How to get paid early (or at least on time)

Let’s face it, a lot of life revolves around pay day. Getting paid means treating yourself and having fun, or more likely paying the bills and maybe getting some food from the fancier shop. When you work for yourself the first big hurdle you face is finding people who want you to work for them. The second is making sure they pay you for that work!

Asking to be paid can feel a bit awkward, especially given our British sensibilities and general habit of apologising for everything.

“Excuse me, if you wouldn’t mind terribly, I could do with being paid for that small job I did building your house...”


So if you want to avoid sounding like an extra from Oliver everytime you want to get paid, and in turn work with the client again, here are some ground rules to work with. It even helps clients to pay before the invoice is due (shock horror we know some clients actually do this).

  1. Always manage expectations at the start

    • Being upfront about costs from the get go is a good way of avoiding any awkward conversations later. Making sure that you have a paper trail of these initial agreements is also a good idea, especially if the client ends up making lots of changes to what was agreed later.

  2. Check out your client

    • They’ve checked your references, remember that you can always check theirs! Whilst most companies are very reputable and will pay on time, there are those with a bit of a murkier past. If in any doubt about a company’s reputation you can always have a check on Companies House, or a quick search on social media. It could help you to avoid working with a client who has a history of non-payment, saving you time, money and effort.

  3. Watch that clock!

    • Whilst not every job or business means you work with a timesheet always keep a track of how long a job for a client takes you. If you charge by the hour you can more accurately invoice your client and if your time is folded into the cost of a product, it lets you to make sure you’re actually paying yourself enough to live off!

  4. Invoice quickly and often (where possible)

    • Clients are just like everyone else and even the best of us can forget to do things sometimes. The best way to avoid people becoming naturally (or unnaturally) forgetful about paying you, is to invoice as soon as you’ve completed the work for the client. If for whatever reason you do have to wait a couple of days, invoicing on a Monday means you’re more likely to get paid quicker. Of course best of all, if you’re doing a longer job, is to invoice in parts so that you can get paid as you go rather than having to wait a long time for one big pay day to come in.

  5. Make paying easy as pie

    • Might seem a bit simple but ALWAYS make is as easy as possible to pay. If they can’t see how to pay you, there’s a good chance it could end up in a towering to-do pile never to be seen again.

  6. Detail is key

    • Don’t give clients the chance to say that the invoice is missing a PO number or gone to the wrong department. Always make sure to include any references or details they may need and if in doubt include as much detail as possible!

  7. Follow up

    • Yes no one likes chasing, it’s awkward and can feel exhausting but remember you are actually owed that money! Sometimes it’s an honest mistake, other times it’s something else but lets go with honest mistake. Just whatever you do make sure you follow up.

  8. Finally, don’t be scared to be get tough

    • You’ve heard all the excuses and the invoice is due, it might be time to get tough. Don’t be afraid of being strong with people, whilst you might want to support your clients, you need to be paid for the work you’ve done so don’t be afraid of being dogged in getting your invoice paid.

So there you have it, the ultimate guide to getting paid, living your best life and taking over the world. Or something to that effect. Remember that if you ever want to simplify your invoices, make sure they’re automatically HMRC compliant and have invoices chased for you, there’s a handy little app called Albert for that.

Lucy Watson