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The entrepreneur’s guide to contracts: F*ck you, pay me

How do you guard your interests and make sure you get paid for your work on a project while maintaining a good relationship with your clients? Every freelancer has thought “hey, pay me!” at some point or another.

pay me

How can you avoid getting to the point of total frustration? Mike Monteiro is the design director for Mule Design Studio and a well-known business advisor. He gave a very forthcoming and thorough speech, in the following video, entitled, “F*ck you, Pay me,” detailing the issues you may face, or have already faced, in the creative field and what legal means you need in place to prevent future problems. The video was made in 2011 but is resurfacing to make the rounds once again:

You know the drill if you are a freelancer – you get a great job offer and then unfortunately the client decides not to pay you for one reason or another and you find yourself extremely irritated and yelling at the screen, (in Monteiro’s words) “f*uck you, pay me!” You might even begin to wonder how you got yourself into this situation in the first place, because we have all been there.

Monteiro said that before getting started, you need a contract in place with clear definitions and clear expectations which are agreed to by both parties and will allow you to avoid situations where you feel like being a freelancer is akin to the seventh realm of hell, instead of the blissful happiness that you know it really can be.

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He offers several scenarios freelancers often find themselves in and what needs to be done so that it does not happen again. For example, if a company lays off a whole division and you are left standing there, your magical contract should have a provision for this and you should be paid for the work you have already done. Another example, a potential client stating, “you can trust us.”

Monteiro suggests walking, no, running away. You contract should secure your pay, so trust should not enter in to it. This indicates that they do not want to agree to your contract/arrangement and you will be better off leaving.

Top 6 things to know about contracts

The top six things Monteiro says you should know about contracts:

  1. Contracts are designed to protect BOTH parties
  2. Do NOT start work without a contract
  3. Do not blindly accept their terms; negotiate
  4. Anticipate negotiation, but do not back down on important stuff
  5. Lawyers talk to lawyers; if they bring theirs, you bring yours
  6. Be specific and confident about money; know what you are worth and don’t be afraid to ask for it

And perhaps these six things can be applied not only to the creative freelancing field, but also, to businesses dealing with people in general.

You need to make sure you always get everything in writing and are willing to negotiate, but do not back down on issues that are important to your business ideals. And always be very specific about money: who gets paid what, under what circumstances is payment relinquished, and who will pay attorney fees if it comes to that? Provisions for this will save you time and inevitable headaches in the future.

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Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Tinu

    August 1, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Bravo on the title choice. Anyone who remembers that line either from GoodFella. or from the JayZ track, understands how far one has to be pushed to have that thought cross their mind.

    It’s so hard to be a success if you aren’t getting paid on time and there definitely needs to be more advice out here telling small business owners how to set themselves up to get paid on time, as often as possible, for a job well done. The hard truth is that we lose a LOT of brilliant people just because they couldn’t figure out this one aspect.

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