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Going Into Business? You’ll Need To Write Invoices


Robby

It sounds basic. If you want to go into business you will need customers to pay you. That means you’ll need to learn to produce invoices. So why is this such a pain for so many people?

Invoice
© Flickr User Steve Jurvetson

There are a ton of reasons why writing invoices is not as easy as it sounds. If you’re starting out, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind.

An Invoice Is Really a Bill

Don’t be scared by the word “invoice.” It’s just a word that describes a piece of paper (or a virtual piece of paper) that says what another company or individual owes you. You get invoices in the mail or your email inbox all the time. And hopefully, you respond by paying them!

The important part about an invoice is that it provides sufficient detail about whatever work was done or whatever products were purchased. Also, an invoice should include terms of payment. That is: what is due, and when.

That’s it! An invoice is just a bill.

Don’t Feel Weird About Billing People

When you go into business for yourself, it can seem a little strange to ask people for money. You never had to do that when you were an employee. You just magically got money deposited in your account every couple of weeks!

Worse, most people who go into business are doing stuff they like to do. That makes it seem awfully strange to be asking for money.

But it’s not weird, it’s normal! You deserve to be paid. So invoice as soon as it makes sense to do so.

Understanding Terms and Credit

Invoices have “terms.” That usually just means how long they have to pay the bill. A “Net 15” term means the client has fifteen calendar days to pay until they are late. “Net 30” is 30 days, and so on. Some invoices are “due upon receipt” which means pay up!

If you don’t have previously discussed arrangements for late fees, it’s hard to charge a late fee unless it’s written on the invoice. And some companies that are trying to get bills paid faster may offer a discount if you pay soon. A common one is “1 in 10” which means you get a 1% discount if you pay in 10 days.

Lastly: companies will sometimes overpay an invoice. Why? Because they bought products or service that they didn’t actually use or need. So an invoice may reflect a credit.

Use an Invoicing System

Whatever mechanism you use to write invoices, be consistent. One of my favorite breakfast spots in the greater Indianapolis area, Sunrise Cafe, has a fantastic system. Servers have waiter pads that they carry with them. These are simply sheets of paper with a picture of a tables pre-printed on it. They can write each order next to the seat on the table, which helps ensure people get the right food.

Of course, you’ll probably want to use an electronic system. There are invoice templates you can download for your favorite spreadsheet or word processing program. But one of the best approaches is an online invoicing tool, like those offered by Freshbooks. You can write invoices from anywhere you have an internet connection, and all of the data is saved. Plus most systems allow for customers to pay online.

So get to it: start invoicing!

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About the Blogger: Robby Slaughter is a productivity speaker and expert. He is a principal with a AccelaWork, an Indianapolis consulting firm.

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Tue, July 14 2015 » Uncategorized

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