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These Invoicing Tips Could Save Your Business

These Invoicing Tips Could Save Your Business

February 15, 2024

It’s no secret that poor cash flow management can sink businesses. Without ready cash in the bank a business will struggle to meet its own commitments, destroying relationships, increasing costs through interest, and losing out on critical suppliers.

The good news is that some simple changes to company invoicing can result in a far higher percentage of paid invoices, quicker payment and ultimately better cash flow. Here’s what you need to do.

Never take your eyes off the cash flow because it’s the lifeblood of business.

(Sir Richard Branson, entrepreneur, investor, and author)

Cash is king, said one anonymous business genius. At the end of the day, it’s having money in the bank that keeps a company running smoothly. According to a recent study by Sibongiseni Selby Myeni at the Walden University, the majority of SA’s small to medium enterprises are destined for the scrap heap and the majority of these cases will be due to a lack of cash flow. In an era where more invoices are going unpaid, how can your invoicing process help to make sure you are one of the lucky ones?

  • Send the invoice immediately

The best time to send an invoice is when you and your relationship with a client is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Ask for the invoicing details up front, so you can send the invoice with the final deliverable.

  • Invoice for immediate payment

The invoice should request payment immediately, or failing that, at the end of the month and not only when you need the money. Smaller businesses are likely to comply, and bigger companies may rush faster to ensure you get paid promptly within their next payment cycle.  Making the assumption that your client needs leeway or payment time scales well into the future only guarantees your invoice loses priority.

  • Check your clients

If you are going into a large contract, it’s wise to do some groundwork on your client. One of the biggest reasons for non-payment is the client’s own cash flow worries. Getting some intelligence from other clients, or if possible, running a background check on them, will ensure you don’t invest huge amounts of time and resources into defaulting clients. If you do establish a client might default, you don’t have to cut them off, simply invoice with the intention of being paid up front, or at least request a deposit and include a punitive “late payers’ fee” or interest on non-payment to encourage them to prioritise you.

  • Never miss the payment cycle

Your larger clients are going to be fanatical about their payment cycles. Ask them upfront when they need to receive invoices and make sure you get the invoice in before that date. Failure to do so will often mean a 30 or even 60 day delay in payment.

  • Request Debit orders

If you have a client who uses the same service regularly, don’t be afraid to ask for retainers and other contracts, to be paid by debit order, to cover the costs rather than invoicing each month. Be sure to offer perks to encourage your clients to take you up on these offers.

  • Build relationships

When it comes time to pay, even struggling companies will want to pay the people they know and like first, over the anonymous supplier. Knowing who at your client is responsible for the invoice and following up politely with them is a great way to ensure your invoices are treated with priority.

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