Owning a business is complicated, but that doesn’t mean every aspect of it needs to be. Setting up a professional website and all of the other branding necessities are easier than ever before, and functions like email, analytics, and record keeping can be synced to work together seamlessly.
As one of the most important parts of getting paid for your work shouldn’t handling AR and sales invoicing should be just as fast and seamless?
You may think that professional invoicing isn’t necessary for an SMB. After all, your customers know you and business is conducted on a handshake. Perhaps you feel that it’s no big deal because you’re an eCommerce shop and it won’t affect things like content creation and SEO. That line of thinking is a mistake.
Let’s find out why.
**Thanks to Steve Toth for sharing some of these great tips on his blog SEO Notebook. Check out Steve’s badass newsletter for more info on SEO and marketing.**
Why You Need Professional Invoicing
Having a well-designed, professional invoicing system makes any size or type of business look more polished and professional. They will also simplify your accounting process and make it more likely that you’ll get paid on time.
There are hundreds of templates you could download that work with Microsoft Word or Excel, and free versions are available with some accounting programs and payment platforms like PayPal or Stripe.
The problem with those is that they often contain glitches and bugs or aren’t supported by your accounting system. When it comes to customization, your options are limited. Many lack the kind of automation you need to mesh with your finance and accounting apps. Customer support and upgrades are hard to come by, if they’re available at all.
Why not invest in a professional digital invoicing system that eliminates all of those problems and elevates your brand? Everything’s transitioning into the online sphere so investing in digital invoicing system, or webinar software that could help you promote your business is never a mistake.
How to Construct an Awesome Invoice in Three Easy Steps
You don’t have to be a design professional to great great looking digital invoices that are easy for customers to read and understand. All you need is a good template to use as the foundation for your invoice and knowledge of the critical elements needed. Digital Invoice Template is a great example of an easy-to-use software that provides different invoicing solutions for billing your clients fast and efficiently.
Most good digital invoicing platforms include templates that will help you with layout. You’ll also have an option to create a blank invoice and save it as a template. That makes it easier to create a truly custom invoice that’s unique to your business type and brand.
There are many types of invoices, but not all of them would apply to your industry of payment model. Some of the most common include:
- Standard invoices used by most businesses
- Commercial invoices, most often used for import/export businesses
- Automated invoices, most commonly used for recurring shipments or subscriptions
- Pro forma invoices, which are similar to appraisals or estimates
- Progress invoices, used in construction and other industries where work is performed and paid in phases
- Credit invoices used to give discounts or refunds
- Debit invoices, which are used when extra charges or alterations apply
- Mixed invoices, which could have any combination of the above
- Prepay invoices that are used to record deposits or retainers
So, what goes into an invoice?
If you haven’t already created a company logo and letterhead, that would be the first decision to make. Those who’ve moved that far with their branding should use the same logo and typography as they’ve used on their website, business cards, and other business correspondence. Next, you’re going to want to select a color scheme that’s consistent with your brand.
Once those choices are settled, you’ll need to find a layout that;s simple yet contains all of the necessary form fields and information for your business name, address, and contact options. The form should also contain fields for the customer, customer number, address, and contact info. Include the actual word “Invoice” in large print at the top of the form.
The third step is to create fields for payments, and this is where the main customization will become a factor. Your due date and amounts should be the most prominent portion of your form. In general, you’ll need to include:
- Invoice number
- Invoice date
- Due date
Depending on your type of business, you may also need to include fields for shipping terms, itemization or project details, preferred currency, sales tax, and late fees, if applicable.
Last, but not least, you want to add a personal touch that tells the customer how much you value them and their business. Thank the customer in plain language and ask for feedback. Not only does this make the customer feel valued, it will help you gain insight into your customer service level, and you could even get some good text for customer testimonials for your website.
You could choose to go the generic route when billing customers and vendors. However, using the above suggestions and high-quality invoicing templates will allow you to create professional-looking invoices that get results and advance your brand.