Looking to the Future: Preparing Your Business For Success or Failure

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According to statistics gathered by the US Small Business Administration, only about half of all small businesses survive past the five-year mark, while just about one-third will make it to their 10th anniversary. Those who fall behind can fail for a number of different reasons, but in many cases, a simple lack of preparation is to blame.

With the right planning, funding, and flexibility, your business can beat the odds and be one of those that succeed in the long run. So, in this article, we’ll go through how you can financially prepare your business for sustaining success or ably managing failure.

Preparing for Success
The first thing you have to do to make sure your business is prepared for success is to have a skilled finance manager with experience in business management within your team.

Aside from analyzing sales and cash flow, Chron shares that a skilled finance manager can help executives in making big financial decisions, while projecting future spending and earning. To enhance the key economic aspects of your business and monitor your business’ health, you should conduct regular analyses of financial ratios and statements with your finance manager. This will give your business a balanced financial structure that will enable you to map out your financial future, and grow with it.

This is very important because when your business is growing, it’s easy to think that everything is going well and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Those who aren’t mindful about the dynamics of their cash flow will fall into a trap, and may even fail to sustain the business’ growth even in the short-term. So, make regular projections based on accurate analyses with your finance manager, to make sure that you know how much money or credit you’ll need well before you have to start writing checks as your company grows.

Preparing for Failure
When it comes to business, you do not only plan or prepare for growth, you need also consider possible undesirable situations — such as sales falling flat compared to projections, unfortunate failures in your production floor, or even simply bad management. Only by doing this can you anticipate any challenges ahead and prepare for them financially.

When it comes to preparing for dire situations, this post entitled ‘Emergency Fund: What it is and How to Build One’ by Marcus points out that you should keep a fund for accidents and urgent crises separate from your regular accounts. Be sure that you have quick access to your emergency fund if (or when) you’ll ever need it to cushion an organizational fall. And when it comes to building the fund itself, you can save for it in small amounts over time, as we all know a little can go a long way.

When your business is met with financial problems, you’re not supposed to just immediately dip into your emergency fund or worse, give up and call it a day. As we’ve previously shared in our post on ‘How to Overcome Financial Problems’, there are several ways in which you could fund your company, such as through venture capital or bank loans.

Whether it is for the success or failure of your business, you should always prepare for all possible outcomes regardless of what’s expected. Doing so will enable you to respond more efficiently and effectively to whatever the future holds for your business and its finances.

5 Benefits of CRM Platforms for Realtors and Agents

Before we understand the concept of and need for Realtor CRM, let us understand CRM in general. In the world of marketing, communication is the key element that drives engagement and helps you build reach. A key element in the marketing and communications gamut would include a CRM system that has been created for the following reasons:

To store data in one place
To manage all information and data pertaining to customer interactions
To generate and nurture leads
To create a software that is data driven
To manage sales and other workflow processes through the software
To help in sales acceleration
To support marketing automation
To streamline the overall efforts of the various sales, service and marketing teams
To bring down the cost of production
To increase the output and revenue quantum

With such ends in mind, it comes as no surprise that CRM or Customer Relations Management software and systems are one of the most important means or tools to be used by businesses of any and every size.

The Real Estate CRM Reality
Real Estate CRM is of great importance in this day and age. With the digitization of marketing and customer interaction efforts, there has been an amplification of communication signals as well as the opportunities generated by said signals. From multiple platforms to multiple campaigns and a varied audience base, there are a large number of opportunities that businesses must tap into so as to make all the right noises in the right paces for the right results. But time is of the essence here, since competition has also proportionately increased and amplified with all these new digital realties surrounding businesses.

In such a scenario, real estate is one that niche that has seen a growth in the number of opportunities which makes it even more important to have a CRM system that fits the bill and the need of the hour. Here are 5 benefits that realtors and agents can reap from the adoption of a well charted CRM system:

Customized Reach and Service: When you turn to CRM for real estate, you get to customize your communication and interactions as per the varied projects that you would like to promote. This helps you spread your efforts over a wider audience within that time frame. In turn, it reduces time spent on driving engagement towards a single campaign and also helps you promote a number of projects simultaneously. Understanding your customers becomes that much more easier since you are now tapping into all your customer information for varied properties and projects from the same place. This helps you customize your communication so that it becomes easier for your potential buyer to find the home or property of his or her choice that much faster and more efficiently – which also makes realtors and agents look that much more efficient.

Unified Approach: With CRM for real estate, you get to tap into the data for the multiple campaigns and properties from the same place where all the information and the data is stored. This makes your efforts unified and more organized which in turn helps you take stock of the said efforts in a better and more relevant manner so that you can measure the goals and your achievements accordingly. With this unified approach, you also get to understand the needs of the customers and bring in the right properties for the right buyers without wasting their time or yours.

Greater Likelihood of Closing a Sale: From the above two points, one thing has become clear – building and using a realtor CRM helps in reducing the time spent in campaigning for individual properties and matching the right property with the right property since all you have to do is tap into the data that has been stored in one unified field, as mentioned above. The real implication of this comes in the rise of the sales figures since such an organized and efficient method of presenting and communicating with prospects and customers helps the realtor in finding a greater success rate when it comes to closing the deal. You can find a greater likelihood of making a sale and closing the deal with an organized effort which also puts your customer at ease and helps you come across as a more professional brand.

Cultivating Future Customers:
In real estate, the trick is not to just make a sale at a single point or once. You have to put yourself in a position where the customer will remember you as and when an upgrade is required or when they have to make a recommendation to a friend, a colleague or a family member. When you manage your time better and up your productivity game with realtor CRM, you are also putting out a pretty strong message about your brand – one that the customer will not forget in a hurry when it is time for an upgrade to accommodate a growing family, or making a recommendation to someone who wants to go into escrow.

Stand Out in the Marketplace: When you are using real estate CRM, you are essentially taking all the steps to ensure that you face your competition straight in the eye so that you stand out and stand tall. The CRM strategy and automation along with the data management from one centralized location is something that will help you tap into opportunities faster and with more frequency than most of your competitors since it frees up the time for you to reach more people with much more efficacy within less time. In order to become more competitive, it is important for realtors and agents to consider creating a CRM system that will record and process all the data for proper communication and interactions from one unified place.

In order to maximize this effort, we would also suggest the merging of real estate CRM with marketing automation so that you can schedule and process all your communication with your interactions for multiple platforms within the sales and marketing gamut.

10 Reasons Why You Should Move to Cloud Accounting

Easy accessibility, sharable features, and secure storage are the keywords of a steadfast operational infrastructure in any business. Cloud Accounting software became an instant hit and the choice of thousands of global firms just after its inception. Apart from these features, cloud storage ensures, you can enjoy easy migration facilities in the future. Well, traditional storage systems are on the decline, as cloud accounting software brings you a multiplicity of features. If you are still managing your storage system with the old and cost-intensive devices, it’s time to incorporate the change.

Following are the ten key benefits of shifting to the cloud accounting system.

