Invoicing can be a boring, tedious part of business, but it is necessary to keep proper books and records of transactions made between a company, its authorized representatives, or an individual and some sort of client. However, despite the common idea that invoicing is difficult and involves a lot of thinking, it is actually quite simple to create an invoice that suits you, your company, and your client.
The first step to a proper invoice is ensuring that the client knows what he or she is looking at. People have a tendency to overlook important documents, especially if they look uninteresting; throwing them out is of little consequence. Your client should be able to look at an invoice and think, “Hey, this is an invoice,” so you should make the word as visible as possible on the top of the paper.
Secondly, you and your client should both be aware of when and to whom the invoice was sent. Issuing each client a unique number allows you to reference your client. For instance, you may at some point have more than one “Jane Smith,” but you won’t have more than one “#00156.” Providing a date on the top of the invoice allows you and the client to keep a time-based record of your transactions.
Almost as important as providing a unique invoice number and a date is ensuring that the client is aware of who the invoice is from. Many people engage in transactions with multiple people and businesses, so they’ll need a quick and easy way of indentifying from whom the invoice was sent; the quickest and easiest way is to provide your company name, or if you are the authorized representative of your company, your name on the top of the invoice. You may also include your name if the transaction is personal and not in the name of a business or organization. Also, your client may find an issue with your invoice, which is either a valid error or a misunderstanding, in which case the client should have been provided with the address of your business, authorized representative (if any), the business contact phone number, and an email address if you have one.
Sometimes, businesses make a mistake and send an invoice to the wrong client. To prevent possible problems surrounding this, such as clients complaining about being mis-billed for transactions they didn’t make, you should always provide the name and contact information for the client, so he or she can verify if the invoice was, in fact, intended for them. Sometimes, mix-ups still happen, but this can help to reduce a very large majority.
You should include a brief service description, if any, for the transaction. An example may be if some sort of service, such as freelance writing or web design, was rendered. Keep it simple enough for you, the client, and your accounting office, if you have one, to understand. Make sure you list all services, products, or other items for which the client is being billed, along with the quantity, unit price, and total price of each. The invoice should be concluded with the sub-total (total before taxation), any applicable taxes, and the total once the sub-total and tax have been added. Keep in mind that you may need to include some “fine-print” to lay further details, such as the contract within which the invoice is issued.
Generally, it’s best to keep lines between each item, with a table being best, but with these basic steps, you can easily construct an invoice that only needs slight modifications for each present and future client.