By Reyna Chung - April 10 2018 15:15:45
The difference between an invoice and a bill is the focus and standpoint. The invoice is created by a supplier, and it is a statement of services or products produced and delivered to a customer, including the amount owed. An invoice may be created before or after the product or service is received. It is common for an invoice to be included with products being delivered, so the recipient can check off the items to make sure they are all there.
Invoices are important not only for keeping track of sales and payments, from balances to stock levels, but they can also be used in the case that a payment is overdue or missing and is followed up with more formal actions.
Invoices may be mailed or emailed or faxed to a customer. When a customer pays, the invoice number should be noted on the sales receipt and matched to the sales receipt in your accounting software, so it is clear that the invoice has been paid. The payment takes the outstanding amount out of your accounts receivable account.
In the original article that I wrote about invoices, I stated that I just stick with a Word document. If I have time, I will change it to PDF, but that does not always happen. Another common practice that I have seen is using an Excel spreadsheet to generate the invoice. But one important consideration that I did not mention back then is the plethora of accounting software out there. Due to affordable small business-targeted options such as Freshbooks or Quickbooks, you may never have to generate an invoice yourself anyway. I have heard wonderful things about these applications, but have yet to check them out.
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