How Bad Do You Want It? (Money, That Is!)

invoicing small business
Don’t do all the hard work and not get paid for it: consult our checklist for what you can do to get paid – and faster.

If you’re working as a contractor and using an Australian business number (ABN), rather than a tax file number (TFN), you’re self-employed, and this means you will need to invoice your customers for the products or services you provide in order to get paid.

If you’ve only ever worked as an employee before, you’re probably used to being able to set your clock to payday, but unfortunately this isn’t often the case when you’re a contractor. Getting paid late — or worse, not at all! — can seriously affect your cash-flow, and in turn, affect the success of your business, which is why we cover things like financial planning in our Small Business Management and Start Up Course.

Designing Your Invoice

When you’re first starting out, getting paid is usually the only thing you can think about, which is why it’s important to remember that the sooner you submit that invoice, the sooner you’ll get paid! But first, how the heck do you design an invoice, anyway?

There was once a time, when contractors and the self-employed had only two options: toil away, creating an invoice in Word or Excel; or buy a rather expensive piece of accounting software, like MYOB. If you’re so inclined, you can still do both of these things — and depending on the scale of your business and your business needs, MYOB could be a sensible purchase — but, behind the door marked ‘internet’, there’s also option number three: use a cloud-based invoicing program.

Introducing Cloud-Based Zoho and Xero

One such cloud-based invoicing program is Zoho Invoice, which we’ve written about previously, and who also offer a range of other small business solutions. There’s also Reach Accounting, which we offer an online training course in, as well as Xero and an infinite number of other online accounting software packages.

Each accounting package makes creating and submitting an invoice, quick and simple. But does that necessarily guarantee you’ll be paid on time? Well, that really depends on the client. However, there are a couple of things you can do to speed up the process and ensure you’re paid on time.

Speeding Up the Time to Payment

Discuss your terms: When you first start working with a new client, discuss your terms with them upfront. We’ve found that a verbal conversation with a customer tends to stay in front-of-mind more than a line in an email or on an invoice.

Make sure you’ve got the right contact: Often the person who commissions or hires you isn’t the person who pays the bills – this is usually the responsibility of accounts payable, so make sure that the person you’re sending invoices to is the person who’ll eventually pay you — you’d be surprised how much time this saves!

Include payment details: This is an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many invoices are sent out into the universe without details of how to actually pay them. Make sure you include your bank details, or if you’re going to use PayPal, make sure that you set up your payment gateways properly.

Use email: If you usually hand someone a hardcopy invoice, or you still fax or mail your invoices, stop now! This is dated and there’s the risk your invoice will get lost — and that means, no money for you (and also no dinner or hot showers, either!). Most accounting programs, if not, all of them, have the functionality to email your invoices to multiple contacts once you’ve created them. This is extra handy, if, as in the situation above, you have two contacts at the company you’re working with.

Offer incentives: We don’t recommend all businesses do this — and certainly not the cash-strapped freelancer or virtual assistant — but if your business has a high turn-over of invoices, and you’ve reached a place where you can feasibly offer customers who pay before the due date a discount off their next bill (or whatever alternative  you can come up with), do it. It never ceases to amaze just what someone will go through just for a little free loot.

Clean, clear and concise: The cleaner the design of your invoice, the clearer your terms are (i.e. in bold, large font and with a moving GIF, if necessary) and concise your invoices are, the quicker you’ll be paid. If your clients don’t know when to pay you or what they’re paying you for (hint: make sure you make your products and services clearly identified and easily trackable in the item/description section of your invoice) and they have to query these things with you, this is another hold-up in the payment process.

***

There are plenty of horror stories from sole-traders, contractors and freelancers who haven’t been paid by clients. To avoid being one of them, it’s important to get your invoices right. If you’ve never invoiced someone before, it’s a good idea to have someone else look over your invoice before you submit it to your client.

