When you are self-employed it is a fact of life that you are going to need to create and send invoices at some point. Your invoicing habits and the actual invoice itself can say a lot about you and your business so it’s important to get the basics right.
An invoice is normally sent after work has been completed and may be the last communication you have with the client. Word of mouth referrals and repeat business are the bread and butter for the self-employed so it’s important to make your last impression a good one.
Here are 7 top tips for invoicing best practice to make your invoice stand out and give the right impression to your clients:
Use a system for your invoices
It’s time to throw out your paper invoice pad or Microsoft word templates and move to an online system to manage your invoicing. Creating and sending invoices is time consuming enough without the additional burden of dealing without and organised system. Using a system will make the process more convenient for them and give them the right impression of your business.
Solo & Smart provides an online/mobile invoicing tool for the self-employed. It is free to use and will streamline the process, show your professionalism and help you stay organised and in control. It is available on the Apple and Android App Stores.
Have a clean and simple design
Nobody in business likes going through your emails paying expenses and you want to make it as quick and easy for your client to get your invoice paid. So, don’t overcrowd your invoice with unnecessary or irrelevant information. Give your client all the important facts they need to know to make a payment and show what work you’re invoicing for. Add in your logo and make your contact details clear so you can create brand awareness and ease of use.
Have a numbering system for your invoices
When communicating with clients you need to be very clear and you will need to be able to refer to a specific invoice to do that. It is common practice now to include a unique identifier or invoice number on the document and if you are using a system this will normally be done for you. Make sure the number system is traceable for you and makes sense to your business.
Have you ever got an invoice or expense and even after reading it you have no idea what you are being charged for? People are time poor and we want to make sure it is as easy as possible for them to see what the invoice is for and why they need to pay it. The simplest way to explain the work is to be specific about what you are invoicing for. Try to avoid general statements or one all-inclusive comment, the more detailed list you can provide the better understanding your client will have of the work.
Provide easy payment options
Make sure your bank details are clear and easy to find on the invoice. There is nothing worse than trying to pay an invoice and having to call the supplier just to work out how to pay them. Again if you are using an online system chances are they will put your details on the page for you but always check that the details are correct. If you want your clients to make any particular references when they make a payment this is the best place to ask.
Be prompt to send your invoice
The quicker you send your invoice to the client the better. Be sure to invoice as soon as you complete each milestone of the project and don’t wait to bundle invoices together. If the work has been completed then you deserve to be paid. Sending your invoice immediately allows it to be brought to your client’s attention before they move on and shows your professionalism. The later you leave it the less likely you will get paid on time or at all.
Get the details right
Make sure you have the details of the client correct from the get go, this includes company details, who you are addressing the invoice to and who you are delivering the invoice to. It can take a lot of time and extra work for both you and your client if you make these simple mistakes. Get the spelling right and make sure the invoice details are correct also.
These 7 tips for invoicing best practice will allow you to give the right impression and get paid on time. Sometimes it’s the little things that count and being strategic about your invoicing might just prove the difference.