Anytime a business owner hears about a new “online” system, they should pay attention and investigates its capabilities. Online should be a synonym for the word efficient, since the use of the internet optimizes almost every traditional business practice.
An online invoice creator eliminates the usual frustration that follows formatting in word processing applications. The structure for the invoice is already formatted into the online invoicing software and all that is required is to complete the given fields. This can be done using an easy step-by-step format that literally takes minutes to do.
One the basic details of your client`s contact information and product or service are entered into the software, the information is stored for future use. You just pull up a client`s name and the rest will fill in for you. Items such as tax codes and payments terms will automatically calculate the amounts and dates due for you, once the specific amounts are entered for each bill.
Online invoicing software allows companies the luxury of creating invoicing from any location that has internet access.
You no longer need to wait to get back to the main office to generate your invoices and then print multiple copies for the client and your files. Everything is done online. The customer can even receive the invoice instantaneously through their email, which can save on the cost of printing and postage. It also means you won’t be waiting days before the client physically has the invoice in their hands.
Online invoicing companies also provide support for their invoicing software. This technical or customer support team is usually available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You won’t waste time trying to decipher the best way of handling your entries, when there is immediate guidance at your disposal. They can even offer advice on how to utilize their services more efficiently.
Online invoice software allows for the creation of professional and unique invoicing templates that will suit a variety of different products and services. If you have multiple divisions within your business, you can use custom-made templates for each unique product group. This will help distinguish your company as being a cutting-edge leader, regardless of the industry you work in.
Online invoicing software integrates into a full accounting system for all your financial needs. Depending on the provider you choose, this could give users the additional benefit of linking into the banking, payroll, inventory, and reporting modules all from the same source. Some online invoicing providers can even link directly to other online systems such as shopping carts, time-sheets and client database systems.
When billing is done using an online invoice creator, the invoice can be generated quickly from anywhere and then sent automatically to the client. If your billing is linked to your businesses online shopping cart, the entire process can be done automatically. The time-saving possibilities are endless using online invoicing software.
There are so many important benefits to online invoicing and it is certainly worth investigating. Find out how you can become more efficient with your current accounting practices, by signing up for a free subscription.
Due to the significant benefits of handling all of your invoicing and financial needs directly online, there are so many new online invoicing companies emerging and it can be difficult figuring out which one you should choose. Every company has its own attributes and it is important that you find one that suits your company’s specific goals and objectives. Start by making a detailed list of every aspect of your finances that you will need to track for your business. Here are a few helpful questions that will help make sure that you didn’t forget to consider something important.
- Do you need to track inventory levels?
- Do you need the capability to invoice based on hours or based on predetermined units of time?
- Do you need the ability to create estimates?
- Would it save time if you could convert your estimates into invoices?
- Would it be convenient to email invoices directly to your clients?
- Do you want to see a read receipt when a client reads an invoice?
- Do you currently send client’s reminder notices before invoices are due?
- Do you have reoccurring monthly expenses?
- Do you need reminder notices when a supplier invoice is due?
- What reports do you need it to produce?
Once you have a clear understanding of what you need from the web-based billing software, you can then look for a provider that has all the options you need, plus one that will give you the ability to customize which services you want to utilize. For example, if you have a monthly rent expense, does the software offer the ability to duplicate the bill each month, which in return will save the time of having to constantly re-enter the same information over and over again. Once you have found an online billing software provider that covers all of your requirements, it is time to take it for a test run. Most reputable companies will allow potential users to experiment with their forms, as well as walk them through an informational tutorial. This will give you a chance to make sure it is easy and convenient to operate. It is also fundamental that you are dealing with a trustworthy company that has a significant history of quality service. There should be security measures in place to protect your valuable information and testimonials from current customers who are willing to voucher for their service. Selecting web-based billing software is an important decision and it is worth the time to assess and evaluate all of your available options. Make sure it has every report, every time-saving feature, and every capability that you need to properly manage your bookkeeping. By investing time in the selection process, the online billing software you choose will save you a great deal of time and money for many years to come.
The internet is filled with countless time and money saving options for business owners. You can do everything from your taxes, your marketing, your accounting, to your purchasing from anywhere simply by going online. A small business can save significantly just by taking advantage of free or inexpensive services that are now only a mouse click away.