Invoice Your Customers Directly Using PayPal

We were recently surveying our PayPal account and discovered that you can now invoice customers directly using PayPal. While it doesn’t eradicate the need for a good piece of accounting software, this facility makes it very easy for people to get started in business — particularly businesses with very few expenses.

PayPal 2014 Screen - Manage Invoices - New Invoice Screen

It’s a Great Time to Start a Business!

If you’ve been thinking about starting a business, then there has never been the more perfect time to do it. Really, we mean that! In fact, it’s why we started developing our digital business course, because there are now so many online tools to help people get a small business off the ground — it’s just a case of knowing what those tools are and how to use them.

EzyLearn Digital Business Course

This is where we come in. Our Digital Business Course is designed to take you through every step involved in starting an online business — from creating a website to understanding how to manage and operate a small business.

One great facility for any online business, whether you’re selling products or services, is having a PayPal account, which allows you to accept payments from customers all over the world.

The Benefits of PayPal for Your Business

Using PayPal for your business transactions also enables you to expand your business networks right around the globe. You can tap into the global marketplace of remote workers and ensure your transactions are safe and secure every time.

With PayPal as your primary method for accepting payments from customers, you’re able to invoice clients and offer them the option of paying by credit card for free. As a remote worker, this is an easy way to send invoices and reconcile payments all in the one place.

But say you’re not just an online business. Say you’d like to be able to take credit card payments in person too. Well, PayPal also offers a service, called PayPal Here, which allows you to turn any smartphone into a credit card processing terminal, so it doesn’t matter where you are — you can always get paid.

***

There really has never been a better time to start a business than now, so if you would like more information on our Digital Business Course or our Small Business Management Course which equips you with the knowledge you need to run your own or someone else’s small business (plus you conclude the course with a comprehensive business plan), then contact our team today — we’ll help you get started!

MYOB Bookkeeping Case Study: A telephone system supplier and installer

Cisco IP Telephones for VoIP systems case study for MYOB training courseWe were reviewing the course outline for the MYOB Day-to-Day Transactions course because it covers most of the topics that someone would need if they are performing daily bookkeeping data entry tasks for a small to medium business.

The course provides the foundation skills that most of the other courses are built on. Once you have the day-to-day data entry skills you will be able to more confidently perform a bank reconciliation, generate reports and prepare BAS returns as well as enter the data and prepare reports for payroll.

The MYOB Day-to-Day course uses a very common case study of a company that provides products and services. We use an IT consultant that sells small business VoIP telephone systems and supports their customers with the initial setup as well as ongoing support.

Course features

Since January 2011 our full suit of 5 MYOB training courses comes with lifetime access so you can revisit the training videos, workbooks with step-by-step exercises and knowledge reviews as often as you want for the rest of your working life. Many students use the course as a resource for when they are using

Our MYOB training courses also come with EzyLearn ANSWERS, a service that we provide to create new course content based on  questions from our students. It’s a way that we increase what is covered in our courses while providing students with an level of customisation and support.

MYOB courses created by certified bookkeepers and BAS agents
MYOB courses created by certified bookkeepers and BAS agents

Another great aspect of this course is that we go into the Inventory module of MYOB Accounting software to see how a company can sell products as well as services using the Inventory module of MYOB AccountRight Plus.

Our MYOB training courses are created using consultation with business owners and certified bookkeepers and registered BAS agents who perform bookkeeping tasks for their own customers.

Free MYOB Training Course

We want to give free MYOB training away so you get a chance to learn more about us and see if we are the company you turn to for your MYOB training courses. Follow the link below and you will automatically receive our free MYOB training resources.

The free MYOB Training Course material is now available at our new MYOB Short Courses catalogue site. Access the FREE MYOB Training Now

Tips and Tricks

We announce new course content, free tips and tricks, free training videos and much more via this blog so feel free to subscribe and be kept up-to-date and well informed about MYOB, bookkeeping, Office Administration and Website Design. Enter your email address below:

 

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner