By Florence Solano - March 31 2018 15:29:48
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.
The usual sections in an invoice include:
~ The date that the invoice was created. Do not forget this! The date of the invoice starts the clock ticking on the customer. If you have terms (a time limit for payment), you want to include the date so everyone knows when the payment is due.
~ Names and addresses of customer and supplier. If you are creating the invoice in accounting software, you may only need the email address of the customer, but it is still a good idea to collect and include the physical address, in case you need to send a real letter or document.
~ Contact names of individuals at the two businesses (or business and individual). It is a good customer relations rule to make sure you spell names correctly.
~ Description of items purchased, either products or services, including prices and quantities. Often you will have standard item descriptions and inventory numbers. But be as specific and detailed as possible, when you create the invoice. This avoids confusion and "I did not know" issues.
~ Terms of payment. For example, the provider might specify "net 30 days," which means that the entire amount is due within 30 days.
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.
But that invoice is often needed by the buyer for other reasons. They need that record. They need to prove that they paid you, often so they can write off your payment. In my years of writing, I have only had one client, a magazine, that did not need an invoice. I am not sure why or how they managed that.
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