One of the ways I see entrepreneurs staying small (and frustrated) is by not being serious enough about how they manage their receivables in their business. Receivables is simply money that is owed to you. For example, there isn’t a business owner I know who hasn’t had at least one client’s payments become an issue, so if this hasn’t happened to you yet, know it most likely will. However, if you have certain things in place, it will be a lot easier for you to handle these situations, gracefully and respectfully.
So, let’s take a deeper look at that most common scenario: a client is late with their payment. When you address this with them, they tell you their situation and while you can and should listen with compassion, it’s imperative that you not take on the problems that they’re having and make them your own. That doesn’t serve either of you.
While we all can have money issues from time to time, if the client takes no responsibility for it – and yes, even when it seems it’s completely out of their control – then they’re coming from a victim mentality. But you can’t let them make you a victim of their situation as well.
First and foremost, ALWAYS listen to your intuition when signing on a client. You’ll only make the mistake once of not doing so before you regret it and realize taking them on didn’t serve either of you.
But there are also times when this situation comes up with a great client too. While the money situation is still theirs, for you, it’s a boundary issue. And it’s an opportunity to tighten your parameters and policies too.
We need to remember that we are running a business and as a serious business owner, we are entitled to monies owed to us. It’s why having clearly written and signed agreements and a written policies page are so important.
So while it’s the client’s responsibility to pay what’s owed, it’s your responsibility to collect what’s owed. This can and should be handled gracefully and respectfully. And it’s as easy as staying detached from their story and creating a plan to handle the situation.
If you commiserate, let the payment slide, and/or don’t make a plan on how it will be handled, not only will you start to feel resentful, but you’re also enabling the client to continue this disempowering behavior.
This is a perfect opportunity for you to step more fully into being a powerful model and mentor for them. When you’re talking with your client, tell them that you understand that this is a difficult situation for them, and then ask them what they are going to do to resolve it as soon as possible.
I know it feels easier to avoid conflict and commiserate with the client, but I have found that if you do that, the situation just keeps happening until you no longer put up with it. When you’re firm on your boundaries, you respect yourself and your business enough so you attract more and more ideal clients who are a joy to work with. I know this to be true.
I’d love to know your thoughts on this – it’s a hot-button issue for lots of business owners and clients alike, so please leave your comments below.