|Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.|
Small Business Invoicing Services
For most small businesses, invoicing sits at the heart of their cash flow, which in turn is critical to the company’s ongoing success and survival. And given how important invoicing is, it’s worth investing some time and resources to make your invoicing as efficient as possible.
While mailing paper invoices remains a tried-and-true way for small businesses to be paid, a variety of cloud-based services have emerged to help streamline the process and help small business owners get paid for their services or products more quickly.
Cloud services help you develop invoice templates that are easy to customize for each client and project, saving you the time of re-keying information for repeat customers and providing a professional appearance that help portray your business in a good light with customers.
Cloud invoicing services offer a variety of benefits over sending paper invoices through the mail, starting with the option for electronic delivery. Depending on the service, you can send customers either a link to an electronic invoice they can download, or you can generate a PDF invoice that you can send via email or, if the customer insists, regular mail.
Some invoicing services also offer online payment capabilities that allow customers to pay your invoice by credit card, ACH or an online payment service. This capability can be convenient for your customer, and can help you get paid sooner than waiting for the customer on their bookkeeper to cut a paper check.
If you bill customers for time, it’s helpful to look for an invoicing service that includes time-tracking features so you can update how long you’re spending on specific projects. Similarly, many services allow you to track any reimbursable expenses you incur for a specific customer or project.
Efficiency Through Automation
Automation is another powerful benefit of cloud-based payment services. Once a customer’s data is entered into the service, it’s easy to create an invoice with just a few clicks. Their contact information carry over from invoice to invoice, and you can also carry over the services or products they’ve purchased if they’ve made a repeat order.
If you do business with a customer on a retainer basis, you can automate how often invoices are sent, such as on the 15th of the month, based on your agreement with the customer.
Some invoicing services will also offer customer dashboards letting you see several metrics about your company’s financial health, including payments with a given period, outstanding or overdue payments, invoices and payments from specific customers, and other financial signals.
Depending on the payment terms you’ve negotiated with your customer, cloud services can also send automated reminders about pending due dates or past-due invoices. Automating these reminders saves you the time required to track incoming payments and outstanding invoices, and can reduce the potential awkwardness of having to reach out to a slow-paying customer to resolve their invoice.
Many invoicing services also offer integration with popular small business accounting software, allowing you to enter payments and update your company’s books automatically. Having ready access to this information can save you time in paying your company’s own invoices, and can speed up your company’s tax and compliance reporting obligations.
Read other technology articles.