Here are some of the online options that are cutting costs and saving time:
Marketing with Social Media
Most people around the world are online at one point or another throughout the day, which is exactly why social media marketing has become so popular. Having a good reputation on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest can spread the word about your businesses’ capabilities to an endless stream of potential customers. These sites are basically free and require little or no time to operate effectively.
Manage Bookkeeping Online
Small businesses do not need to hire a full time bookkeeper or purchase an expensive bookkeeping software program in order to keep track of their finances. There are online services where they have professional templates where you can enter an invoice, email the invoice to the client, and send a reminder notice all in a matter of minutes. It will also ensure your financial reports are up-to-date online, so you can access your reports from anywhere that has internet service.
Generate & Nurture Leads with Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is an automated program that qualifies leads and then segments those leads into groups based on their interests, demographics, and purchasing history. Once they are segmented, nurturing is done by sending helpful content to each lead segment, in the hopes of building trust and their future business. By using an automated system versus have someone do it manually, you will save a significant amount of time and money. You can learn more about this from providers like Lead Liaison or Marketo.
Make Online Purchases
A business no longer needs to rely on the local provider for their supplies. Use the internet to research products and services for your business to ensure you are getting the best deal possible. Most have secure payment options using Paypal or another secure credit card program that guarantees your purchase.
Use ThinkFree to Save Documents Online
For the same benefits of an online invoice provider, ThinkFree provides a free web office suite with one GB of online storage that you can access from anywhere. You can use smart phones, laptops, or a home-based computer to open and use your stored documents from anywhere in the world. This will give you valuable flexibility and convenience.
Hire Inexpensive Freelancers
There are sites like Guru, Fiverr, or Craigslist where business owners can hire someone directly for piece work assignments at a significantly reduced rate than it would cost for a full time employee or professional firm. You post a project and hire an experienced at-home provider who can fulfill your needs at a fraction of the normal price.
The internet was designed to save time and money. Online providers are following suit by creating their own efficient ways of handling basic business tasks that utilize all the latest in technological advancements. Don’t miss out on all of the great opportunities to keep your business competitive and successful.
So many small businesses are switching to an online invoicing system due to the many benefits the technology has to offer. It is an inexpensive and efficient way to manage your bookkeeping that is revolutionizing the way companies do business. Some even offer free services for basic invoicing and accounting needs.
Here are the top 7 reasons why a business should use an online invoicing system:
1. Easy to Manage
Online invoicing systems are designed to be easily managed with minimal effort on the part of the business owner. Once the templates are in place and the initial contact information is entered, all the forms you need to use will be ready and waiting for you.
An online invoicing system is the most convenient way to access all of your information. Most business owners already spend a great deal of time online, so adding their invoicing and financial reporting into the mix only makes sense.
3. Create Invoices Quickly
If you need to review your cash flow statement to know if you can make a purchase or cover an upcoming expense, you can quickly enter any new receivables and it will instantly give you an up-to-date account of how much money you have available. Since the client information will already be entered into the online billing software, all that needs to be added is the information specific to the charges on the invoice. The software will calculate all charges and transfer the details to any financial reports your need.
4. Immediately Send the Invoice to the Client
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could finish a project and hand the client an invoice for the work a few minutes later? You actually can! Online invoicing systems allow you to email the invoice directly to the client. They can also request a read receipt, so you know once a client has viewed it.
5. Reduces Paper Cost
An online invoicing system is better for the environment, since it practical eliminates the need for paper. Some companies will still insist on printing one copy for their files, but there really is no need for it. All the information is stored online and can be accessed at any point. Invoices are sent to the client, where they can choose whether they need it physically printed. Even financial reports can be reviewed online, so there is no need to waste paper by printing a hard copy just to review the vital information you need.
6. Looks Professional and Consistent
Every invoice, reminder notice, thank you note, and report is done using the same professional template. These demonstrates consistency and attention to detail, which are two traits that everyone business expects from their suppliers.
7. Access to Reports from Anyway
Have you ever been in a business meeting and a financial question came up that you couldn’t answer? If you use an online invoicing system, you could login into your account from a smart phone or laptop and run the report in a matter of minutes. This way you will always be informed when you make crucial financial decisions.
Cash flow management is a fundamental aspect of every business, but it can be daunting to stay on top of it when there are so many other responsibilities that need your attention. That is why we have compiled a list of seven powerful secrets to successful cash flow management. By setting up a system based on the following guidelines, your business will have better control of its cash flow.
Seven Secrets to Successful Cash Flow Management:
1. Negotiating better terms with clients and suppliers
It will be easier to manage your cash flow if you can count on a steady stream of income without unexpected delays. Your clients understand that they need to pay and most are willing to pay earlier, especially if you offer an incentive. Set up the terms at 30 days, but then offer a small 1 or 2% discount for payment within in 15 days. Setting up convenient terms in advance, will ensure that you are not trying to balance your payables while waiting on a receivable.
The same can be done with a supplier. Negotiate longer terms and inquiry if they will offer a discount for early payment. By improving your terms with clients and suppliers, you will have greater flexibility in regards to your cash flow.
2. Use online invoicing to get paid faster
Online invoicing companies have systems in place that will make it easier for you to get paid faster. They have direct billing options, where the invoice is emailed immediately to the client. Their program can even request a read receipt, so you know it has been viewed.
3. Send reminder notices to clients
The online invoicing companies previously mentioned also have reminder notices, to help your receivable move its way to the top of the pile. Sometimes that old adage “squeaking wheel gets the oil” works and reminder notices have proven to be highly effective.
4. Creating a cash reserve for potential growth
Successful cash flow management involves keeping some aside for emergencies or unexpected growth. It is a good idea to create a separate account and put 1-5% of your profits in it each week or month. This account should only be accessed if there is a sound investment opportunity, a sudden need to expand, or if there is no other method for covering necessary expenses.
5. Review your cash flow statement at least weekly
Regular analysis of your cash flow is essential for proper management. This was you can catch things early and know exactly where you stand when making financial decisions. It helps if you are able to access your cash flow statement from anywhere at any time.
6. Working with vendors to spread out payments
It will help if your vendors are willing to be flexible with due dates. This will allow you to spread out your payments, so everything is not due at the end of the month.
7. Cut any unnecessary expenses
Every business should go over their expenses at least quarterly and assess which ones are actually needed. Businesses need to identify wasteful practices and ways to reduce costs, without sacrificing quality or service.
These seven steps to successful cash flow management will ensure that your receivables are coming in on time, that your expenses are manageable and necessary, and that you are monitoring your situation as often as possible. By sticking to these guidelines, it will be easier to stay on top of your finances and avoid the stress cash flow issues.
Using an online invoicing program has been proven to save a business a significant amount of time and money. A business can also improve their cash flow situation using web-based billing software, especially if the company is taking advantage of all of the online tools they have available to help collect receivables sooner.
Online invoicing gives you the ability to email invoices immediately to a client, follow up with a reminder notice before it is due, and even a thank you letter once it has been paid. These are usually successful techniques to ensure that your receivable is paid on time. Online invoicing is also a convenient alternative for most business owners, since the majority of what they are already doing involves surfing the web.
Today’s successful businesses are created and managed using the internet. It will only take someone a few minutes to open up an internet browser, enter the information that is unique to the specific sale they need to invoice, and then email the file straight into the client’s inbox. You can also send invoices from any computer, laptop, or any device that connects you to the internet. Thanks to so many advancements in invoicing options, you no longer have to rely on a program that is dedicated to only one computer system and then waste time waiting for the program to load before you can even start using it.
You will also save on labor expenses, since you won’t need to hire someone full-time to keep track of your bookkeeping. Once the forms are set up, you will only need to enter the number of hours worked or the quantity purchased (depending on your pre-established invoice items) and everything else will populate for you. Most likely, you are already spending some time double checking invoices before they are sent out and this simple process for preparing them won’t really take any additional time. Plus, since you are using the same form over and over, there will be components of the invoice that you won’t feel the need to double check every time a new one is created.
An online invoicing application also saves money, since it naturally reduces paper costs. There is no need to print duplicate copies of every invoice, since the information is sent by emailed and then store online for easy reference. It will be a definite advantage to your company to have all your information stored safely and securely online. For example, if your computer suddenly crashes beyond repair, all of your financial records are not lost along with everything else. You won’t need to rely on the last time you did a system back-up, since you can simply login in and access the files from any computer with access to the internet.
Every business needs to take advantage of the latest technology, especially when it will save you time and money. Online companies are working hard to come up with impressive new ideas to make it easier for you to run your business from anywhere.
As a business owner, every day is filled with numerous demands and immediate concerns that simply can’t be ignored. It can feel like you are constantly being pulled in countless different directions, making it difficult to make anything that is not urgent a priority. Regardless of how much needs to be done each day, at least once a year the structure, strategy, and financial future of your business must be thoroughly evaluated.
