Whether you are a small business owner, freelancer, self-employed or a startup, you already know that invoicing is very important when it comes to getting paid. It may sometimes not be something you are looking forward to, and you might end up dreading the task. Our clients take the invoices quite seriously. You might just be communicating some message silently without even knowing, and your client will be quick to pick it. In this article you get to know why your invoicing habits are so important.
Why are invoicing habits so important?
Picture this, you just got yourself a new client and seemed to be getting along quite well. Some projects you have already worked on together and they have turned out successful, and the future looks bright for your business partnership. The blow comes in when you will be sending an invoice to your client. The process is stressing, time-consuming and but all the same very crucial. Besides, if you want the payment, you would have to invoice your client. At times, we go ahead and ask for the payment and the clients suddenly start getting stubborn. Now you are left stuck there with your small business not knowing what to do. This happens mostly when dealing with a new client who isn not familiar with your invoicing habits. The experience can be quite nagging.
What invoicing habits are recommended for Small Business Owners?
Customize every client’s invoice
Most clients do not stand generic messages. Generic messages are easy to spot simply because they are not as personal as it is expected. Put yourself in the client’s shoe and try to imagine how they feel when they receive that cold invoice with little to no details. You are required to send customized invoices that include the client’s name and the required payment information like Employer Identification Number, Purchase Order, and a service breakdown. With this invoicing habit you achieve to make your clients feel very important since you have appreciated them with their specifics.
You could spice the invoice and add a little personalization like an appreciation note or maybe suggest to them any relevant business ideas or links that they might find useful. If, for instance, they said they are interested in online marketing, you could recommend to them the best online marketing sites.
Including all the relevant information
Your invoice should contain your name, address, tax ID, contact number, invoice number, service breakdown on what you offered, due date and a total amount. Such information does not leave room for any concerns regarding the details of the invoice. If in case any inquiries arise, the client can easily contact you with the contact number you provided in your invoice.
Keeping your invoice simple
Despite wanting to appear as professional as possible, remember that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Do not complicate the invoice much further than it already is. Use simple language always. For instance, let’s assume your client isn’t familiar with some of the dating business vocabulary such as net 30, why don’t you go ahead and say thirty days. This is simple, straightforward and even better as the client would not end up asking you to clarify the information on your invoice.
On the other hand, your client would appear less educated having not known that term; this can be bad for business. Quick tip, you could ask your client some of their billing options, then go ahead and use it to invoice them to ensure that both of you are on the same page. Simplicity is a form of respect.
Have your policies and stick to them
Being consistent with your policies is good for business. Let’s take, for instance, the last invoice you sent your client requires him or her to make payment in 30 days, and then you send another one that says the payments to be made in 10 days. This might inconvenience the client, and they end up feeling rushed or confused. Once again, remember consistency is an essential virtue. Having fluctuating dates or maybe tax on one invoice and not on the other is terrible for small business owners. If you have to change, then follow protocol and inform them before you make a move. This portrays you as a professional and reliable small business owner.
Ask for a down payment
Asking for a down payment, whether half or two-thirds of the amount is a common practice with most business owners. It is a first and clear indication of commitment, reliability, and trustworthiness. These are elements that your clients pick quite quickly. Once you ask for a down payment, that’s a clear indication of professionalism, a business owner who is serious with his or her job and is a good business operator. Besides, the project that you’ll be working on requires expenses, and you do not want to be stiffed monetarily mid-project and end up being desperate for money. Indebtedness will gear you towards productivity regarding time and quality of work agreed. Down payments are securities for both you and your client.
Ideally, business undertakings require written agreements. The days of “take my word for it” are gone. Not having agreements is a clear message to the client of untrustworthy and easily manipulated. And this is not the invoicing habit you want to show. A ten-page contract sounds like a good start.
Without an invoice, you don’t get paid and to make matters worse, this lowers your expectations and even denies your chance to expand your business by creating strong bonds between you and your clients. It is for this reason that it is critical for you to ensure that your invoicing habits are top notch. You do not want to miss out of the advantages that come along, do you? There are also invoicing apps out there to help you out.
How did your client respond to the first invoice you sent? Share your experience with us.