Correct invoices are worth gold to your company. Not only do they ensure that you are paid for your services or products, they also provide a clear overview of your income and expenses. But drawing up a (digital) invoice according to the rules of the art is not always easy. That's why we share tips, tricks, various examples and the whole aim. You're welcome!
- Why are invoices crucial?
- Different types of invoices
- How do you make an invoice?
- Examples of invoices
- When do you draw up an invoice and send it?
- Digital invoicing: how does it work?
Why are invoices crucial?
As a self-employed person, you should ideally watch over your bills with as much care as a grandmother over her crystal glasses. Exaggerated? Not at all! And there are 3 reasons for that:
- Invoices are synonymous with checkout time. This is proof that you have provided a certain product or service. If they do not comply with the rules, you can whistle for your money if your customer refuses to pay.
- Wrong invoices are checkout time for the tax authorities. If they are not correct, your bookkeeping is in jeopardy and you run the risk of fines. Incidentally, this does not only apply to the invoices you draw up - the so-called outgoing invoices. Incorrect invoices from suppliers - incoming invoices - can also be sanctioned.
- Invoices give you insight into your company. After all, they show your income and expenses, allowing you to assess the financial health of your own business.
"Thanks to our digital invoices, we can easily draw conclusions from our figures and have a clear overview of our turnover". - Jonah Van Laer, founder of Tuinjan
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Different types of invoices
Invoices are like pilsner beers: one is sure and the other is probably not (ever tasted Budweiser?). Broadly speaking, there are 8 different types of invoices.
- The standard invoice contains the standard information - what's in a name - and is, uh, used by default.
- The commercial invoice is used when you ship goods from one country to another.
- For large projects - for example in construction - you can send periodic invoices every time a part is finished. This way you also generate income during the project.
- Don't charge a product or service, but hours at a fixed price? If so, please state this clearly on a timesheet or via time registration. Consultants and agencies in particular make use of this.
- For customers for whom you work continuously, you draw up a recurring invoice every once in a while. For example at the end of the month.
- With a pro forma invoice you give the estimated price of certain goods or services. This is often identical to your quotation.
- In the case of a value-based invoice, the amount depends on the amount of work you have delivered. Especially useful if you can determine the value of a service or product in advance.
- A fixed price invoice is best suited for projects with clearly defined expectations. Especially freelancers make use of this.
What kind of invoice do you draw up for what kind of project? And what are the vipers under the grass? This blog post will guide you through the maze.
How do you make an invoice?
An invoice usually consists of 3 parts: the invoice header, the invoice lines and the invoice rate. Yes, sometimes it's really that simple. Each component contains a number of mandatory items.
In the invoice header you enter your details on the one hand:
- clearly the word 'invoice
- the date of formatting and serial number
- your company name and company form (e.g., nv, cv ...)
- your full address
- your bank account number
- your VAT or company number
- the date of delivery of the goods or services
In addition, you also include information from your customer in the invoice header:
- the official company name
- full address
- the VAT number
In the invoicing rules you describe the goods and services and the quantity. This can be done in two ways:
- the different parts and the corresponding unit price
- your hourly rate and the time you spent on each part of the project
This calculation example makes it immediately clear.
You mention it in the invoice rate:
- the net amount (amount without VAT)
- the VAT rate and amount
- the total amount
- the deadline for payment
- the payment methods
General terms and conditions are like Church & Life: nobody reads them. However, it may be wise to include them on your invoice, although this is not compulsory. Please note: if your invoice is intended for a private person, you must also mention the same terms and conditions on your offer. For companies it suffices to refer to your website.
Examples of invoices
Copying good artists, stealing great artists. And that applies just as much to drawing up invoices. A golden tip is to base yourself on existing invoices. That will save you a lot of time.
Pitfall: you're not sure which invoices have been drawn up according to the rules of the art. That's why we made three examples on which even the most strict VAT inspector has no comments.
When do you draw up an invoice and send it?
If you draw up your bills as slowly as George Martin writes books, you've got a problem. Because once a project has been completed, it's best to get your invoice out the door as quickly as possible.
The deadline is the 15th day of the following month after delivery. For example, if you delivered goods to one of your customers on 23 April, you have until 15 May to draw up and send your invoice.
Though it's advisable not to wait so long. At the beginning of each month, you usually have to pay a lot of money. If your customers pay their invoices quickly, you can more easily pay the necessary amount. In any case: stick to the deadline. Otherwise, the government can impose fines on you.
Is your client self-employed or entrepreneur? Then he has 30 days to pay the invoice, counting from the date of receipt. You may deviate from this, although it is better to put these agreements on paper. There is no fixed deadline for private individuals, although there is a 'reasonable period of time'. In practice: one to two weeks. To avoid discussions, you can include a payment term in the general terms and conditions of your invoice.
Digital invoicing: how does it work?
The ink cartridges of your printer are once again empty, the address just doesn't fit on the envelope and no matter how amicable he tries to laugh, the face of King Philip on the stamp is no aesthetic added value. Paper invoices cost you time, money and peace of mind. Because how can you be sure that your invoice will reach your customer safely?
More and more self-employed people are using digital invoices with an online tool. This has 3 advantages:
- A considerable gain of time. With software you can create an invoice in your own house style in just a few clicks. Booking, sending and processing is also done digitally and therefore faster.
- You save pennies. The cost price of the software usually remains the same, no matter how many invoices you send. Envelopes, paper, ink cartridges, stamps, yellow postcards ... You no longer need them.
- It's simple comme bonjour. You're sure your invoice will reach the right person. What's more, he or she can view your invoice at any time: on his or her smartphone, tablet or computer, at the office, on holiday or in the Colruyt biscuit tray.
Digital invoice or e-invoice: same-same?
No, a digital invoice is created and sent via software and is a PDF, Word or Excel file. This is usually sufficient for the average self-employed person. An e-invoice, on the other hand, is an XML invoice that complies with the European standard PEPPOL, version 2 or 3) Insert nerd-emoji! Suppliers to the Flemish and federal governments are usually obliged to draw up e-invoices.
Would you like to learn more about digital invoices from start to finish? Say no more! We listed the need-to-know info.
"In the beginning you manage to draw up invoices manually, for example - but that doesn't last. Team leader saved me a lot of inefficiency, frustration and wasted time until today". - Laurent Debaere, founder and manager Berdea
Discover Teamleader, the tool that makes invoicing a lot easier
Teamleader is simple software that combines CRM, project management and invoicing in one handy tool. Create, send and manage your invoices in just a few clicks. Quotations can be converted into an invoice in no time, each document is given your corporate identity and customers can easily pay online.