Guide To Small Business Invoicing

2. How to Make an Invoice Your Customers Can’t Ignore

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Business Finance

How to Make an Invoice Your Customers Can’t Ignore

Jul 27, 2020 • 8 min read
Close-up Of A Businesswoman Working on Invoice On Digital Tablet
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      Cash flow issues are one of the most significant dangers to small businesses, often contributing to company closures. As a result, optimizing the invoices you use to collect payment for your products or services is critical to your long-term success.

      While you can’t force your customers to pay you in a more timely manner, you can encourage the habit with the right invoicing tactics. Let’s explore how to make an invoice your customers can’t ignore.

      What to include in an invoice.

      Your invoices should, at minimum, consist of a clean, professional PDF file (Microsoft Office has plenty of simple templates) and provide all the necessary information for your client—and nothing else. Here’s what you should always include in an invoice:

      • Your name and company name
      • Your phone number and email address
      • The client’s name and company name
      • Invoice date & unique invoice number
      • Time period covered by the invoice 
      • Payment due date
      • Itemized list of services/goods completed
      • Payment methods & remittance information
      Invoice Example

      Steps to create an invoice.

      At first, collecting payment from your clients can seem intimidating, but it’s relatively straightforward once you have a system. Here are some high-level steps you can use as a framework to create an effective, professional invoice:

      • Choose an online invoice tool: Invoicing software makes the payment process more convenient for you and your clients. Since free tools like Lendio’s exist, there’s little reason not to use them.
      • Customize an invoice template: Don’t waste time creating your invoices from scratch. Customize one of the many templates available online or one that your software generates for you.
      • Input the transaction information: Every invoice should have a line item for each good or service you’re billing for, explaining the type and number of units.
      • Confirm both parties’ details: Invoices aren’t contracts on their own, but they’re still official documents. Before sending your invoices, confirm the accuracy of your and your client’s information, including names, contact info, and addresses.
      • Make the invoice look professional: Professional-looking invoices encourage clients to respect your brand. They also help eliminate any confusion that might prevent clients from paying.

      Invoicing best practices.

      Here are some invoicing best practices you should follow, including information to provide in each document and tactics for encouraging timely payment.

      Include due dates.

      When a customer knows they need to keep to a timeline, it serves as a motivator. The invoice should clearly communicate payment details and expectations. This is a great place to reiterate any payment terms you established at the beginning of your business arrangement—like deposits, payment due at the time of completion, etc.

      While it’s a better idea to have the payment amount due sooner rather than later, you’ll want to avoid holidays and write out the full due date to ensure there’s no room for error or misunderstandings.

      Your business information like address, phone, and email

      Include late fees.

      While it’s normal to be a little leery of including late fees on your invoice, it’s not necessarily a bad idea. When you include late fees, it can not only help you get paid faster, but also discourage clients/customers from developing bad late-payment habits. Additionally, it can make your business appear more professional and reputable. 

      Many businesses across various industries employ the use of late payments. Making use of them in your invoicing strategy can show you’re a serious business owner who expects customers to keep to their agreements—and possibly even lend your business a bit of street cred. 

      Invoice reminders and late fees

      Use recurring invoices.

      Recurring invoices are a great way to circumvent the pains of late payments. When you set up recurring invoices for repeat business, it eliminates the need to continually send out duplicate invoices and repeat reminders. You’re able to fully automate the invoicing process and take the conscious burden off of both you and your customer. 

      Recurring Invoices

      Be sure to leverage some sort of free bookkeeping software to make automated invoicing even easier. 

      Provide multiple payment options.

      When you build your invoice, it’s a good idea to find a way to include multiple payment options. Whether it’s by cash, bank transfers, or the speediness of credit cards, that diversity could be the difference between consistent on-time payments and needing to send a customer to Collections for unpaid invoices

      Find ways to diversify your payment options to make it easier for your customers to find a solution that best fits their needs and situation.

      Payment methods

      Make your invoices look professional.

      When creating an invoice, you want to ensure it looks professional. A sloppy or poorly designed document can sour an otherwise positive business transaction and potentially delay your payment.

      Here are some qualities of professional-looking invoices you should emulate so customers can scan each document, understand their financial obligations, and fulfill them:

      • Easily readable: Stay away from excessively frilly or diminutive fonts. Ensure all the text is legible and appropriately sized for its relative importance.
      • Uncluttered design: Eliminate unnecessary information from your invoices and place the most notable details in prominent locations. 
      • Effectively branded: Including a company logo can promote brand recognition, but don’t go overboard. Make sure your branding doesn’t become intrusive.

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      About the author
      Lendio Editorial Team

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