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Tips for using a sole trader invoice template in Australia

5-minute read

As unfair as it may seem, the quality of your paperwork can have an impact on how your business is perceived by customers. Scruffy quotes and correspondence for example, could be considered a warning sign of scruffy workmanship to come. Therefore, it pays to make sure your invoicing is giving the right impression too.

Key take-outs
  • A professional-looking invoice can help support the credibility of your business
  • Invoice templates are available through a variety of sources
  • The Australian Tax Office requires invoice templates to feature specific information
  • Adding extra elements to your invoices may help you get paid faster
  • Online invoicing has many benefits

 

Why do I need a good sole trader invoice template?

Some notable innovations have started life written on a napkin, including (according to legend) the structure of Oprah’s media empire, the font for all credit card numbers, and the script for the movie ‘A few good men’. But that doesn’t mean your business can get away with casual paperwork that looks like it’s been written on the back of a napkin.

As a sole trader, you are your business, and everything associated with your business is a reflection on you – and the way you operate. An amateur-looking business card makes your business look amateur too, however professional it really is. And the same goes for all your stationery – including your invoices.

That’s one reason not to compromise on your invoice template design.

What’s the best way to create an invoice as a sole trader?

You can employ a designer or print shop to create a suite of stationery for you, including a business card, with compliments slip and letterhead – and the letterhead can be the starting point for an invoice. But your invoices still need to feature all the information required by the Australian Tax Office (ATO), so you may be better off using an ‘off the shelf’ invoice template.

Invoice templates are readily available online in common formats such as Word and Excel. But if you go this route, make sure you are using an invoice template designed for Australia, as the required fields vary from country to country.

What information should be on a sole trader invoice template?

Check that the Australian invoice template you’re considering has the following details and fields:
 

  • The words ‘Tax invoice’ (or similar) if you are charging GST
  • Space for your business and/or trading name 
  • A table to add the quantity and description of the goods or services provided 
  • Your Australian business number (ABN)
  • The date the invoice was issued
  • The GST amount(s) either for each line item or as a whole.

 

If your invoice is for a total of less than $1,000 and all items on it are subject to 10% GST, you can include the tax as a single amount and use words such as ‘Total price includes GST’.

If the invoice is for more than $1,000, you should include the GST amount beside each item.

If you’re just starting up a business and are not sure if you need to register for GST, our Business basics for sole traders article may help.

What else should be on my invoices?

To help you get paid as fast as possible, some tips are to:
 

  • Offer a choice of payment methods to make paying you as easy as possible 
  • Use the most appropriate contact name on the invoice (and envelope)
  • Add a contact number and/or email address for immediate queries
  • Include the date payment should be made by.

What about online invoicing?

Doing your invoicing online has many potential advantages. Depending on the online invoicing system or accounting software you use, you could benefit in all these ways:
 

  • Save money on paper, printing and postage
  • Save time manually creating and sending invoices
  • Avoid repetitive typing of customer and product/service details
  • Send your invoices immediately from a mobile device 
  • Connect your invoicing to your business bank account
  • Get help with invoice reconciliation
  • Send automatic payment reminders
  • Simplify tax time with everything in one place.

 

Westpac, for example, offers a complimentary online invoicing tool with our Business One Low and High Plan business transaction accounts. The free invoice template that comes with Biz Invoice can be customised with your logo and business details, features all the mandatory fields for Australia, and has the option to include an ABN and GST. To keep things simple, the invoicing is managed alongside bank accounts in online banking.

Biz Invoice online invoicing can also be used for exports, as the invoice template and tool is available with all Westpac foreign currency accounts other than the Chinese Yuan RMB account.

Is an invoice the same as a receipt?

No, these are two separate documents. An invoice is a request for payment and must follow ATO guidelines. A receipt is a confirmation that payment has been made – and there is no mandatory format you have to follow.

You can turn an invoice into a receipt simply by marking it as paid and providing a payment date. And sending a receipt (or remittance advice) is a great opportunity to say a simple ‘thank you for your payment’, which may help secure prompt payments in the future, as well as ongoing business.


 

As a solo business owner, you’ll appreciate the benefits of saving time and money and reducing paperwork. These are factors well worth considering when you’re sourcing an invoice template for your Australian business. We hope this article has helped with your search.


Read more

4 reasons to separate business banking from personal

One of the most useful things you can do when starting a business, is to keep your business finances separate from your personal.

6 ways to get your invoices paid faster

Waiting around to get paid? Here are some steps you could take to ensure your invoices get paid on time.

Business basics for sole traders

Here are some of the first things you should think about to get your business off on the right foot.

Things you should know

Westpac’s products are subject to terms, conditions and fees; and eligibility criteria may apply. Before making a decision, read the disclosure documents for your selected product or service, including the Product Disclosure Statement and T&Cs for Westpac business bank accounts, foreign currency accounts and online banking and consider if the product is right for you.

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.