Some of you, and you know who you are, tend to put off one of the single most important business tasks: invoicing. You probably beat yourself up over it, too.
But there is a simple reason you procrastinate on invoicing: it’s not fun.
We like to work on the parts of our business that are fun to us. Even the prospect of, “I have to do this to get paid” isn’t usually enough to keep us from putting off our invoicing.
Does this make us bad business people? No. It’s normal. Here’s a little bit of proof: a professional gardener shared his feelings in a Flickr photo that tells the story, “Dog and I just realized: invoicing is the worst part of the job.”(Click through to read his caption and notes.)
So what do you do about it?
Build a system. Set up the steps that need to be taken throughout the process to make it as easy as possible to figure and send those invoices. And the first step is to create and record some standards of what you charge, whether by the hour or by the finished product or whatever method works best for your business.The second step is a system that makes it easy to record your work just as soon as you do it.
Do it only once. Record your work in the same format as your invoices so you can copy from your work record and paste directly into the invoice form. (I use this trick, myself!)
Use an online system like Invoice More, Fresh Books, or Greener Billing.
Delegate. If you’re bad enough about procrastinating, pay someone else create invoices from your work records. That could be an employee, a virtual assistant, or your local bookkeeping service.
How do you keep from putting off invoicing? Have any great tricks or stories to share? Or just want to admit that you, too, are human?
This article is part of the Small Biz 100, a series of 100 practical hands-on posts for small business people and solo entrepreneurs. If you have questions you’d like us to address in this series, leave a comment or send us an email at email@example.com. This is a community project!
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Another reason I have discovered to be especially true of freshman service providers: Uncertainty regarding their own value. They know they performed a service of value and deserve to collect, but hedge (procrastinate) due to a lack of confidence or determining how much to charge.
Certainly evidence that networking with other small businesses fosters success. Peer feedback and counsel regarding fees and invoicing can prove to be empowering and, in some cases, essential.
Bobbie Stacey says
Do you have such a peer group established and if so, would you share details of how it’s working?
Becky McCray says
Stargardener, you’re right. When you aren’t sure of your own worth, it’s hard to put it on paper and expect someone else to pay it. Especially when you love what you do! “This is so much fun to do; how could I possibly charge someone for it?”
Fred H Schlegel says
‘Sense of Value’ is a real good reason to systematize your invoicing. The more fuzzy the end date on a project the more important it is to invoice as you go rather than on completion. And in all cases the best thing to remember is that folks value what they pay for more than what they don’t pay for. By invoicing professionally you actually increase the value of what you do!
Becky McCray says
Bobbie, I’ve let Stargardener know you have a question for her, because I don’t know if she has a local network or not.
Fred, thanks for adding some terrific points.
Bobbie: I participate in a local group that meets once a week for breakfast. We discuss varying topics as well as brainstorm ideas. And share occasional vents! ;-)
This group actually started from a conversation between myself and the owner of a local bead store. A customer overheard, expressed her interest and the three of us met that week. We now have around 10 regulars!
Challenges: Staying on-topic and continuity of attendance.
Benefits: Relationship, ideas and accountability.
I also have two accountability partners; we meet one-on-one, once a week online for about 40-50 minutes. During the summer, we have opted to meet once a month online and e-mail our weekly goals/projects to one another. More regarding support: http://tinyurl.com/nqmh4t
If you have specific questions or are interested in discussing either of these options, please feel free to contact me directly: thestargardener at gmail.com
Becky McCray says
Stargardener, you have created a wonderful support system. Have you written about it on your own site? You ought to!
LOL! Great minds think alike! ;-) That is exactly what I was thinking as I compiled my last comment! It is officially on my topic-tickler list!