If there is one thing I hear from almost all freelancers I work with, it is that they feel like they’re doing SO MUCH work, but the bank balance doesn’t reflect it. This is typically because of the way we work.
Client calls on March 10th, asks for profile.
Client calls on March 21st, asks for rates.
You send your proposal for say, 50,000 Rs., on March 22nd. >Client goes AWOL until May 2nd.
Some negotiations and ‘vendor empanelment’ later, you start project on May 13th agreeing to Rs. 40,000 as remuneration.
You send the first draft on May 20th.
Client gives feedback on June 10th.
You rework and submit on June 12th.
Client approves, after much prodding, on June 25th.
You raise invoice on June 25th.
Payment comes by August 10th.
A newbie freelancer would be thinking about the Rs. 40,000 as earnings since at least May 13th. Four months would have passed while you’re thinking of it as a big-ish project for 40k. Imagine having multiple projects dragging on like this with no track of time!
If that runs a chill down your spine, here’s a simple trick to fix it. Get yourself a spreadsheet where you know what work you’ve done, what you’ve billed, and what you’ve been paid each month.
- Once every week, update the sheet — Friday afternoons or Monday mornings are the best time for this.
- Once every month, during your monthly review, go through each transaction and evaluate it. Was the remuneration worth it? Is this expense necessary? That kinda thing.
- Once every quarter, balance your cash flow with your profits. You might have to pay advance taxes soon.
- At the end of the year, sit down with your CA and reinvest your profits into the business.
Knowing how much money you actually have at hand is fundamental to success as a freelancer.
Here is the format I use to track emdash’s cashflow. It’s a spreadsheet in Excel, you can upload to Google Drive and use it there as well. Instructions are on the first page. All the best!