Are you planning to write an invoice? This guide will walk you through the process in six simple steps, ensuring a hassle-free experience and timely payments.
According to The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, 30% of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) invoices face delayed payments. Notably, a considerable portion of these instances, with research indicating as much as 61%, can be attributed to invoicing errors.
In this guide, we’ll explore the steps to write an invoice that gets paid on time, along with examples and recommendations for invoicing tools in Australia.
What is an invoice?
An invoice is a statement sent by a seller to a buyer, detailing the products or services provided, their costs, and the total amount due. It serves as a formal request for payment and includes essential information for both parties.
Invoices are used as a source document for business accounting and help record all the sales transactions a business makes with its clients. They are used to request timely payments from clients and to keep track of sales.
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Writing an invoice, step by step
Let us guide you through the process of filling out an invoice:
1. Personalise and make your invoice professional
Crafting an invoice is more than a transactional formality; it’s an opportunity to showcase professionalism and reinforce your brand identity. By personalising your invoice, you not only establish a visual connection with your clients but also convey a sense of credibility and attention to detail.
Adding your brand logo is the initial step in personalising your invoice. Position your logo prominently in the invoice header to enhance brand recognition and infuse a touch of professionalism.
Using a professional colour scheme is equally important. While brand colours can strengthen your image, a simple grey-toned template with a logo can be just as effective.
2. Include the appropriate contact information
Completing the appropriate contact information on your invoice is a fundamental step in ensuring clarity and professionalism in your business transactions.
Include comprehensive contact details for both the sender (your business) and the recipient (client). This encompasses names, addresses, email addresses, Australian Business Number (ABN) and phone numbers. By providing clear and accurate contact information, you facilitate effective communication and convey a commitment to transparency.
Furthermore, maintaining consistency in your contact information across all communication channels establishes reliability and fosters a sense of trust with your clients. Clear and easily accessible contact details contribute to a seamless invoicing process and reinforce the professional image of your business.
3. Date your invoice
Provide a comprehensive timeline for the payment process by inputting both the invoice date and due date. The invoice date serves as a reference point for work completion or item delivery, while the due date establishes a transparent framework for timely payments, especially if your business follows net-30 payment terms or a similar structure.
4. Provide an itemised list of goods and services
Offer a detailed breakdown of the goods and services you’re invoicing by providing an itemized list. Each line item should include a concise description of the service or product, along with corresponding prices and quantities. Customize the bottom section for additional comments, allowing for personalized messages or expressions of gratitude.
5. Calculate the total money owed
Subtotal sum of money owed by aggregating the amounts of each line item and add tax, delivery fees and other fees to calculate the grand total. Make sure to boldly write the grand total, highlighting what the customer should pay.
6. Include payment details on invoice
Payment terms outline the anticipated payment date and acceptable payment methods. This serves the dual purpose of ensuring prompt settlement of invoices and clarity on the payment procedure.
We also recommend that you include a statement stating that late payment fees will occur if payment is not made on time, to incentivise timely payments.
Moreover, recent studies have shown that polite wording results in earlier payments. In fact, invoices including a “thank you” in the payment terms get paid almost 90 per cent faster.
What to include on an invoice
In Australia, what you have to include on an invoice for it to be valid depends on whether you are issuing a tax invoice or a regular invoice.
- If you’re registered for GST, you must usually provide tax invoices.
- If you run a business not registered for GST, you should generate regular invoices.
Tax invoices must include the following pieces of information:
- Display the words “Tax Invoice.”
- Seller’s identity, including the Australian Business Number (ABN).
- The customer’s identity, contact details and ABN.
- Invoice issuance date.
- Brief description of items sold with quantity and price.
- GST amount payable, shown separately or as a statement.
- Indicate the taxable nature of each sale.
Regular invoices must include the following pieces of information:
- A clear label indicating it’s an invoice.
- Your identity, contact details and ABN.
- The customer’s identity, contact details and ABN.
- A unique invoice number.
- Invoice issuance date.
- Brief description of goods or services with quantity and price.
- Payment details: terms, payment method, and due date.
Invoice example: What does an invoice look like?
The following example illustrates a basic invoice format, offering insight into what an invoice typically entails.
Generating and dispatching invoices can be accomplished through various methods, each with its own set of advantages. Among the widely adopted approaches are:
Spreadsheets and word processors
Numerous entrepreneurs leverage free invoice templates within document applications like Microsoft Word or Excel. Despite its apparent simplicity, this method has witnessed a decline in popularity due to the substantial manual effort required for sending invoices and tracking payment follow-ups.
Online invoice generators
An invoice generator is a tool that enables users to create and send invoices electronically without the need to log into any service.
While this is an efficient method, the drawback is that you have to manage and organise invoices manually. Additionally, handling credits and issuing payment reminders becomes more challenging than in invoicing software which allows you to perform these tasks within seconds.
Invoicing software is a digital tool that streamlines billing, payment tracking, and financial record-keeping for businesses. Its benefits include:
- Enhanced data accuracy: Minimizes human errors in billing data entry.
- Simplified tracking: Facilitates easy search and retrieval of past invoices and payments.
- Automatic tax calculations: Ensures compliance by handling tax calculations based on invoice types.
- Increased efficiency: Automates invoice creation and payment processing, saving time and effort.
- Easy auditing: Maintains all billing information for simple audits and accurate financial records.
Writing an invoice email
In the digital age, sending invoices via email has become a common practice, offering a convenient and efficient way to communicate with clients. Here are some steps to guide you in writing an effective invoice email:
1. Subject line
Open with a clear subject line like “Invoice for Services – [Your Business Name]”.
2. Personal greeting
Begin with a friendly, personalised greeting using the client’s name.
Provide a brief reminder of the products or services rendered to set the context.
4. Invoice details
Clearly state the invoice number, date, and due date in the email body for quick reference.
5. Payment amount and method:
Specify the total amount due, including any additional charges, and outline accepted payment methods.
6. Payment terms
Reinforce payment terms, mentioning the expected payment date and any applicable late fees with polite language.
7. Invoice attachment:
Attach the invoice as a PDF or other standard format for detailed information.
8. Express gratitude:
Conclude with a polite expression of gratitude, such as “Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.”.
9. Contact information:
Include your contact details in the email signature for easy client communication.
Best invoicing tools for Australian businesses
Invoicing can be a complex and time-consuming task, but selecting the right tools can simplify the entire process.
We recommend utilising dedicated invoicing software, and one notable option is Conta’s free invoicing software.
Conta is well-suited for small and medium-sized businesses. It is intuitive and equipped with smart features that facilitate easier invoicing, such as one-click crediting and automated payment follow-ups. Moreover, it is completely free, without any limits, making it a smart alternative for cost-focused entrepreneurs.Create free invoices now
Frequently asked questions
Absolutely! You can create invoices for free using online tools like Conta. Conta streamlines the invoicing process, allowing you to generate professional invoices in under 2 minutes. Simply sign up for a free account, input customer details, along with product and price information, and send your invoices swiftly. Conta’s free invoicing software is well-suited for small and medium-sized businesses, providing a user-friendly experience without any limitations.
Yes, it is possible to write invoices in Word. Many entrepreneurs leverage free invoice templates within document applications like Microsoft Word for creating invoices. However, it’s worth noting that this method may involve substantial manual effort for sending invoices and tracking payment follow-ups. For a more efficient approach, you may consider using dedicated invoicing software or online invoice generators, which streamline the invoicing process and offer additional features for billing, payment tracking, and financial record-keeping.