I am sure that almost everyone who decided to start their own business faced a client that is trying not to pay, so in the immortal words of Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire:
In my first company, my first invoice ever went unpaid. That’s how I started my business career – with an epic fail and a few valuable lessons.
Here’s the short story – I designed business cards for a local company, and because I was eager to get any work, I took it on myself to take care of printing and even delivery of the finished product. My total earning in the whole project (taking into account gas money and total time) was around negative $10.
That’s correct – I lost money in the start. Even worse, when I delivered their business cards, that they were happy with, and invoice for the entire thing, they decided that “due to them having a lot of business at the moment, they will not be using them.” And started the salvo of excuses why they can’t / won’t pay.
I will keep the details of the story for my memoirs that I will publish one day 😅, but the whole saga concluded with one of the dudes from the company paying with his fancy guitar. And to this day that guitar is still in my friends’ office… I’ll call that a happy ending.
Your value shouldn’t come from being the cheapest in the market, or you’ll end up in the race to the bottom, that is where you don’t want to be, and that’s where you will lose. You shouldn’t lower your price when someone tries to haggle you. Low paying clients tend to barter on the cost of services – and if you are confident in your prices, you should hold your ground, and consider finding better clients.
Just because someone is not willing to pay doesn’t mean it’s not worth the asking price. Because if that was true, there wouldn’t be no Art Business. When someone tells me that I’m too expensive, I am more than happy to recommend them to someone cheaper, whom I consider to be a good value for money and might help them.
I found a great article called WHAT SHOULD I DO? I FEEL ASHAMED TO ASK MONEY FOR MY WORK – It has some great advice if you feel that choke when asking for your money.
…is a title to a presentation by Mike Monteiro from Mule Design that helped me to set some rules in my business, and avoid losing money to bad customers. I can not recommend this video more to anyone doing any business. I watch it once a year. I would play this at universities if I could.
Let me know what you think after you watch it.
Also – what is your worst ‘client not paying you’ story? Those always give me the right combination of laughter and anger. 😅 😅 😅
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