5 Invoicing Mistakes Every Business Owner Should Avoid
Here are five invoicing mistakes you can't afford to make:
1. Using Vague Wording and Leaving Out Key Information
Unclear or ambiguous language has no place in your business invoices. This includes any wording that, while completely familiar to you, may be unclear to your client. Remove any "insider/industry jargon" that won't make sense to non-industry folks. The customer should know exactly what they're being billed for.
When composing an invoice, pay special attention to specific item descriptions, pricing information, and precise quantities of products or the time span of services provided.
Remember to add any invoicing information requested by the customer, such as a purchase order or Employee Identification Number. Other essential information to always include:
- The full name of your business
- Your customer's name and address
- The invoice date and number
- Terms of payment
- Complete contact information (your email, phone, address)
2. Delaying Submission of an InvoiceSuccessful business owners deliver agreed-upon products or services on time, but are sometimes lax in the crucial next step: Submitting an invoice. As Forbes notes, "The best time to send out an invoice is immediately following the completion of a project or a sale." Unless some other arrangement exists, "you can't afford to wait to send out an invoice."
3. Submitting to the Wrong PeopleMany businesses ask that invoices be sent to their billing department. If you submit the invoice to someone you worked with at that business or another contact person instead, payment can be delayed or your invoice could get lost in the system. Pay close attention to all details related to a client's payment process. Always submit an invoice directly to the name or department specified. Double-check the email address, as businesses usually have a number of email addresses for different functions.
4. Not Creating an Automated ProcessNot every business has an efficient system for filing, submitting, storing and recovering essential documents. These days, there's really "no reason to send out manual invoices," says The Huffington Post. "Cloud billing applications make it fast and easy to automate much of the process." And all related documentation is stored in the cloud, making it easy to locate and resend if necessary.
5. Not Leveraging Invoices as Marketing Materials
Your invoice should always look professional (accurate, typo-free, politely worded). Remember that invoices actually get read by someone, in contrast to marketing materials that may or may not get a prospective client's attention. Look for creative ways to add one (two, at most) concise messages somewhere on the invoice, where you can:
- Invite the customer to provide a favorable testimonial you can add to your website
- Offer an incentive (i.e. a discount on a future sale) to encourage the client to refer your business to their network
- Announce a forthcoming product launch or upgrade
Don't neglect the little details that can allow your invoice to do "double-duty" as a marketing tool.
Remember: Don't Do Everything YourselfHandling invoices can be complex and time-consuming. As a business owner, you may find your time is better spent elsewhere. This is fine, as long as you can delegate invoicing to a reliable person. Maybe there's an employee with credible accounting experience. Or, as Nasdaq advises, "you can hire a contracted money manager or local accounting firm to handle all the tedious tasks." An expert can help cut costs and "mitigate financial blunders in the future."
Avoiding these mistakes not only improves business image, but also ensure speedier payment.