Getting used to invoicing isn’t just for specialist VA’s undertaking bookkeeping tasks for their clients, it’s a skill on some level all Virtual Assistants must have.
You may well work for pleasure, but you still want to get paid, right!
So getting your head around the best way to do it is fundamental in the early days. Or, those not so early days for some … I still know VA’s who have stuck with their manual processes – even after years working for themselves.
And that’s fine, if that’s what they prefer.
But there are much easier and less timely ways to do it. Plus, having an electronic system ensures crucial financial files never go astray.
So if you haven’t already got something in place, here’s what you should do today …
First and foremost, have you set your business rates?
It may seem an obvious one, but in those early days when you just want a client under your belt (so to speak) it’s easy to jump in without confirmed rates and a contract in place.
Don’t start any task without being clear about your rates and payment structure, even if you’re just starting out and need the work.
Secondly, have you got time tracking software setup?
There are heaps of different options flooding the marketplace, so it’s really what you prefer.
Personally, I use Toggl. I’ve used it since Day One. But there are others that have come on to the market since then that may have more functionality. Or just fit your needs better.
Once that’s setup, your hours will be easy to track – so neither you or your client lose out to estimations.
Now you’re ready to find an invoicing solution that works for you.
By all means create your own spreadsheet to keep track of the numbers. I do this myself so I have a good overview of my income, and use it to make financial projections for the year(s) to come.
But in this age of modern technology, don’t make it your only form of invoicing.
As with time tracking tools, there are countless invoicing options. Most offer similar features, with the main differences being between the paid-for versions.
If you’re just starting out, I imagine your funds are pretty limited. In which case you could easily stick with, and benefit from, the free solutions.
I still do and see no need to upgrade any time soon.
WaveApps is a free accounting solution that provides me with all I need to create and manage my invoices across multiple clients.
However, the benefit of the paid-for versions, is the fact that they tend to be integrated with time trackers – so everything can be automated.
Some free versions offer this too, but you have to use the time tracker that they’re integrated with. Obviously.
Our free VA Resource Kit lists multiple accounting options, so it’s probably a good idea to take a look at each and find one that suits your needs the best.
Now that you’ve got a system in place, what should your invoice include?
- It should state that it’s an invoice. Clearly. As obvious as that sounds, if you decide to create your own invoices rather than use an online solution, make sure Invoice is displayed somewhere prominent.
- Your company name, address, website and phone number. If you’re a Limited company, remember to include your company number. If your VAT registered, remember to include those details too.
- Your client’s details – name, company name, address and email.
- The invoice number – making sure this is unique every time. You can also include a PO number if relevant.
- The date of the invoice – when it is dispatched.
- The payment due date – this should be clearly stated in your contract terms so it doesn’t come as a big surprise to the client.
- The amount due – and remember to be clear about the currency you’re billing in.
- The service(s) provided. Clearly outline the tasks undertaken, the time taken and the date they were worked on alongside your rate, so your client can see the full breakdown.
- How your client can make payment – provide your bank details, PayPal details or whatever other form you accept payment via. Or, you could allow your clients to pay by credit card. Although something to bear in mind if using the latter method, most accounting solutions, whether free or not, will take a fee if you choose to accept payment by credit card.
And that’s all there is to it.
Get a set process in place for sending out your invoices that represents your business professionally.
Once you have that system in place, it’ll become a natural part of your monthly routine.
And if you’re having problems getting paid, here are 6 tips for getting paid on time.