The longer I write this column the more ideas I have about topics I want to discuss. When I began writing for allbusiness.com back in January of this year I only wanted to write about cold calling and business promotion tips. Somewhere along the way the column developed into a series which also spotlights small business owners and now Small Business Topics and Advice. Here´s how this new series came to be.
I was having a business conversation with a buddy of mine the other day. Because he and I both work from home we´ve become each other´s business and personal support system, discussing everything from business strategies to vacation plans. One day we began discussing aspects of our work which we find frustrating and it got me to thinking. Support is so important to nearly every aspect of our lives and somehow we forget to support each other in our business lives. I´m not talking about the networking groups we all attend from time to time. Networking events are never a good place to vent. I´m talking about having a few people you can call to bitch about the daily frustrations of running a business. A true business support system. I personally feel better if I can blow off some steam with a close friend or close colleague about my daily frustrations. It also allows me to bounce ideas off someone who isn´t directly connected to my work without judgment. For example, one of my biggest frustrations is getting clients to pay me for work that´s been successfully completed. Telemarketers are sometimes the scapegoat when a program goes awry (it happens with every company), and underappreciated when a program is a success. It goes with the territory because we are still sometimes viewed as uneducated, unskilled labor. It sometimes surprises me (although it shouldn´t) that when a campaign runs smoothly and clients make money, paying the contractor becomes more of an afterthought. I have heard every excuse from," I am too busy to cut a check" to" I have no money". Telling a contractor you don´t have time to cut a check is like telling them that the work they do for you has no value. It´s especially frustrating for small business owners because we don´t often have the luxury of waiting 30-90 days for payment. So making sure we get paid at all is extremely important. One way to insure payment is to ask for a retainer (deposit) at the start of the contract. My rule of thumb is to never start a contract without a retainer. For example, my retainer is for Â½ the total amount with the balance split into 2-3 payments over the course of the contract. I have several reasons for setting up my accounts this way:
1. It guarantees that I receive payment to begin the contract (there is nothing worse than beginning a contract and finding out a month into it that a client can´t or won´t be paying you). Trust me it happens..
2. It makes it apparent that the client is serious about beginning a campaign. I have worked with clients in the past who want the service but are not prepared to pay for it.
3. Once the retainer is used up, the second payment is due. The work discontinues until the payment is made. This way, I´m insured payment and not using labor that´s not been paid for.
This means that while a client may run out of money midway through the contract, it also means that "m not working for free.
Now I want to hear from you. Tell me what frustrates you as a small business owner. Let´s start a dialogue. I want to know what you think.
Tony Wilkins is the author of "Telemarketing Success for Small and Mid-sized Firms available in most bookstores and online at www.amazon.com and www.xlibris.com you may also find out about his workshops and services at
http://stores.ebay.com/telemarketing-success via e: mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 415-267-4872 .If you´d like to be notified of a new posting for this column, please contact Tony Wilkins at email@example.com