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Options for invoicing: How to get paid by your customers, and quickly

how to get paid by your customers and quickly

As a business owner, one of the most important things you may need to know is how to invoice clients quickly and efficiently. It might not seem like a big deal when you first start out and have just a few invoices to send here and there. However, things can get chaotic once business picks up and you’re sending invoices regularly. The last thing you want is to lose track of invoices and come up short in your revenue goals for each quarter.

Steady cash flow is crucial to the success of your business, so staying on top of invoices is non-negotiable to help you stay afloat. There are lots of invoicing processes you can use for your business, depending on the type of business you run and the clients you work with.

Here are a few of the most common ones to help you get paid promptly:

Paper Invoices

If you’re not super tech-savvy and just getting started in running a business, you might be inclined to stick with the most simple option: paper invoices. You can create an invoice through Word, Excel, or Google Docs, then print and mail or fax it to your clients.

While this works just fine if it’s your preference, paper invoicing isn’t ideal for quick payments. There’s also the potential hassle of having to resend your invoice if it gets lost in the mail, and the upfront overhead costs of printer, ink, paper, and postage. The beauty of being a business owner these days is that there are many resources to help your invoicing operations run smoothly, even if you’re not big on technology.

Invoice Apps

For business owners on the go, a quick and easy way to create and send invoices is straight from your phone. It’s a helpful option during travel or a full day of meetings when you’d rather not carry around a laptop or tablet.

With a variety of  mobile apps, you can create and send invoices within minutes. You also have the option to make personalized invoices to maintain your professional branding. With some, you can even opt-in to receive notifications when clients view your invoice and accept payment on the spot via credit card.

Third-Party Platforms

If you’re a creative entrepreneur, such as a writer, graphic designer, or photographer, third-party content marketing platforms like Upwork, Clearvoice, and Contently are convenient ways to connect with potential clients. They also take on the work of invoice processing once you’ve completed projects.

Through these platforms, all communication and work are done via in-app messaging with clients who have been verified beforehand. Once you submit work and the client signs off, invoices are automatically generated, and you can typically expect to receive payment within a few business days.

Note: Most third-party platforms will deduct a percentage of your total project fee. so keep this in mind when you quote rates to potential clients. Still, it’s helpful if you prefer to sidestep the work of chasing down clients for payment and focus on other parts of your business.

Invoicing Software

There are a number of invoicing software systems available to automate the process. Many of them allow you to access tools to streamline the invoicing process, including saving the contact information of regular clients to easily send future invoices, tracking and managing payments in one place, and receiving alerts when invoices are paid. In many instances, your clients will also be given the choice of several payment options, including credit card, check, or direct deposit into your business bank account.

Another advantage in using invoicing software is that there are generally flexible pricing options that fit however far along you are in your business. Similar to third-party platforms, software is an easy and painless way to automate your invoices and free up your time to run all the other parts of your business. You’re probably familiar with the phrase “time is money,” and that’s never more important than when you’re a busy freelancer or entrepreneur who needs to optimize your schedule as much as possible.

Other ways to help you get paid quickly

These are a few options available to invoice clients, and whichever you choose will be based on personal preference, the size of your business, and customer needs. Regardless of what you choose, here are some more ways to ensure you get paid in a timely manner:

  • Discuss payment terms upfront. When you first start your business, you will likely feel excited to have any paying customers. Still, remembering to ask everything you need to know about payment terms in addition to the scope of the work you’ll complete can give you a better understanding of your clients’ procedures and expectations. Some of the things you may want to ask are how soon they will pay you (Net 30, 60, 90, etc.), where to send your invoice, and other specific details. 
  • Submit your invoice upon completion of work. Some business owners and entrepreneurs will wait to send an invoice until they get word from a client that they’re 100% satisfied with the work. But if your client doesn’t have set guidelines on when you can send an invoice, you may want to consider submitting once you’ve completed your respective services. As your business grows, you will likely get busy with multiple projects, and it can become harder to keep up with who you need to send invoices to after several days or weeks have passed.
  • Follow up. This is when those payment reminders through invoicing software come in handy. If your client is past due on a payment, you have the ability to send a friendly reminder a few days after the due date. In addition to this, you may also want to set another calendar reminder for yourself if you still haven’t received payment for a project. Sometimes things slip through the cracks, or there might be an accounting error on either side. It’s OK to politely check in with your client about payment. It might feel a bit awkward at first, but you need money to keep your business running smoothly, so it helps to communicate about any late payments as soon as possible.

Hi there! This post exists to offer you (hopefully) useful information but it cannot take the place of personalized professional advice. Please consult a qualified expert if you have questions about your business. Also, Azlo doesn’t endorse any third-party sites that are linked here.

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