Security of data
Irrespective of the nature of business, you cannot sacrifice the security of your data. Today, the digitized infrastructure calls for optimum security of data. Physical storage devices are susceptible to physical damage, damage caused by water or malware. When accurately deployed, Accounting software based on cloud systems can keep your storage system secure from all these threats. You need not go for manual backups across multiple storage devices. Thus, it saves productive time of your business.

Cost-management
Traditionally, companies use large storage facilities like hard disks and compact disks, besides other storage devices. These devices cost a lot, and you need to buy them even if you don’t need the complete space. On the other hand, cloud storage systems are easy to use and cost-effective in nature. You can purchase virtual storage across the available platforms and pay only for the required storage space. You can enjoy a better control over your financial resources.

Accuracy
The manual storage process is not only tedious, but prone to human errors. When you store your files in the physical storage devices, you lack accuracy. Over the time, a number of junk files and duplicated copies occupy your storage space. You can maintain better accuracy when you shift to online databases. It becomes convenient for your employees to sort and locate the files. It features easy data-organization and ensures a seamless storage mechanism.

Collaborative system
In manual storage systems, it is not possible for multiple professionals to view the files or documents simultaneously. You need to store the files in separate drives or carry duplicated copies. However, cloud Accounting software enables you to use the files from multiple locations. Several multinational companies, or companies with offices in different locations can collaborate using this technology. They can synchronize in a better way, they can access the same document from different locations instantaneously.

Simple integration
One of the best features of cloud accounting systems is that it offers simple integration features with other software. You can install add-ons on these storage systems. For instance, accounting becomes easier when you install a payroll management add-on or tool on your cloud system. It makes the operations simple and swift. Companies are increasingly switching over to cloud storage systems to enjoy this flexibility. You can integrate all data assessment tools on the same platform.

Increased efficiency
No company would like to spend its productive time on a complicated storage management issues. In Accounting software based on cloud storage, the data is updated to the existing storage in quick time. Moreover, there are no time-consuming installation and updating processes involved. Seamless operations indicate that you save a lot of your productive time and effort. You can mobilize your resources in a better way and the productivity of your company is likely to shoot up.

Flexibility
Well, you do not necessarily need to be in your office in order to access the cloud storage system. Your employees can access the files and documents from any possible location. You can use the files while travelling, when you are at home and from anywhere you have access to internet. At times, you may need the documents when you are not carrying a physical storage device. In these cases, you can simply download them from the cloud system.

Free updates
From time to time, the cloud storage system has to be updated to retain the latest features. However, most of the systems come with auto-update features. You need not deal with any complicated technical aspect when you update them. Moreover, these are free updates where you do not have to pay any charge to the provider. It delivers all-round benefits to your operational infrastructure.

Better navigation
Cloud storage systems have better interfaces and navigation features. Anyone can use this storage mechanism, as it comes with a straightforward navigation system. With intuitive buttons, you can use the dashboard easily. It also saves time for your business as your employees face no hassle in locating the buttons or searching the files. They can make whatever changes required in the existing storage pattern. The user guide will help you to manage the system adroitly.

Help from forums
All cloud Accounting software comes with community forums. These are especially useful to the new users, as they clarify all sorts of doubts through these forums. You may be facing a certain problem while using the new system. These forums feature questions and answers, and discussions, where you can place your queries and get relevant answers. Although, the ‘Help’ button is present to provide you with the primary guidance, you may need further assistance from these platforms.

Overall, the cloud storage system is scalable. You need not invest in costly hardware. You simply need to pay a charge to the company. The amount of storage space needed can be scaled up and down. It ensures that you save your costs. Besides, most of the companies opt for managed IT services, where a third party controls their cloud accounting process. The number of employees required to control this system can also be increased or decreased. Altogether, you save money both on installation and maintenance of this system.
Besides, when you will use it, you will realize that cloud accounting systems streamline your account management system. Business firms save costs, reduce wastage of resources, ease up the operational process, and enjoy increased security. Cloud Accounting software has already made its way into a large section of industries. No wonder, the future of storage largely relies on cloud accounting.

Author Bio:

Kiran Bajpai works as a Marketing Associate at SoftwareSuggest. Her expertise lies in Documents Management Software. Reading books is something that she can never get bored of, especially those related to politics and history.

Why Market Segmentation Matters: Designing Marketing Campaigns

Marketing is incredibly important when it comes to your business. When you market your business properly, then this will really help it to be as successful as possible. However, the trouble with marketing is that it isn’t always easy to get right. Especially when it comes to putting together a marketing campaign. To help you to make sure that your marketing campaign is everything that you need it to be, let’ take a closer look.

he biggest mi stakes in designing marketing campaign There are a variety of mistakes that you can make when you are putting together a marketing campaign. You might focus on the channels that you market on, rather than who you are marketing too. You may also fail to th ink about the basics and instead move onto the much trickier stuff. You may also try and be far reaching rather than delving actually deeply into the marketing that you are already performing.

How to put together a marketing campaign
The first thing to d o is always start with your target customer, once you have this in mind then you are going to be able to set the right goals and design the right process for you to follow. All with an end goal in sight. The next thing that you need to think about is segmenting the market. This is part of marketing campaigns that people often overlook. The idea of market segmentation is that you divide the entire market that you are trying to attract, and make clearly defined segments that all have similar pains and values.

Once your market is segmented, then you need to start thinking about how you are going to make sure that your messages will fit in with each of those segments. That way, whatever it is that you are trying to say, will be heard by the right people. Not only is what you say important at this point, but you also need to consider the marketing channels that you use too. The marketing channels that you use will have a different level of appeal and in order to really make sure that your message is heard by th e right person, then you need to find the one that has the right fit. The thing to always remember about marketing is that it is important not to let it go stale. Else you can find that your effort might not be worth it, and that you end up having to do f ar more work than you may initially thought. Take the time to learn more about the approaches that you are using and whether or not they are actually working for you. If they are, then great, keep going on with it, but if they are not, then you are going to want to try something else.

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Small Business Tech—8 Tips for Working More Efficiently

Whether you’re looking to create a more productive workforce or better connect with your customers, technology helps small business teams accomplish more with fewer resources and personnel. In many ways, today’s technology is the great equalizer—never before have SMB leaders had access to so many tools and applications that can help them outperform their more sizeable competition.

With so many tools and resources available, it can be difficult to determine which tech opportunities will help your small business the most. That’s why we’ve shared a few insights for small businesses looking to update their tech usage in order to work more effectively on the day-to-day.

Invoice more accurately
If you’re looking for a solution to your invoicing woes, look no further than an internet-based invoicing software. While some invoices are promptly paid off, there’s a good chance that your business struggles to manually check on invoices that are either overdue or partially paid. Having a professional invoicing system will not only help you keep track of each invoice your business is due but will also help ensure that you get paid in a timely manner. Even better, by hosting your invoicing information online, you can easily collect relevant information for tax season and set up recurring payments for repeat customers. Aside from this, it will also help you with your finances like keeping track of any short term financing or lines of credit that you might have taken out.

