Your Next Best Move For When A Client Doesn’t Pay [Flow Chart]

Dealing with nonpayment or late payment

We usually focus on what happens (or should happen) before a contract is signed but with this post, we’re shaking things up.

We’re going to talk about a common situation that happens AFTER a contract gets signed.

Specifically, we’re going to talk about what happens when a client or customer refuses to pay after a contract has been signed and the services have been delivered. This post is mainly for service-providers, including small businesses, consultants, freelancers, and other contractors.

Classic situation: You sign a contract with the client. You provide your services. You send invoices. Then … nothing.

Your mind starts going around in circles trying to figure out what to do next. You’ve emailed your customer or client a few times. You even left them a few voicemails. Yet, no payment.

Do you hire a lawyer? Should you take this to small claims court?

You’ve heard about collection agencies; can you have them hound down your client? All of the sudden you’re feeling the stress build up on top of an already stressful situation.

For this exact reason, we got together with our friends over at Freelance Collections to help you put your mind at ease and figure out your next best move. Below is an easy-to-follow flow chart diagram so you can figure out which step makes the most sense for this particular situation.

No need to do guesswork, just follow the lines:

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On a final note, late payments and non-payments are very common issues that require a holistic approach to protect yourself and your business.

Getting a client to pay for an invoice starts at the negotiating stage before you sign a contract. Adding simple protective mechanisms in your contract (such as late fees or having the client pay for any collection agency or lawyer fees if you have to use them), can save you time, money and stress.

So make sure you always start a new project or deal with a solid contract with the right protections in it. It will determine what options will be open to you later if your client refuses to pay.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational and educational purposes only, it is not legal advice.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Lawgood, its founders, or the author.  If you need legal advice, you should hire a lawyer. 


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Gina Pak

Gina is a co-founder and COO of Lawgood. She is an experienced business lawyer who loves to teach and empower entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to their business contracts. She graduated from Columbia Law School. You can find Gina on LinkedIn and Instagram.


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