As a Christian business owner do you have people constantly expecting you to give away your services for free? Do people give you a sob story about why they can’t pay and expect you to give them a break? Do they call you a passive aggressive Christian hypocrite if you send out a late payment reminder? It can be hard balancing wanting to help people and not giving away your services for free. Remember, as a business owner you are in business to make a profit. You must protect your personal and business credit score.
Most business owners, service providers, and professionals have business expenses, as well as living expenses to include a mortgage, utilities, and possibly student loans. Creditors want to be paid. Creditors will charge a late fee if you don’t pay them on time. They may possibly report you to a credit bureau and this can adversely affect your credit score. So, how do you balance helping others and being a Christian business owner? My tips below will help you to operate as a business owner while honoring your Christian values.
1. Contracts – Use very detailed contracts. Do not trust handshake deals or word of mouth agreements. Put the agreement or terms of service in writing. Be very specific on due dates, amounts owed, late fees, etc. This includes barter contracts. Do not be afraid or intimidated to not hold the other party accountable for honoring their part of the contract.
2. Invoicing Procedures – Establish procedures and follow them. If you do not want to deal with this task then out source it to a Virtual Assistant or bookkeeper. This includes sending out late payment reminders. I recommend you work with a collection agent so that when needed the agency can go after the late payer. Using a collection agent will save you headaches and heartaches. Plus, you know they are following the law and you won’t get in trouble for accidentally violating a debt collection law or rule.
3. Choose your words carefully – I have learned when someone asks me if I can help or they say “so and so said you can help me” and I reply “yes, I can help” they are expecting the service for free. I have had to learn to respond with something that states this is a business service that I provide. Also, I have found when someone asks if they can skip a payment at holiday time I have a script ready to address that late fees will be assessed. Again, this task of communicating with individuals may be best left to your gatekeeper or a Customer Care Manager. Listen very carefully to what is being said by the person asking for your services. I also do not recommend giving away free strategy sessions. When you charge a small fee for an introductory session and charge for missed appointments you will eliminate the tire kickers and snatchers and grabbers. Watch out for the people that hit you up on social media via Messenger pretending to be your friend and then immediately they want free advice or services.
4. Know How Much You Can Give Away or Discount – Set clear boundaries. I don’t mind helping people. But it does get old helping the same people over and over again. You have to know your walk away point. Watch the person on social media. If they are out having fun while you sit home eating ramen noodles don’t get mad. Use it as a lesson. You just let that person skip a payment so they could have fun. The person does not respect or value you and your services. I recommend you know how many scholarships you are going to be able to give away each year and when you have exhausted that amount you know you cannot help anyone else for free. Also, know what discount you will give friends and family.
5. Know Your Value – Do not forget that you provide a valuable service. Just because someone else does not see the value does not mean you have none. Do not let the snatchers and grabbers wear you down. Learn to identify who is not your ideal client and learn to identify where they lurk and then go find a new fishing pond.
Those that are attempting to steal your products, intellectual property, and services will always have something negative to say when you ask for payment. In our digital age they will be as bold as to post nasty comments on social media platforms blasting you and your Christian values. They will probably “unfriend” you too. Remember, do not open a door that God as has closed. Count your blessings you were unfriended and saw the person show his/her true colors.
Don’t be made to feel guilty or shamed into giving away your products or services for free. The funny thing is these people would not work for free or give away their products or service for free, so they should not expect you to do it either. Everyone won’t love you. Rejection is God’s protection.