If you are a small business, getting paid quickly and painlessly, is paramount to your growing success. When a business is in its infancy, it is relatively easy to keep track of such matters as invoices and client requests. However, it is not enough merely to keep up with demand; you must plan for exceeded financial expectations.
Organization is key when running any business, regardless of size. Invoices are almost completely digital nowadays. Everything must be as convenient as possible, and there will always be difficult clients who will dispute every charge. It is in your best interest to find the smartest and fastest financial organization tools. According to Entrepeneur.com, “80% of all collections and payment issues are due to faulty invoicing. “
Let’s take Mike, for example. He runs an artisanal gingerbread pretzel website that is crazy busy during the holidays. Summer is when he is able to sharpen his skills and perfect recipes. By the time pumpkin spice pretzels come out, Mike and his company, Mike’s Baked Wonders, are swamped with orders, and he also has the responsibility of invoicing clients and staying organized to maintain the business.
Here are a few considerations for Mike’s Baked Wonders:
Have all your information correct. This means not just having the right names, but making sure they are spelled correctly. The date must be correct. A client or vendor needs the date for their record keeping. One off detail could raise a red flag that the rest of the invoice, including the amount, is wrong. Double-check names, spelling, and all numbers. Mike can lose a customer if they feel they are not important enough to him to get their name right.
There is a multitude of software in the business world to help with organizing and preparing invoices. Options such as FreshBooks allow you to use any device, free up your time, and have more time to grow your business. By using the cloud, you can work anywhere and never be chained to your desk. With this free time, you can focus on memorable customer service. Do a bit of research on what is best for your business. Read reviews and be realistic on the expectations of your business, such as whether you will need to generate paychecks for staff, or other responsibilities.
Mike found an invoicing system that keeps track of his clients and keeps him in the black year round with superior organization. It is important to research software that tracks invoices, payments, and can be automated. The order of importance is by your definition. If automation would make your life easier, then make that your priority. Some businesses may want to focus on accessibility, but make a list of what you need most from a financial system as a starting point.
Once all your spelling and amounts are correct and you have chosen the best software for your needs, consider other ways you can be perceived as professional.
Branding is key when running your business. The more times the client sees the emblem of your business, the more stable it registers in their mind. Try to place your logo on as much generated content as possible. For example, with FreshBooks you can customize your invoices with your brand. This will register as personal given that you have taken the time to put your seal, or approval, on what leaves your office.
Clients should be aware of your policies. For example, Mike only accepts credit cards and PayPal. He refuses cash and checks. Customers know that bulk orders for corporate events require a hefty deposit. His prices are on par with other food artisans and he never slams customers with surprise charges. If you have not sat down and thought your policies out, your customers will not know what expect. For example, if a customer wants to return a product as they feel it might have been an off batch you must be able to give them a detailed answer.
Your product may not be perfect every time it is created and you must have return, shipping, and lost policies as they will happen either due to human error or unforeseen events. Strategize rather than react in order to remain professional at all times.
In life, there are many things we cannot control. To a large extent, we can guide our customers to pay on time by being as organized as possible. Invoicing is part of that entrepreneurial effort. Double-check every letter and number that is invoiced by hand and with the software of your choice. Then make sure you have policies in place that customers can easily find in an email or online.