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August 27, 2017

5 Ways to Simplify Your Invoicing Process

Invoicing can be a hassle. Whether you operate a large agency or work with a mix of project and retainer-based clients, managing invoices can become a complicated process.

Lucky for you, I’ve composed a list about what helps make the invoicing process simpler, and it doesn’t take much time get control over your process.

Check out these five ways to help un-complicate the invoicing process.

1. Agreements

Managing the finances for any organization, big or small, will be much easier to do when you have accurate forecasts for income. Whether you’re a freelancer or large agency, the best practice is to establish agreements with your clients that lay out the expectations on both sides of the table.

As a freelancer, I learned early on what can happen when you make the mistake of neglecting to outline the terms of engagement. When I first began to run digital marketing campaigns for businesses I would simply include the terms of the project in the invoice itself and get agreement either verbally or via email from the client when it came to things like when payment was due. It turned out that I had very little leverage when issues came up and I ended up taking a loss on a couple of projects because of it.

It was a huge mistake that could have been avoided with a simple written agreement signed by both parties. No matter how basic or short-term your job might be, it always makes sense to outline the details of the job and the expectations for payment in agreement that both parties sign before getting started with the project.

2. Go paperless

This one should come as a pretty obvious way to keep things organized and as simplistic as possible. That’s why I’m always surprised when I come across a business that still relies on cutting paper checks and keeping paper records.

It is often the case for larger businesses that have been around for years have systems in place that deal with invoicing the old fashioned way. I understand that it can be difficult to transition from a paper-based system to digital especially when you have dozens of clients, employees, contractors, and so forth. But making the step into the 21st century and going digital makes information management easier, invoicing simpler, and will end up saving money even if the cost of transition isn’t appealing in the short-run.

Not only does it make it easier for finance to access the information they need to run the business, but it also drastically increases the convenience of monitoring the entire process from a managerial point of view. With mobile invoicing, for example, managers and business owners have access to records in the palm of their hands whenever they need it. Not getting paid on time can easily dig you and your business in a hole, which is a much harder to crawl out of once you’ve fallen in.

3. Set and follow a schedule

Routine is critical for any business to function efficiently. Avoid the headaches that come with invoicing by establishing a schedule and policies that apply to all clients. It can be particularly important for freelancers or small businesses with a limited clientele.

My experience has shown that when you have a schedule for the invoicing and collection process, things become much easier to track and money is saved. For example, I recommend setting your invoicing schedule (monthly is commonly used) up with the same expected date of payment each period and giving yourself a few hours during the week before payment is due to you so that you can send or manage the outstanding invoices in your queue.

When you get into the routine of being paid at the end of the month, for example, you start to automatically realize what needs to be done and when you need to do it to keep things on schedule.

4. Outsource

If you’re one of those people who simply have too much going on to be devoting time to sending, managing, and tracking your invoices, it’s not such a bad idea to outsource the process. When you find the right service to handle your billing and invoicing for you, it tends to relieve a lot of stress, especially for small business owners and busy freelancers, and free up time to do other things.

There are plenty of services and freelancers available for you to choose from, but be sure you do your research before pulling the trigger on any of them. Consider things like experience level, cost, and your expected rate of growth as a business before you choose a partner to outsource to. You’ll want to be sure the provider can handle any expected increase in labor and that whatever they charge will still make sense under the needs of a growing business.

5. Set email reminders

It’s dangerous to operate your invoicing process under the assumption that clients will always remember to pay on time. We’ve all forgotten about a bill at some point in our lives, so protect yourself against being on the wrong end of that mistake by setting up a simple email reminder to go out each month.

The last thing you want to be doing as a business is double checking payment records and chasing down clients for payment – this takes time away from making money and can be a huge hassle. You can prevent this without adding much cost or taking very much time out of your day by using an email scheduling tool to set up a reminder email to be sent out a week before the due date you established with your clients.

This becomes even easier to do when you use this tip with tip #3. When you have a set schedule and expect payment from all clients on the same day, you don’t need to treat the email as an individual message, but simply schedule a mass email that goes out on the same day to each client.

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