A recent survey conducted by Interac found that 71 per cent of Canadian entrepreneurs and small business owners are spending valuable time following up on late payments. To help support small business, this series addresses that concerning stat head on, complete with tips on how to get paid faster.
Today, we’re highlighting our chat with Jeannie Phan, a Toronto-based illustrator who lets her creativity flow for companies across Canada and the U.S. She told us about pursuing her passion, her biggest budgeting secret, the best online payment methods for small business, and her favourite way to get paid.
How did you decide to become a small business owner and illustrator?
I was prepared to go into the sciences, but I decided I didn’t want to be in a lab all day. I’d always drawn when I was a kid, so at the last second, I applied to do a Bachelor of Design at an arts-focused university. That’s where I did a full design program with a major in illustration. After that, I worked in a retail shop before going straight into freelancing full-time. Mostly I do digital illustrations for editorial projects and social media, but I’ve recently started doing more branding work as well.
How was the transition into freelancing?
It was freaky, for sure, but I knew people who were doing it full-time. If I had questions, I would just ask around. Adjusting to a new lifestyle—and a small business and freelance income—was crucial, but it’s been relatively smooth.
Freelancing has given me a new level of control, which is the beauty of owning your own business. It gives me the opportunity to do small, fast projects for many different clients, which I love. I do everything myself—including managing small business payments. I don’t have an intern or anyone else, so I try to keep my business very manageable for one person using Interac for small business. I outsource as little as possible, and I’ll only take on as much work as I can handle.
What struggles do you face as a freelancer?
Financial flow is usually the biggest one. When I take charge of my finances and make a budget, I don’t count the past three months as income. I never want to spend money that might be late or might never come at all, so I adjust for that. Usually, I end up budgeting for much less than I actually make.
There’s always a little bit of risk when it comes to getting paid. All the clients I’ve worked with are really awesome, so things have been good when I request money. But there are still delays—the terms are all over the place with editorial work. Sometimes I get paid three days after I send the files; sometimes it’s three days after publication, so I get paid maybe 60 days after finishing a job. And sometimes it can be even longer.
How are you typically paid?
American clients usually mail me a cheque. If I work with a company regularly, they’ll do a wire transfer because I’m in their system. Canadian clients usually pay by direct deposit, but small businesses tend to send money with Interac e-Transfer, which is safe, fast and easy—and helps streamline my payments.
Why do you prefer Interac e-Transfer and Interac e-Transfer Request Money?
It’s simple and it’s instant. International cheques present their own problems, but, even with Canadian cheques, I still have to go to the bank. Even depositing a cheque over mobile can be a hassle. Interac e-Transfer and Request Money is the complete opposite—it’s super easy, especially in terms of support for small business.
Specifically, with Interac e-Transfer Request Money, I can control when the payments come more easily, and being able to add the invoice number to the request allows me to keep a better record of my invoices and small business payments. It’s easier than when I get random deposits without any sort of message or invoice number, and I have to match up what the payment was for.
The security features of Interac e-Transfer also offer me so much peace of mind when it comes to digital security. You have to give someone your banking information to get direct deposit, and that’s scary, especially these days when everything’s online. No one sees my banking information when I use Interac e-Transfer or Request Money, so it really puts me at ease.