On this day, I said good-bye to a dear friend. Not forever, but she will be far away. I will continue to remember her impact on our lives. Geetha Krishnan is near and dear to my heart and will never be forgotten.
It’s been an interesting five days. I agreed to be a part of Erin Hill Newman’s Dream Starters Community. Within the community, we were challenged to do a FB live for 30 days. I am on my fifth day. It was a bit nerve wrecking at first because FB doesn’t give you any instructions. You learn as you go, kinda thing. I did. It was easy and I have fun doing it. I am passionate about my entrepreneurial world. In saying that I live an intertwined world, where the same values I live by, are the same values I do business by, integrity, honesty, and service. So if you need anything entrepreneurial, just email me, inbox me, text or call me. I would love to chat.
TerriLynn Phillips, Virtual Assistant, Business Consultant, Life Coach for Parentpreneurs
P.S. Stay tuned for my Facebook business page to become populated with resources and hopefully experts. If you are an expert in an Entrepreneurial field. I would love to showcase you.
Here are the post that I have done so far: http://successwithfortitude.com/facebook-posts/
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 14, 2017
There are all types of thoughts about mother’s day. The number one thought is what to get your mother for Mother’s Day. Why is gift giving the first thought? I am not saying “do not purchase, do not make or give a gift”, but aren’t mothers’ so much more than a gift receiver.
Mothers are a birther, feeder, clothier, transporter, planner, organizer, coach, consultant, healer, disciplinarian, financial provider, friend, teacher, prayer, worrywart,mentor, icon, sustainer, warrior, and various other titles. Most of all mothers are to be celebrated with each attempt that they give to be a mother.
To those of you whose mothers have passed on, think of five or more wonderful memories that she left with you. May the love and positive memories fill your heart with joy!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers in the world.
You can give a free gift to your motherpreneur (mother with a business). You can give her my business reference as a stocking stuffer. Once you have access, you can download it and share it with anyone you want. Yes, you have my permission, so get it instantly by clicking right here.
Terri Lynn Phillips, Coach, Consultant, Concierge
Do You Exercise Your Choices?
I rationalized the it by saying out loud “I have choices to network inside of my local area but I like to network outside of my local area, also”. Being a virtual assisting business consultant is what I love to do. It is hard to part from my love, put on makeup, fix my hair and get dressed, to drive miles away from home. Thank goodness I get to visit with people that I love. The downside is that it is always surrounded by food. Food that I am not sure could hurt me (I have a lot of allergies.) I still choose to do it, but rarely.” Rarely isn’t giving me the connections that I crave. Therefore, I have decided to find some new friends online.
There is a really good friend that blogs all the time. We enjoy our connections. I have decided to find more friends through blogging. Google search for Entrepreneurial blogs resulted in many interesting blogs. I marked my favorites.
The blog world of Penelope Trunk has turned out to be one of my favorites. It is quirky, insightful, engaging and tremendously thought provoking. I love reading her blogs because she is not afraid to talk about the myths that we tell ourselves. For instance in her blogs about homeschooling she takes the approach that, like breastfeeding, any one can do it; contrary to what the majority of people lead us to believe.
I believe that to homeschool or breastfeed; like anything else; is your choice, but not because of your ability. Yes, it takes commitment and fortitude, but what doesn’t that is successful.
Change your excuses to action
We find excuses for everything that we don’t want to do. Yet, somehow we find the time, money, and inclination to do what we want to do. I listen to individuals contradict themselves all the time. In my business, I hear them say that they need my services, then tell me all the reasons why they don’t use my services. More times than not I hear later, that they really should have hired me, before the chaos took their business to the bottom of the barrel. This is one reason why my target market is Entrepreneurs that want me, not need me.
While you are making choices, check out my current promotion: getting your tax materials prepared for your accountant.
I hope in 2017 that you all make choices that you really want, instead of rationalizing its limits. I’m wishing abundant prosperity for everyone. Have a “Happy New Year!”
