What is an Invoice?

If you’re new to being your own boss or have just recently started a contracting business, you might not be up to speed on all the invoicing and documentation associated with running a business. You likely know what an invoice is but you’re not likely familiar with how SendWork’s invoices are different. In a busy demanding customer orientated economy the last thing you want is to be tied down by a mountain of paperwork.

Below you’ll find a basic definition of the term “invoice” and an explanation of how our invoices aren’t just bills, they’re powerful management tools for your contracting business and a crucial part of your day to day operations.

Invoice vs Bill

“Invoice” is really just a fancy word for a “bill.” In its simplest form, an invoice is simply a document that shows the customer (or Client) what work the contractor (or Provider) delivered and how much that contractor is owed.

Invoices usually contain:

  • Dates and times worked
  • Hourly or job-specific rates
  • Methods of payment
  • And contact information for all parties involved.

Essentially, these documents contain everything both parties would need to accurately track the progress of a specific contract and the information that the Client would need in order to pay the Service Provider.

Typically, small business invoices produced by contractors or indeed any other type of worker are submitted after a job is successfully completed. Larger companies working on multi-stage projects will often submit invoices as each portion of a project is completed. That said, even small contractors can use staggered invoicing to break up ongoing projects into multiple phases—allowing them to get money-in-hand without waiting until the entire project is complete.

For example, if one independent handyperson is contracted to clear up some shrubbery at a property, paint the exterior of the building, and put in fencing around a pool, that handyperson could submit an invoice for each portion of the total job.

Creating and Delivering Invoices

Typically invoices require a contractor to sit down during “office hours” and input all the data necessary to complete the invoice, including:

  • Contact info for the client
  • Total billable hours
  • Hourly rates
  • Any additional expenses (such as unforeseen supplies)
  • Acceptable payment methods

That invoice can either be sent digitally (via email) or printed and delivered via mail (or in person).

Digital office management tools (like accounting software) can sometimes automate some of this process by saving contact info, hourly rates, and payment methods, however, almost all commercial (desktop and mobile) software requires a significant amount of user input in order to create just a single invoice.

That’s time out of your day which, when you’re a small business contractor, is money out of your pocket.

Plus the delivery process can go wrong in any number of ways:

  • Your digital invoice can get blocked by a spam filter.
  • Your print invoice can get lost in mountains of paperwork.
  • Your client can simply misplace your invoice, making it difficult for you to get paid on time.

Nobody wants to be the person who has to harass a client multiple times in order to get paid for work they’ve already completed.

There is a better way for independent contractors to track billable time, create and send invoices, and remind Clients when it’s time to pay.