Welcome to 7PM.
You’re at your desk, scrolling through an Excel spreadsheet or flicking through your accounting software. I’m home with a glass of nice wine. I’m sorry, but I don’t have bills to collect and customers to chase down.
Small business owners get paid slowly. So slowly, in fact, that the White House has stepped into the fray to try and get large companies to drop their payment times. Part of the problem lies on the side of the small business owner, who keeps their files in disarray, doesn’t have enough hours in a day to send out invoices on time, or doesn’t have the help they need to chase down late payers.
That’s why you’re sitting at the desk, after hours, doing work that has nothing to do with advancing the core of your business.
Instead of wasting that time, let’s be more efficient. A study from IBML found that automating your accounts payable process can save 50% or more on your invoice processing. It’s time to get some software in your life.
Make it professional
Even if you have an accounting package to track your cash, your software may not have the resources you need to keep on top of billing. Small businesses face the dual problem of not having manpower to chase everything down, along with not having enough business weight to throw around and compel payment. You’re often working for much larger companies, which seem to hold all the cards.
To put yourself in the strongest possible position you have to do three things. First, you need to present yourself professionally when it comes to invoicing. Second, you need to stay on top of outstanding payments. Finally, you need to follow through.
Invoicing and billing software can automate and streamline most of these steps. Feel free to put a bookmark in that big, ol’ binder of bills while I refill this wine.
And we’re back. Look at the last invoice you sent out. It uses the design that you came up with when you first opened your doors. The logo is pixilated. There are meaningless semi-legal sounding caveats all over it. It’s a Word 2003 document, for goodness sake.
Now, take a look at what you could be sending out.
You’re looking at the basic invoice design that FreshBooks can spit out for you. While it may not look like much, take a closer peek at the benefits here. First, there’s an invoice number that gets auto-generated so you don’t have to keep track of them.
Then, there’s the overall layout, highlighting when the invoice was sent and how much the total bill is. With more advanced software, you can tweak the layout, add more delivery options, and make sure you come across looking professional.
Track your late clients
Invoices that get lost in the shuffle are invoices that cost you money. Not only do you get paid late, you also have to spend extra time on paperwork, trying to make your accounts match up.
Billing software gives you an easy way to track your invoices and gives you insight into how you’re making money. Zoho Invoice – shown below – can get you out of the office earlier. Its reporting features allow you to track billed hours, unbilled hours, and let you sort your sent invoices by how long ago they were mailed.
Automated tracking allows you to spend less time hunting down one missing piece. In Zoho, for instance, you can simply set reminders to be sent out automatically if payments haven’t been received. The software also ties into a range of online payment portals, including PayPal and Authorize.net, so you can link invoices directly to online payments.
Save time like a pro
The reason businesses adopt an invoicing and billing system is to save time and make more money. Achieving those goals requires putting in time up front. Xero list of pre-setup requirements gives you a good idea of the work you’re going to need to do.
You’ll need to know the basics of your accounts, have information handy about your previous system, take the time to input clients and their contact details, enter uncleared funds, and, basically, recreate your accounts in any new billing system you use.
This is the time sink at the front and its importance cannot be overstated. If you want to save time in the future, you must do this part correctly. Many times, your accountant will be able to help you set this up if you have concerns or problems. Don’t hesitate to call on them – they’re the experts.
Take all this to heart and by this time next year, you too can be sipping on Bordeaux, instead of sitting at the office. Check out the listings on Capterra’s billing and invoicing software page to get started. Good luck.
Looking for Billing and Invoicing software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Billing and Invoicing software solutions.