Why sole traders should send professional invoices
Your customers all have different needs and requirements – and that’s part of the joy of operating your sole trader business. But it also means you need an invoice that captures all you do for your customers. No off-the shelf invoice will do – you need one that can be flexible, but at the same time doesn’t take up lots of your valuable time. By clearly outlining the work you’ve done and the prices you’ve charged with an easy-to-use, professional-looking invoice template, you’ll make running your business that much easier.
Your invoices should also reflect your great work. Every touch point with your customers should reflect your image and professional reputation as a self-employed professional.
Once you've downloaded your free invoice template, you'll need to customize it to fit your specific business. Here are the 10 key things to include on your invoice:
- Title and Description: Name the project and briefly describe what type of work your client is being invoiced for.
- Company Details: Add your company name, address, phone number, and logo to the top-right corner.
- Customer Details: Under "Bill To", add your customer's name, address, and contact information.
- Invoice Number: Include a unique invoice number to help you track down this invoice in the future. You can format this based on sequence and customer. For example, if you're sending your very first customer their first invoice, the invoice number could be 001-001.
- Dates: Include the date when your invoice has been issued and the date when payment is due.
- Line Item: Add individual line items for each unique good or service you provided. For each line item, include a brief description, quantity, individual unit price, and total price.
- Subtotal: Add up the subtotal of your goods or services, before tax has been applied.
- Tax: Indicate the tax rate applied to the subtotal. This is legally required to provide on invoices, and your rate may differ depending on where you run your business.
- Total: Outline the total amount due from the customer, after tax.
- Notes: Include any additional info your customer should know, including terms of service and payment terms (for example, payments are due 30 days after the invoice has been issued).
- Browse through our wide range of invoice templates in several beautiful designs and colors
- Select the one that fits your business and download the invoice template in the format you are most comfortable using, such as Word, Excel, PDF, Google Docs, or Google Sheets. It’s free!
- Insert your business name and all of your up-to-date contact information
- Add in your logo, website address, and any other promotional graphics
- Insert your client’s name and contact information
- Generate a unique invoice number and add it on
- Put in the invoice date, and if appropriate, the date the work started and finished, or the duration for which you provided your goods or services
- List your products and/or services. Include a description and cost for each
- Don’t forget to list any materials or miscellaneous costs that are charged to the customer, including a description of each
- Add or subtract lines to make sure the invoice covers all your costs. The template is easily customized to meet the specific requirements of your business
- If you are including a discount for loyal customers, add a line explaining the discount so your client knows you appreciate their business and are giving them a special lower price
- Calculate the total price you’re charging, including applicable tax, and list the total at the bottom of the invoice
- Include your payment terms, such as the methods of payment you accept, and the payment due date
- As a sole proprietor you want to encourage repeat business, especially from potentially lucrative customers, so always add a “thank you” for the business, or a personal note that will make you stand apart from the competition
- Save a copy for your records – and give the invoice to your client
When is the right time to send an invoice to your sole trader customers?
No two sole trader businesses are alike, so the ideal time to send your invoice varies with the type of service you provide, and the type of customer. If it’s a stand-alone order or project, many business owners invoice upon completion, especially if it’s for a loyal client. But if it’s a complicated order, or a project that will span a long period of time, you could request partial or even full payment up front, especially for new clients.
Quick invoicing tips for sole traders
Include professional recommendations
Your customers will appreciate your professional recommendations on any future services or goods you think would be beneficial to them. It shows you are sharing your expert knowledge, and enjoy working with them – and can encourage repeat business.
Shorten your payment terms
We live in an automated world where people are used to paying for products and services right away. You need to keep the revenue coming in as a business owner, so you could consider shortening your payment terms. Your clients might also like the nudge to pay faster to keep their finances up-to-date.
Include a ‘payment due’ date
It’s a great way to gently and professionally encourage on-time payment. Always give a clear indication of when you expect to receive payment.
Keep a record of your work with numbered invoices
Numbered invoices help you keep track of how much money is coming in, and shows your customers you have an organized system in place. You can also assign a job code if your work is going to be spread out over a long period of time and involve several invoices.