It’s a New Year. We gave it our all last year, didn’t we? We still have high hopes and big dreams. That’s why we do what we do; freedom, flexibility, and financial excess. Are you ready for another year of makin’ it happen?? Do you have your business plans, marketing plans, and funnels updated? Are your newsletters scheduled, your files organized, and your taxes done? Have you chosen your networking events, your favorite networking organizations, and your message for this year? I know it sounds like a lot, but you did it last year, didn’t you?
You need to be ready, because just like last year, 2017 is going to be full of surprises.
The best way to be successful is to prepare.
Are you preparing for success? It won’t happen without it.
Here at “Success With Fortitude Consulting,” we collaborate to get things done. For instance, a few months ago, the team talked about services that could assist our clients’ efficiency, which help them be more profitable. We now create fillable PDF’s out of documents (applications, surveys, contracts, etc.) that are scanned, faxed, email or delivered to us. Our clients can have template documents that are easily filled out and signed by their customers. This is just one of the services which has benefitted us all.
Happy Holidays and we hope your are ready for your high hopes and big dreams to come true in 2017.
Struggling with Accounts Receivable…Don’t.
I could not pass up sharing this “Getting Paid” article.
I thought to myself, if someone else tells my associates,
The Definitive Guide To Getting Paid As A Freelancer
- Why (and how) you must absolutely and always get a deposit payment before starting a new project.
- You need to eliminate cash flow hiccups. Invoicing weekly is the best way of doing that.
- Get serious about late payments (I’ve included what to write to clients when they’re late.)
- Always use an airtight contract.
- Live off last month’s profits.
Most articles on the web that talk about small business cash flow or money management or whatever else tend to focus on one thing: “spend less”. Often the advice is around the importance of saving money (duh!) or reducing the number of lattes you drink daily (silly).
This is not that sort of article.
Today I want to focus on how you can get paid faster, get paid more reliably, and never need to worry about whether or not that invoice you sent out will arrive before the rent is due.
Most freelancers, myself included, tend to be optimists. We expect that things will work in our favor. Don’t we all love that high you get after signing a new client? When you realize that over the next few weeks or months a bunch of brand new money will be sent your way?
But that sense of accomplishment and optimism can fade pretty quickly. And it usually fades around money. Late invoices. Stubborn clients. Squabbling over payment terms. The stress that naturally comes around when you realize that you live in a world of fixed expenses and variable income.
When I started to build my agency, I became responsible for the financial livelihoods of quite a few other people. As a freelancer, I supported myself, my wife Deborah, and my kids. But as the owner of an agency, I suddenly added Andrew (and his wife), Ryan (and his wife, who was going through medical school), Ann, Kristi, Thomas, Zack, and a number of others to the list of people who depended on me to keep their bank accounts from over drafting.
You already know how hard it is to keep yourself afloat. It gets exponentially harder when you have a twice-a-month payroll expense.
We couldn’t afford to let our money situation run wild. I had to build into the way we worked certain frameworks that helped us ensure that we’d get paid on time so that I could pay both my personal and business expenses.
Here are a few of the things I learned along the way:
Before starting work on any project, get a deposit payment — especially when working with a new client. As we’ll discuss shortly, it’s really important to set the precedent that if you’re not paid, you don’t work.
I see many freelancers, especially those new to the profession, who don’t do this. Either it never occurred to them, or — more likely — they don’t want to “rock the boat” and make demands that could jeopardize the new relationship they have with their client.
But just about every professional services company requires some sort of down payment as a way to ensure that someone’s serious and able to pay.
If you’re billing for time, I like invoicing for one to two weeks of work upfront. You treat this income as a credit, and when you produce invoices in the future you deduct the total due from this credit pool.
Most invoicing tools support the idea of client credits, but if you’re using one that doesn’t, here’s what you can do: When drafting a new invoice, include a line item with a negative total amount that either fully deducts the invoice total (if the total is less than the client’s credit) or deducts whatever’s left from their initial deposit payment.
I typically require deposits when a contract is signed. This could be months prior the kickoff date of the project, and as a matter of policy I let my clients know that I can only schedule their project if they’ve paid a deposit. Be careful though: This money is a liability, and you probably shouldn’t treat these deposits as actual income.
When I was first starting out, I invoiced twice a month. You should invoice as frequently as you can — preferably once a week.