Re-assess SWOT at least once a year.
Your business’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats are constantly changing. Something that may have once been a weakness could easily become something you would consider to now be a strength or vice versa. It is important to do a SWOT analysis at least once per year, to make sure you are strengthening your weaknesses, encouraging your strengths, pursuing all opportunities and neutralizing your threats.
Review annual financial statement and forecast
Hopefully you are already reviewing your finances monthly, but at the very least they should be analyzed yearly. Create a financial statement, balance sheet, cash flow statement, and profit & loss statement for the entire year and then break it down by month. Look for trends or problems that could prevent the following year from running smooth. If you use an online company for your invoicing and cash flow management, these reports will be ready and accessible from anywhere.
Review your expenses for ways to save money
There are constant changes in technology and businesses should always be looking for new ways to save time and money. Every expense should be qualified to see if it is still a necessary component of your business. You should also send out quote requests to see if there is another supplier who can either supply a superior product or who can supply the same product at a reduced cost. If you plan on switching suppliers and you are still happy with your current supplier, offer them a chance to match the new bid before parting ways.
Review sales projections and compare growth to previous years
It is important that every company reviews their growth trends and compares it to previous years, to make sure it is maintaining the same rate of growth. If there is an issue, look for reasons that could be causing a decline and ways that it can be prevented in the future. If you notice there is a steady increase in the percentage of growth, make sure that your business will be ready to handle it.
Review Marketing Efforts
Not every marketing and advertising plan is going to work, so it is important that you review your return on investment when it comes to your marketing budget. Take a close look at what worked and what didn’t work, so you can create a more effective plan for the follow year’s business. You should also investigate new marketing opportunities at this time.
Your day to day operations are going to take up the majority of your time, but it is essential that you delve into the big picture at least once per year. Every business should always be actively looking for ways to improve. The easiest way to do that is by analyzing your SWOT, reviewing your financial statements, looking for ways to cut costs, improve sales, and enhance the results of your marketing efforts.
Small businesses are an important contributor to the economy as a whole. Starting or expanding a small business takes planning, hard work and of course, money. There are various ways to finance your small business because each small business is unique and has their own specific finance needs. This article will discuss the many debt and equity financing options as well as the pros and cons of each method.
Debt Financing is money that you borrow to run your business. It requires that you repay the money in full, usually in instalments that are subject to interest or finance charges. The lender assesses a variety of factors like the validity of your business plan, management capabilities, and personal financing to evaluate your company’s chances of success.
Debt financing includes the following:
- Line of Credit: A line of credit provides a business with money to cover day-to-day expenses. As funds are used, the amount of available credit decreases until payments are made. There is a pre-establish limit and you pay interest only on the amount outstanding.
- Credit Cards: Credit cards are short-term loans that allow you to make relatively small purchases today and then pay for them later. As long as you pay off your credit card each month, you will not pay interest on the loan. Many financial institutions provide credit cards designed for small businesses that help you keep track of company spending.
- Business Term Loan: A business term loan provides medium to long-term financing to cover some or all of the cost of capital equipment, expansion or renovation of buildings. Term loans are usually secured by the asset being financed, and they come with different repayment schedules, interest rates, and terms depending on the loan.
- Supplier Credit: Many manufacturers and suppliers have developed credit programs that you can use to make purchases. They provide the goods and you pay for them with interest over a pre-determined period of time. Some suppliers will offer a variety of financing options or discounts for paying it off early.
- Leasing: Leasing is a long-term rental where you have the option to purchase at the end of the lease based on its outstanding balance. A lease requires little or no money down and is normally used to purchase cars, machinery or office equipment. By leasing instead of buying, your business can write off the monthly lease expenses.
Equity financing is accumulated from savings and investors. Outside investors receive a portion of your company’s equity in return for their investments. The easiest source of equity financing for new companies is relying on people who already know you. It is not easy for a start-up business to attract investors. No matter how sure you are that your business with succeed, others will not always share your confidence. Without a track record of steady earnings from the business, you have only your enthusiastic attitude and your business plan to persuade them to invest in your idea.
Equity financing includes the following:
- Personal Savings: Many entrepreneurs invest their own savings when they start a business. It makes sense as your own money is the most readily available. If you invest your own money in the business, other people will feel more confident about investing their money.
- Love Money: Many entrepreneurs rely on friends and relatives for at least a portion of their financing, either as a debt or in exchange for equity.
