Always give the invoice a due date, not 14 days or 30 days (unless you specifically want that). The difference is that the late payment interest starts running immediately from the day after the due date without a separate reminder, but only 30 days after the net payment term and you have to send a reminder as well.

Keep track of incoming payments. If you don’t see your money, send out the reminders quickly: e.g. 7 or no later than 14 days after the due date. Send the reminder in writing, wording it kindly.

If there is no payment and/or response to your reminder, you can proceed to take action immediately, but often a second reminder may be a better option in terms of continuing the relationship with the client. Make it clear that if you do not receive payment by a specified date, the matter will be forwarded to your accountant/lawyer.

If a customer who still owes payments wants to order new work, do not start it until the outstanding invoice is paid. You can say something like this: “I notice that you still have our invoice XX (due date xx.xx.xxxx) unpaid. I will be happy to start this new assignment as soon as I receive the payment.” Remember to take this into account in your deadline, i.e. the deadline is calculated from the day the invoice has been paid and you can start working. If a client promises to pay but doesn’t, don’t start new work now nor never. It’s one warning sign you need to heed.

Especially in authorized translations, the customer is often a private person and getting payments from them may prove to be more difficult than from companies. In these cases, you can demand advance payment (the entire amount of the invoice or 50% in advance and the work will only start when the money has arrived in your account) or by cash on delivery.

Find out the typical payment period in your country and your business. In Finland, it’s often 14 days, but elsewhere, 30 or even 60 days are common. Don’t agree to terms of payment that are considerably longer than the prevailing terms in your market. Longer payment terms and/or repeated delays in payments may indicate difficulties in finances. Do you want to take a  credit risk with such a client? Every small business owner and solopreneur knows how tiresome it is to wait for delayed payments. In addition, this means added costs and extra work as writing and sending a reminder for late payments is work that does not bring extra cash to your account and takes time away from productive work. Even some reputable translation agencies and interpreter brokers have changed their payment terms one-sidedly, without negotiation. It’s worth remembering that if you have not reacted to the notification of the new payment terms and have continued to accept assignments, you have accepted the change / amended practice in question. Sometimes the payment term has grown from a couple of weeks to a month and even more.