The shorter the loop between sending out an invoice and getting paid, the better. If you’re working on NET 30 terms (meaning: the client has 30 days to pay your invoice) and you invoice once a month, you’re looking at upwards of 60 days (2 months!) before getting paid for your time.
This is less than ideal, especially since many of us don’t have the cash flow to support that.
In the United States, many clients still pay using paper checks. And if your clients are at the opposite end of the country, as many of mine were, it might take a while for checks to slowly make their way from your client to your mailbox. I’ve been through days where I’d stare at the clock, praying that the mailman showed up with a client check before the day’s deposit window closed at the bank.
One of the best ways I’ve found to get paid faster by check is what I call the FedEx Trick. Send your clients a sign-on-delivery packet that includes a printout of their invoice and a pre-paid overnight FedEx pouch. Have them put their check in the pouch you sent and place it in the mail. This might cost you a few dollars each time you invoice, but it can really help eliminate the stress associated with the ambiguity of “the check is in the mail”.
A note about credit cards: The common pushback freelancers have toward accepting credit cards are the fees, which are typically around 3%. Any normal business would kill for that little transaction overhead! My biggest gripe with credit cards is consumer protections. Lets say you build a website for a new company, and a few months later that company is out of business. If they paid you with a credit card, they can issue a chargeback. While a solid contract and documentation can often help you win these, you shouldn’t want to ever put yourself in this position to begin with. Checks and wire transfers are arbitrated in civil courtrooms; credit card disputes are arbitrated by American Express and such.
Don’t work unless you’re paid
Always try to get paid upfront. Not just for deposits, but for everything.
I once had a client who had booked about half of my team. They were a good client, and paid their bills on time (we had NET 30 payment terms at the time). Mid-way through the engagement they defaulted on one of their invoices. And because we invoiced twice a month, we actually had two outstanding invoices out and we were working toward an upcoming invoice when I realized they were overdue.
So I called the client, who I was on fairly good terms with, and let him know his payment was late.
“Brennan, I meant to tell you… I’m out of money. But it’s ok. I’m talking with some investors this week.”
We had around $80k outstanding. And I then realized that there was a fairly good chance now that I’d never see that money, or at least not anytime soon.
“Paul…”, I hesitantly replied, “You know our costs. You know what we’re charging you each week. Why am I just hearing about this now?”
“I needed the app closer to being finished before I could raise the money I needed to —“
“Paul, I don’t care. That’s not my concern.”
“Brennan, I’m putting everything on the line with this business. My house. My kid’s college money. Everything.”
“Paul, as the founder you have everything to gain and everything to lose. I’m not your investor. I own a services firm, and I need to pay people for the month and a half they spent working on your project. And now you’re telling me you don’t have the money.”
The conversation didn’t get any better. And this made me realize something: I never, ever, ever want to need to play the role of debt collector ever again.
After this project, I began telling my clients that we only work if there’s money in the bank. We’d invoice weekly, and if the money for the upcoming week wasn’t cleared in my bank account by Monday, I’d rather us sit idle than work on credit.
When questioned, here’s what I’d say:
“The best use of my time is making sure that my clients get the best service possible from me. If I’m spending time chasing around invoices, I’m not spending that time on delivering value to my clients.”
And it worked. This might be a bit different than what your clients are typically used to, but you need to let them know what the advantage is for them (you being able to focus on them instead of delinquent clients).
Retainers and productized consulting services are subscriptions. They’re predictable expenses for your clients and predictable revenue for you.
My accountant, who I pay on retainer, holds a copy of my credit card and charges me on the 1st of each month like clockwork. I never see or pay an invoice. Likewise, my coaching clients are automatically billed monthly.
If you have clients who are paying you monthly, try to avoid needing to send invoices in order to get paid. Setup some sort of automated payment system that will draft from your clients account each month.
Here are a few thoughts on how you can do this:
- I use GetDPD, which gives me a unique URL for each subscription service I offer (which at the moment is just my monthly coaching). The payments actually happen through PayPal.
- You can setup recurring billing directly through PayPal, but I believe it’s not as turnkey as using GetDPD as a frontend.
