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No matter what type of business you have, getting paid on time is important for keeping your cash flow healthy and revenue reporting accurate. Whether you own a small business or are a freelancer or sole proprietor, having an invoicing process in place that’s streamlined and timely can help you get paid faster and keep your accounting organized. Providing a clean and detailed invoice to your clients is the first step in establishing a professional tone in the payment process. However, without a quality invoice example, you may not know which invoice template is best for your business.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some recommendations for what you should include on your invoices and some invoice examples that will work for every kind of business.
Recommendations for what to include on every invoice
Depending on what type of service you provide, your invoice should contain key pieces of data to allow you and the client to track records of project timelines, payment deadlines, and profits. It is recommended that every invoice include:
- Date: This is the date that the invoice is being sent to the client or receipt.
- Logo: Carrying over your branding to each part of the project is an important factor in appearing professional to your clients. Make sure the logo is high resolution and in a place on the invoice that quickly lets the client know who the invoice is coming from.
- Business name and address: Along with the logo, providing your business name and address reminds the client from whom the invoice is coming. It also gives them an easy way to know where they can contact you or send their physical form of payment. This also allows them to send you a tax form at the end of the year, if applicable.
- Customer’s billing information: This will primarily be for your records, both for billing and looking back at which project was completed and recorded in the client file.
- Invoice number: Having a number associated with each invoice is necessary for accounting and tracking purposes, especially when tax season arrives.
- Itemized list of what’s being sold: The invoice should lay out in detail the product or service you provided the client. This not only can help with inventory and quarterly or end-of-year reporting, but it can give you a look back into the preferences of that particular client as you continue to work with them.
- Payment terms/due date: Your payment terms should be clearly outlined on the invoice, along with the due date. You’ll want to make sure you include any necessary taxes so there is no confusion on the final total. If you have applied discounts or have discount options if the client pays early or in full, be sure to include that information on the invoice as well.
Example invoice for freelancers
If you’re a freelancer, you’ll want to focus on the hours you billed for or the projects you completed. In this example of an invoice, you’ll see that details about the project and notes are included. Break out specifics about the project you worked on, including billed-for dates and what the project will be or when it was completed.
In addition to the basic invoice requirements, some details you’ll want to add to your invoice may be:
- Itemized work by project, hour, or both
- Itemized software or licensing fees that you’ve incurred specifically for their project (for example, you may include font licensing if you’re a designer)
- A tip line if appropriate for your line of work
- A note of when the final project will be delivered and when the final payment is expected
Example invoice for contractual work
Similar to freelancing examples of invoices, contractual work should be broken out into specifics of what was agreed to in the contract. Additionally, you’ll want to lay out the details of any work, materials, and labor that were included.
Along with itemizing the project and tasks you’ve completed, you may want to include:
- Itemized list of any goods and tools used or purchased to complete the project
- Any permits or licenses necessary to complete the contracted work
- Number of labor hours it took to complete the project
- Additional sales tax to the final price, as contracted work is typically taxed
Example invoice for professional services
One concern of hardworking professionals in the service industry is the chance of chargebacks because it can often be difficult to prove if a job was completed satisfactorily. Creating a professional and detailed invoice can often help you fight a chargeback if it happens to you.
Some details to include in addition to what you see in the invoice sample above are:
- A clearly displayed hourly rate
- A due date of when the service will be completed or the date that it was already completed
- Notes to list specific terms and conditions of the service that will be or were provided
Example invoice for retail
Product-specific invoices can be incredibly useful for retailers, as they allow you to track sales and inventory. Not only can this help you to estimate and adjust your inventory over time to avoid over or under stocking, but keeping track of your retail invoices can help you understand your sales trends and successful marketing initiatives month by month.
A retail invoice may include:
- Product name, description, SKU number, and quantity sold
- Each product’s unit price and line total if multiple units were sold
- Sales tax, which will vary by state and the type of products being sold
- Delivery and shipping terms and costs if necessary (this may also include shipping address and tracking information associated with the shipment)
Examples of invoices for retail can also be categorized as:
- Recurring invoice: This may be for a fulfillment program or subscription.
- Pro forma invoice: This can be issued in advance of delivering the products and allows the purchaser to budget or plan for the charge.
- Commercial invoice: This may be necessary if you are selling internationally, as commercial invoices are often needed for customs declarations.
Example invoice for catering
Because catering can vary across all types of events, you’ll want to have an invoice sample that can be customized to whatever catering service you’re offering. Whether it’s weddings, corporate parties, or buffet catering, your invoice can be flexible to fit them all.
Along with the basic invoice sample details, your catering invoice should include:
- An itemized list of the food you’re serving
- Descriptions of any specialized orders or meals offered
- Additional service charges, such as gratuity
- Deposit amount, if applicable
- Whether the catering was full service or buffet
Wholesale invoicing example
Due to the large number of items and dollar amount of each transaction, wholesale business owners can greatly benefit from being precise on every invoice. For example, if you are creating beauty products that you are selling wholesale to spas, you’ll want to track those items, what your cost was, and what the wholesale cost was for your customer.
For transparency and reporting for you and your wholesale customer, your invoices should include:
- The regular price of your product
- The wholesale discount you’re offering your customer
- The wholesale price your customer is being charged for each item
Not only can showing the difference in prices between regular and wholesale give your customer the feeling that you’re taking care of them by offering this discount, but clearly labeling these discounts has been proven to increase loyalty from customers as well.
Lump-sum invoice example
If you have a repeat client that prefers to pay all at once, you can offer a lump-sum invoice. This invoice example is used when you want to offer one rate for a number of your products or services. These types of invoices are often used for services or products such as gym or fitness sessions, art classes, or flat-rate projects.
In this example, you’ll want to add:
- A description of the package or lump sum in an itemized section
- How many sessions or products will be provided for the lump-sum payment
Be aware that tax will often be included in the initial product or service price, so additional tax may not be needed here.
Benefits of invoices
Invoices can be a benefit to any small business, and they’ve never been easier to create. A nicely branded and organized invoice will make your business seem more professional and will keep your customers happy with the transparency of your service or product offerings.
As we mentioned before, organized invoices have strong legal and tax benefits as well. If a product or service you offer ever remains unpaid or the payment is disputed, the invoice can be your evidence of a job well done.
How to get your invoices paid faster
The best benefit of invoices in our opinion? Invoices, especially digital ones, help you get paid faster. For example, with Square Invoices you can save time by customizing your invoices and sending recurring invoices, no matter what type of business you have.
Once you send off that invoice, you can set up payment options with ease. Your client or customer can pay you on the go, from any mobile device or desktop computer. If for any reason your invoice goes unpaid after the due date, Square gives you the option to set up automatic payment reminders to give them an extra nudge.
It’s time to get paid on your schedule. Using these invoice examples, you can send a more professional-looking invoice with the details you’ll need to get paid more efficiently.