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Love/hate relationship with invoicing

"What is your greatest weakness?" It’s the interview question we all hate. I’d have to answer, "invoicing." Granted, when I get into it, I love invoicing because generally, that means money will be coming in from my clients. But I really dislike asking for money. Except when I do ask for money and it arrives. I also dislike justifying my time which is why I enjoyed the dangerous fixed rate work for so many years. Fixed rate was nice because my tightly budgeted clients knew what they were paying and if I did my job well, I made a profit; the risk was that I didn’t assess the problem correctly and ended up working fo minimum wage or less. For instance, when I was running my ISP, I received a phone call asking if I built websites. Naturally, the answer was yes. She asked, "How much?" Having no idea what I was doing, I responded $600. She became my first client and I ended up supporting her on that same $600 for 2 years. When I finally asked for money for my services, she dropped me like a rock and gave her business to someone else.

I learned a great lesson from someone who hired me to juggle at an event. She said she had a 4 hour event and wanted me doing atmospheric juggling for the 4 hours. I gave a rambling reply as I worked up a rate on the spot, "Well, I normally charge $85 for the first half-hour then $50 for every half-hour after that. So four hours comes to $435." Before she could speak, I spat out, "But you are a non-profit so you probably have no money so I could probably do it for $200-$300." She paused, then said, "Okay. Let’s do it for $200. But I’ll give you a bonus in the form of a lesson. You need to know that I was budgeted for $500 so your original $435 would have been acceptable. Additionally, you quoted me $2-300. Why would I pay $300 when you told me that $200 was fine? Put that in your pocket and I’ll see you at the event."

The most annoying aspect of invoicing is that it gets in the way of producing work which could be invoiced for money. I cannot bill for invoicing (based on my bills from my lawyer, he would disagree). I have systems in place to make invoicing easier and more accurate. Three months ago I was doing better at time tracking and invoicing than three years ago; today I am doing it better than I was three months ago. None-the-less, I have a mental block that hinders the process…but I’m fixing that.

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