s project, to applications which automatically generate an official invoice based on the option chosen. Others go the extra mile and create invoices online, send invoices automatically and improve your business efficiency whether or not you want to track when your client opens the invoice and has read it, where you are saving it for your records, and how you record the date on which it has been paid. Find a solution that works for you.
- Time Tracking
If you bill your clients on an hourly basis, you might want to consider getting a time tracking system what will accurately record the amount of time spent on an assignment. Some freelancers track time even if this isn’t the base on which they invoice their clients. It really brings to light how much time they spend on certain tasks, possibly informing future business decisions. For example, if a phone repair tech knows that he spends a lot of time in fixing every cracked screen versus doing initial phone set up for the same price, he might consider raising his price for fixing screens or get rid of that service altogether in order to get more set-ups into his schedule.
- Communication is Key
Email can be your friend if you let it be. More easily tracked than a phone call, ensure you are as clear as possible in your email communication. Organize your business emails by project or client for easy search and access later. That way, if your client asks for a couple days of a grace period before payment, you have that email along with your reply recorded electronically. Don’t be afraid to cite email communication in case of a disagreement regarding price or timelines. Though a contract is obviously more binding than an email, remember to treat email communication seriously by answering swiftly, clearly, and professionally, filing all records in a way in which you can resurrect them as needed. This can be one of your greatest tools for getting paid if there is an issue later on.
Everyone has their own style of bookkeeping, but it brings the whole package together. It’s where all your expenditures, invoices, payments, and more come to rest. Some prefer the solidity of printing and storing information in filing cabinets while others want a paperless filing system which is accessible from multiple devices. Ask your bookkeeper or accountant for recommendations on how to keep your paperwork in order. It will make your life simpler and their job easier come tax season.
It’s time to grab onto the lifeboat full of organizational tools and stop the struggle you are having with getting paid. From setting up invoices which as easy to handle and track, to recording your time, sorting your emails, or purchasing an online bookkeeping program, there is a plethora of options that can help you keep up with the financial side of your business.