Gaining profit is arguably the goal of any business. One way to gauge that your company has gained profit is to monitor its cash flow. Cash flow refers to any amount of money being transferred out and into your business. If your business’ cash flow shows that there’s more money coming in than coming out, then your cash flow is considered positive, which roughly translates to your business gaining profit.  

That being said, it’s important that there’s always money entering your business’ account. One way of achieving this is to send out invoices and get paid on time. Even if this sounds simple, there are many business owners, unfortunately, who fail to do this. The consequence of failing to send invoices out on time is likely to result in a negative cash flow. (1)

Thus, as a business owner, it’s important to be vigilant and knowledgeable about the common invoicing mistakes you need to avoid. This way, you’ll get paid more quickly and maintain a positive cash flow. 

To help you out, here are five common invoicing mistakes you need to avoid:

1. Unviewed invoices

There’s a big chance that if your invoices aren’t viewed or missing in the recipient’s inbox, payment will be delayed or you won’t get paid at all. Additionally, if you don’t have software that’ll notify you that the recipient has indeed viewed the invoice, then the latter can argue that they only just viewed your invoice a few weeks after you sent it.

As mentioned before, delays in payment can negatively affect your cash flow. Additionally, you may be forced to create a new invoice, wasting precious time and effort unnecessarily.

You can prevent this problem from happening by using specialized service scheduling software that automatically sends invoices to the recipient on time. Software of this nature often has built in features that can alert you to when the client has viewed your invoice too. (2)

Fortunately, scheduling and financial software like this from Jobber, are widely available in any industry and have many useful built-in invoicing features. This means, despite the business you’re in—whether it’s a lawn care business or in the HVAC industry—you’ll be rest assured that you can utilize service scheduling software that’ll help you positively impact your cash flow.

2. No due date

When sending invoices, your business may use terms like ‘upon receipt,’ ‘Net 30,’ or ‘within X number of days,’ as it sounds polite and professional. However, these terms are often vague and may be open to misinterpretation. For instance, if you use ‘upon receipt,’ the client may interpret it as ‘as soon as possible,’ which is open to many interpretations. Hence, there’s a huge chance that you won’t get paid on time.

To avoid such problems, it would be best if you just specify when do you want to get paid. For example, if you submit your invoice on the first of October and you want to receive the payment within a week, you can simply set a date on the eighth of October. This way, you’ll rest assured that you’ll get your payment on or before your specified date, improving your cash flow. (3)

3. Unclear information

A good invoice should be visually appealing to the client. But this isn’t limited to its design and simplicity. A visually appealing invoice also means that the needed information, like the name and mode of payment, is emphasized. By doing so, your client will have a sense of security that they’re sending money to the right organization.

Speaking of the mode of payment, do note that there are plenty of payment options these days—from bank transfer to credit card payments. When it comes to deciding what payment option your business should use, the rule of thumb is to always consider what your clients often find more convenient. For instance, if they often prefer bank transfers, make sure that your business has this option, too. (4)

In some instances, it is useful to share a project estimate in advance of carrying out any work. This can then be repurposed into an invoice once the work has been completed. Conveniently, you can use a free estimate template so you can have a look at what your invoice would look like before sending it to your clients. Doing so will also ensure that your invoices are professional  looking and contain the necessary information. 

4. Vague pricing

If your pricing policies aren’t clear, then your clients may be surprised once they receive your invoice. This will result in them delaying, refusing, or challenging to pay you. It may even come to a point where the client will call the authorities, which spells legal problems on your part, costing you money.

To avoid your invoice from being labeled as fraudulent, ensure that your pricing policies are clear to your client before you even agree to do the job. Stating this on an estimate template as above will help with this (1)

5. Failing to follow up

A lot of business owners wait for a few months to remind their clients about missed payments. They may think that constantly bothering clients for payment may result in the latter not paying at all. The problem with this is there’s a huge tendency that you may forget the payment or settle for a lower amount than what’s been agreed. Either option will negatively affect your cash flow. Thus, it’s best if you follow up with your customers quickly, especially if it’s already a day or two after the payment deadline.

A simpler solution for this is to automate payment reminders. As mentioned earlier, invoicing software can do this for you. Hence, investing in this is going to be a good investment for your business. (5)

Final words

If your business commits one or all of the common invoicing mistakes mentioned above, then there’s a huge chance that you are not reaching your potential cash flow levels. In addition to your cash flow, these mistakes will also damage your customer relationships. 

Fortunately, by considering the advice for each mistake, you can prevent these issues from happening and foster better internal processes and systems that promote more successful business operations. 

References

  1. “11 Most Common Invoicing Mistakes to Avoid”, Source: https://www.invoiceberry.com/blog/11-invoicing-mistakes-avoid/
  2. “6 Common Invoicing Problems and How to Solve Them”, Source: https://www.netsuite.com/portal/resource/articles/accounting/invoicing-problems.shtml
  3. “10 Common Invoicing Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid”, Source: https://www.freshbooks.com/blog/invoicing-mistakes
  4. “6 Common Invoicing Mistakes You Can Easily Avoid”, Source: https://www.myitems.com/6-common-invoicing-mistakes-you-can-easily-avoid/
  5. “8 common invoicing mistakes you need to avoid”, Source: https://www.pencilpay.com/news/8-common-invoicing-mistakes/