Connect with Social Media
From responding messages on Facebook to sending out your daily tweet, you can build a better online presence through a social media management tool. Social media is one of the most powerful methods for businesses to connect with current and potential buyers. As a result, your customers often require instantaneous engagement from your business when it comes to their questions, comments and concerns. Designed with the small business in mind, these platforms allow you to collaborate with several of your team members to schedule posts and address customer inquiries in real-time. With the aid of messaging templates and knowledge bases, you can also ensure that your team’s responses are on-brand and have the right tone.

Consolidate your communication
In order to improve your communication with both internal teams and external customers, you can support all of your communication channels through a simplified unified communications platform. This technology streamlines your approach to team chats, web conferencing and even phone calls by hosting them in a single place, allowing you to scale with ease and switch between different communication channels to meet your current needs. For small businesses specifically, this type of tool is effective because it lessens the need for on-site IT support and maintenance, giving you the flexibility that comes with online communication without the hassle of having to manage it yourself.

Manage your allocations
Creating accurate billing statements is even easier with the help of a project time tracking tool for small businesses. Especially when your teams are bouncing between multiple projects for an array of customers, it’s imperative for small businesses to track the cumulative time spent on each task to ensure that your customers are paying only what they owe. Time tracking software can also help on the front end by helping you properly allocate resources for each project. By recording the amount of time spent working, you can begin to gauge how much time and how many people will be needed to deliver your products or services before the deadline.

Create a customer support system
Designed to better manage customer priorities, a small business help desk software offers a single digital space to track your customer inquiries and prevent any tickets from falling through the cracks. Help desks are no foreign object for larger companies, and many providers of help desk systems now offer solutions that target challenges that are unique to a small business customer base. Many come equipped with a knowledge base to help you understand and make use of the many features this software can provide, and depending on your subscription package you’ll be able to assign tickets to specific team members and automate certain requests. Not only does this help you remain better organized, but it can also help you address customer concerns strategically for reduced response times and higher customer satisfaction.

Go paperless
Remove the hassle of paperwork, contracts and confidential documentation by adopting a cloud-based storage and backup solution. Paper documents are difficult to store, organize and keep secure; they take up valuable office space and can be easily damaged by water, mold and office fires. That’s why many small businesses have decided to go paperless by migrating to a cloud-hosted solution. Because your information is stored through the internet, accessing these documents is as simple as searching for them, regardless of your current location. However, it’s important to do your due diligence and pair your cloud system with a backup and disaster recovery tool to keep data losses reversible.

Unify employee training
Since small businesses rarely have the time or extra staff that training new hires demands, many SMB owners now use an interactive learning management system to keep your trainees engaged while they learn and develop the skills they need to succeed at your organization. Perhaps most importantly, LMS software helps small businesses create a repeatable and uniform process for training new hires in each role, which helps prevent any accidental omissions of information and promotes a more logical sequence of training activities. As your business grows and you hire more people, having a concrete training strategy in place will help your employees become proficient more quickly without requiring additional work on your end.

Secure company data
Any small business looking to digitize their work processes should remember to secure their information with a cyber-defense platform. It’s certainly true that cyberattacks previously targeted larger, corporate entities, but as technology has become more integrated with small businesses, even smaller organizations have found themselves the victims of data breaches and hacking attacks. Phishing emails are one specific type of cybercrime that small businesses are susceptible toward, as it only takes a single click from one of your employees for the hackers to have access to confidential information. By educating your team on some cybersecurity best practices and proactively investing in cyber tools, you can ensure that your employee, customer and business information stays in the right hands.

How to unlock web content. Quick VPN guide

Nowadays, we hear lots of buzz around these three simple letters – VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and this app (usually its an app) can be a real lifesaver in some of the situations. We’ll try to quickly guide you on how VPN works, what it can do and if you should get yourself one.

What is a VPN?

Virtual Private Networks are physical or virtual servers that allow you to browse the internet safely and, more importantly, privately. VPN’s simply route your traffic to another server and your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or government are not able to see your activity online.

Are VPNs legal?

Being honest – it literally depends on the purpose. VPN as a commercial service is relatively new, so there are not many laws that could limit usage of the software. In all European and Western countries (including The US, of course) VPNs are completely legal and you can definitely look for one. However, there are countries where usage of VPN can get you in trouble. Here are a few of them:
Singapore – Moral reasons
Jordan – Political stability
Libya – Political stability
Russia – National security
North Korea – Political stability, national security, moral reasons
China – Political stability, national security, moral reasons

How can VPN help me to unblock content I’d like to watch?

Streaming services like Netflix or Hulu are the most common use cases for a VPN app. As you probably know (or not), Netflix libraries are different in each country. People pay the same amount of cash, but receive different types of content. Most of the TV series are available in the US, however, Europeans, Asians and everyone else are not able to see the particular shows (e.g. The Office is not available in Europe) at home. That’s a situation when a VPN comes in handy. VPN simply removes location filters created by Netflix, Hulu or any other streaming platform and will allow you to enjoy any content you prefer.
https://www.netflixvpn.com/static/upload/image/20190415/1555308418782558.png
Keep in mind that not all VPN providers unblock specific streaming platforms, so be careful when choosing your provider. VPNroom.com experts have a list of the best VPN providers and here are their TOP 3 picks for Netflix:

1) NordVPN – best overall
2) ExpressVPN
3) Surfshark

Steps how to unblock any content you want

1) Get yourself a VPN subscription
2) Download a client depending on device/OS you use
3) Connect to a US server (or any other you prefer, of course)
4) Connect to Netflix and boom. You are able to see the full library.

Is it worth using a free VPN?

A good VPN service requires some heavy investment. Everything costs money – powerful servers, infrastructure, employees, etc.. If the company is willing to provide all of this for free, there may be a catch involved.

Also, on top of a sketchy catch, there are some technical issues that also occur with these providers. Eg.:
Limited bandwidth
Limitations on server location and availability
No quality guarantee
Data may not be secure

Conclusion: VPN is a great thing if you love to watch TV series, travel, or use free Wi-Fi zones. Of course, number 1 reason why people use VPNs is to strengthen their privacy on the intenter, but it can be a really nice to have tool for your free-time activities as well.

CRM Marketing Automation for Small Businesses- Step by Step Guide.

Along with the growing popularity of social media and online blogging, content creation became as easy as winking. Everyone can become a blogger, influencer or any kind of content creator. Because of easy accessibility, the digital world has gotten jam-packed with content of different kinds.

The abundance of all sorts of information affected small businesses’ digital and mobile marketing strategies both positively and negatively. On the one hand, now it is easier and cheaper to promote products on the internet, ensuring that the marketing message reaches a broad audience. On the other hand, people receive tons of different messages on a daily basis, thus are used to ignoring them.

It is not a secret that small businesses need promotion to stay competitive in the market more than any other businesses. However, this chaotic situation doesn’t leave too many alternatives for them. The only solution left is to take a personal approach for each client, and base customer relationships on that. Fortunately, there is a way out. Small businesses can achieve that level of personalization through CRM marketing tools.

