Sounds crazy, right? Let me explain. When I was new to the business of web design and new to entrepreneurship in general, it was all about the money. Any offer of money, especially payment in full BEFORE beginning a project seemed irresistible. So when clients – and there have been a few – not only agreed to my fee but offered to pay in full in advance, I eagerly accepted the money, rushed back to my studio and happily began to work. But then something strange began to happen. My clients disappeared. Since I made it very clear in our initial meetings that the completion of the project depended heavily on client deliverables, i.e. content, photos, testimonials, etc., I couldn’t understand why my clients weren’t returning my phone calls or responding to my emails. Not only that, but I was getting busy with new clients who may not have paid me in full and in advance but DID pay the required deposit and WERE returning my phone calls and responding to my email. Then I figured it out.

Website as Tax Write Off

It seems the folks who paid me in full and in advance were more interested in getting the tax write off than in a new website. I had been wondering why these clients seemed so focused on making sure they paid me on or before a certain date (in one case, July 15, the end of their fiscal year and another case, December 31, the end of the tax year). They wanted to be sure their payment to me qualified as a tax deduction. Now there is nothing wrong with a business getting a tax deduction for their new website – in fact it would be foolish to NOT take the deduction. It’s just that I’m not interested in working with you if that’s the ONLY reason for undertaking the project. Don’t misunderstand. I’ve been around long enough to have gotten past my temperamental artist phase. It’s just that I can’t do my best work if I’m more interested in your website than you are. And if I can’t do my best work I’d prefer not to do any work at all. Not only that, there are very practical reasons why paying me in full then disappearing doesn’t work.

  • You’re not actively engaged in the process – If your only reason for a new website is the tax deduction then you don’t care enough about the process or the product and it will take forever to get it done.
  • I’m beholden to you – If you’ve already paid me in full for work I haven’t finished, you will think – erroneously – that you can call me any time it’s convenient for you and I’ll drop everything to work on your site. You can’t and I won’t.
  • The focus gets blurry – There is a statute of limitations on interest and focus. When a project languishes too long, interest, enthusiasm and focus all get lost. That means that every time the project gets moving again we have to go back to square one even if the project goals were articulated in the beginning. Did you ever start a book, put it down for a month then try to pick up where you left off? It’s kind of like that.

Conclusion

Having said all of that, would I ever accept full payment in advance again? Certainly, but with the following caveat:

  • That in addition to client deliverables being contractually articulated, the consequences for NOT following the timeline will also be contractually articulated. This may mean the formal and legal termination of the contract with Kaneworks keeping the money.

Basically, it’s pretty simple. My time, like yours is valuable. Money is a renewable resource. Time is not. I just need to know that you’re serious.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. Thanks.

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