So, the first job's in the bag (pretty much), but how's the best way to begin?
The events of the past few weeks involved a close examination of your options. A one-way ticket to Dignitas in Switzerland had its attractions at one stage, but the lack of adequate life cover soon put paid to that idea. With the arrival of the first contract, all that is in the past now, and the main item on the menu is to complete the work to the satisfaction of the client and get some money flowing into the bank account.
With cash flow crucial, the client's agreement to you billing monthly and payment within seven days should assist. You were understandably anxious to be given the go-ahead without leaving the client with any other decisions to make. It had occurred to you to try to secure a credit rating, but you quickly put this out of your mind. This contract is the only game in town for you at present and you are not likely to turn it down due to a poor credit rating, or risk losing the commission by demanding money up front.
With cash flow crucial, the client's agreement to you billing monthly and payment within seven days should assist
Credit rating, however, is a matter that will require attention as the business begins to grow. In an idle moment, you enquired about bad debt insurance, but it seemed to involve more trouble and cost than it was worth. Securing bad debt insurance in respect of clients with a first-class credit rating doesn't seem good value for money, and there is little take-up by insurers if clients have a poor credit rating.
The terms and conditions on which you prefer to work, however, are a different matter. The commission to complete a final account in three months, to fit in with the employer's year end, suggests difficulties if the work is completed late. There may be tax implications, and a failure to complete on time could result in the employer paying more tax than would be the case if the final account had been completed by the due date. This could leave you vulnerable to having a claim lodged against you. The terms and conditions you had produced included a restriction of liability clause limiting your exposure, which together with the professional indemnity policy helps you to sleep well at night.
You also need to produce a programme of work to show, if ever called upon to do so, that you have approached the task in a professional manner
You need the client to agree to your terms and conditions, which are set out on the back of an order form you had produced. It seems appropriate to confirm with your client the instruction to undertake the work and the agreed fee rate. This could be accomplished by using the order form, which should be sent to the employer with a request for it to be signed and returned. You may wish to add, in the accompanying letter, that you need to have the order signed and returned to enable you to start work on the commission. The job is in the bag and at this stage it is unlikely that the client will become too picky over the terms and conditions.
When you left the meeting with the client, you took with you most of the information necessary to complete the commission. However, the client undertook to send you the remainder of the information in due course. A letter from you confirming the information required and the last date for receipt to enable you to complete on time is advisable. You also need to produce a programme of work to show, if ever called upon to do so, that you have approached the task in a professional manner.