For small businesses, sole traders and freelancers, invoicing is a necessary evil: it’s never fun, but without it, you won’t get paid. Yet with a few simple techniques, you can create better invoices that will make your business look more impressive, keep you more organised and make sure you get paid faster. Here’s how:
Make it clear
It might sound daft, but you need to clearly mark your invoice as an invoice. Customers need to know what they’re receiving so your request for payment doesn’t get lost in a pile of post or an email inbox.
Make sure all information is easy to understand
Customers need their invoices to be clear. So, write a concise description of what you’re charging for, detailing the quantity and price of each good or service provided.
Other key information you should include:
• The name, address and contact details of you or your company
• The name, address and contact details of your customer
• If you’re operating as a limited company, you should also include your registered office address and company registration number
• Dates, including the date you provided the goods or service, and the date the invoice was created
• A unique identification number. This helps you keep a proper record of all invoices, and should be some sort of sequence that you can order easily – simple numbers are easiest.
Don’t forget payment terms and details
You should always include the total amount for the invoice, as well as the cost of individual items. This is a good point to note any agreed-upon discounts too. If applicable, include VAT as well.
Somewhere on your invoice, you should also set out clearly the terms of payment – i.e. when you expect the invoice to be paid. Remember as well to include your bank details, assuming you want the customer to pay you directly into your bank account.
Make it look good
A shabby-looking invoice can make you or your business seem unprofessional, so include your business’s logo or colours where possible and use attractive, professional fonts that are easy to read.
If you’re not confident about creating your own layout, many word processors such as Google Docs or Microsoft Word offer ready-made templates for invoices.
Leave it to Penny
Of course, you can use Penny for every stage of invoice creation and management. What's more, you can choose the option of getting full invoice payment within 24 hours, making it much easier to manage the cash flow to your business.