The tag [TIME SAVED] shows you where a Virtual Assistant (such as Virtual Hand) can save you time by doing these elements. This allows you to do what you love in your business as well as what you are good at.
We work to earn money to support our lives (aka work and family and hobbies etc). It’s a circle but definitely not a vicious one! There are however people that work just because they love it and don’t demand a fee – but they are not the majority (perhaps?). The majority build a business of providing a service/produce for a price.
Having an invoice and system is important for recording keeping, tax paying and evidencing to support the requirement for settlement of that invoice. There are a number of things that an invoice should contain but the production of that invoice [TIME SAVED] is purely individual starting from the individual creation of each invoice and issuing by email to the highly automated issuing of the invoice regularly by a computer system – I’d like to think you are somewhere on this scale if you are being paid for your service and/or product(s).
It is essential that our invoice contains the following:
Details of who the invoice is from (your details)
Details of who the invoice is for (your customer’s details)
Terms and Conditions
Keeping track of the number sequence is essential so a log is required [TIME SAVED]. A simple log can be created in a spreadsheet with the headings: Number, Month/Date, Client, Service/product reference. Amount, Due Date, etc. This is mine! As you can see I have colour coded the end column so I can see at a glance how much is due – it helps with predicting income.
You don’t have to start at 1 (or 0001) you can start at say 1001 or even 1051; it really doesn’t matter as long as you track them, do not duplicate and keep it up to date and accurate. No information is any good if it is not up to date and accurate.
Dates are essential to help with your budgeting, cash flow, profit and loss and general income coming into your business and of course, paying your suppliers. This type of spreadsheet is pretty simply but for me essential for analysing: popular services/products, late payers, growing clients, trends in my business etc.
Terms and Conditions
These are so important when coming to get paid if you’ve not got the ‘ideal client’ that respects your invoices and pays early or on time. Being able to refer to them and getting that payment lays with your T&Cs as well as adding charges for non-payment. See my next blog on Getting Paid. These need to be stated on your invoice (as well as your contract).
Creation of an Invoice – manually
Invoices can be created individually [TIME SAVED] with the standard headings and blanks to be completed as you agree/complete work. There are many different types of software available – I’ve seen them on spreadsheets, word or even publisher. Whatever you are most comfortable with. Create a ‘template’ or ‘standard’ [TIME SAVED] to ensure your clients receive a consistent ‘image’ from your business whenever they receive an invoice. Your ‘template’ can then be recalled, completed for your new invoice and then saved under a new name. Do ensure your saving system is included in your process – it will make it easier to find once saved! For example; an invoice for XYZ Co on 11 September 2015 and invoice number 1054 would be saved under XYZ 1054 110915 or you could save with the invoice number first 1054 XYZ 110915. This would enable you to see the number progression as it would be filed in that order. It is ok to include dashes and underscores too such as XYZ-1054-110915 or 1054_XYZ_110915. It is better to use a blank template than edit an invoice already created – for a number of reasons.
You could save the new one over the old one and lose the original
You could leave some information in the new invoice that does not relate
You could disclose information from another client by not deleting it in the new invoice
You may not change the name and so the reference does not refer to the document
Again these can be issued by a VA saving you time [TIME SAVED] and then they can track payment by sending reminders and ensuring it is either paid on time or you are fully aware of any issues as soon as they arise.
The alternative way is to use an accounting software package where you complete Customer Information and create an invoice (with all the fields already represented so nothing is missed and then the system issues the invoice with one click as per the details you have input. Setting up monthly invoices is great on this type of system – you can’t forget them as the system creates them and can actually send automatically without you ‘remembering’.
There is also time tracking software that have invoice capabilities so your tracked time is used to create an invoice – if you are paid for your time.
Where are you with your invoicing – manual or automated – what works for you?
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Connect with Michelle on other platforms too: Learn how you can work with Virtual Hand; how your business can grow and how you can communicate better with your audience.
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