Once upon a time, in the Dark Ages of business payments, companies used paper invoicing tools and traditional payment methods like paper checks. It involved a lot of human error, numerous days to process and complete, and paper trails that led to a dead end.
The time and cost involved in these billing and payment processes took a toll on cash flow. And, if you are still in the Dark Ages, the same results are bound to still be adversely impacting your business.
However, there is a better way: Online invoicing tools can streamline your business payments, reducing time, cost, and human error while simultaneously increasing cash flow. Here’s how:
Starting Off with the Right Invoicing Process
Online invoicing tools first help to get you organized with a system in place that will ensure invoices are handled the same way every time you need to bill. The tools also add consistency from the beginning. Starting off right with these invoicing tools means:
- Establishing a database with all customer information so that invoices can automatically be generated with that correct data;
- Setting up a customized invoice template that reflects your brand with logo and company contact information; and
- Linking payment methods to the invoicing system for convenience for both you and clients.
Creating Accurate, Real-Time Records
Another way that online invoicing tools streamline the process of invoicing and payment is that they regularly update on your behalf based on payment notices received. Thereby making a note of payments in real time across all aspects of your financial and client records so you don’t have to mark each one accordingly.
Additionally, when you are busy, you may not be tracking what you are doing down to the minute so you end up estimating your time later on when preparing that invoice. Typically, when you try to account for your time later, there’s bound to be some mistakes.
Time tracking and timesheet tools are often part of an invoicing solution, which means that you can continually have a system that tracks what you are doing and for how long. This information is then shared with the rest of the invoicing system to quickly create invoices based on these accurate, constantly updated records.
Automating Time-Consuming Tasks
It can take a significant amount of time trying to put an invoice together, tracking who hasn’t paid you, and following-up on late payments. However, you can streamline these time-consuming tasks by having your online invoicing platform do these tasks for you.
Automation is playing a much larger role in business today, and invoicing is no exception. You will be able to automatically send out payment reminders, recurring invoices, and payment receipt messages.
Sending Invoices to Many Channels
Your traditional method of sending invoices typically involved sending a paper invoice in an envelope, which often could take days to get there and even longer to be read, have a paper check written and mailed back to you.
To streamline this process, online invoicing tools can send invoices to a client’s email with options to view the invoice within the email via a computer or mobile device.
Embedding Payment Options
In line with the ability to send invoices across many channels, online invoicing tools also make it possible to embed payment methods within that email invoice so the client can click on a button and be taken to their preferred way to pay.
This ability to immediately pay the invoice removes steps from the process where the client would have otherwise had to find the invoice, write a check, locate an envelope and stamp, and physically mail it.
Instead, the process is a click and pay option that can take seconds, which means payment is to you in a matter of minutes. These payment options tend to be directly linked to your business bank account so deposit can be paid quickly.
Working with international clients and invoicing them used to be extremely time consuming and often seemed next to impossible. However, today, online invoicing tools provide features that can have you issue an invoice in a particular language and currency as well as use local taxation, which provides the client with a better understanding of what they are paying.
Combined with a payments system that also works with international payment processes, you are able to not only streamline your business payment system, but you are also creating a competitive advantage over other companies that haven’t ventured into international territory.
Integrating with Other Business Functions
Beyond just business payments, online invoice tools can streamline other functions when integrated with other software that you may use. For example, some online invoicing tools integrate with CRM, accounting, marketing and sales and communication software platforms, so that the data can be shared across all functions.
If you want to add a marketing campaign message or a happy anniversary message to an invoice, you can set this up to work together because the software is integrated and does the work for you that makes it seem like you have gone that extra distance.
The Getting Paid Mindset
When it comes to payment efficiency and cash flow, it’s not just about the technology. As a business owner, you need to have the mindset that invoicing is important and you should be paid on time.
If clients are late, you need to proactively address the lack of payment rather than become stressed or try to avoid it. Be polite and firm about getting paid on time. Remember it’s your right for the products or services that you have delivered.
About the Author:
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and a Blogging Expert by Time. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.
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