How to get paid for your work

invoicing payment Feb 28, 2022


“How do I get my client or customer to pay my invoice” is a question we frequently get asked by members of Female Fusion.

Many female-owned small businesses find this is one of the main challenges when running their own company. Late payment or non-payment of invoices is a huge frustration from our members. If you’ve never had a business before, or you’ve worked in a larger company, finding your way through procurement and payment processes in the UAE or GCC region can be daunting. There are two problems in the payment of invoices in this region – organisations that have complicated or antiquated systems and processes and entrepreneurs who don’t fully understand just how many steps you need to follow to get paid!

Until companies and organisations update their procurement and payment processes in this region, SMEs need to tighten up how they work with their customers and clients. Here are our top five tips to help you get paid for your work:

1. Don’t do any work without a contract

It sounds simple, but we hear from many entrepreneurs that they’ve completed work, or provided products, without a contract. Contracts are so important, and they allow you to set your payment terms and jurisdiction, and protects you if something goes wrong. We often suggest using DIFC or ADGM as a jurisdiction, so that if things do go wrong, companies can easily file a case with the small claims tribunal in the DIFC or ADGM courts. 

2. Understand the payment process

Because the procurement and payment processes can be so complicated in the UAE, it’s important to find out what process you need to follow for each and every organisation you deal with to get your invoices paid on time. For example, some organisations might need a proposal, purchase order (PO), registration on a procurement system, are there any other documents or signatures required to ensure work is completed or the product is received? We also suggest to find out who the contacts are in the finance department should you need to follow-up on payment. 

3. Negotiate

As a small business you do have scope to negotiate with your client or customer. Don't be afraid to do so. One of the areas that companies will most negotiate on is payment terms. It is quite common that larger companies can try to push payment to 90 or even 120 days! However, there is often scope to go back to them and ask for payment in a shorter time span, or even request for full or partial payment in advance.

Tip: start with payment in advance, and if this isn't possible, at least try to get invoice payment within 30 days.

4. Invoice promptly and correctly

One reason why payments get delayed is that invoices aren’t created correctly. SMEs need to get better at invoicing promptly with the correct information on the invoice. Typical items include: itemising the service or product provided, date of delivery, purchase order, correct company information, including TRN number if required, and the correct bank account details.

5. Follow-up and follow through

Business owners also need to know their numbers, and when their invoices are due. This is where a finance and accounting system such as Xero, Quickbooks or Zoho can be hugely beneficial, it tracks it for your business – don’t rely on Word or Excel. If a customer doesn’t pay within the standard terms, follow-up and find out when the invoice will get paid. If after 30-45 days the invoice is still not paid, and the client or customer doesn’t seem willing to pay, this is when you can go to the small claims tribunal in the DIFC or ADGM courts.


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