- Informal Investors: Informal investors are professionals looking to invest their money in promising businesses. They are looking to earn a higher return on their investment than they would through traditional methods. They can play an active role in the management of the business by offering professional advice.
- Government: The government offers financial programs to boost employment, training or technology. A government program may pay some or all of your costs of developing a new technology or training new employees.
No matter how you finance your business in the beginning, a long term plan for success is essential.Setup reasonable financing terms with your clients and create a system for regular follow-up. By staying on top of your receivables, you will reduce your need to rely on credit.
Trend watching has always been a part of big business’s strategic plan, but small business can also benefit from trend watching. Think back to the early 1990’s when the internet first became a trend for big businesses. Fortune 500 companies saw the advantages it had to offer and used the internet to grow their business faster than ever. Any small business that recognized the opportunity, also benefit by quickly expanding beyond their wildest expectations.
The most acknowledged trend for small businesses right now is technology. Every business owner is looking for ways to use new technology to their advantage. Companies can now create an App for their phone that is specifically designed to make their business run smoother. They can use an automated marketing system to generate leads, qualify leads, and nurture leads into sales.
Of course there are also social media sites like Facebook and Twitter that will help market a business on a global scale at the fraction of the cost of national advertising campaigns. Purchases can be made securely online and most purchasers use the internet as the main tool for researching new buys. Businesses can even enter their invoices directly online, email it directly to the client, and then the online cash management provider will store the information and converts it into useful financial reports.
Another new trend in business is peer to peer financing. Rather than relying on borrowing from a financial institution, you can turn to other business professionals who are hoping to make a profit. There are specific networks for these informal investors where any business owner can register to become a lender. They can also become mentors since they are invested in your success.
Many companies are also choosing to contract out more services rather than hire more employees. Using an online provider can be considerably less expensive than a full time salary plus benefits. They are usually experts in their relative fields which means they can do it more efficiently and normally at a fraction of the cost of hiring a full time professional.
Modern businesses are also realizing that there needs to be more of a focus on relationship building. Loyalty is invaluable, but it doesn’t happen automatically the moment someone makes a purchases. Competition is tough and there is nothing stopping a customer from turning to your competitor the next time they need to make a purchase. Relationships need to be nurtured and strengthen over time by always keeping your word. A customer needs to know they can rely on your customer service time and time again.
Not every trend turns out to a money maker, so try to follow the lead of successful companies. Always start small and dive deep into trends as you start to reap the benefits. Always evaluate how the trend is working to improve the way you do business, since every company has different needs. If you are looking for more trend ideas, check out the list on Forbes websites entitled 10 Most Important Trends in Business.
Invoicing is a fundamental part of every business. It is the reward for all of your hard work and your business wouldn’t last very long if you neglect to do it. This article will cover the basics of creating, sending, and following up on invoices.
Create a professional template
Start by creating a professional template that has the clients contact information, the invoice number, and your company’s contact information. If you use an online invoicing provider they will have pre-establish templates where you will only need to insert the information. Make sure to save the template with the contact information filled in, so it does not need to be re-entered each time.
Use clear details and break down charges
The next simple step is using details that clearly explain each charge. If you use a bookkeeping program or online service they will store the information, so if you need to invoice someone else for them same product or service, it won’t need to be re-entered. If you have already given the client a quote, you should use the same descriptions on the invoice, so each charge can be easily referenced. Break down the amount for each charge and make sure the final total is easy to find.
Include the date and due date
Make sure that you date every invoice with the current date and the date it is due, along with the terms that you have already negotiated and agreed upon. This should be somewhere close to the total of the invoice, so it is a quick reference when the client is ready to write the check.
Email it directly to the client
Your invoice should also be sent directly to the client as soon as the project is complete. Email is an efficient way and you can even request a read receipt, so you know the client has it in their hands. Somewhere half way between when the invoice is sent and when it is due, a professional reminder notice should be sent. This will ensure that your invoice has not been misplaced or forgotten.
Send a thank you note
The last courtesy step is to send a thank you email to the client once the invoice has been paid. You want them to know that you are thankful for their business and that you hope to work together again. This will make your company stand out in a positive way.
Invoicing may not be the most fun part of running your own business, but it is necessary and it is always worth it when you get paid. The faster the invoices are created, the sooner they can be sent, and the faster you will access to the money you need to run your business. If you don’t have the time to tackle it yourself, then invest in an online cash management system to make it easier.