So, you want to be a window cleaner? Great. You bought some professional window cleaning supplies and practiced at your momma’s house. Even better. But how are you going to get paid? Very few people carry cash anymore. And, if they do, they want you to discount the price just for the privilege of getting that cash. So, what do you do?
- Decide whether you want to be a sole proprietor or a L.L.C. You really don’t want to jump right in and be a C-corp or a S-corp. It may seem all cool and important but there are tax issues to consider. Don’t ask me, though. See an accountant. In fact, the best money you can spend right now is to talk to an accountant.
- Once you’ve cleared up who you are, open a checking account for your business. After 20 years in the business, I can assure you that most people pay by personal check. It’s there. It’s convenient. It’s a record of payment. Although you should still give them a receipt, it’s not so much for proof of payment as it is a reminder for them to call you next time.
- Buy liability insurance. Ok – this doesn’t have anything to do with being paid as a window cleaner but I thought I’d throw it in anyway. It makes sure that you get to keep that money should anything go wrong on a job site. And, things do go wrong. Protect yourself in this sue-happy world with top notch liability insurance.
- You choose the payment terms. That bears repeating, YOU choose the payment terms. You can decide that every customer is payment upon completion, which means they pay you before you leave. Or, you can go with a Net 15, which means they have 15 days to pay you. Or, you can get creative and go with 2% 10 Net 30. Translation: they have 30 days to pay you but, if they pay you in the first 10 days, they receive a 2% discount. Pick what works best with your cash flow situation and your window cleaning business.
- What about credit cards? Well, you can sign up directly through the credit card company but, as you are still small potatoes, it might be easier to sign up for a merchant account through your bank. Keep in mind that there are fees associated with accepting credit cards, sometimes as high as 5-15%. Unfortunately, this number is often tied to your credit; the worse it is, the higher the fee. There is also a transaction fee of .25 to .50 cents per transaction.
- So, you have the window cleaning supplies, decided who to be, how and where to be paid, and how to protect that money. Now, it’s time to think outside the box. Think about how you get use the internet to your advantage. Paypal is a great alternative to getting paid as a window cleaner. You can receive money, accept credit and debit cards, send invoices and pay your own business bills with a PayPal account. In fact, you can even download an app to your cell phone and the customer can transfer money directly to your account just by “bumping” phones. Talk about instant gratification. Isn’t technology cool?!
Well, there you have it. The basic things you should know or, at least, consider about getting paid as a window cleaner. It’s a lot of work to run your own business. Take it all in. Take notes. You’ll be fine.