How to write an invoice that encourages fast payment
Small business owners have quite enough day-to-day challenges, without having to spend time chasing slow payers. Getting paid as quickly as possible is good for cash flow and gives you one less thing to worry about – and the way you write your invoices could help.
The simple principle is that the easier you make it for a customer to pay you, the faster their payment is likely to be. This isn’t a guarantee, but it makes sense.
So how can you make it easier to get paid? Here are six tips.
If you build up good personal relationships with clients, they may be more likely to pay you on time. Some businesses find that offering a discount incentive for prompt or early payment works well for them too.
If you are asked to provide a customer with a tax invoice, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) states that you must provide one within 28 days of their request. The ATO also requires businesses to include specific information on their GST invoices.
If you’re just starting out and are not sure if you need to register for and charge GST, you may find the answer in our Business basics for sole traders article.
If you are a sole trader, small business or partnership that charges GST, the ATO requires you to feature the following information on your invoices:
If the total of an invoice is less than $1,000 and all items on it are subject to 10% GST, you can include the tax as a single amount using the words ‘Total price includes GST’. If the invoice is for more than a $1,000 in total, the GST amount must be featured beside each line item.
If you’re not registered for GST and/or are not charging GST, the ATO requirements for what they call a ‘regular (non-tax)’ invoice are slightly simpler:
No, paper invoices are not a requirement. Many companies now save money on paper and postage by doing their invoicing online.
This can be done in the form of an electronic invoice that’s automatically exchanged between the supplier’s and buyer’s software systems; by an emailed PDF; or more securely by emailing a link to an invoice. The third method is a way that’s available to many Westpac customers.
Biz Invoice is an easy-to-use online invoicing tool that’s managed through Westpac Online Banking. It includes an invoice template you can customise with your business name and logo and features all the required fields for an Australian GST invoice – though you can send non-GST invoices with the tool too.
You write your invoice on your PC or mobile – pulling in standard information (such as customer details and popular line items), which can be stored in the tool. Then your customer is emailed with a link to your invoice, which can look as professional as these examples:
If you are a sole trader, you can choose to offer BPAY in addition to bank transfers, which means you can accept credit card payments without a terminal. And to further encourage prompt payments, you can set up Biz Invoice to include a ‘pay by’ date and to send out automatic payment reminders.
The hours saved not chasing up slow payers could be enough incentive alone to try Biz Invoice, which is available at no additional charge with Westpac Business One Low and High Plan transaction accounts and foreign currency accounts (except the Chinese Yuan RMB).
Writing invoices in a way that helps speed up payments could be good for your cash flow – and the time-saving benefits of electronic invoicing are well worth considering too. What’s not to love about receiving payments promptly and saving time into the bargain?
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The information in this article is general in nature; does not take your objectives, financial situation or needs into account. Consider its appropriateness to these factors; and we recommend you seek independent professional legal and/or financial advice about your specific circumstances before making any decisions. Westpac does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any third-party templates. You should make your own enquiries and seek professional legal advice where required.