Life as a small business owner can be as arduous as it is rewarding. As the leader of your enterprise, you are going to be forced to wear many hats during your time on the job. From developing your goods and services to delegating tasks to the appropriate parties, there is seemingly a never-ending list of tasks to get done. One of the most important tasks that every small business owner must handle is invoicing. Invoicing is integral to your business for obvious reasons. After all, without an invoice, you can't get paid!
If you've spent enough time on the job, you know how long it can take to get the appropriate invoice to the appropriate party. When you are a small business owner, you can't afford to waste a single second on a task that can be accomplished more efficiently. To help facilitate a better and more efficient invoicing process, we are going to outline four simple tricks that every small business owner needs to have in their back pocket! For a full guide on invoice management, read here - but for some basic tips, keep reading below.
Simple Trick #1 — Craft Your Perfect Invoice AHEAD of Time
As every customer is different, you can expect every invoice to be unique. If you spend any extra time mocking up invoices while on the fly, you are breaking one of the most important rules of business: time is money. There are a variety of different invoices that the majority of small business owners should understand. To help your business, you might want to consider creating an invoice template for the following transactions.
- The Standard Invoice — The standard invoice is going to be the lifeblood of your business. This invoice is as stripped down and bare-bones as they come. Your standard invoice should have all the primary information that you would expect: invoice number, company contact info, buyer contact info, and the actual products/services being sold. Take some time with your invoicing software to mock up a visually appealing standardized invoice that appropriately reflects your business.
- The Recurring Invoice — For some business, recurring invoices will be the most important invoices that they send out. Recurring invoices are typically found in the rental or subscription industries. Fixed-rate recurring invoices should be sent at the same time each month. You can use invoice automating software to make sure that your recurring invoices get to where they need to go, right when they are supposed to get there.
- The Final Invoice — The final invoice that you send to your client should reflect all the work that was accomplished as well as the money owed. Your final invoice should also include financial information including payment processing methods, date due, and total cost.
The easiest way to mock up your invoices ahead of time is by using a platform like QuickBooks Online. As one of the preeminent invoicing solutions on the internet, QuickBooks Online offers a host of customization features to help facilitate smooth transactions with every customer. QuickBooks Online offers custom form styles that can be either created or downloaded from third party sources. In our estimation, having the three core invoices ready to deliver will help you in the long run!
Simple Trick #2 — Automate Your Invoicing Online
If you are ready to push your small business into the 21st century, you should consider exploring the benefits of invoice automation. Automating your invoices with cloud-based invoicing software can be one of the best decisions that you make for your company. Why should you consider automating your invoices?
- Going Green — By working with automated online invoicing, you are skipping one of the most wasteful steps in the billing process. With automated invoicing software like Scoro, you can have digital invoices sent out with the tap of a button. No more filling out forms or wrestling with outdated software just to bill your clients.
- Automate Reminders — There is an entire world of invoicing programs available for you to explore. Included in the majority of the aforementioned programs, you will find automated reminders. Automated reminders can be set to alert your clients a week before their final bill is due, or any other timeframe that you desire. With automated reminders, you clear one more task off of your list without wasting any of your time. Automated reminders also help to promote timely payments.
- Reduction in Human Errors — Finally, and perhaps most importantly, digitally automating your invoicing can help to reduce manmade errors. Every time that you fill out an invoice manually, you run the risk of making an extremely costly mistake. With automated invoicing software like PayPal or QuickBooks, you'll only have to fill out your invoice a single time.
We are living in the age of automation thanks to the internet and all the wonderful tools that have been developed online. With automation being such a vital component to successful businesses in the 21st century, now would be a great time to get on board, don't you think?
Simple Trick #3 — Schedule Your Invoicing Based on Industry Research
Sending an invoice is as simple as pressing a button, right? While true that it is easy to send an invoice, getting paid is an entirely different matter. As you'll soon find out, scheduling your invoicing can make all the difference in the world when it comes to timely cash flow. Let's dive into a few different ways you can make the most out of your invoicing efforts based on a few simple research tricks.
- Invoice Ahead of Time — One of the best practices you can get into is to send an invoice to your client before you begin work. Having an invoice out in the open will allow you to enjoy increased protection while promoting involvement from your client. When a client is actively invested in your project, they are likely to give more guidance and feedback.
- Schedule Monday Invoicing — If you are looking to prioritize repayment on your goods or services, consider sending your invoices to clients on a Monday morning before the workday begins. When you invoice your clients at this time of the day and week, you are getting them at their most fresh and prepared. Monday morning typically works best because it allows the recipient to read, process, and reply to your invoice before their day truly begins.
- Prepare Reminders For Longterm Projects — For the small business that works on longer-term contracts, consider scheduling in numerous invoicing reminders throughout the process. If you expect to bill a client more than a month after starting your project, an invoice reminder will help keep everybody on the same page.
While we have outlined a variety of options for your invoicing needs, only you can understand what your industry demands. One thing that is certain for all businesses, finding the perfect invoicing schedule can save you both time and money.
Simple Trick #4 — Consider Hiring a Virtual Assistant
If you are angling to truly save time during your day-to-day processing, you will want to consider the hiring of a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants have become increasingly popular thanks to the digitally-driven world that we operate in. In an era where more and more people are working from home, it has become infinitely easier to find a qualified professional that can chip in with smaller projects like processing payments and sending out invoices. There are a variety of websites designed to connect business owners with virtual assistants, so we will instead focus on the direct benefits that a virtual assistant can provide.
- Array of Qualified Applicants — According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3.9 million people worked as secretaries or administrative assistants in the United States during 2016. Virtual assistants, also known simply as freelances, are becoming more and more popular by the year. As the digital world continues to take over conventional business practices, expect these numbers to continue climbing. Right now, your business has the pick of the bunch!
- Affordable Employment — When you hire a virtual assistant, they are typically brought on as contractors. As a result, you will not have to pay benefits, training, bonuses, or equipment costs. When you are a growing small business, every penny saved is a penny earned.
- Increased Productivity — According to a study hosted by the Harvard Business Review, virtual assistants hired by the Chinese company Ctrip outperformed their office working alternatives. The study showed that virtual assistants completed 13.5% more calls than traditional hourly employees at Ctrip. If your business is about saving time and money, a hardworking virtual assistant can help!
Hiring a virtual assistant to handle your invoicing can be the first step toward helping your business grow. Finding a qualified VA has never been easier, so start searching today! And if you'd like more insights around time management skills, best practices, tips, tools, and tricks - read here.