Learn how to create an invoice that's free of errors and save a ton of time, money and headaches.
Jerry kicks back in his chair. He’s feeling immensely proud as he’s taken an essential step in getting paid: He sent his first invoice. But those feelings are short-lived as he spends the entire next week waiting for payment.
Jerry, wondering what’s going on, sends a follow-up email only to discover his client hasn’t processed the invoice because Jerry forgot to include the PO Number. Feeling frustrated, he goes back, makes the change and hits send. He now waits a further week for the money.
Don’t Let Invoicing Mistakes Delay Payment
Jerry’s story is not uncommon. Many small business owners face similar delays in payment because they too make some pretty common invoicing mistakes like sending the invoice to the wrong person, not specifying the payment terms and yes, failing to include the PO number.
If this sounds familiar or you just genuinely want to learn how to create an invoice with minimal fuss, then you’re in the right place. In this post, you’ll learn how to create an invoice the right way. You’ll walk away from this post knowing:
- What key elements to include in your invoice
- How to create an invoice in a variety of programs (and why invoice templates are your best friend)
- An alternative to templates that will make invoicing a breeze
The Key Elements of Any Invoice
High-level, an invoice is a document that details the services you provide, the amount due and when you expect payment.
But, when you look closer and compare any two invoices, you’ll notice they have some aspects in common. Below are 15 of the most common elements to include in any invoice. Keep in mind that as you read this, some elements won’t apply to you.
- A business logo that makes you look like a professional
- Your company name—usually in a larger font—at the top of the invoice
- Your contact information, so clients know how to get hold of you
- The client’s billing address—both the name and the billing details. Take note that in some companies the client you’re working with is not the person to whom you send the invoice
- Date of issue or invoice date
- Payment terms so that clients know how many days after the issue date they should pay the invoice. While you may have specific payment terms for your business, larger companies often have their own they strictly adhere to. Make sure your invoice reflects what you’ve agreed upon
- A due date that makes it clear when you expect to be paid. This is merely the date of issue plus your payment terms
- Invoice number to help you track your invoices and stay organized for the tax season. You’ll want to create sequential invoice numbers to keep things well-ordered
- Service description, so clients know what they’re paying for
- The hourly or flat rate that you usually determine in the early project stages when creating a project estimate
- Tax amount that may or may not be applicable
- The line total for each service you’re providing
- Any discounts you may want to apply for specific clients and services
- The amount due so that the client knows what to pay
- Other notes like thanking them for their business or your bank details. If you require a deposit for the invoice, mention it here
How to Create an Invoice: Templates Are Your Best Friend
Now that you understand the critical elements of most effective invoices, let’s look at the many different programs you can use to create yours. These include Google Sheets, Google Docs, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Word and invoicing software.
All these programs provide invoice templates that you can access, edit, save and send to your clients. Because these templates are often structured like most effective invoices are—with the above key elements—you can feel confident about creating an invoice the right way.
You can easily access these templates within any of the programs. For example, if you use Google Sheets, select “New,” followed by “Google Sheets” and “From a template.” Or if you prefer using Word, select “File,” “New from Template” and type “invoice” in the search bar (take note the exact process may differ depending on which version of Word you have).
Alternatively, if you become tired of the standard templates and all the customization, you can download invoice templates from an accounting software service like FreshBooks. FreshBooks offers a library of beautiful invoices templates for Word, Excel, Google Sheets, Google Docs and Adobe PDF.
These templates look professional, are specifically designed for small business owners and are available across industries like graphic design, photography, construction and many others. And because these templates have a full design, you’ll spend less time adding and removing fields on your invoice and more time billing and getting paid.
A Better Alternative to Invoice Templates
But invoice templates will only get you so far. Even with the most incredible template, you’ll waste time creating and sending invoices. You’ll have to add line items, sift through cells and save it as a PDF before attaching the invoice to an email and sending it to the client.
And if there are any errors on those invoices, you’ll invariably have to return to the original document to fix them before once again saving it as a PDF and sending it to the client. (Yes even a fantastic template is prone to human error.)
A few wasted minutes may not seem like much, but it quickly adds up as you send more invoices. Before you know it, you’ve wasted loads of time on invoicing. Time you could’ve spent doing work you love or relaxing with family.
The good news? You can recapture this time and concentrate on those things that matter to you by using the right invoicing software.
What the Right Invoicing Software Can Do for You
The right invoicing software will help you:
- Avoid those pesky invoicing errors. For example, the right solution will automatically generate invoice numbers in sequential order and even calculate your invoice value for you
- “Wow” clients with professional-looking invoices you can create in minutes
- Manage late payment by letting you set and send customized late payment reminders at various intervals. This feature removes those awkward money conversations.
- Get paid faster by allowing you to accept credit card payments and request an upfront deposit
- Save time by letting you duplicate existing invoices. This feature is ideal if you need to send an invoice that’s similar to one you’ve sent before
- Invoice in your client’s currency thanks to multi-currency billing
- Bill what you’re worth by allowing you to add tracked time and expenses to an invoice
- Send recurring invoices on a schedule to subscription-based clients, so you don’t waste time creating a new invoice each month
FreshBooks is a solution that offers all the above features and more! The all-in-one small business accounting and invoicing solution will help you create an error-free invoice in no time. By using FreshBooks, invoicing will become a breeze. You’ll improve your entire invoicing process and have more time for the things you love.
So, are you ready to create and manage your invoices in FreshBooks? Then give FreshBooks a try today. With a free 30-day trial and no credit card required, you have absolutely nothing to lose.