When you’re starting out as a freelance trainer (or at any stage), it can be difficult to keep the cashflow in a reasonable state, particularly as you may take bookings for training courses which aren’t taking place until some time in the future.
The other difficulty may be your reluctance to talk about money/payment – if you’re much more used to getting a regular salary it can be quite a shock to be discussing fees and even harder to ask for it if it’s late!
So one of the decisions you might need to make is whether or not to charge a deposit when a booking is made.
In the early days of Can Do Courses, probably for the first 2 years, I decided that I would request a deposit as soon as the booking was confirmed. It definitely helped to guarantee the booking to some degree and I felt that it showed an element of commitment from the client. I would create an invoice for 50% of the overall fee and send it off, with an Agreement for Training which made the expectation that the payment was made by a particular date, and most definitely before the training took place.
(The balance of the fee would be payable 7 days after the training. I would send the invoice for the balance, with the “pay by” date at the foot of the page.)
This process gave me comfort in a couple of ways.
First, in the start up days of challenging cashflow, requesting a deposit payment helped me to acquire some cash upfront. If the training was booked some months in advance, it meant that there would be a hefty delay before I received any income from that booking. With some clients there was some resistance to providing this payment within the timescale I was asking – mainly due to accounts department processes – but mostly the training managers I work with were very understanding and happy to accommodate. It’s definitely worth asking.
Second, by providing a “pay by” date I was perfectly entitled to send a follow up reminder, requesting that the payments had been received and ensuring that I had some income to keep me motivated and avoid financial meltdowns.
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