Some lessons are harder to learn than others. Getting burned on a hot stove takes one lesson. Getting burned by customers who are slow to pay, or don’t pay, can take a few more lessons. From here on out, regardless of the level of friendship shared with the customer, I WILL GET AT LEAST HALF DOWN BEFORE I START.
What tends to happen is we have a friendly chat about what the customer wants, and I eagerly get started. We may have talked about pricing, but no money actually changes hands. Then I spend a lot of time working on a project only to wait, and wait, and wait for the money. It makes me feel resentful. That will no longer be the case. There is enough of my work out there to prove what I can do. From now on, if someone wants a project started, they will put actual money in my hand before I do anything.