"The two most beautiful words in the English language are cheque enclosed." – Dorothy Parker, American writer.

Here is a problem: at what point in the transaction are you going to get your money from the customer?

Contemplating my unpaid invoices used to cause me great frustration. I remember watching the scene in the film Goodfellas when two gangsters dangle a debt-ridden Florida gambler over a lion cage at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. I thought I’d like to do that to some of my clients.

I sold advertising on a map, listing local restaurants. I was not confident that I would sell enough advertising to make the project happen when I started out. I got the restaurants to fill in a form requesting the advertising they wanted. When the map was published, I had to go round to the restaurants again to collect the money. I’d get to the restaurant and Salvatore had a day off, Alphonse was too busy to speak to me and Mr Ahmed couldn’t raise a cheque that day.

Even when they saw my beautiful map, they grumbled about the colours or the general lack of response. That’s what restaurant owners are like. I ended up having to persuade them several times over of the excellent value I was giving them.

When I first started writing speeches, I wasn’t sure how I should collect my money. I issued invoices. Having worked hard to create an excellent speech, I would then have to devote time to chasing my money. Gradually I woke up to what I was doing wrong. Now I send over the speech after I’ve been paid. I request a bank transfer or I use Paypal. If a business does request an invoice, I ask for payment within 17 or 14 days. (Something I learned from working with other suppliers.)

As a result, I no longer have dreams of treating my clients like the feckless gamblers in Goodfellas.

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