What is CRM Marketing?
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) marketing is a range of strategies and actions directed to enhance business-client relationships, thus increasing customer loyalty and creating a brand value. To put it simply, being heavily focused on consumers, CRM is designed to develop long-term relationships with existing and new clients.

CRM has come to prove that one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns are ineffective and their time is long gone. As much as marketing campaigns attract more consumers, they still struggle to maintain them in the long run. However, CRM marketing works to establish long-lasting relationships between businesses and clients, which increases the chances of attracting more consumers.

With CRM marketing software, small businesses can store and organize essential customer information such as purchase patterns, product preferences, age, gender and so on. This data can be at the disposal of each and every worker of the company at any time. In other words, you can learn everything about a particular client with just a click of a button.

One of the biggest problems for small business promotion is that the competition in the market is tough. Moreover, some of the competitors may be better off and have more effective marketing campaigns. Therefore, a business has to stand out in order to attract consumers and generate leads. This is where CRM marketing comes in quite handy by assisting businesses in showing an individual approach to every single client.

Let’s admit it, everyone likes to feel special. Who wouldn’t want to receive special treatment by a company? This is to say that an individual approach can lure customers in and place the business a step ahead of the competition. Since there are tons of customers with different preferences, businesses need CRM tools to get all the information together.

What is CRM Marketing Automation?
Before getting into the details, it is important to note that CRM marketing automation is different from marketing automation. Although some of the tasks they conduct may be of the same nature, they are used for two distinct purposes.

CRM automation tools conduct tasks aimed to manage interactions with new and existing clients and to store data related to it. On the contrary, marketing automation tools conduct operations, analysis, and predictions regarding the company’s marketing campaigns.

CRM and marketing automation tools can be quite expensive for a small business. Therefore, it is more efficient to combine them into one CRM marketing platform to save time and money. This can unify your marketing and sales teams and create a large platform to share client information.

Based on the client information received from the sales team, your marketing team can create a more effective and precisely targeted campaign. By the same token, your sales team can receive statistics regarding the customers’ patterns of behavior, preferences or needs.

A CRM marketing automation platform can also include other mobile marketing tools to increase its usefulness. Tools such as email or SMS API can be integrated into a CRM system to be controlled from there. This makes them more practical in terms of customer relationship management and overall marketing strategy.

How to Get Started with CRM Marketing Automation?
Although CRM marketing automation software may be expensive for small businesses, it is a smart investment for future growth. At any stage of the development, businesses should appreciate the value of each client and work hard to maintain them. CRM is the ultimate tool for this since it contains most of the crucial client data. This allows to establish a more productive interaction between the business and its customers.

Here is how to get started with CRM marketing as a small business.

1. Choose a Reliable Software Provider
There are lots of CRM software providers around the world, each offering different prices and services. In order to choose the best one for you, identify your needs first. Examine your problems and define what specific features of CRM your business needs the most. This will bring you close to the package that fits your business best.

As a small business, you may want to choose an all-in-one CRM package that can cover most of your marketing automation issues as well. Although those packages cost a bit more than ordinary ones, their practicality justifies it.

2. Conduct a Detailed Test of CRM Software Services
Some providers offer free trials for subscription. Typically, those trials give a general overview of the product’s quality. However, most of those trials don’t have all the functions of a complete package. Hence, make sure to check each and every detail before shifting to a paid plan.

CRM is almost an endless product, so when you shift to a paid plan, check whether you or your staff need any additional training. Every provider has responsive customer support that can help with anything. But still, additional training would be of great benefit to your company and employees.

3. Import Your Client Database into CRM and Get Started
Once you’ve identified your CRM provider and started the cooperation, you’re only left with importing client data into it. If you don’t have a client database at this stage, it is not a disaster. You can start importing the data gradually with every new client, though it might take a little longer.

Know how Past Due Invoices can help Tackle Late Payments

invoice

SMBs bear the brunt of late payments, which hit hard on the underpinning functionalities and success of organizations.

As facts are best told in numbers, here is a survey conducted by Marketvoice on every aspect of invoices for small businesses. The results of this survey are based on data collected from over 80,000 invoices issued to different companies in nearly 90 countries.

The key facts derived from this data are:

  • 62% of invoices are paid late
  • 1/3rd of the invoices are paid more than two weeks late

Find below an image that shows the amount of delayed payments made to companies from different sectors.

late payment days

Source

Is there a way to tackle this challenge effectively?

Though different types of invoices exist, the past due invoice helps initiate the process of getting the past due amount from customers.

Let us understand past due invoices.

What Is a Past Due Invoice?

A past due invoice is an important part of small business invoicing. It is an official document reflecting the billing statement that refers to the amount that has not been paid within its due date. Typically, SMBs implement a structured process of sending invoices for services to their clients. They usually have online invoice software in place that sends invoices with details of the payments.

If the due date lapses, the invoicing tool automatically triggers a past due invoice with details about the overdue payment and any penalties for the time lapse.

When Is a Past Due Invoice Needed?

Usually, in SMBs, projects are finalized, developed, and delivered in advance. They are either paid for in installments with the ongoing work or after completion. Clients begin using the product, experience its advantages and clear payments from the profit they obtain. This is not due to the lack of trust in the service/product provider, but because clients are not always equipped with heavy funds.

In this scenario, service providers seek the help of online invoicing software that maintains accounts of payments received and those that are due. If a client fails to pay up and the time period provided lapses, the invoice software immediately sends out a past due invoice as an alert.

Who Past Due Invoice Can Help?

Freelancers

Though freelancing has its own benefits, freelancers frequently experience the pain of not being paid on time. They can use the past due invoice to inform their clients that they have a payment due.

A past due invoice helps freelancers convey to their clients that they need to arrange funds for overdue payment. This invoice may also include extra charges for late payment, if applicable.

Retailers

In a retail set up, managing inventory is one of the most challenging tasks. A retailer ideally places an order for the products from the wholesale provider and begins to distribute them. A partial payment is made for the products received.

In this case, the wholesale provider may find that payments are pending and the due dates have lapsed. He may send out past due invoices to inform the retailer about the past due amount.

Purpose of a Past Due Invoice and Its Role in Collecting Payments

Past due invoices also help in collection of due payments in a streamlined manner. This procedure includes the following steps:

Reconfiguration of Payment Terms

A service provider may advice the client about making full or partial payments within a given time. He may also reduce the time provided for the payment or charge a penalty for the late payment.

Checking for Errors

An error-free invoice may help speed-up invoice approvals, facilitating faster payments. This may involve a third-party to proofread invoices and check for errors.

Review of Credit

This includes reviewing the financial position of the customer if a medium-to-large credit request has been made. This review shall include an examination of the client’s financial statements and credit reports.

What Information Needs to Be Present on a Past Due Invoice Template?

  • Invoice number
  • Invoice date with payment due date
  • Customer/service provider name and contact information
  • Detailed split-up of services rendered, including dates, descriptions, man-hours involved, manpower invested and applicable charges
  • The subtotal and total of the amount to be paid
  • Specific payment methods accepted
  • Terms and conditions for early or late payments, if applicable

What to Expect after Sending a Past Due Invoice?

