Knowing how to create an invoice is necessary for any business to succeed. Clients want to know the details of their transaction, and you want a log of all of your transactions. But how do you go about creating an invoice?
For someone just starting out, this may be a tricky part of the business to learn. In your journey to become a successful business owner, learning the steps to generate an invoice quickly will help improve your performance and customer service.
Why Are Invoices Important?
Providing your clients with invoices ensures that both parties have an outline of the services you provided. On every invoice should be, at the very least, contact details pertaining to you and your client, the services provided, the due date, and the amount of money owed to you.
What’s more, invoices allow you to send a billing to your clients while making it easier to keep close track of monies earned from your business.
If you had to create an invoice from scratch for every customer, you would undoubtedly slow down your operations significantly. That’s why many business owners prefer to use pre-made templates for all of their business transactions.
There are plenty of generic templates available. You’ve likely seen your fair share of cookie-cutter invoices and receipts just in your day-to-day shopping. How you go about this is entirely up to you. However, if you want to set yourself apart from other businesses, you’ll want to give your invoice a personal touch or flair.
Aside from that, though, all invoices should follow a similar outline. We’re going to share with you the basic path to completing your business invoice. What other components you add is up to you. There is certainly a fine balance in what other information you add.
Too much can cause your invoice to be convoluted and confusing. Too little can make it difficult to differentiate from similar transactions. Play around with it a bit to find the right chord, and with practice, you can learn to make the perfect invoice for your business.
Steps for Creating an Invoice
It’s important to provide your clients with pertinent information about your business and the transaction. Follow these handy steps to build your own invoice from the ground up.
The header of your invoice should include information about your business. Details should include the name of your business, its address, phone number, and your company email address.
If you are a freelancer, you may simply use your full name in place of a business name. If you have a company logo, be sure to include it in the header, as this will help your invoices stand out and act as free advertising.
Templates will provide lines for this information to be typed or printed. Since these steps are for creating an invoice from scratch, you will simply need to include the necessary information manually. Make sure that your client’s contact information is present so that both you and they have an accurate log of business.
This data should include your client’s name, phone number, address, and email address, if applicable. You will want to contact the business ahead of time to ensure that you send the invoice to the most suitable person, be it a manager, accountant, or otherwise.
- Invoice Data
Each invoice that you create should have its own unique invoice number. This is key for tracking purposes, as it eliminates the possibility of getting invoices confused with one another. Your invoice number should be made up of a numbering system that is easy for you to understand.
Obviously, the easiest way to proceed would be to start at “1” and work your way up. Since you will never run out of numbers, this is the most logical starting point for most businesses. Along with the invoice number should be the issuing date of the invoice, as this provides factual security to each transaction.
- Payment Terms
This is going to be the due date of payment, as well as what form of payment was issued to you. A simple 30-day due date system seems to be a popular choice among businesses and freelancers. It’s straightforward and understandable, and it provides your customers with easy-to-understand payment guidelines.
Also included in the payment terms should be clear information about whether you charge late fees and the forms of payment you accept, such as cash, checks, credit cards, PayPal, and so on (see 'Square vs PayPal' ,too). However, these aren’t the only options to choose from, with planty of other payment processing alternatives out there.
After you establish a business relationship with a customer, but before you send them an invoice, you want to outline your payment terms in full with them (see also 'Square vs Stripe'). This will reduce the likelihood of any surprises among your clients when they receive their first invoice from you.
All products or services provided to the customer need to be included on the invoice. This ensures that there is transparency between you and your customers, and it makes it easier for you to keep track of your business transactions.
The best way to go about including this information is to neatly separate each component into columns and lines. So in addition to your services, you want there to be the date, hours worked or the number of services provided, the rate you charged, and a subtotal of the transaction.
Not every business’s taxes are going to be the same. What kind of business you’re in and the state in which you operate will affect the amount of taxes to be included. You will need to get in touch with your local tax office to help you determine the amount of taxes that you need to charge your client.
This can include a simple message thanking your clients for their business or a personal note that details the transaction. If there are special instructions related to the transaction, this is a great place to put them.
What’s more, making your client’s transaction personal can help expedite payment. Little touches like this go a long way in helping your business become a success.
Creating an Invoice for Free
There are plenty of free online services that allow you to create company invoices for free. If you are a new business owner, it may be best to avoid paying for professional invoices so you can save money in the beginning.
You can always go back later and have custom invoices created for you. There are just as many paid services as there are free ones. If you aren’t too concerned about the style or design of your invoice, you will find that many of the free offerings include everything you need to produce a comprehensive invoice.
What’s important is that you include the necessary details, regardless of which route you decide to take. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the invoice creation process using a free template first.
Once you are comfortable with the process of using a basic outline, you can try adding creative touches to make your company’s invoices unique. You don’t have to go all-out when you’re just getting started. As long as you provide your clients with the right data, you should be in good shape.
Alternatively, if you see an invoice layout somewhere that you really like, you can always use it as a template to create your own version using a word document program. Again, what matters is that both you and your clients have a record of your business transactions.
Finally, if you can't find any information or advice on how to create an invoice, you may ask for help from these trusted formations services and registered agents services.
Trusted Business Formation Services
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As a business owner, it’s important to have a firm grasp of invoices' importance. Not only do invoices provide your customers with their own history of their transactions with you, but they also serve to help keep your operations in order.
Take the time to research different invoice templates so you’re familiar with the layouts and styles that are available to you. You don’t need anything fancy to start; that can always come later. The key is to get to where you can create invoices quickly and efficiently.
This will help you increase your productivity so that you can serve more clients each day. Little steps like this will go a long way in improving your operations as a whole. With practice, you will start to see your business’s revenue increase as you learn to serve your customers with speed and accuracy.
If you found this guide helpful and are interested in learning more about improving your business, we encourage you to explore our many business resource articles. From learning how to create a name for your business to writing a business proposal, we have many helpful resources that are free for you to use.