Living By Your Wits

Living By Your Wits

As someone who ** tries ** to live by my wits (i.e., an entrepreneur), one of the challenges I face as a business person is to convey the sense of urgency I feel in collecting monies owed me.

In good times, the gauche subject of “when do I get paid” is gingerly treated.

In lean times, sometimes it’s hard not to scream it from the rooftops.

For example, in a big company you’re used to the checks getting to your desk on payday before lunch time, so that you can make your deposit during lunch and hope the line at the bank is not too long so that you might be able to score actual food before heading back to the cube farm.

And if it’s not there by lunchtime, SOMEBODY is getting a phone call.

As a small vendor, you sweat calling that customer for the second time in a week asking where the promised check they “mailed” is.

You know – the check you’ve been trying to collect for the past month, trying to remain professionally aloof all the while sweating where the cash for the next payroll is going to come from.

And keeping them as a customer.

And keeping your sanity.

I saw a ridiculous article in Business Week some weeks back, where the “business expert” writing the article gave his best sound advice to a small business person – don’t pay your vendors.

Holy Crap.

No wonder the economy is where it is today, if this is considered sound “advice.”

My biggest struggle this year as a small business person has not necessarily been getting projects or engagements – it has been getting PAID for the work that I have performed, cheerfully and timely.

From customers who are otherwise giving me glowing reviews but are slow to whip out the checkbook.

And the sad thing is, this is happening to many, many of my colleagues who are doing fantastic work – but are having to spend significant time that is not directly related to their passion, just to be paid for the work that they have done; on time, and as asked for.

For many of the small business people I’ve worked with for the past dozen years or so, they have simply given up trying.

So, the next time you think that a vendor is “hounding” you for that check you promised him a few weeks back… please consider what you would do if your paycheck was late four or five weeks – rather than simply an hour or so – on any given payday.

Believe it or not, almost every vendor wants to do what they do best, and not have to speak with your payables department weekly, or even worse, daily – to collect.

Crass?  Gauche?  Unseemly?

Perhaps.

But small vendors can’t pay their bills with “the check’s in the mail.”

Something to think about this Friday at any rate while you’re waiting to beat the bank rush.

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