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Running a small business presents unique needs in terms of invoicing. Without a large company standing behind you, it’s especially important to appear professional and experienced. It’s an unfortunate truth that as a small business, you carry a greater burden to appear established to your clientele. Proper invoicing can do much to show your clients that you are the real deal—so make sure you do it right.
Invoice specifics will vary by industry, but there are a few key considerations small businesses across the board should take to ensure things move smoothly. A sample invoice template for small business will include:
From there, you'll want to craft the invoice to fit your particular needs. The type of business you are will determine how you should format your invoices. A sales-oriented business may want to include lines for an itemized list to tally products and quantities. A service-oriented business may want to format the invoice to include a larger box for a detailed description of the work they’ve provided. Your business may be somewhere in between. Just remember: in general, you want to keep your invoicing as clear and detailed as possible.
The ideal time to send an invoice is a subject of some debate. Generally speaking, you have three options : at the start, during, or at the end of the engagement. Depending on industry and clientele, the best option may vary. Typically, service industries will charge after the work has been performed or a project has been completed. Sales-oriented small businesses will charge upfront before items have been shipped to customers.
The average engagement time of your business may be anywhere from one minute to one year or more. Most small businesses find success utilizing a mix of the three invoicing options. The following are just some guidelines.
Invoicing at the start of the engagement makes the most sense for a project that will require a lot of upfront costs. If this is known to the client, it’s understandable to require at least partial payment from the start. Otherwise, you run the risk of breaking their trust.
Concluding the engagement with the invoice is more commonplace, as clients generally like to feel secure in handing over their hard-earned cash. This is a given if your engagement is a simple transaction. However, if the transaction is spread over a length of time, you may want to break up your invoicing process into phases—this option can be a good compromise between you and your customer.
If you want to get paid like the big guys, you have to act like them—at least with your invoicing. These tips come from pros who know how to get paid quickly.
If automating your invoicing process sounds like something you’re interested in, be sure to check out Sage Business Cloud Accounting online invoicing tools and learn how they can streamline your whole operation.
Small businesses face a unique set of obstacles when fine-tuning their invoicing process. Every company and every client is different. Check out these tips to learn how to do it right.