Dec 23, 2022 | Starting a Business

I am getting behind on invoicing my clients. What should I do?

Q. Dear Zenagos, I started my own video business a few months ago, and I love doing the work. I have a great team that has been helping me deliver. But, I am noticing that I’m behind on invoicing, and it’s something I really hate doing. I resent having to give up a Sunday afternoon to make all the invoices. But, I feel like I should own everything about my business – especially when it comes to collecting payments. What should I do?
–Frankie

A lot of entrepreneurs have trouble asking for the money they have earned. When you send an invoice, you are asking to be paid for a service that you have already provided. So, when you get behind on your invoicing, you are basically telling your clients that it is okay with you if they don’t pay you for your work. The longer you go without collecting, the more they will believe that they don’t need to pay you promptly.

Why Do Entrepreneurs Struggle with Invoicing?
There are a lot of reasons why you might get behind on invoicing:

Invoicing Isn’t Fun
Most people start businesses because they want to do something they love. Perhaps they enjoy painting houses or architecting landscapes or providing consulting to other businesses. They want to spend their entire day creating value for their customers. Doing paperwork like invoices just isn’t fun. It’s not an activity that a typical entrepreneur enjoys.

Invoices May Cause Conflict
It can be difficult to collect from customers, who often enjoy keeping as much of their money as they can for as long as possible. Just because you performed your service to the best of your ability doesn’t mean that your customers will agree and pay on demand. Some customers will argue and negotiate after the fact. After having a few negative experiences, an entrepreneur can dread sending invoices and may simply avoid it.

Organization May Not Be Your Strong Suit
Not everyone is super organized; many people have a tendency to let things slip until they become urgent. It may take a while before invoicing makes it to the top of the list of emergencies.

Regardless of the reason, if you want to stay in business, you need to find a way to get those invoices done.

What Should You Do?
There are two basic solutions to falling behind on invoicing:

Outsource Your Invoicing
If you can afford to pay someone to handle invoicing for you, do it. You really don’t need to do everything for your business, and you can probably find a local bookkeeper or small vendor that will handle invoicing for you. The service will most likely pay for itself as you will collect your revenue more quickly and reliably.

Force Yourself to Prioritize Invoicing
How you force yourself to prioritize really depends on your personality. For some people, it is enough to make it a priority. For example, you could make it a rule that when you come in to the office, you can’t do anything else until the invoices are sent.

Many entrepreneurs find that it helps to create an incentive program for themselves. They set up a reward for themselves – something that they really like – and make it a rule that they can only have that thing after the invoices have been sent. It can be a favorite food; it can be a podcast you like; it can really be anything that you find motivating. Trick yourself into making invoicing something fun.

When you really think about it, you may realize that you aren’t sending the invoices because some part of you believes that you don’t deserve the money. It may be that you lack confidence. Or, maybe you feel that you love the work so much that you should pay the customers! In any event, the bottom line is this: You have worked hard, and you deserve to be paid. Find a way to send those invoices and collect the revenue you deserve.

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