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WWYD? We are a family – But I still need my money!


What would we do without our families? They support us, encourage us, and give a listening ear when things get tough. But what about when it comes to conducting business? Do you avoid mixing business and family completely? Or is money the motive, so you don’t mind blending the two?  Are your family members the type to support you, no strings attached? Or do they want a “blood is thicker than water” discount? No matter which side of the spectrum your family falls on, support is support and it’s always appreciated.


However, what about when things sticky? A family member owes you money for your services/product but still hasn’t paid? Flexing with a new car, but still owes you from months ago? What do you do? Below are some scenarios for when mixing family and business goes bad and tips on how you should handle it.


The “I’ll Pay You Next Week” Cousin
This is the family member who needs the service/product now, but won’t be able to pay you until next week. But next week may turn into next month or maybe even next year. What do you do?
This has happened to me time and time again! My suggestion: consistency is key! You’ve done the work so you need your money. If this person said they would pay you in a week, contact them in a week. If they need more time, ask for a specific day/time and method of payment (Chase QuickPay, Cash App, PayPal, etc.) Now, this may sound a little extra, going into so many details with your cousin because you guys are family! But one thing I learned is, no one cares about your money more than you! If someone owes you money from six months ago and they haven’t mentioned it or even made an effort to pay you back, that’s YOUR fault. I don’t care if it’s $5.00. If you act like getting your $5.00 back isn’t a necessity, you won’t be getting it back. Simple. Again, no one cares about your money more than you. So stay consistent and get your coins sooner rather than later!

The “Disappearing Act” Cousin

This is the person who asked for work to be done, seemed really serious about it, but never brought it up again.
They ask you for a product or service, give you a bunch of details on what they want, time frame, budget, etc. You haven’t received any money yet but begin working because this is your cousin. They wouldn’t send you off, right? You reach out for a follow-up, send them a text, maybe even call, and never hear from them again. What do you do?
I’ve had to learn this the hard way, but with anyone, family or not, get your money first! Before you stitch a shirt, make a sketch, or even put on a thinking cap, get a down payment. If someone gives you money before you’ve even started then you know they’re serious. I don’t know anyone just throwing cash out and if you do, point me in their direction! Now if you receive a down payment and still don’t hear back. That’s on them! Hopefully, you two can continue your business relationship but even if you don’t, you’ve gotten what you deserve.

The “Family Discount” Cousin
Now, this is my favorite cousin! This is the “we were in diapers together so let me pay close to nothing for your services” cousin. This cousin thinks you’re brilliant and has complete confidence in your work, but because we come from the same family tree, they want something for cheap. A little discount isn’t bad, but wanting a price that barely compensates me or my brain power is where the problem occurs. Frustrating yes, but a learning experience for sure. With this cousin, it’s best to be as transparent as possible. Be very detailed when listing your services, tell them all the things you do. Make it clear, that you’re doing a lot for them so little to no money isn’t going to cut it! If they’re still trying to get a cheaper price, you may have to let them know in a more direct way. But don’t do too much! Because Christmas and Thanksgiving are right around the corner and you don’t want to get the cold shoulder at the dinner table. But let them know, you need your money and that this is a business! You wouldn’t call Sprint asking for a loyal member discount, would you? And even if you did have the courage to ask, they’d say “no” I’m sure. So again, get the money you deserve and don’t feel like you have to give family discounts if you don’t want to.


In conclusion, we love our families! Would do any and everything for them! But again, this is a business. So be professional, direct, and continue to be that loving cousin who gets work done, but gets paid for it too.


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Jalyssa is a 24-year-old digital designer. She is an Executive Marketing Assistant in Chicago and does freelance design work as well. Connect with her on LinkedIn (Jalyssa Woodall) or visit her site here: jtwoodall.com
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