How to Make a Service Invoice and Get Paid for Your Work
Small businesses that offer professional services to their clients need to create accurate service invoices to bill for their work. A service invoice should provide important details of a business transaction, including an itemized list of services provided, a deadline for payment and the total balance owing for the invoice. Learning to create professional invoices is an accounting skill every small business owner should master to get paid for their services, record their sales and track their revenues.
These topics will teach small businesses and freelancers how to make service invoices and get paid for their work:
How to Create a Service Invoice
Small businesses can create detailed service invoices to request payment from clients for their work. To make a service invoice, follow this simple guide to invoicing:
Add Your Business Logo
Start your service invoice by creating a header in the document. Place your company logo in the invoice header.
Include Your Contact Details
Add your contact details to the header of the invoice, including your name, address, phone number and email address.
Add the Client’s Contact Information
Below the document’s header, include your client’s contact information, including their name, address, phone number and email address. It’s a good idea to always confirm the correct contact person with clients because your billing contact may differ from your regular business contact.
Assign a Unique Invoice Number
Assign a unique invoice number to every service invoice you create. This will help you organize your invoice records and can also help you easily refer to a specific invoice when discussing it with a client.
Include the Invoice Date
Add the date that you’re preparing the invoice to the document. It’s an important reference for both you and your client.
Set the Payment Due Date
Include the deadline for payment as an exact date, i.e. “Payment Due December 31, 2018” rather than more vague payment deadlines like “Payment Due in 30 Days.” Make sure the payment due date stands out on the invoice. To do so, you can bold the font or use a different font color.
Create an Itemized List of Services
Next, include the services you provided as an itemized list on the invoice. Your list of services should include the following information:
- A brief description of each service you provided
- The number of hours worked or the quantity for each service
- The rate of pay for each service
- A subtotal of charges per service
To make the services section easy to read, you can present it in a table, with each piece of information separated into its own column.
Add the Total Amount Due
Calculate the total amount due for the invoice and include any applicable taxes. Make sure the information is highly visible on the page by increasing the font size, bolding the font or choosing a different font color.
Include Your Payment Terms
Finally, add a footer to your service invoice that details your payment terms. Write out the payment methods your business accepts. This can include:
- Credit card
- Online payments
- Mobile payments
- Recurring payments
It’s also important to include any late fees you plan to charge on overdue invoices in the payment terms section of the invoice, so clients know your late policy.
Invoicing Tips for Freelancers
Get in the habit of creating and sending invoices as soon as you complete a client’s project. The faster you send out the invoice, the faster you can expect to get paid, which helps with your cash flow. Creating invoices right away also ensures the work is fresh in your mind, so you’re less likely to leave something off your invoice or make an error.
Set Shorter Payment Deadlines
For a long time it was common practice for freelancers to set a 30-day deadline for payment on invoices. But payment deadlines have shortened in recent years, with the rise of quick payment methods like online payments and recurring billing. Experiment with shorter payment deadlines to get paid faster for your services. Instead of giving clients 30 days to pay, try out a 21-day deadline and see how it works for your business.
Be Flexible with Payment Methods
Clients can sometimes be motivated to pay their invoices faster if you accept payment methods that are more convenient for them. Talk to your clients up front to get to know their preferences. Offer as many payment methods as makes sense for your business model, including online payments, which are quick and easy to process. Consider allowing clients to set up recurring payments if you provide them with the same services each month. That way, they can approve regular payments according to a set schedule without manually processing the payment. You’ll then be guaranteed payment on a set day every billing cycle.
Offer Discounts for Early Payment
If it makes sense for your small business, consider offering clients a small discount if they pay their bills early. This will not only create goodwill and loyalty among your customers, it can also encourage them to get into the habit of paying their bills right away, which saves you time and improves your cash flow.
Always Follow Up on Late Payment
Be sure to follow up right away when an invoice becomes past due. Don’t worry about seeming rude or pushy; the sooner you follow up with the client and find out why the payment is delayed, the sooner you can sort out the issue and make a plan to get paid. Always be polite and professional when communicating with clients about past due invoices. In most cases, it’s an honest mistake that delays payment.
Service Invoice Example
This sample service invoice for small businesses and freelancers provides an example of what information should be included on your invoices and how a service invoice should be laid out.
Service Invoice Template
If you’d rather use a pre-existing template for your service invoices instead of creating your own design from scratch, you can find a range of templates available for download online. Download the free service invoice template from FreshBooks to customize your invoices, save them and send them to clients for payment. The template is available in Microsoft Word, Excel and PDF format.