Due Diligence

I hate finances. I hate accounts, ledgers, spreadsheets and invoicing. I have an enormous respect for anyone in the accountancy business as I simply don’t have the mathematical flair which means that I can enjoy such tasks. When it comes to my to self assessment I have mine done in May each year, purely to get it out of the way! Needless to say, spending time on my business finances is time I would rather be doing something (anything) else.

That said, keeping on top of records, invoicing and payments is a necessary evil if I wish to be paid (and I do).  Unfortunately over the past few years I have spent far too much time chasing late or missing payments for work I’ve done. I have a fairly simple invoice system and all clients know what they need to pay me, and when. Sadly it doesn’t always run so smoothly.

In the past I have spent ridiculous amounts of time chasing payments. You get either complete silence (so frustrating!), excuses (I know business is tough for everyone however I need to feed my children and pay my bills too!) or my personal favourite, told off. Yes, I have been known to be told off by clients when I chase them money as if by asking for what is already very overdue I am committing some heinous crime. To be honest, it is all rather tiresome.

As a self employed / freelance writer I don’t have one boss who pays money into my account on the last day of the month therefore I rely on clients to pay as agreed to ensure that my cask flow keeps flowing. What is the answer? I have toyed with sending my six year old and two year old round to act as my “heavies”. After ten minutes of “Why? Why? Why? What’s that? Why?” I’m fairly sure most people would cough up quick to stop the torture.

There are ways and means of reducing the risk of non-payment or payment worries nowadays as there is a way in which you are able to look up business details of UK companies in advance. What this information contains are things like their information with Companies House, whether they have any CCJs etc against them and so on. There are times when I have wished that I had been able to know more about a prospective client before I agreed to work for them and while some of this information is a matter of public record, having the time to search it all out is an issue. Whilst a couple of red flags in the information doesn’t necessarily mean that a particular client is untrustworthy, far from it, it would enable myself and of course many other businesses to approach a working relationship better informed.

Duedil is the tool in question and while I haven’t used it properly myself, other than a quick tinker to find out more, I am able to see the merits of it! What is more, the service is free to use therefore is worth having a nosy at.

Working for yourself has many benefits and personally I can’t imagine myself ever working for someone else now. There are however downsides and chasing payments in the main one for me. My question for all of you good folks is, what do you do regarding overdue accounts? Do you send in a persistent toddler? Do you do some sort of due diligence in advance? I’m curious!

Don’t be fooled by their cuteness, these two would make excellent debt collectors!

Written in collaboration with the mentioned business yet true to my thoughts, feelings and experiences