Past due invoices harm the credit of any particular individual/company. Service providers may reduce the credit limit or even stop accepting project proposals.

Long-standing past due invoices are eventually directed to collection agencies. This may result in a permanent discredit on that particular company, leading to other service providers limiting their business association.

A service provider may alert the customer and request a payment multiple times after sending a past due invoice. If the customer fails to revert, such invoices are directed to collection agencies.

These are the steps undertaken after issuing the invoice:

1. Sending a Dunning Letter

This is a low-key reminder message that conveys the amount due, invoice number, and invoice date.

2. Reminding over Call

If a dunning letter does not receive a response, a personal phone call is facilitated to know the status of the payment.

3. Escalating

If the service provider is not able to speak to the concerned person over call and doubts the intention of the customer, the provider may escalate to the accounts or senior management.

4. Setting up a Payment Schedule

If the customer is in a financial crisis, the service provider may help by breaking down the payment into installments and scheduling it. However, this is backed by a personal guarantee for the payment from the customer’s side.

5. Taking Legal Action

If these attempts fail to obtain the payment from the customer, an attorney letter may be hired to issue further warnings.

6. Filing an Involuntary Bankruptcy Petition and Suing the Customer

If the service provider finds that the customer has not cleared payment dues for other companies as well, he along with these companies may together file a bankruptcy case and initiate legal procedures accordingly.

It should be noted that the first few points are modest efforts to get payments from the customer while attempting to pursue a cordial business relationship. The remaining aspects focus on simply getting the due payments based on the virulence of the situation and may result in the discontinuation of the business association.

Conclusion

Past due invoices play a pivotal role in the payment cycle. They help service providers remind their customers about pending payments and that they need to arrange funds within a stipulated time to avoid functional hiccups.

The incorporation of effective online invoicing software can ease payments collection by triggering past due invoices, when required. Have you implemented one to manage your payments? Do share your experiences with us in the comments section below!

How Online Interim Invoicing Can Turn Things around for Your Small Business

small business invoice

Running a small business in the age of rapid globalization is a challenge. As a business owner, you have to wear multiple hats. You are the store manager, customer care executive, marketer, and the accountant, all at the same time. However, one of the frustrating and mundane responsibilities you have to carry out is dealing with invoices…

Only timely invoice payments will ensure you are bringing in more money than you are sending out. Unfortunately, late invoice payments plague many SMBs. A quarter of SMEs in Northern Ireland and over two fifths in the UK suffer from late payments with over half them being forced to write off up to 10% of their turnover.

In other words, if you don’t want to lose your hard-earned money, you need a strategic small business invoicing strategy. That’s where online interim invoice can help you.

Let’s start with the basics.

1. What Is an Interim Invoice?

Instead of asking for the payment in one lump sum, an interim invoice allows you to collect the total amount in small installments. You can either design these installments as fixed monthly payments or when a particular stage of work is complete. You will need to send the final invoice after the project ends with the details of interim bills and respective payments. Almost every online invoice generator allows you to send an interim invoice.

Let’s say you are offering SEO services to ABC for six months starting from 1st August, 2019. You can charge the client with $300 each month. For the first five months, you will be able to collect a total of $1500 from the client. In the final month, you can foot the final bill for $300.

However, you will need to make the adjustments in the final bill for extra work hours (if any) plus the profit you intend to make. For example, if you did extra work worth $500, and intend to make a profit of $600, your final invoice will be $1400.

Outstanding Monthly Charges $300
Extra Man Hours $500
Profit to be Footed $600
Total Final Bill $1400

The total amount you will collect from the client in this case will be $2900 ($1500 + $1400).

2. Why Use Interim Invoices?

Most small businesses use interim invoicing for the following three reasons –

  1. Maintain a Liquid Cash Flow – As you keep getting monthly payments, interim bills allow you to maintain the cash flow. A highly liquid cash flow, in turn, helps you run your business smoothly without incurring unnecessary debt.
  2. Avoid Costly Write-Offs – It can also help you avoid costly write-offs as you get a bigger chunk of your payment before the project is over. You can afford to follow-up for the final outstanding amount via email. If the client stops paying in the middle of the project, you can also stop working until the dues are cleared.
  3. Offer Flexibility – This is an advantage for your clients. Instead of arranging for a lump sum payment, they can pay you in small installments. You can also add or remove services during the project tenure and charge the client accordingly.

3. When to Use Interim Invoices?

As you can see, you can use interim invoice only for large projects or services stretching over a long period. Usually, you can use it for projects that will run longer than three months at least. You can’t use this method for small projects and short-term contracts. You will also need to consult the client to see if they are open to this idea. Although it is rare, some clients may refuse to use this invoice format.

4. Understanding the Structure of an Interim Bill

The structure of your interim bill change depending on the type of service or project you are undertaking. For example, a contractor will need to provide measurement details along with measurement books, a statement of recoveries, deductions, advances, and extra payments if any, and cumulative information of work completed till the date of billing.

On the other hand, a digital marketing agency will need to include only the details of completed work, work in progress, and the amount billed as decided in the contract. However, usually, an interim invoice has the following details.

  • Invoice number
  • Date of invoice as well as the due date
  • Purchase Order (PO) number
  • Bill-Of-Material (BOM) number, if applicable
  • Name and contact details your organization and your client
  • An itemized description of services and products you are charging for
  • The total amount you are charging including the breakdown of relevant taxes, discounts, and any other charge
  • Terms of payments, including late payment charges, if applicable
  • Special instructions or notes for the client, if any

In addition to this information, you will need to mention the total due amount in the final invoice when the project is complete along with the details of all previous interim invoices.

Once you have sent an interim invoice, you should expect the client to make the payment within the stipulated time. If not, you will need to follow up. Today, invoicing software has made online invoicing easier, to create different types of invoices, including interim bills. You can also integrate almost any invoicing tool with other business applications to create more accurate invoices and an automated follow-up via email reminders.

Parting Words

As you can see, an online interim invoice is a powerful tool for small and medium businesses. It will not only help you maintain cash flow, but also offer clients the flexibility of paying in small installments. Are you still using an Excel sheet for your small business invoicing needs? Maybe, it is time to switch to an online invoicing tool. The question is when are you going to do it? Let us know in the comments section.

Online Invoicing for Small Businesses: Brief History & 5 Essential Invoices You Need

Online Invoicing for Small Businesses: Brief History & 5 Essential Invoices You Need

Findings reveal that 27% of small and midsized businesses (SMBs) admit that they have a hard time creating and sending invoices, let alone tracking them.

As per a HubSpot survey of 400 SMBs, 49% have a hard time following up on late payments, and 46% find it difficult to receive their payments on time.

It’s no secret that small business owners wear several hats, but sometimes this can be overwhelming. While they’re supposed to focus on the strategic and money-making aspects of the business, they often find themselves taking care of manual tasks that can easily be automated. One such time-consuming task is invoicing.

One may say that invoicing is crucial to getting paid for the products/services provided, business owners need to realize that time is money. There is no money to be made for the time spent on creating, sending, and organizing invoices.

