If you are thinking about improving certain aspects of your business, chances are that invoices are not first thought that come to your mind. Invoices are deemed to be boring and unimportant, which is why they are low in the list of priorities in any business. Yet, those pieces of paper that you send to your clients is more than a formality.
Just take a minute and imagine a scenario which features you as a client. You have hired an interior design company to brush up the décor of your house. They have done a great job, and your living room now looks like something that should be on a magazine. They were also very professional in their behavior, delivering on time and paying attention to the smallest details. But when you are handed the invoice, the first thing you notice is not the price, but how unprofessional the document looks. It’s printed on cheap newsprint paper, and lacks important details such as the due date and specific list of services. In other words,it’s the opposite of the company’s services. How will this affect you overall impression of the company?
It’s not earth-shattering, but if you can spend days trying to perfect your business card or resume, taking an hour or two to design a proper invoice is justified. Fortunately, QuickBooks Online allows you to create customized invoices for your clients. Although it lacks the flexibility of the desktop version, you still have the capability to create good invoices which are informative, detailed and customer-friendly. Here’s how.
To get started, find the setting under the Sales tab which allows you to customize sales forms (invoices, estimates and sales receipts). From here, under the Style tab, you have the option to select details such as the template, font and size. You can also upload the logo of your business.
Click on the Header tab in order to customize the top part of your invoice. You can change the title, as well as other details such as address, due date and invoice number.
After that, it’s time to get your columns in order. The Columns tab allows you to select the relevant columns and put them in the right order.
If you want to insert additional notes or messages at the bottom of your invoice, the Footer tab gives you that option.
There may still be further adjustments you wish to make, in order to fine-tune your invoice to suit your business. These options can be found under the More tab. For instance, if your invoice is based on time and expenses, then the options for billable time and expenses will be of interest to you. You may also choose to show an account summary, showing balances, charges and total dues, for the client’s convenience.
A few tips
Designing invoices is not a complicated task, but there are still quite a few best practices which come from a mixture of common sense and experience. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Create an itemized list. Your clients will want to know what they are paying for, and you can make that easier for them by providing a list which shows exactly that.
- Specify your terms. Include information about deadlines, and what follows if they are missed. This keeps your clients informed and helps your case if you plan to charge them for missing deadlines.
- Clearly mention the right payment method. It’s not enough to just specify the amount, you also need to be clear on how you expect to be paid. It’s best to come to mutual agreement about this with your client beforehand, but even if you have achieved this, the payment method should still be mentioned.
Include a “Thank You” note and ask them to contact you if they run into any problems or have any questions. A little politeness can go a long way.