One of the questions we get asked a lot from new freelancers is ‘how do I get paid?’. There are a few different options out there – all of which are relatively simple to set up and don’t require a significant up-front investment – so it’s worth considering them all to work out which would be the most appropriate for your business and circumstances.
Paypal (or Stripe!) – quick and easy to set up, you have the ability to invoice for ‘commercial transactions’ that will send a notification to your customer of the amount owing and make it simple for them to pay this. However, there is a fee for every transaction (dependent on your business address). The standard rate for receiving domestic transactions via Paypal in the UK is 2.90% plus a fixed fee of £0.30 – https://www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/merchant-fees. Stripe (https://stripe.com/) is another popular online payment platform that is widely used by UK and international businesses, and which has its own transaction fees (for more information, visit: https://stripe.com/gb/pricing)
Bank transfer – At APVA, we strongly recommend setting up a business bank account that is separate from your personal accounts. This really helps when it comes to your income/expenditure calculations and makes it easier for you to access business finance, if required. Some banks also have terms and conditions for their personal accounts that state that you can’t use a personal account for business use – this could put your personal account at risk of closure (or at the very least, losing access to certain services) if you breach their terms. Many banks offer low-cost business accounts, with free months for new customers or start-ups – a comparison website like https://smallbusinessprices.co.uk/free-business-bank-accounts/ could be a good place to start if you are looking for a new business bank account, just ensure that you contact the banks in question directly to confirm the details of their offers and any associated fees before signing up.
Online accounting software – although these are the same as the ‘Bank Transfer’ option, it’s worth mentioning them here as they can help save you time and effort in the invoicing/collection process. Tools like ‘Quickbooks’ – https://quickbooks.intuit.com/ – and ‘Xero’ – https://www.xero.com/ – link through to your business bank accounts and make it simple to manage income and expenditure, and really easy to invoice your customers without having to manually create an invoice from a template each time. Although you pay a monthly fee for these tools (and may also be paying a monthly fee for your bank account), you WILL be able to save time using these tools, which could free up some valuable hours for billable client work.
When you are setting up a new business, it’s worth thinking about your financial systems and processes carefully. It might seem like a cost-saving activity to do things manually at first, but every hour you work has an inherent value, so time spent each month creating invoices and sending them, and then keeping an eye on your accounts to watch for payment can soon add up, and it may be worth investing in a tool to help streamline your processes (and maintain your sanity!).
Of course, there will be times when clients have problems paying you, and if you do find yourself in this position please do reach out for us for some help and support, as we have been there and our community of VA’s have lots of tips on how to ensure you do get paid, even by the most challenging clients!