It is best to automate invoicing jobs to not only save precious hours, but also streamline the process, make it error-free, and ensure quick payments. You can put different types of invoices to use for your various business payment needs. Meanwhile, you can take care of business activities that help you rake in additional revenue or attend to your customer needs.

Invoicing should never feel like a hassle or slow down small business operations. If you think it’s hampering your productivity, using online invoicing software can help. It will improve your experiences with your clients in these ways:

  • Provide Accurate Estimates before Invoicing

You can proactively prevent the chances of answering verification questions and addressing disagreements with your clients at a later stage by creating professional-style invoices with the help of small business invoicing software. Using its templates will ensure that both, you and your clients are clear about the entailments of the project and associated costs even before starting work on the project.

These type of invoices can also help you detail your payment terms and establish a healthy work environment right from the project’s inception. This, in turn, will ensure that you don’t have to spend hours going through agreement terms and conditions over and over again to answer clients’ queries.

  • Add Specifics and Branding Standards

Your invoices should help you get easily identified by your clients, so establishing strong brand standards is necessary. They should also emphasize your brand’s values consistently in all your communications.

Certain important specifications should be mentioned in every invoice that is created for better organizing. It helps to have a numbering system in place so you can assign a unique number/code to each invoice for easy tracking. Your invoices should also specify your contact details such as your office address, email ID, and phone numbers.

Moreover, make sure the specifications mentioned cover the terms and conditions of the completion of the work and the payment. Even though these figures and stipulations are included in the written agreement/contract, your invoices should reinforce them to the client as and when they are issued.

Purpose of Invoicing

Businesses send sales invoices to their clients after providing them with goods or services. The invoices serve as either written or electronic documentation of the transaction between the business and the client. It is crucial that businesses maintain a record of all the sales they make to protect their interests in case a dispute arises in the future.

The purposes of invoicing include:

  • Record Keeping

One of the primary purposes of invoicing is to chronicle your sales figures accurately. It is an efficient way to track specific details such the date on which the product was sold, the price that was paid for it, as well as any outstanding debt. Further, an invoice it also aids the process of accounting while monitoring the performance of employees that makes sales and the items they sell.

  • Tax Calculations

More often than not, governments do not formulate a set system or template for the type of invoice businesses should use. However, all business are required to pay certain taxes, which is why invoicing tools become useful in recording cash inflow. It is always a good idea to maintain an ongoing summary of all business transactions with the help of invoices. This comes in handy at the time of filing taxes and ensuring that the precise amount is paid to avoid audits.

  • Legal Considerations

Online invoicing systems help shield small businesses from fraudulent and petty civil lawsuits. The details mentioned in the invoice make it clear that a particular item/service was provided at a certain time. An invoice with the client’s signature is extremely valuable as it serves as evidence of an agreement between the business and the customer. In the absence of an invoice, there will be no record of a sale, which makes businesses susceptible to facing price-related conflicts.

  • Gain Marketing Insights

Business owners need to closely monitor all sales invoices to use the information for targeting its customer base and marketing to them. This includes data such as dates of sales, frequency of sales, products sold, and the selling price of the products. CRM software or marketing professionals can use this information to gain insights on customer demography, peak purchasing times, preferred products, and more. This proves valuable when creating marketing strategies.

  • Inventory Management

Using well-designed invoices for small business can be beneficial to buyers as well as sellers as they help with managing inventory. Whether you employ an automated inventory system that adds and removes items as you receive and sell them respectively or use the traditional paper-and-pen method to manage information about your available stock, an invoice is a valuable document. Sellers can track details about the products that are sold and shipped, while buyers can track the products that are received and stocked.

  • Information Sharing

Invoices for small businesses present all the product and sales-related information in a systematic manner wherein the total price is broken down systematically and explained. It also reflects charges levied for services as well as labor. Other details include the date and time of the purchase, taxes applicable, total product price, date sent, the due date for payment, and seller and buyer information.

From Traditional to Modern: The Invoicing Journey

As far as modern businesses are concerned, invoicing tools have been gaining momentum as they streamline and simplify receiving payments. However, the practice of recording the rendering of products and services as well as the consequent transactions is being followed since the last 5000 years.

Before the modern invoicing and billing software for small businesses came along, other methods were used. It began thousands of years ago in ancient Mesopotamia in a region that corresponds to modern Iraq. In the earliest recorded forms of invoices, sellers created IOUs (abbreviated from the phrase “I owe you”) on cards made from clay.
Given the technological advancements in the times we live in, sending invoices on paper, email, and PDF have also come to be considered as primitive methods.

Let’s take a look at how invoices have evolved over the centuries.

earliest invoices
Source: Ohmynews.com

3300 BC: This image depicts one of the world’s earliest invoices, which came in the form of clay tablets. Inscriptions on it were made with the help of a writing system called cuneiform.

Philip I of Castile invoiceSource: Wikimedia Commons

1504: This image shows an account of a £36 down payment made by Philip I of Castile when he bought a painting of the Last Judgment (Paradise and Hell).

invoice for products
Source: Goodfuneralguide.com

1780: The above image shows an eighteenth-century invoice for products purchased for a funeral. Items include coffin, furniture, and more.

earlier invoices
Source: Jot101.com

1870: This image shows a document created by the director of the Sistine Chapel choir. They charged 67 francs and 50 centimes for six lessons plus the sheet music.

earlier invoicesSource: British Library

1891: This is a seventeenth-century invoice for Dutch sea charts which were bought by the British Library.

earlier invoices Source: The Coopered Tot

1904: This is an early twentieth-century invoice from the renowned Graham Distillery Company.

earlier invoices

Source: Wikimedia Commons

1935: This is what the price list for bow and arrows in Belgium looked like.

earlier invoices

Source: Wikimedia Commons

1942: This is an invoice for American painter, Ed Hopper’s Nighthawks from the Chicago Art Institute.

earlier invoices

Source: Wikimedia Commons

1976: This image shows the oversized IBM printing machine model 3800. It was first used for large-scale document printing such as invoices and mailing labels.

earlier invoices

Source: Vintagecomputing.com

1981: Seen above is an invoice for a disk drive meant for the Atari 800, which was among the first personal computers to go on the market.

earlier invoicesSource: DiCentral Corp.

2003: The above image is a screenshot of a Walmart invoice. This is how the typical ERP-powered invoicing solutions looked like (and maybe still do), although offices did need to carry out a certain amount of supporting paperwork.

cloudbooks invoice
2013: E-invoicing software became a total game changer and simplified the invoicing process.

Many businesses create invoices on programs such as Microsoft Word and Excel. Templates for creating such invoices are easily available online. All you need to do is download one, fill out the required data fields, and email it. You can also print the invoice and send it to the client via snail mail. However, this can be extremely tedious and time-consuming for a growing business, especially if you’re required to repeat the same process frequently.

Further, it is also an error-prone process. From entering the wrong numbers to accidentally deleting certain details and messing up the alignment, the scope for going wrong is immense.

