Monday, June 27, 2011

Invoicing Pitfalls

One of the major problems that small business owners face is the monthly cash crunch. A big contributor to this dilemma is uncollected invoices, late-payers and clients who must be hounded like crazy to issue a check.

The folks behind Tradeshift are ambitious enough to believe they can change the way we do business by allowing organizations to exchange invoices for free.

Here are their tips on how to create and submit an invoice that will help avoid the pitfalls that lead to delayed payment, or worse, no payment:

1. No backup system. It’s kind of a no-brainer, but if one computer crashes, all your records are gone. Make sure to back your invoices up on multiple computers – or better yet, store it in the cloud. These are some of the most important documents of your business, after all.
2. Having one gatekeeper. Don’t give full ownership of this responsibility to just one person – you never know when you’ll need access to the information, and gatekeepers can cause bottlenecks – the last thing you want when you’re trying to get paid.
3. “The invoice is in the mail…” Unless you’re hand-delivering paper invoices, you can’t confirm receipt unless you’ve paid for FedEx. And snail mail means snail payment…the worst kind. Go online to get paid faster.
4. Forgetting to invoice altogether. Admit it – it happens. And that’s money lost. Make sure you have a system in place to help you remember to send out your invoices along with any reminders when they are overdue.
5. Incorrect currency conversions. Working with international businesses? A miscalculated currency conversion causes delays at best, and underpayment at worst. Make sure you’re using a system that allows for the most updated conversion rates.
6. Misfiring an invoice. Ever sent the wrong invoice to the wrong vendor? That can get hairy when you’re sharing confidential pricing matters – and might even hurt negotiations if one vendor sees how much (or little) you’re paying others. Automate your system to avoid the awkward.
7. Doubling up. Generating duplicate invoice numbers is one of the most common mistakes made. Without a system to prevent dupes, small business owners risk wasting time and money trying to undo the confusion this can create.

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