Whether you’re a business owner, sole trader or freelancer, knowing exactly how to create an invoice is an essential skill. By ensuring that your invoices are clear, professional-looking and legally compliant, you can cut down on time creating your own invoices, and get paid quicker.
In this article, we’ll cover:
How to make an invoice
What to include on an invoice
First, you’ll need to decide on an invoice layout. There are plenty of basic invoice templates freely available online, so there’s no need to start from scratch. Many of these are designed for Word or Excel, but you’ll also easily find templates for Apple Pages and other popular tools.
While it’s fine to keep things simple, research suggests that it’s worth taking a little extra time to personalize your invoice. For example, a 2017 study conducted by Due found that you’re 3 times more likely to get paid if you include a company logo. Additional little touches like utilizing color and picking a stylish font can make a positive first impression and help build your brand.
If document design isn’t your thing, you may prefer the convenience of invoicing software, which allows the user to create smart-looking invoices in just a few clicks. With an automated invoice system, you can also safely store key information, like customer contact details and product descriptions in the cloud.
Feel like invoicing software may be the right solution for you? With SumUp Invoices, you can generate invoices in seconds, issue them straight from your smartphone or tablet and provide your customers with instant online payment options. There are no upfront costs or monthly charges — just 2.90% + $0.15 per invoice once it’s been paid.
Perhaps the most important part of invoice creation is to ensure that you stay legally compliant. If you’re a US business owner, your invoice must include the following:
A unique invoice number
Your company name, address and contact details
Your customer’s name and address, plus company name if applicable
A description of the goods or services you supplied
The date these goods or service were supplied
The invoice date
The cost of the goods or services
The total owed
If you’re a sole trader using a business name, your invoice must include this business name, plus an address where legal documents can be sent to you.
If you own a registered business, you’ll need to include your company name exactly as it appears on your certificate of incorporation. If you want to add the names of your company directors, the name of every director must be included.
In addition to these must-haves, we highly recommend including payment terms on the invoice. Many invoice templates include a generic reminder of this rule, but keep in mind that you’re entitled to define your own payment terms.
For example, you can set your own due date, incentivize early or upfront payment by offering a discount, or charge interest for late payment. In the 2017 study we cited earlier, it was found that you’re 1.5 times more likely to get paid by including payment terms on your invoice, and 8 times more likely to get paid on time by specifying a due date.
Whatever terms you ultimately decide on, make sure that these are expressed clearly and concisely on your invoices.
Finally, here are a couple of tips that might sound obvious, but down the line could have a positive impact on your business cash flow.
The first is to clearly mark your invoices as such. Just adding the word “invoice” to your header will instantly distinguish the document from all the other paperwork your recipient may be doing.
Second, a short expression of gratitude can help strengthen the relationship between you and your customer. A simple “Thanks for your purchase” strikes a friendly tone, while also reminding the recipient that the invoice has been issued by a fellow human rather than a faceless corporation.
When writing an invoice, your top priority should be ensuring it meets all legal requirements.
Beyond this, there are several small touches you can add to build relationships with your customers and improve your chances of being paid promptly. These include clearly stating your payment terms, specifying a due date, customizing your invoice to reflect your brand and personalizing it with a thank you note.
With SumUp Invoices, you can create and send professional invoices in under a minute and send them to your customers via email, all from your phone or tablet. It’s the simplest, safest way to record your sales and collect your payments. Try SumUp Invoices now!