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lulalouise
12-18-2004, 11:13 PM
Hello --

I make a living writing business plans. However, in saying that, I didn't include the adjective "frustrated" in front of living. I have assisted one client in acquiring $10M for real estate development concern, and was shocked at my own abilities. I'm now trying to think harder about doing this. This is my quandary: I work for small start-ups who are mostly looking for SBA funding, and who want to look legitimate so that they can approach investors. They are not very sophisticated about BP writing, and, because I advertise on the Internet, they are distrustful.

As a result, I do not ask for a downpayment. Instead I ask for payments in installments at each phase of the drafting; at the first draft stage, at the rewrite stage, and after the financials are finished. The problem is that by the time I've already exhausted one weeks worth of work, they've always got an excuse for the delays in payment. Each client has ended up paying, but it's always a tug of war. Until I can advertise to bigger companies, this is my client base. How would you handle this, and for any business plan writers out there, what do you do? Tech writers most likely don't have this problem because you're dealing with more sophisticated business people.

Ideas? Thanks. If you don't get a response, it's because I'm trying to finish a plan so I can get paid!!!!!

Happy Holidays to all!

Lulalouise8o

Eileen
12-20-2004, 02:52 AM
Instead of foregoing an initial deposit, I would use other means to build a client's trust. If you have a website, use testimonials, offer references, and certainly post a portfolio. This will build credibility in the prospect's mind. Then get a 50% deposit. I believe you will actually look more professional by requiring one.

I don't write business plans, but I do write marketing copy. Many of my clients are startups too, but the professional ones who are serious about their business don't expect others to work for free just because they are pinched. There are many startups out there who do indeed understand that professional services require a deposit and timely payment. Stick to your guns. You'd be amazed at how many of them will be willing to cough up that down payment. If they balk at a deposit, they are sending signals that they aren't reliable, and you don't want them as clients anyway.

lulalouise
12-21-2004, 11:11 AM
Thanks, Eilieen --

I appreciate your suggestion. I guess I'll have to consider it, then. Here's the other part of the story: I perform better when I'm not paid up front. If I'm given the money first, I'm apt to spend it (on bills, not frivolities) and then, get lazy. I have high standards, and don't want to get complacent. If I believe that my performance is linked to receiving money, I think, for some reason, that I will perform better. Now, obviously, it ends up being frustrating when things end up taking longer than I would like as that delays my payments,too. But I guess I'm concerned that I'll just do the minimum or something. So far, it's worked. You know... the hungry writer syndrome. My problem is that I'm a hungry writer, but when I'm prepared to get fed, there's a hiccup or two, and it really gets me.

What about a token amount of just $200 or something? I can probably handle that. I would appreciate your business sense of how you perceive my methods, as I know that I need to change them... I'm just afraid that my work product might suffer if I get paid up front.

Thanks so much! Louise8o

Eileen
12-23-2004, 09:41 AM
I think a "token" amount of $200 would probably be okay to start. Then work your way up until you can say with confidence, "In order to get started, I'll need a 50% deposit." :)

cannae216
10-28-2005, 09:12 AM
To get over your fear of becoming complacent when half the money gets there, think of Cialdini's great ideas in Influence: The Power of Persuasion. According to the rule of reciprocity, one owes a gift-giver and cannot rest until a favor is returned. That 50% (and I agree it will make you look better and is common, but I've heard some charge 1/3 for bigger assignments) is the favor, and you OWE them. Besides, if you DO become complacent, you won't get hired again.

Reframe it that way in your mind, and you shouldn't have trouble avoiding complacency.