If you run a small business, then you understand how important it is to get paid on time. In fact, it’s one of the most important aspects of running a business. After all, how can you pay for your expenses if you have a cash flow problem? That’s why invoices are so important.
Despite the importance of invoices, that doesn’t make them everyone’s favorite task. Invoices can be time-consuming and tedious. Based on the Intuit Small Business Survey in November 2011, “25 percent said that they spend as much as three to five hours each week invoicing and chasing down overdue payments.” And, according to the National Federation of Independent Business, clients are paying businesses at a slower rate.
In 2011, USA Today shared the findings from the National Federation of Independent Business, which discovered it is now taking more than 90 days to receive payment. Almost a year later The Wall Street Journal shared similar findings from the National Federation of Independent Business.
So, what can your agency do to be certain a client not only pays for the services rendered, but also pays on time?
We’ve come up with a list of 10 resources to that you should use when it’s time for your agency to bill clients.
Words of Advice Regarding Online Invoices
Before we get to the list of invoice resources, here are some tips to keep in mind prior to sending out invoices.
Use Invoice Software
When you use invoice software you can create invoices, send them out and keep track of when clients have paid you or not. There are some free services, as well as monthly subscriptions. We’ll share some top-notch invoice software options very shortly.
Establish Payment Policies
Before sending out invoices develop guidelines on how and when you want to get paid. For example, determine which payment modes you accept, when due dates are, how much you will charge for your services, and what you will do if a client doesn’t pay on time.
Set-Up Recurring Billing
To ensure that your client will not forget about paying you, set it up so that your client’s bank account or credit card is charged every month. Most invoice software allows you to input this information so that you receive payments automatically.
Send Electronic Invoices
To prevent clients misplacing your invoice or it getting lost in the mail, send them an invoice through email. It is unlikely they will lose it this way, of course paying you is a different matter. Another perk of sending an invoice via email is that it speeds up the payment process.
Don’t Forget to Include Your Contact Information and Invoice Number
There’s a good possibility that your invoice will be reviewed several times by several different people before it’s approved. By including your full name, address, email and phone number, you’ll make it easier for these people to identify who they are paying.
And, make sure you number all of your invoices so that it’s easy to keep track of all the invoices that you’ve sent out.
Keep Track of Payment History
Keep track of your payment history by creating a customer database. Not only will this help you keep track of payments received and those pending, they can also help you discover the payment patterns of your clients.
It also wouldn’t hurt to back these records up just in case. It’s always better safe than sorry.
With that advice in mind, lets look at 10 invoice resources.
Freshbooks has been around for about a decade and has earned a reputation for having extraordinary customer service. And there’s also the plethora of features that will save you time and headaches when billing your clients.
For starters, Freshbooks can receive payments from PayPal and 13 other gateways, which should help you get paid in no-time. Some of their awesome features include a customization feature to add a logo to your invoice, set-up of recurring invoices and auto payment, invoice views tracking, switch to different currencies, a client portal, late payment reminders, the ability to send invoices via email or snail mail, and a great blog with educational posts. And those are only some of the awesome features FreshBooks has to offer.
You can try FreshBooks free for 14 days and then chose between the $19.95, $29.95 or $39.95 monthly options depending on your business needs.
Invoicera is another software option that offers a wide range of features, such as multiple languages, currency support, and recurring invoicing with auto billing. But the best features Invoicera provides are the customization options and number of payment gateways.
Invoicera allows you to develop custom invoices that can integrate with your existing ERP, Inventory Management Software, Accounting Software, etc. to create customized invoices. Also, the software makes sure your invoices follow local tax laws and can even sync with your bank.
Another outstanding feature with Invoicera is that it will integrate with more than 20 payment gateways like PayPal, Authrorize.net, and Google Checkout. This gives you a number of options to make sure that you get paid quickly and as painlessly as possible.
Plans start at $19.95 per month, but there are also $39.95 and $99.95 plans if needed.
CurdBee is can also be used to create customized invoices, send reminders and receive payments from PayPal, Authorize.net or Google Checkout. This online billing tool can also include the cost of taxes, shipping, or discounts and can bill in multiple currencies.
What’s great about CurdBee are the features that allow you to send out estimates and keep track of your expenses. So, you can send a potential client a customized, professional estimate for approval – which can then be converted into an invoice. As for expenses, you can monitor your spending and create reports to make sure that you remain within your budget.
There is a free option, but you may need to spend the $5 or $20 per month to accommodate your needs.
4. Zoho Invoice
Zoho Invoice includes the same features most other online invoice software offers, but the ability to collaborate with others is a neat option we enjoy. For example, you can work with your accountant to make sure that all of the numbers add up.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Zoho is how easy and quickly you can create and send invoices. Even drafting estimates and recording expenses seem to take little effort and time. Finally, Zoho has mobile apps for both iPhone and Android users, which means that you can handle all of your invoices while on the go.