For these reasons, online invoicing tools are gaining increasing popularity among small businesses. Not only are they easy to use, they also allow users to create different types of invoices in a matter of seconds.

Invoicing software for small businesses is more efficient and convenient to work with for the following reasons:

  • Automation: Online invoice software automates necessary processes that make invoicing easy and efficient. This includes sending automatic payment reminders for unpaid bills to the concerned parties.
  • Quicker Payments: The invoice format used by invoice software results in a professional design. It includes all the necessary information which is conveyed clearly to customers to enable faster payment.
  • Innovative Built-in Tools: Crucial data related to products, customers, prices, and taxes is securely stored by invoice software. This enables businesses to prepare an invoice with only a few clicks.
  • Mobility: Because all data is stored on the cloud, it doesn’t matter where you access it from. Whether you want to work with it at your desk or when on the go, online invoicing empowers you to easily view and manage your invoices. Further, you’re equipped to perform transactions through your mobile devices.

The Cost Conundrum

An increasing number of businesses are switching from paper-based invoicing methods to online electronic methods. However, several emerging businesses continue to employ paper-based invoices and billing systems along with outdated payment processing procedures. This can prove to be expensive, inaccurate, monotonous, as well as extremely time-consuming.

A research by Sterling Commerce revealed that (on average) the rectification of every paper invoice error costs companies $53.50.

The same study also found that “manually-processed invoices cost, on average, $30 per invoice to process, while fully-automated invoices average only $3.50 per invoice to process.”

In modern times, an online invoicing system is more suitable as it is cloud-based and makes it possible for businesses to create and send multiple invoices simultaneously over the internet. Such a system, therefore, helps cut costs and speed up the billing process.

If you’re still using a paper-based invoicing system, the following few factors could be burning a hole in your business’s pocket:

  1. Cost of preparing and printing paper invoices
  2. Cost related to storing paper invoices
  3. Fees for postage and shipping
  4. Fees for offering payment options such as debit and credit
  5. Costs associated with undelivered bills or lost invoice and time
  6. Costs related to handling customer calls and answering questions about the invoices

“Below is an infographic that will tell you everything about online invoicing and its global impact. Also, why small businesses should start going paperless and how it will help them with faster and timely payments while saving money.”

infographic e-invoicing

The Emergence of Online Invoices

If you haven’t already ditched the paper-based invoicing system and adopted online invoicing, here are a few undeniable reasons to do so right away.

  • Bid Adieu to the Challenges of Paper Invoices

As established above, paper-based invoicing process takes time, effort, and money. With an online invoicing system, you can reduce expending valuable resources on all these fronts and optimize your accounts payable functions. When it comes to storing invoices, sending automated reminders through electronic invoices will leave a trail that is easy for you and your customers to refer when needed. This means lesser clutter and smaller mess at the workplace with no need for filing paperwork.

  • Enhance Process Automation

Thanks to technological innovations, businesses have become capable of transforming their processes to collaborate, communicate, administer, and operate better, regardless of the time and location. Online invoicing can not only make process convenient and accessible, but also allow you to leverage your mobile devices to run your business by sending you timely alerts, updates, reports, notifications, and more.

  • Improve Cash Management

When the economic conditions are tough, which is the case among most small businesses, you need to focus on cutting costs. The importance of optimal cash management cannot be overlooked. Whether it is receiving timely or late payments or recording details about your invoicing expenses, an online invoicing system can help you keep everything sorted.

  • Facilitate Quality Assurance

Sending low-quality and erroneous invoices to clients will ruin your image and they will probably stop taking your business seriously. This may result in late or no payments, which is the last thing you want. Having an online invoicing system in place will prevent this by:

  1. Verifying and organizing supplier data
  2. Confirming the number work on the invoice
  3. Ensuring the invoice is in accordance with the order, receipt, and contract
  4. Assigning to cost centers
  5. Generating correct tax statements
  • Embrace a Green Initiative

We live in times when clients want to be associated with socially responsible companies. Moreover, going green is great for our planet and future generations. Creating less paper invoices and storing files electronically will enable you to do your bit to try and make a much-needed difference to the ecology.

Setting up the Online Invoicing Process to Make the Most of It

Mentioned ahead are a few things to keep in mind to fully reap the benefits of an online invoicing system.

  • Ensure Proper System Setup: Every client you transact with should be assigned a unique numeric code and all invoices sent to clients should include their own respective number.
  • Be Regular with Sending Invoices: Regular billing is key to receiving timely payments without attracting disputes.
  • Mention Penalty for Late Payment: Doing so will keep the clients alert to not miss payments and send them on time.
  • Generate Important Reports Frequently: Whether you need instant or customized reports for a quick glimpse into your business affairs, you can generate all necessary reports whenever needed to stay on top of your business’s financials.

Advantages of Electronic Invoices

Because the online invoicing process is automated, buyers, sellers, and administrators stand to gain a number of strategic and operational benefits. The ability of the invoice software to integrate with other business applications allows businesses to improve efficiencies and revenue-creation capacity.

Apart from benefits such as cost reduction, time saving, and dispute avoidance, e-invoices offer several other advantages.

Advantages for sellers:

  • Quicker and more accurate payments
  • Enhanced productivity
  • Reduced likelihood of invoice rejection
  • Better accounts reconciliation
  • Enriched cash management
  • Improved customer relationships
  • Creation of professional-looking invoices

Advantages for buyers:

  • Augmented accuracy
  • Better productivity
  • Accelerated payment cycles and processing
  • Improved accounts reconciliation
  • Enhanced cash management
  • Decreased likelihood of fraud, disputes, and other payment-related issues
  • Better supplier relationship management

Advantages for business administrators:

  • Enhanced business branding and awareness
  • Optimal use of business capital
  • Ensured compliance with industry and legal norms
  • Improved relationships with customers and suppliers
  • Optimized IT system
  • Eco-friendly initiative

Different Types of Invoices: 5 Essentials for Small Businesses

Here are the five essential types of invoices that every small business needs.

1. Pro Forma Invoice

A pro forma invoice is different from a regular price quotation in that it is a binding agreement. However, the terms and conditions of the sale are subject to change. They’re helpful in streamlining the sales process by minimizing back-and-forth post a sale going through, as all mentioned terms are agreed upon by all parties involved.

It, therefore, is a document of good faith estimate to prevent the buyer from incurring unforeseen and substantial charges upon the finalization of a transaction.

The purpose of the pro forma invoice is to provide the buyer with an exact sale price. This invoice includes estimates of fees or commissions, applicable taxes, and shipping costs if any. Businesses from almost every industry use pro forma invoices to complete their internal purchase-approval process.

A business may send a pro forma invoice either prior to shipping the products or at the time of shipping them. While the invoice does contain the exact cost and the details of the sale, it is not considered an official demand for payment. There are no guidelines in place that dictate a precise format of a pro forma invoice. It may or may not be similar to other commercial invoices in its presentation.

Example:

You may have visited a designer boutique and agreed to the price of a garment on a pro forma invoice. The designer will deliver the garment once it is ready. You will pay the designer once the invoice is received. The final amount on the invoice will be the same as or around the same amount as mentioned in the pro forma invoice.

