Questions we answer in this guide:
- What details and information should you include on your invoices?
- What other steps can you take to give your invoices the best chance of being paid on time?
- What can you do if your invoices aren't being paid?
Get a quick overview to invoicing successfully with our helpful infographic below or read on for even more detail...
Before you invoice
Make sure the expectations of your work and pay are clear and agreed upon
It's really important to get written agreement from your customer on what you'll be providing them with (including whether expenses and any extras are part of the deal) and what the agreed payment and payment terms are. Get this clear from the start and it's less likely that your invoices will be disputed.
Check the identity of the person responsible for processing your invoice and clarify the payment process
Be clear about to whom you should address your invoices and whether they need to raise any kind of purchase order ahead of you starting work or being able to send invoices.
Have your customer sign your terms and conditions
Include late-payment interest details for B2B invoices, and add a clause that allows you to reduce or remove credit as appropriate.
Keep track of what you provide
It's essential to maintain detailed, up-to-date records of what you provide - and any expenses that you incur, which you've agreed can be passed on to your customer. This not only makes invoicing a lot quicker, but you won't risk forgetting about any add-ons or ad-hoc work either. If you run a service-based business, check out time-tracking apps like TopTracker, which tracks the time you spend on individual projects and enable you to make your invoices accurate and auditable.
When you invoice
Send the invoice as promptly as you can once you've done what was agreed
Prompt invoices get paid fastest and with the least amount of fuss.
Address the invoice correctly
If you address the invoice incorrectly (for example, you invoice the company rather than the individual or vice versa), the customer could reject the invoice, which would cause delays in payment. Most often, it'll be the same name and address from the entity that signed your terms and conditions.
Remember also that the person who commissions the work from you may not be the person or entity responsible for processing your invoice.
Make your invoices detailed and easy to understand
Try not to use jargon or abbreviations when you describe the goods or the activities that you have provided. And if you've provided a number of things, present each item on a separate line where possible. This will prevent any confusion about what you've done and what you're entitled to invoice. Clear invoices are much more likely to get paid on time.
Send your terms and conditions to your customer along with your invoice
While your customer will have already signed the agreement, it's a good idea to keep the policies fresh in their mind to reduce the risk of any confusion around your expectations.
Don't forget to clearly show VAT (if applicable)
If/when you have registered for VAT and have your VAT number, you'll need to show it on your invoice and also clearly show the VAT calculations too.
You'll find quick and helpful guidance on how VAT works and whether your small business should register for VAT with HMRC, here.
Format your invoice smartly
PDFs are accepted by most people and cannot be edited. They are either accepted or not. Send a word or otherwise potentially editable document and you run a greater risk that your invoice might invite renegotiation of the agreed terms - and payment delay.
After you invoice
If a payment is late, remember to follow through with your late-payment terms and conditions
By not charging the late-payment interest (or any other penalties you have detailed in your terms and conditions), your policies will lose their authority - which, as a result, could make any future invoices you send seem less of priority to customers.
Revise your credit allowances (if you offer them) for frequently late payers
Just remember to add a clause in your terms and conditions that'll allow you to easily do this.
Our standard terms and conditions templates all contain this wording.
Regularly check up on invoice and payment statuses
Don't forget to spend some time each month to go through your records of who has and hasn't paid you - and then make sure you chase any late payments promptly.
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