As a new business owner, nothing beats the feeling of sending your first invoice. It signifies freedom and the excitement of starting a new venture. This new business you’re starting may even completely change your life.
However one thing that new business owners often overlook is that your administration and invoicing is another facet of your business that needs to be professional, smooth, and polished.
A cleanly designed, professional looking invoice will make your client feel good about your company, and your work, and pay dividends in client trust.
A sloppy invoice, or worse, an incorrect invoice, can generate feelings of skepticism and even suspicion in your client.
Imagine if your phone company sends you an invoice with an accidental extra 0, for 10 times the price. What kind of questions do you suddenly ask yourself:
Why is this invoice wrong? What else is wrong in this invoice? What about the previous invoices? Is this just a mistake? How did such an obvious mistake slip through their accounting team? Who is running the administration in this company? Don’t they have a system to check this? What other bad things might happen in the future?
Not the kind of questions you want your clients asking.
Lets discuss the correct way to invoice your new customers.
You need to:
- Use a good invoicing template, or an invoicing system. This ensures you cover all the basics, and you don’t leave out any important information, such as:
- The word “Invoice”, generally placed in the top right-hand corner.
- Unique invoice number
- Your Company Name
- Your Logo (optional but recommended)
- Your Client’s name
- Your Client’s address
- Your phone number, fax, and email address to allow your client to easily contact you
- Your bank details
- The invoice title – a brief description of the actual services. For example:
- Consulting Fees
- Monthly Subscription
- The actual contents of work, generally arranged like this:
- Type (ie, Equipment)
- Description/Equipment (Digital Clock)
- Cost ($50)
- Units (2)
- Amount ($100)
- Instructions for payment, or information about payment, such as:
- Please wire funds to the following account within 30 days.
- All international and domestic bank transfer fees are the responsibility of the customer.
- Delivery Costs
- Total with Tax, and Delivery Costs
- Bank Account Details
- Bank Name
- Account Name
- Bank Branch Name
- Bank Account Number
- Type of Account
- SWIFT Code (if you’re dealing with any kind of international customers)
- Confirm the invoice recipient. Often, your client will not be paying the invoice themselves. This will be handled by the accounts department. Ask your client contact where you should send your invoice. Don’t forget to ask them if they want to be CC’d.
- Confirm the invoice format. It’s nice to ask them “Just so we can set up your account, would you like to receive invoices by email, by post, or by both?” Some accounts departments are more traditional and prefer a physical letter over a digital PDF, or an email.
- Send your invoices on time. Every time. Ideally you want to send all of your invoices at the same interval, so the 5th of every month, by 5pm. Consistency gives your clients the feeling of stability and trust.
- Double check your invoices. If possible, have someone else check them as well. Avoid e ever having to say the sentence: “Sorry, please delete that last invoice. I forgot to add sales tax” to a paying customer.
Here are a couple of resources to help you along the path to sending good invoices to your customers: