Get a contract and deposit before you start work

Egads, how many times have I heard stories where there’s a consultant or freelancer who’s struggling with invoicing on a project — and hasn’t got a contract or deposit? In fact, usually, when I hear someone has run into payment troubles, it’s usually when there’s no written contract or deposit.

If you’re doing work without a written contract or a deposit, stop that! Stop that right now!

Start treating your business like a business. Sure, verbal contracts are enforceable in many places. But that doesn’t make it easy to enforce a verbal contract. Moreover, if you haven’t got stuff written down, how will you remember the expectations and conditions later, especially when it’s time to get paid? Get a contract in place!

And, wherever possible, get a deposit. Deposits provide a huge number of advantages. And clients may take you more seriously if you ask for money up front.

These are just suggestions, of course. Talk to a lawyer if you want legal advice. Talk to an accountant for financial advice. But, from the hard-won experience of this consultant, you should really get contracts and deposits in place before starting any project.

Rich Morris says:

When working off of grant money, it is normally paid in arrears. Can get a contract but payment is slow and deposits are out of the question.