Whether you’re selling a product or a service, by law you need to produce an invoice to ensure you’re paid the correct amount in a timely manner. But although it’s important, an invoice doesn’t have to be complex to set up. There are loads of free tools and resources out there that will help.
Not only will your clients expect you to produce an invoice for everything they buy from you, but you need to keep them for your own records, too. A poorly written invoice that doesn’t contain all the required information can result in late payment.
We’ve outlined what needs to be included in an invoice and listed some tools that can help, so you can improve operations and make sure your business is following the right process.
What does an invoice need to include?
An invoice must include the following to make it valid:
- The word ‘invoice’ clearly marked.
- A unique identification number.
- Your company name, address, and contact details.
- The company name, address, and contact details of the customer you’re invoicing.
- A clear and concise description of the product or service you’re charging them for.
- The date the invoice was produced.
- The date when the product or service was supplied to the customer.
- The amount you’re charging.
- VAT amount (if applicable).
- Total amount owed.
HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) requires you to retain invoice records for six years, so whether you use an old-school filing system or cloud storage, you should always keep a copy for yourself.
The best free invoice templates
If you haven’t designed your own invoice template, there are free templates online that can help you produce a professional looking document.
The layout and information required on an invoice varies slightly for VAT registered companies, sole traders, and limited companies, so bear this in mind while choosing a suitable template
While it’s not mandatory, incorporating your company logo into the design makes the invoice look more professional and will help it to stand out if, for example, somebody is sifting through a pile of similar documents.
Check out some popular template resources:
Crunch is an online accounting and financial services company aimed at freelancers, SMEs, and contractors, and has some really good invoice templates on the knowledge section of its site. You only need to register your name, email address, and a password to download them, and you’re not obliged to receive further marketing.
Finnish start-up Zervant provides a cloud-based invoicing service to over 100,000 business users, and the easy-to-use software is completely free to use. Simply sign-up with just a few details and the online invoice tool will walk you through each step to create your own bespoke invoice.
Zoho is an IT and business management software developer that provides admin solutions for companies, with a variety of programs designed to streamline administrative tasks. While it charges for some services, the invoice software is free to use and easy to navigate.
Cloud-based Concur provides a one-stop-shop for businesses looking to keep track of all their finances, offering several packages. Most of the services aren’t free, however Concur offers an invoice template and guide to introducing an invoice policy in exchange for a few details regarding you and your business.
Producing professional-looking invoices with all the relevant information is important if you want your business to be taken seriously and get paid on time. With so much advanced software out there, you can create a branded invoice that looks smart and saves you time in the long run.