2. Interim Invoice

An interim invoice allows breaking down payments for a huge project into multiple small payments. The time of making the payment corresponds to the completion of a predetermined portion of the project. This type of invoice covers that amount of money and helps with regulating cash flow for large-scale projects.

Big projects make higher expenses in terms of material, labor, and additional operating costs. Interim invoices help small businesses manage their expenditures when undertaking high-volume jobs. You need not wait until the completion of the project to receive payments. You can use the money received from interim invoices to pay off some of the costs you incur.

This kind of invoice is commonly used when you want to post multiple invoices for a client job.

Example:

You may perform some accounting work for Johnson HVAC technicians. You might start the work in January 2018 and estimate that the job will be completed by December 2018. You decide to invoice the client $100 per month.

If you use interim invoice, you will have to post interim invoices for $100 for every month between January 2018 and November 2018, bringing the invoice total to 11, and the amount total to $1100.

Your time ledger shows $1500 of staff time. The interim invoices will show 11 different postings of $1100, thereby reflecting a net WIP balance of 400. The interim invoices will show as “credits on account” and will not be coordinated with any amount of time.

By using an interim invoice, you have the advantage of being able to see all staff posting that has not been billed and all the invoices sent to the client so far when November ends. You will also be able to view the current WIP balance owed to you, which may help you make a more informed billing decision.

Once December arrives, you complete the job and are ready to bill the client. You see that you’ve spent $1500 on staff and have invoiced the client $1100. Consequently, you may decide to invoice the client $1800, thereby making a profit of $300. You can also reduce the client’s WIP and clear all posted interim invoices.

For this, you will need to post a final bill of $700 ($1800 less $1100 is $700). You can post a write out to the value of $1500 as that would be the current balance, and your aim is to get the value down to $0 ($1500 less 0 is $1500). The final bill is used to finalize (or clear) all interim invoices posted to the client’s account so far.

3. Past Due Invoice

A past due invoice serves as a reminder to the client that they haven’t paid up yet and should act to settle the due payments. Sometimes, the client fails to pay you in accordance with the due date on the final invoice. When this happens, you may send them a past due invoice immediately after payment becomes late.

The main purpose of a past due invoice is to remind clients that their payment due date has passed. When preparing this invoice, make it a point to mention all the information from the final invoice, including penalties that late payments will attract.

Example:

You want to overlay your driveway, so you buy large quantities of gravel and a couple of pallets from a hardware store. The purchase agreement mentions a payment term of two weeks from the delivery date.

The hardware store delivers the supplies the next day, thereby completing its contractual obligation. It now has the right to collect the purchase price from you. In this way, a debt relationship is established, with you as the debtor and the hardware store as the creditor.

If the debtor does not provide the contractually agreed upon payment before or by the due date as mentioned in the agreement, then the creditor can demand it upfront.

4. Recurring Invoice

Issuing a recurring invoice makes sense when invoicing for ongoing services. It is most suitable for payments of the same amount, like a subscription.

When you set up recurring invoices, your invoices get sent to your customers automatically. You need not bother with setting reminders or copying data from an old invoice to a new one every time you need to send them out. This arrangement allows you to focus your time and attention towards other strategic business activities while your invoicing takes care of itself.

If the product or service you provide requires you to send out invoices with the same details to clients on a regular basis, you need to use recurring invoices. A few types of businesses that use recurring invoices are:

  • Service providers, like plumbers and electricians, who bill for a fixed number of working hours every month.
  • Providers of monthly service packages. For example, a digital marketing agency that provides a set number of content and implements SEO services for its clients.
  • Providers of maintenance plans for products. For example, technology companies that digitize company processes with the help of their trademark tools and technologies. Integration with legacy systems and constant updating of business-critical applications will need their monthly support. Another example is that of a gardening service provider that attends to the client’s garden on a weekly basis.
  • Providers of educational material and online training resources such as long-term online learning and refresher courses offered by educational and training institutes.
  • Providers of services that require membership or subscription. This could be a one-year subscription to a magazine or fees for a 10-year club membership.
  • Software providers who charge a license fee every month to allow the use of their products.

Typically, when a recurring invoice is used, customers avail services at regular intervals without performing any additional action. When the agreed-upon term ends, the customer can either extend or terminate the alliance.

5. Credit Memo

A credit memo or a credit memorandum is a document that is issued by the seller of products or services to the buyer to decrease the amount the buyer owes to the seller under the terms of an earlier invoice. Typically, the credit memo clearly mentions the reason for the amount stated on the memo that has been issued. This comes in handy at the time of gathering information about credit memos and figuring out the reason for their issuing by the seller.

This document is commonly issued when the buyer wants to return purchased goods to the seller, or when there is a pricing issue, a marketing allowance, or any other reason where the buyer should not pay the seller the amount as mentioned in the invoice. The seller makes of a note of the credit memo as a reduction of the accounts receivable balance. The buyer, on the other hand, notes it down as a reduction in the accounts payable balance.

When using a credit memo, the seller will do well to review the open credit memos at the end of each reporting period to check the suitability for linking to open accounts receivable. When this is done, it lowers the average amount of outstanding invoices, and can also decrease payments to suppliers.

In case the payment from the buyer and seller is pending, the buyer can use the credit memo as a partial offset to the invoice-based payment to the seller. But if the buyer has made the full payment as mentioned on the invoice, he/she has can use the credit memo to either uses the credit memo to offset a future payment or demand cash payment in exchange for the memo.
An internal credit memo is created when the buyer is not sent a copy of the invoice. This is done when a business is writing off an outstanding receivable balance.

Example:

You purchased some clothes from a fashion clothing store. The store’s return policy stipulates that returns will be accepted within 15 business days from the date of purchase. Their policy also mentions that reimbursements will be made through store credit only, and not by cash.
One day after the purchase, you realize that one of the garments you bought has a hole in it. So you decide to return the product. The store manager informs you that they will accept the returned product. The manager then proceeds to create a credit memo because the clothing store will need to reduce a previously issued invoice to compensate for the sold damaged garment.

Once the memo is issued, your account at the fashion clothing store will be credited with the amount you paid for the item you want to return. You can then use this positive credit to either exchange the damaged garment with a proper one of the same model or buy a different garment altogether.

Conclusion

The modern marketplace is extremely competitive and small businesses need to be prepared with the best systems and software to stay competent. Business needs to not only attract new clients but also retain them if they want to grow and compete in the market for the long term. Efficiency is the name of the game, which is why it is crucial that small businesses find ways to maximize their results while saving their resources. Factors such as improving productivity and making dealings convenient for clients matter. An online invoicing system for small businesses is the key to achieving this. An improved invoicing process will ultimately help scale your business by bringing about enhanced cash flow. Gone are the days when creating invoices on paper and excel sheets were enough for efficient invoicing. Modern business processes demand the efficiency and the multiple benefits that only cloud-based software can bring to the table.

Is your small business equipped with a state-of-the-art invoicing system that caters to all its unique needs? Do let us know how it has helped your business in the comments box below.