- comallows you to setup recurring ACH payments with your clients.
- If you’re OK with the liability, you could signup for a free Stripeaccount and manually enter in your client’s credit card info and associate it with a monthly billing plan (preferably over the phone, you don’t want to have this info floating around your computer).
Get it in writing
Always use a contract!
I’m still shocked and surprised by how many people I talk to don’t have legal, binding contracts between them and their clients.
Besides the usual indemnity, non-disclosure, and other clauses that go into services contracts, you want to make sure your contract includes provisions for what happens if you don’t get paid on time.
At a minimum:
- The client owns nothing they haven’t paid for.
- You charge interest on overdue invoices (non-issue if you charge upfront).
- You have every right afforded to you by the courts to get that money back.
If you’re working with a client who isn’t exactly fiscally stable (like the example I gave above), I’d strongly advise you to have your clients personally guarantee your agreement with them. When I contacted my attorney in a panic to let them know that I was owed $80k, he told me that the best he could do was to send them a strong letter and contact their bank with a request for the money. But if the bank account didn’t have anything in it… I was out of luck. Because my client was behind the shield of a corporation (which, in the US, only takes $100 sent to your state’s Corporation Commission) I couldn’t really do anything more.
(In the next few weeks, I’ll be updating the Complete package of Double Your Freelancing Rate with the Master Services Agreement I use for ensuring I get paid, along with indemnity, non-disclosure, etc. I paid a good amount of money — over $11,000 — for this contract, and you can save yourself a lot in legal bills by using mine. If you have the Complete package, you’ll get this update for free.)
(Also, obvious disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer. This is all that my lawyer told me. What I relayed above might not be applicable to you.)
Recruit a “bad cop”
If you’re not charging upfront and a client is late on paying, the best thing you can do is be stern. Let them know that you need to stop work, and that it will only resume once you’re paid. (This is also a great time to mandate a pay-upfront policy.)
I had a full-time assistant who was my “bad cop” — she’d call clients who were overdue and relay on the terms of our contract, namely that we don’t work if they’re in a state of default. Since many of my clients were attached to me and were on really good terms with me, I could position myself as the “good cop” who helplessly needs to go along with whatever Ann, the office manager, says we need to do.
Earlier this week, I had a great interview with Kurt Elster (Episode 20 of The Business of Freelancing Podcast). In our chat, Kurt mentioned that he has his girlfriend play the role of his “credit analyst”, and she would be the bearer of bad news to overdue clients.
The preferred path is to avoid this altogether by always getting paid upfront. But if you’re not there yet, try to think about who could be the “bad cop” in your freelancing business.
What to do when you need cash NOW
If you need money immediately, or you want to raise some money based on your past track record as a consultant, there are a few options for you.
Are you familiar with invoice factoring?
My first entrepreneurial pursuit was a lead generation company I started after dropping out of college. Most of my early customers were mortgage brokers and real estate agents, but I started to see that factoring companies were signing up. “Factoring? What the heck is that?” I remember thinking. And after some Googling and discussions, I learned that they were the business equivalent of payday loans.
Here’s factoring in a nutshell:
Many companies, especially those that require buying from suppliers and then selling to distributors, tend to have a lot of receivables (invoices) floating around at any given time. And often the payment terms are NET 60, NET 90, or more, especially if they’re working with BigCos or governments.
Often times, these companies want to do things that companies are wont to do — like expanding, purchasing new equipment, and so on. You might expect that these companies get a bank loan. But getting a loan, whether for personal or business reasons, requires time (which not everyone has), due diligence by the lender, and quite a bit of paperwork.
A factoring company is a special type of lender that will buy your outstanding invoices at a discount. There are other companies that can lend you advances based on your historical cash flow.
The terms, for both factoring and advances, tend to be pretty bad, especially when compared to traditional loans or lines of credit. But you can often get money immediately, which is helpful when you have bills that need to be paid.
Here are a few ways to get working capital:
- Kabbage. This is really only helpful if you get paid through Stripe, PayPal, or other processors that they support. They’ll look at your past revenue, and lend you money based on that. They set you up on a fixed payment schedule, and Kabbage’s fees are pretty high.
