Invoicing is simply the process of formally asking for payment. Every legitimately operating company with clients produces invoices, although you may not have had to do much invoice management in the past. If you’re not self-employed, companies will often have people or departments who handle the invoicing for you. If you do go into self-employed courier work you’ll find that writing, sending and chasing up invoices quickly becomes a big part of your working life. The same goes for organisation-employed work where you have to handle your own invoicing. |
What Is an Invoice?
An invoice is a bill sent to the client giving a breakdown of the costs involved in services, a sum total, a reminder of the terms of payment, and any details that the client might require in order to make payment. This includes such information as payment deadlines and banking details. For example, in courier work, an invoice might involve the distance travelled and the time used in a job, in addition to any extra charges that might have been discussed and agreed to beforehand.
There are plenty of free invoice templates available online: choose something that looks clean-cut, simple and professional, and that’s easy to read and navigate. The reasoning for this is two-fold: one, customers are happier and more likely to come back when every aspect of their experience - including the paperwork - is streamlined, easy and quick; two, you will have to fill out and navigate a large number of invoices, so the quicker and easier, the better. At a glance, even somebody unfamiliar with your invoices should be able to glean all the relevant information, and filling the forms out should be speedy and intuitive.
Do I Have to Keep My Invoices?
Definitely. Not only is it useful to have a written record of any expenses, but it’s also vital to be able to show evidence of any money earned when the time comes to submit your tax return. This is particularly important for courier workers submitting their own tax return who are more likely to come under scrutiny, as opposed to those working with a company which handles that aspect, or those who have engaged the services of an accountant.
Thankfully, invoices are easily stored and can be delivered digitally, and even those who prefer to use paper invoices for their courier work can use a scanner or camera to make digital copies. Thankfully, we no longer have to contend with reams of paper, missing invoices and complicated filing systems. Well-named and stored files (always back these up) will save you a lot of pain when it comes to organising and reviewing your finances.
Starting your first invoice may seem intimidating, but it’s a mild bureaucratic annoyance more than anything, and before long you’ll be churning them out in minutes. Just remember to keep all your invoices and to use an easy-to-read, slick and professional layout when invoicing your courier work.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
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