Fast track to perfect invoicing for SMB owners

Get paid faster by using effective invoicing-generating software and offering multiple payment options.

By Mark Thomasson

As the number of global online users continues to grow, we have more and more software solutions at our disposal – the basic law of supply and demand. One of the niches that is well-covered with a multitude of software solutions is invoicing. From cloud-based, scalable options to downloadable programs and mobile apps, business owners can rely on a wide range of tools. However, it’s essential for every entrepreneur to learn the basic elements of successful invoicing, so they don’t waste time or money on trivial solutions. Therefore, for this article we’ve selected the most important features that a well-written invoice needs to have.

What details need to be included?

Every business owner needs a proper invoice template. Although you might adapt a thing or two from time to time, that pattern should be used for every invoice issued by your business. While each invoicing software solution has its own special features, it’s crucial for every businessperson to focus on their own business needs. In line with that, your invoice template should contain the key details for your particular enterprise. When creating that form, make sure you include the following invoicing details:

-The name of the product or service

-Your business name

-Your company’s phone number

-Your location on the map or Google Street View (to prove you really exist)

-Physical and e-mail address; Skype or Viber contact

-The number of the invoice (create your own invoice numbering system)

-The total amount to be paid

-Due date

-Payment options you accept

-Fees for late payments

When you send an invoice with all these details, your client will be able to pay you for your work immediately when they receive it. Moreover, if you don’t just use the default template offered by your software, you’ll also add a personal touch to your invoice, which is a great way to show devotion to your business.

Adding information about the client

In addition to the details about your business, a skillfully crafted invoice needs to contain some basic information about your client and their business, as well. The information such as their business name, the physical location and the dates of any previous late payments should be highlighted in every invoice. This is important in order to protect yourself in case of legal dispute. The more details you include about the other party in your official documents, the more evidence you’ll have in court if that party fails to meet your pre-agreed terms and conditions.

Following the estimate details

Today businesspeople collaborate with their fellows from different parts of the world. Most of them use English as the means of communication, but not all entrepreneurs are able to communicate fluently in English. Consequently, even a slight misunderstanding can cause a major disagreement, leading to other problems.

To avoid such issues, you should make a clear deal with every client at the beginning of your collaboration. By agreeing on the milestones and writing an estimate, you’ll protect your interests and ensure the timely completion of the project before you start working on it.

Also, your invoice should be based on the estimate that’s been verified by both you and your client. Such an approach to your business agreements will ensure a smooth and long-term collaboration.

Providing exact data on payment options

The inclusion of payment options in your invoice isn’t enough. What you need to add are exact details on every payment option you accept. For instance, businesses that nurture global business relationships will have to offer several payment options. Since it’s not practical to be too different from the rest of your pack, offering some middle-of-the-road payment options, such as PayPal and Stripe is a smart choice.

Additionally, these options can be easily integrated with invoice-generating software features, which will improve the efficiency of the entire invoicing process and save some of your precious time.

Finally, it’s clever for business owners to add credit cards to their payment crew. They’re widespread options and, more importantly, they can also be smoothly connected with PayPal, Stripe and other payment gateways.

Sending invoices as attachments

When you’ve finished filling out your invoice, the most logical thing to do is to convert it to a PDF-file and send it as an attachment. All the commonly used invoicing software tools have the option to just export the invoice to PDF-format and send it directly by email. Since this format is closed and protected, there’s no risk of data loss or deletion.

As opposed to that, Word and other similar formats should be avoided. If you write your invoice in the body of an email message, you’ll be considered a business amateur, which will damage your reputation. So, bear in mind that every invoice should be a separate, well organized and clearly named document.

Making a billing plan

The greatest advantage of software-enhanced invoicing is that it enables you to introduce automation to your invoicing system. For instance, if you don’t write down the billing date you’ve agreed with your client and bill them on a different date, it could cause an unnecessary inconvenience. This is where a billing plan comes on stage. What you can do is ask your clients when they prefer to be billed for your services. The benefits of such a decision are two-fold. On the one side, you’ll give them a chance to dictate their payment schedule, so that it’s synchronized with their accounts receivable. On the other, you’ll be able to insert individual data about each of your clients into your invoicing system and automate the billing process. Once you’ve made that plan, hold on to it and you’ll enjoy the benefits of a seamless billing process.

Revising your system and asking for feedback

In case you realize that several clients have been late with their payments for a month or so, don’t jump to any negative conclusions, but ask them if they’ve received your invoices in the first place. Even though invoicing software tools are great business aides, they can sometimes mix up data about clients, especially if they aren’t regularly updated.

Apart from that, it’s smart to conduct occasional surveys among your business fellows, just to check if they can properly handle your invoices. You can never tell if they’ll give you an original idea that will improve your invoicing system.

Now that you’ve passed this concise course of invoicing, apply our tips in your invoicing system and see how they’ll work for you. They should yield both financial and organizational benefits for your enterprise, generating more clients and a larger number of new deals. Finally, you can automate a large part of that process and focus on other professional tasks, so as to improve your entire business system through fast and client-friendly invoicing.

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AuthorBio: Mark Thomasson is a biz-dev hero at Invoicebus – a simple invoicing service that gets your invoices paid faster. He passionately blogs on topics that help small biz owners succeed in their business. He is also a lifelong learner who practices mindfulness and enjoys long walks in nature more than anything else.

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