Invoicing is pretty far down on the list of Suzanne Lucas's favorite things to do. The Basel, Switzerland-based writer, whose blog is called “Evil HR Lady," specializes in human resources and employment management topics, writing for clients like Inc. Magazine and Cornerstone's Rework blog. “I love writing and I'm great with words — but invoicing is so incredibly boring," says the American expat. “It was something I put off until the last minute."
A shift to cloud-based invoicing not only removed much of the drudgery surrounding invoicing, but also helped Lucas capture income that might otherwise disappear.
Lost Time and Money
For Lucas, the tipping point came after one too many long invoicing sessions — and the realization that she was probably neglecting to bill clients for ongoing work. “For some clients, I'll write multiple articles, and there were definitely times when I forgot to list the articles on invoices at the end of the month," she says.
Then there was the time needed to generate the invoices and reconcile payments with her spreadsheets and bank account records. Lucas's busy life includes taking care of her kids while her husband, a pharmaceutical executive, travels around the world on business. So time for writing and generating income is precious — but digging up client records and filling out invoices one by one dug deeply into that time.
“For each invoice, I'd pull up a template I made for invoices, and I'd have to manually enter everything into it, then save the file and attach it to an email," Lucas recalls. “When I got paid, I'd mark off that payment in a separate spreadsheet." Sometimes she'd delay checking on a payment, and then she'd have to comb through old bank statements to look for images of check deposits.
Making the Switch to Automated Invoicing
Attracted to a free trial of Freshbooks, a small business accounting and invoicing solution, Lucas decided to up her invoicing game. Now, she simply enters projects into her online account as she completes an article. Line items are organized by client, so it's easy to track the work she's done for each client or assignment. “I add articles as I finish them, instead of doing everything at the end of the month, and everything is all in one place," Lucas says. At the end of the month, Lucas can just click “send," and invoices are emailed automatically .
Using automated invoicing saves Lucas a lot of time, and also tells her more about how her business is doing. “It's much easier to see where I am every month," she says of the ability to run reports and get a high-level view of her projected income. “And I'm 100 percent up to date on invoices." She can also easily see who hasn't paid so she can follow up on late payments, which helps keep cash flow healthy.
Advice to Other Small Businesses
Accurate and timely invoices project an image of professionalism — and that's important to a small business. “You don't want people to think that what you do is just a hobby," Lucas says.
Her advice to small businesses struggling with invoicing: Don't be cheap! Set aside budget for cloud accounting and invoicing solutions, because the investment will pay off down the road.
“Don't waste time doing your own invoices because you want to save $20 a month," Lucas says. “That's time that you could be spending on earning even more money."
Christine Kent brings over 20 years of writing and journalism expertise to her work for technology, consumer and corporate organizations. Her journalism-driven approach enables her to not just write a document, but to find the voice of a client to tell their story in the most compelling way.