Guide To Small Business Invoicing

3. What You Should Always Include in Every Invoice

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Business Finance

What You Should Always Include in Every Invoice

Mar 30, 2020 • 6 min read
Business owner creating an invoice
Table of Contents

      Invoices are one of the most important financial documents you’ll create for your business. Get it right, and you’ll get the money you’ve earned on time. Get it wrong, and you could be the reason for the bottleneck in your cash flow.

      Invoices are simple. Technically, a Venmo pay request is an invoice—just a straightforward and not-at-all helpful one. Your invoices should include all the information your client needs to identify you, trust you, understand how much is due (and for what services they’re paying for), and pay you. Simple as that.

      8 invoice essentials.

      It doesn’t take much to create a professional, polished invoice. There are a few non-negotiable elements, and then there are a couple of components you can decide to include or omit. We’ll walk you through the essentials to make sure your invoice sends the best impression to your customers every time.

      1. Include the word ‘invoice’

      Now’s not the time to get cutesy or clever. Include the word ‘invoice’ on the document and, preferably, in the name of the saved file if you’re sending it digitally. Not a bill of sale, not a receipt, and not a quote—those aren’t the right terms in this situation. Invoice is a word that spreads across generations, so everyone from your Gen Z to your boomers will understand.

      2. Identify the invoice with a unique number.

      Make sure every invoice you create has a unique name—this identifier could be solely numbers, or you could include letters with the numbers, too. For example, invoice #LE22 or just #057. This identification helps you and the customers easily communicate about a specific invoice. When they have a question about an invoice, they don’t have to describe it as “the invoice you sent the Friday before last” or “the invoice you sent that included the brake pads.”

      3. Enter your company’s information.

      Add your name, the business’s name, the business’s address, email address, phone number, website—anything and everything to make it easy for your customers to identify and contact you. If sending online, include your name in the digital file, too. For example, “AdamsApples_Invoice#031”.

      If you really want to spice things up and add another layer of professionalism, include your business’s logo. It’s a small inclusion, but it can make a big impression.

      4. Add your customer’s information.

      Similar to your included info, add all the relevant details about your customer. Name of the business, name of the contact person, email address, business address, phone number—anything you (or your accountant) might need to find and contact the responsible individual quickly.

      5. Calculate the itemized costs of goods and services.

      Don’t leave anything to the imagination here. Add as much information as you can so the client understands exactly what they’re paying for. Different businesses’ products and services will necessitate different details. Here are some things you might want to consider including when you create your itemized invoice:

      • A detailed description of the work performed
      • How many hours of service were provided and at what rate
      • The number of products purchased
      • The date the job was started and completed
      • Delivery fees, taxes, and other associated expenses

      Depending on your business and industry, you may need to provide more or fewer details. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes—would you be comfortable with the information you provided when you receive a 5-figure invoice, or would you prefer some extra details?

      6. Specify the method of payment.

      The method of payment should have already been agreed upon at some point before you send the invoice. For example, people living in Turkey can’t use PayPal, so asking your Turkish clients to pay you via this platform will likely slow down the invoice process.

      In your invoice, include the agreed-upon method of payment. Add account numbers and everything your client needs to quickly and effortlessly pay you.

      7. Don’t forget the terms.

      Remind your client when the invoice is due and the penalties associated with late payments. Don’t expect your client to dig through your email conversation or their notes to find the terms—include them on every invoice.

      8. Finish it off with a note.

      One last touch to every professional invoice is a brief note. This note could add some further light to the context of the invoice, or it could just be to thank the client for their business. You could also use this section for marketing other aspects of your business or for providing discounts and promotions.

      Invoice like a pro.

      Sending professional invoices is one simple way to establish trust and credibility as a small business owner.  Accelerate your time to payment and wow your clients by sending top-notch invoices—it’s the perfect way to cap off a successful project and keep the relationship headed in the right direction.

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      About the author
      Jesse Sumrak

      Jesse Sumrak is a Social Media Manager for SendGrid, a leading digital communication platform. He's created and managed content for startups, growth-stage companies, and publicly-traded businesses. Jesse has spent almost a decade writing about small business and entrepreneurship topics, having built and sold his own post-apocalyptic fitness bootstrapped startup. When he's not dabbling in digital marketing, you'll find him ultrarunning in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Jesse studied Public Relations at Brigham Young University.

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