Effective and efficient invoicing procedures are a key component of any successful startup. Even when the rest of your business is running like clockwork, it is frequently the case that small businesses forget to pay as much attention to invoicing as to drawing up proposals, ideas boards, or plans for future expansion. Yet the way you invoice affects how efficiently you get paid and your income is the fuel for the whole enterprise. Here are a few suggestions on how to get your invoices to work for you.
There’s no need to beat about the bush when it comes to telling your clients how and when you want to be paid. If you are clear — both verbally and on paper — before anyone signs on the dotted line then you have already increased your chances of getting your money on time.
Assess Terms Of Payment
Research shows that invoices are almost always paid two weeks late. This means that if your aim is to receive payment within a month of sending an invoice, you should state in the terms of the invoice that you would like to be paid within 14 days. This kind of technical fine tuning will help to encourage debtors to process payment more quickly. For more information, make sure to read Xero’s guide for small business invoicing.
Don’t Mince Your Words
There’s no need to overcomplicate things when it comes to writing an invoice. Keep it simple. Use plain language to effectively communicate your demands in terms that everyone will understand. Additionally, if you’re in the design business, don’t neglect the aesthetics of your invoice. Including a brand logo and keeping the format slick helps to maintain a look of dedicated professionalism.
As soon as the job is finished, send the invoice. If you are slow on the uptake, your debtors will be too. Sending an invoice right after your clients receive your work also ensures that your work in fresh in their minds. If payments become overdue, send weekly reminders, monthly statements, or shoot your client an email or call.
Keep Financial Records
Be sure to keep meticulous records of what is owed and what has already been paid for each project or client and each invoice sent. If your books are in order and problems arise they can be pinpointed and addressed quickly. It also means that, if you are working to a budget and things don’t seem to be on track, you can keep clients informed of developments regarding their initial projections for the job and no-one has to be faced with an unpleasant surprise when the invoice is drawn up at the end.
Invoice the Right Person
Particularly when working with large organizations, it pays — quite literally — to enquire as to whom your invoice should be addressed. If you get the right person and your invoice can be sent to them directly, your chances of being paid on time are greatly increased.
Just as you’d never be complacent about keeping up with the latest technology or new developments in your field, don’t neglect to think about your invoicing process. There are new tools coming out all the time to help small businesses keep everything in order. Taking the time to reassess how you invoice will help you to manage payments more efficiently in future.
Author Bio: Luke Clum is a Seattle based designer and web developer who loves coffee and climbing in the mountains. You can find him on Twitter @lukeclum