- PayPal Working Capital. If you do a lot of transactions through PayPal, this is actually a pretty nice option. Like Kabbage, they’ll look at your average monthly revenue and come up with an amount based off that. But unlike Kabbage, there’s no fixed payment plan. They’ll take a percentage — between 10% and 30% — of each futuresale until your loan is paid off. And the origination fee is pretty low, often around 5% of the total they lend.
- Fundbox. This is a new service I just came across, and it seems that they’re targeting freelancers and agencies. They’ll buy your outstanding invoices and pay you right away, but they’ll take a percentage of the invoice amount as their own.
In closing, here’s what I recommend:
- Bill weekly. It’s easier for your clients to budget for, and makes charging upfront a lot easier (since the burn rate per week is fixed).
- Charge upfront. Get deposits upfront, and invoice ahead of time.
- Use a contractthat guarantees that you’ll get paid.
- If you can, live off last month’s profits. If you need cash, don’t be afraid to seek out the cash you need to survive, even if it means losing money. Stressing over whether or not you can pay your bills is something you want to avoid, as it willadversely affect your work and the relationships you have with your clients.
- Ensure that what you’re charging will allow you to generate the income you desire.
Use our freelance rate calculator to see if you’re on track.
Copyright © 2016, Double Your Freelancing
Christmas Promotion (Expires December 25).
Prices are going up. Don’t miss out.
Gift yourself first. Give your first holiday present to yourself:
“An Organized Business.”
- Weekly Newsletter – $197 per month, Every week, send some dynamic information about the services that enhance your business. Created specifically for you.
- Weekly Client Invoicing – $197 per month. Every week get your client’s invoiced, without you lifting a finger.
- Weekly Social Media Post – $197 per month (3 weekly posts). Scheduled post will got out to your tribe, keeping them interested and engaged.
- 20 warm phone calls a week – $297 per month. Grow your list which grows your business, with up to 20 calls for follow-up and scheduling, each and every week.
- Document Merging – $10 per page (10 page minimum). Document Merging is a way to create many documents that have to be populated with the same information as a template. This creates a document that only needs the constant changing information to be typed into it. It is can also become a PDF, which is much easier to email.
- PDF fillable services – $10 per page (10 page minimum). This service creates a PDF out of any document. Once it is created into a PDF, it can be typed in on the screen. This process eliminates printing, manually labor, and scanning. The recipient can fill it out on screen and email it back to you. Saving time, effort, resources, and money. This makes your document process faster and more efficient.
All packages below include the services listed above. Additional administrative services available upon request. There are limited spots available.
- *Silver Package – Unlimited Administrative Services (No consulting)
$297 ($397 value) (up to 10 hours a month, 3-month minimum contract)
- *Gold Package – Unlimited Administrative and Consultin
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- *Platinum Package – Unlimited Administrative and Consulting Services
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Don’t miss out on being successful next year.
Get ahead of your New Year’s Resolution.
Start your year out right. Get your business organized NOW!
Don’t forget to share this with others; you get 20% off these prices. Contact me for details.
Contact Terri Lynn now and get it all together, finally.
Terri Lynn Phillips,
Virtual Administrative Assistance, Business Consulting, Entrepreneurial Concierge
*For first-time customers only
“What is a Mompreneur,” you ask? It is a mother who has her own business. She can be married or single. She can have a new business or a large corporation. She usually feels like she wears a lot of hats. Most of them are over defining what balance should be. I was at a networking meeting a few Tuesdays ago. There was a round table filled with Mompreneurs. Well of course there was, lol. It was a Mompreneurs of Mastermind Atlanta networking meeting. It was founded so that mothers can get away from mothering and share their dreams, aspiration, and difficulties with other mothers, who understand the myth about balancing business and motherhood.
We all know that it is essential to network in order to build your business. The benefits of networking is that you build a community of likeminded individuals. The world of solo-entrepreneurship can be a lonely working environment. Unlike being at work, with co-workers, you may not have the resources you need at the water fountain. The community you build is the pool of resources for your life and business.
