What is an invoice?
A sales invoice or invoice is a type of word or text document sent by a seller (virtual assistant or freelancer) to the buyer (client or customer). It is a written verification of agreement between the seller and buyer. This establishes an obligation on part of the buyer to pay, creating an account receivable.
What do they need that for?
The invoice serves several purposes. Simply to get you paid, that’s the first role. But, it's not just a stimulant to get you paid. It is also needed by the buyer for other reasons. It proves that they paid you and they need that record. In my years of virtual assisting, I’ve only had one client, that didn’t need an invoice. I’m not sure why.
What does an Invoice Include?
Parts of an invoice are a logo, invoice number, date, names, addresses, description of items, and terms of payment.
Logo – For branding purposes, right at the very top of your invoice before the names and addresses of the seller and buyer put your logo. It is a symbol, name or trademark used to identify your business. It is the face of your business. On sample invoice after the logo, I put in the Invoice Number and Date.
Invoice Number – It is a unique code that is systematically assigned to an invoice. It is one of the most important aspects of invoicing in order to properly document it for tax and accounting purposes and to track payments easily.
Date – Don’t forget this! It is the date when the invoice was created. It includes month, day and year. This sets the clock ticking on your buyer, the client. In reference to your terms, do include the due date, the date when the payment is due. Just right after the logo, put the date.
Names and Addresses – If a document or letter is required, do include the buyer and seller complete name and physical address. This includes block and lot number, street, barangay or subdivision name, city, province or state, country, and zip code. Depending on your invoice design, you can either put this after the invoice number and date or at the very end of your invoice like the attached sample invoice I use.
Description of items purchased – Often you will need to add the inventory numbers, item descriptions plus prices and quantity. When you create the invoice, be specific and detailed which will avoid confusion or issues. This is a case to case basis, the sample invoice I have included in this article is the one I use. It works for me and my clients. I created a sheet with 3 columns plus 3 rows and a timesheet (optional). The 3 columns include product, quantity, price/unit. In reference to the 3 rows, on the first row, I added the service I provide which is Virtual Assistant with sub-role Virtual Administrator, quantity is 1 and the price is based on the hours I have work. In the second row, I put the subtotal price plus fee which is PayPal. In the third row, is the total amount which the client must pay me. I also included a timesheet since my client requested it, but this timesheet is optional.
Terms of payment – The standard invoice term is “net 30 days”. This simply means that your client must pay you within 30 days of receiving the invoice.
Types of Invoices/Software
I always use Word document to create my invoices then change it to PDF. Sometimes, I use an excel spreadsheet to create an invoice. Due to the availability of online accounting software such as FreshBooks or QuickBooks, you may never have to create invoices. I’ve heard wonderful things about these apps.
When Writing an Invoice
When it comes to writing invoices, keep it simple and quick. It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not making any money doing this. I suggest using my sample invoice or create your own then save it as a template and reuse it.
Use a reliable tool – Use MS Office Microsoft Word and/or Publisher when writing your invoice. They have several invoice templates that you can use.
Brand It – Use logo, font, quote, color or layout that will identify your work-from-home business. A logo can either be simple or professionally designed. You can add font or quote on your logo as well. I suggest making it simple. Simple logo comprised of only essential elements. It is the most successful.
Details – Always provide the details in your invoice. It is the service you provide. It also includes the hour's work, timesheet, and details about the task. You’ll want to detail exactly what you did, how, and for how long.
Rate – Create a column that cites your rate. This will help the client estimate the cost of hiring you.
Total – Increase font size and bold it! This will ease in finding the grand total on your invoice.
Terms – This is usually discussed ahead of time. Gently remind the client by adding one or two sentences under the total due. Example: Total due net 30 days.
Proofread – Make it flawless and perfect before you send it to your client.
Invoices in comparison with Purchase Orders and Bills
It is sometimes confused with purchase orders (POs). Invoices are right after the transaction and POs before the transaction. PO records the order while an invoice records the receipt of the service or product.
Invoice focus and standpoint are different. The invoice is created by the seller. It is a statement of the product or service delivered or produced including the amount owed. Invoices can be created before or after the product is received. Bills are a request of payment considered from the client’s standpoint. Like a restaurant or retail store, it is common to receive a bill without an invoice.
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