As for monthly payments plans there are free, $15, and $30 plans available.
What Make Some Time so incredibly appealing is its awesome dashboard. Filled with bright icons to guide you along so you won’t get lost, the dashboard can be used to easily organize everything from clients to projects. The dashboard even provides information like which invoices haven’t been paid and how much time you spent on a particular project.
There’s also a varied collection invoice templates so finding the template that best represents your brand shouldn’t be a concern – and you can insert your logo too. Other helpful features are the calendar summary and graphs of your performance. However, one major perk with this service is its ability to integrate with third parties, such as BaseCamp Support.
Starter plans for Make Some Time are free, but there are affordable $3, $25 and $49 plans as well.
Harvest is an easy to use program that can create reports, online invoices, estimates, and expenses. But it’s the amount of add-ons that integrate with Harvest that make this one of the most powerful invoicing tools.
Harvest allows you to connect with Google Apps, Basecamp, Co-op, Trello, Quickbooks, and the iPhone app Invoices. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Also available is an app for the iPhone and Android. In other words, Harvest is your one-stop invoicing solution for your agency.
As with most other invoice software, Harvest offers a free version along with more powerful monthly subscriptions at $12, $49, and $99.
Nutcache can help small business owners or the self-employed receive payments by accepting all major credit cards and works with payment gateways like Authorize.net and PayPal. The software is also perfect if you’re working with a team since you can have multiple users so you can share and collaborate together effortlessly – you can even manage multiple businesses.
Nutcache can also speak 10 different languages and has a convenient time-tracking tool. What really makes Nutcache stand out is how easy and fun it is. Yes. We did state that an invoice software is fun. Just explore Nutcache’s official site and you’ll see what we mean.
Best of all? Nutcache is completely free.
Apptivo is loaded with all the business apps you’ll need to keep your agency running efficiently. While there are other invoice programs that can accept online payments, it’s the inclusion of the apps that make Apptivo an essential resource.
These apps do things such as allowing you to organize clients and projects through apps like the CRM (Customer Relations Management), WordPress plugin, and Time Sheets. You can integrate all of these apps, along with Google Apps, to manage your business with ease and convenience. There’s also a very handy Community section that can be used if you have any concerns or questions.
You can have access to all of these apps for free. You can also upgrade to Premium ($10 per month) or Enterprise ($25 per month) is the Standard plan isn’t enough.
The Invoice Machine gives you the ability to create invoices with a sleek, professional design. You can even set options like taxes, discounts, currency, and language. Other features include being able to see which invoices have been sent, paid or are due and filter invoices by period, client or status. Invoices can be sent via email by attaching a PDF file and there’s also a handy billing timer that ticks away while you work.
The best feature though has to be how simple the interface is how to use – it’s also pleasing on the eyes if we say so ourselves.
There are four monthly payment options available depending on the size of your agency: Small (Free), Medium ($12), Large ($24) and Extra Large ($48).
Paymo has powerful management tools, including Tasks Lists, Milestones, Timesheets, Files and Discussions. These tools can ensure you complete projects on time, which makes it easier to get paid for your services on-time.
Another stellar feature is Time Tracking. This feature can be used to provide clients with reliable, and billable, start and end times. These Time Sheets can be added to the invoice you’ve created. You can also manage both clients and employees, as well as create informative reports. Finally, there are tons of add-ons ranging from Google Apps, Basecamp, Xero, iOS and Android.
Paymo has three payment plans to choose from: Free, Basic ($9.95 per month), and Premium ($14.85 per month).
Additional Invoice Tools and Resources
If the invoice tools listed above aren’t enough for you, here are six additional tools and websites that may be a valuable asset for your agency.
- PayPal Payments: If you have a Paypal account, which you and client most likely already use, so it may just be easier for you to create and send professional invoices directly from PayPal.
- Free Invoice Maker: A simple and free invoice template that doesn’t require you to sign-up. Just add your information, save as a PDF and email to you clients.
- Billable: Another free invoice template where you enter you details and save as a PDF. Also works on mobile devices.
- Timetrack: Use data-entry time-sheets to create invoices. You can also import/export from Excel.
- Entrepreneur: While Entrepreneur.com is not invoice software the site offers free invoice templates and plenty of useful articles that can assist you in all of your invoice needs. For example, there’s this handy “Remember These 8 Rules Before Sending Out Your Next Invoice.”
- National Federation of Independent Business: Useful articles to help make sure you get paid on time, as well as conducting surveys to give you a better understanding of running a small business.
What resources have your trusted when billing your agency clients?
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