Additional benefits of networking is that you have other people who know what you do and can spread the word for you. My business is 100% referrals. The grapevine can be the greatest source of advertisement. That Tuesday, at the mompreneur group, I met an interior designer, an entertainment virtuoso, a mobile beauty agency, a commerical cleaner, and an online boutique owner. The wonderful host, Jennifer Jacobs is a graphic artist. Some of these ladies came an hour away. It was an extraordinary evening, with a lot of heartfelt sharing and plenty of great ideas circling our table. This is what makes networking worth the trip. The next time you think about networking, think about, not only the resources you will find, but the possible friends that you may meet. If you are a Mompreneur, you can join us. Registration is free: Eventbrite
Terri Lynn Phillips, Virtual Assistant
Check out my current promotions: Christmas in November
It’s been a wonderful week in the VA world. Even though my workload looks like the picture, it is how I feel rewarded. Let me explain. A workload like that means that I am needed. Being needed is one of the things that makes us feel valuable. It is the reward that a VA reaps from doing excellent work and accepting nothing less. When my board gets empty, it feels lonely. I feel like I’ve done something wrong somewhere to someone. It is those times that I have to use external motivation to usher in my self-confidence and count my blessings.
You know what I am talking about. You’ve had a bad day, a bad time, a bad moment that haunts you when you start your pity party, your self-doubting. It’s times like that that you have to find faith in nothing tangible, nothing huggable, nobody listening, or no one to notice. It is the time to hug yourself, remember your talents, strengths and good deeds. Turn on your Pandora and sang love songs to yourself, like no body hears you.
Yes, I said it was a wonderful week but it didn’t start out that way. I created a goal for myself to loose 1 pound a week. When I got on the scale at the beginning of the week, I had gained the three pounds back that I lost. I was so disappointed because it took me three weeks to loose them but one week to gain them. I was disappointed because I knew that I did some things during the last week that I should not have. I ate wrong, no exercise except three runs. I knew I had my Black Girls Run graduation coming up but I still sabotaged myself with candy, cookies, and sugar.
Then I took my measurements. I had lost 3.5 inches off of my waist and gained some muscle. It wasn’t all bad after all. I then wanted to blame the weight gain on building muscle..really. I had gained fat, also. I decided that I did good for three weeks and messed up for one. All I have to do next time is NOT mess up a whole week. That’s my game plan, lol.
So you see, I am happy. I did graduate as a Black Girl Run. I did get another client. That makes five clients in 2 months. Fabulous. Happiness is relative. Hopefully, God willing and the creek don’t rise” I will have another three weeks to make up for the one week plus more.
Here is your homework…..count your fabulousness and share it with the world. It’s what the world needs now.
I don’t know about other VAs but I certainly am a workaholic.
After a 7am run with the Hampton Black Girls Run group, I relaxed all day, but I kept thinking about the assignments I have on my plate this week.
I was super excited to get a new client today. She is a FitnessDiva. She wants me to
make phone calls and get her in the door of potential clients. Its going to be great to talk about her unique fitness activities, Kangoo.
As I headed to my bedroom, I decided to stop by my office. Well that was three hours ago. What in the world happened, right?
This is what happened…I peaked inside my office to make sure all of the electronics were plugged in and the computer was put to sleep. Then I decided to clear off my desk so that I could start working early in the morning.
As I was prioritizing my clients’ tasks, I decided that I wasn’t sleepy, so I stayed up to work on my client’s new software. I use GoToMyPc to work by remote. Three hours later, I am done and feel a sense of accomplishment. I can’t wait until he gets in the office tomorrow and sees the progress. I know that he is eager to get started on the new software that he bought seven months ago. I am going to be sitting on pins and needles to see how things go. I love my job. There is never a dull moment.
Now I can get up in the morning, when my body wakes up. Take a run, have a great breakfast and make phone calls all day, while multitasking.
If you see my number on your caller ID, don’t you dare ignore my call tomorrow, lol.
I am fortunate to have great clients. I am looking forward to seeing how things turn out tomorrow. For now, I am counting my blessings and saying good night to my office. Sleep tight, ya’ll.