Believe in Good in People…But Take Your Money in Advance!
Kindness is a virtue, however, a horse cannot befriend grass. This is my experience on why, as an artist, you should insist on getting paid up front.
I once had a 6:00 pm show in Delhi for which the contract with advance payment terms had been sent two weeks prior. At 4:00 pm, I was informed that the signatory was travelling so I would get my cheque in 2 weeks' time. I told them my terms had been made clear well in advance and that I would not do the show. The signatory, who was apparently in Bombay, miraculously was able to take a Concorde, fly to Delhi, sign my cheque, and have it delivered to my house by 5:00 pm!
One of the toughest things about being a freelancer or solopreneur is chasing payments. In my experience, no matter how reputable the client is, if the money doesn't come in advance, it either never comes, or you are chasing it till the kingdom comes. It is a very humiliating experience. I once had to chase a client for 3 years for a payment, which was eventually made via 3 post-dated cheques, the first of which bounced!
So as far as you can, insist on taking your fee upfront. This may be difficult to do early on in your career. However, once you establish your reputation, and the client is not looking for ‘a designer’ for example, but looking to hire YOU specifically, then you should be able to do this.
Beware the two most common excuses given by companies though. First, apparently, the person who travels the most in every company is the authorised signatory whose responsibility it is to sanction your payment.
And second, “our policy does not allow advance payment”. Well, guess what sunshine, we have policies too!
If you had a feeling of deja vu while reading this, share with us the lamest excuses you’ve been given for not being paid on time.
Also, any suggestions for the community on how you structure payment terms?
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