For small businesses, nothing is more tedious, complicated, challenging, and time-consuming than executing a billing process. Just imagine the amount of work required when sending invoices, calculating discounts, computing sales, and tallying everything when there’s no guarantee that you’ll receive payments on time. Although laborious in nature, one cannot nullify the importance of billing as it is an essential part of every business.
Luckily, with the advent of new technology, gone are the days of spending a considerable amount of time figuring out the ins and outs of your finances. The old school work has been replaced with billing automation, giving you more time to think about your business rather than bills. As an entrepreneur, it is important to have an efficient invoicing system to ensure that billing is as accurate and simple as possible.
Check out these tips on how to improve your billing process and get those tasks done with flying colors.
#1 State your billing terms – clearly
Before closing a deal or working with a client, it is vital to set your billing terms in a clear and precise manner. The terms should be agreed upon by both parties and any objections or questions should be ruled out before finalizing the agreement. This way, it helps to avoid any surprises that might come along promoting a good client-provider relationship.
For you to be paid on time, it is advised to set up a time frame including the arranged deadline as well as penalties if the window period is not respected. State your facts directly and ask for client opinions as well as clarifications. When setting your billing terms always include your fee, any additional charges, methods of payment you accept, and expected date of project completion. Remember to:
- Explain whether you want to be paid by the hour or per project.
- Send invoices every weekend or during the first day of the month.
- Secure the document and always provide a digital copy for safekeeping.
#2 Implement billing software
You might not need billing software during the first few months of operations, but as your business grows, you’ll notice that automating your processes is actually more efficient than spending time to do it manually. Microsoft Excel is helpful when entering small amounts of data, but using it to manage all your business finances tends to yield inaccurate results due to mistakes and human error.
When it comes to choosing the right billing software for your business, always consider the needs of your company. Depending on the nature of your trade, select software with the right mix of core functionalities that will make coding and billing easier. Freelancers won’t need many functions when compared to those running a restaurant or clothing business.
- If you bill based on time spent working, get software with time billing functionalities.
- For vendors, getting an ERP (or Enterprise Resource Planning) software is a smart choice.
- Look for programs with simple automation features like trackers and reminders.
FreshBooks, for example, offers good accounting software as it comes equipped with everything you need for your growing business.
#3 Get your head IN the cloud
The next tip on how to improve your billing process is to utilize the wonders of technology to make invoices billing flexible and accessible. It’s about time to embrace cloud computing in exchange for the traditional pen and paper. With this simple online solution, you’ll be able to avoid mistakes and work anytime and anywhere you want.
Cloud-based systems have the ability to automatically send invoices as soon as needed and track information to speed up the billing process. Also, it allows easy access to all files stored in the cloud so authorized personnel within your team can view, edit, or comment on financial documents as long as they are granted the right permission. With cloud-based billing programs:
- You can easily share information with parties like insurance companies and audits.
- You can work remotely off-site and on-site to keep your records always updated.
- You get a real-time overview of current situations in an accurate and fast manner.
#4 Connect and integrate the programs you are using
It’s nice to have full-featured billing software that can handle all your requirements with ease and comfort. But if you’re not integrating it with other programs, you are not using it to its full potential. Remember that software applications nowadays are equipped with an extensive set of features that go well with other tools you use for business.
Your main goal is to reduce workload and make billing as easy as possible. From initial quotation of products and services, generating invoices and sending them, to collecting payment and running billing cycles, you need to have a connected system that works in harmony across all programs. If you can find a single software solution that does it all, the better it is. But since most of these programs are expensive, try to at least:
- Integrate all your invoices with widely used payment gateways.
- Integrate it with your accounting program for easier updates.
- Integrate it with project management tools to unify everything.
#5 Make the billing process as easy as possible
For most people, working with numbers coupled with data is unpleasant by nature. But, as stated earlier, billing should never be overlooked since it is just as important as your marketing, product development, and business operations. The key here is to be consistent and minimize, if not totally avoid, errors at all times. Furthermore, you need to make it as easy as possible for you, your customers, and to the people working for your business.
An effective billing process nurtures the reputation of your company by being reliable and efficient. If you can’t provide a dependable system with a simple process, customers might look somewhere else to do their business. And you don’t want them dealing with your competitors. To make it easy for customers you can:
- Process billing online so people can pay you anytime.
- Have a central location of everything, from data to reports.
- Prioritize billing and remove unnecessary steps along the process.