Q: What’s an appropriate amount of time to wait to receive payment for independent consultant work? Often, it takes months for me to get a check.
A: While the short answer is the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the best policy is to make your expectations regarding payment a part of your contract with the company that’s hiring you. Clearly stipulate that payment is due within 30 days of the invoice, and indicate your policy regarding overdue accounts. Put the same notice on each invoice you submit, and don’t hesitate to call on day 31 to ask about the status of your payment. You can be firm and civil at the same time. If necessary, keep calling. With a new client you may even want to stipulate that part of the payment is due at signing, another part halfway through the job, and the balance upon completion. Finally, if a notoriously slow-paying client hires you for additional work, I’d seriously consider asking for full payment in advance.