What is an invoice in business


What is an invoice in business?

Understanding the formalities of accounting for your business can be a headache, but we have you covered.

In this blog post, we will delve deeper into the concept of invoicing and discuss its importance in the world of business. We will also explore the different types of invoices, as well as some best practices for creating and using them effectively.

Let’s begin…

What is an invoice in business

What is an invoice payment?

An invoice is a document that is used to record the sale of goods or services from one party to another.

It provides a detailed breakdown of the items purchased, including their quantity, price, and any applicable taxes. It also records payment information such as when the payment was received and which method was used.


Purpose of invoicing

The purpose of an invoice is to provide proof of sale, ensure accuracy in accounting records, and facilitate payment between parties. It serves as an official record of the transaction and can be used for tax purposes. An invoice also allows businesses to track payments and manage their cash flow more efficiently.

Finally, it can be used as evidence in the event of a dispute or disagreement between parties regarding the terms of the transaction.


What is an invoice in accounting?

When it comes to accounting, many businesses accrue their invoices. This simply means they record their income when it’s earned- not when the money lands in the bank account.

Therefore, invoicing is paramount to recording the income you are due to receive but have not yet had.


In accountancy terms, sales invoices are also known as ‘Accounts Receivable (A/R)’ which represent all the payments that are due but not yet received.

Accounts payable is what type of account?

We’ve just looked into accounts receivable, so what is accounts payable?

Accounts Payable (A/Ps) is when you owe money to your supplier because you haven’t paid the bill yet. In accountancy, this is known as a liability.


When you’ve received a good / service but are yet to pay it, this should be recorded in your bookkeeping under the accounts payable column.

It’s an easy way to spot any unpaid bills on a business balance sheet.


What are trade payables?

It’s important to note the difference between accounts payable and trade payables. 


These are often used interchangeably, but they do refer to different categorisations.

An accounts payable is the accrued payments for business obligations. These include things such as electricity, labour and leasing.

Trade payables are the accrued payments owed to vendors. This includes things such as inventory, building supplies and building materials.


Types of tax invoice

Depending on your type of business, you’ll need to know which invoices best suit the nature of your business. Below we go through the different types of invoices.

A proposal invoice (otherwise known as a bid)

For a large job, you’ll need to create a proposal for the work. It will include estimated costs for the job. But to be clear this is an estimate of the work, not an accurate quotation and finalised invoices usually change from the proposed price.


For a more accurate description of providing quotations, take a look at our post detailing the differences between an invoice and a quotation. 


Interim invoices

Interim invoicing is when you allow your customers a chance to pay for smaller amounts of work at a time rather than paying for everything altogether at the end. This is beneficial for businesses too as it keeps a steady stream of income.

You should still send a finalising invoice at the end of your consecutive interim invoices to summarise all of the payments made.


Recurring invoices

A recurring invoice is best suited to businesses that provide regular business to a customer or client. The intervals could be agreed upon beforehand with clients, recurring every month for example.


Past- Due Invoices

This is when you send a second invoice to chase your customers for any unpaid invoices. These will include updated charges for missed or late payments (which you’d have included in your terms and conditions).


Final invoicing

Final invoicing is a completion of all the goods and services provided combined into a finalised form. This allows both the customer and business to have an overview of whats been paid, and what’s owed.


What is the invoice process?

The invoice process is the series of steps that occur from the time an invoice is created until it is paid by the customer.

Here is a brief overview of how the invoice process typically works:

  1. A company provides goods or services to a customer.
  2. The company creates an invoice for the customer, outlining the goods or services provided and the agreed-upon price.
  3. The invoice is sent to the customer, either electronically or through the mail.
  4. The customer reviews the invoice and ensures that the goods or services listed are correct and that the price is accurate.
  5. If the customer finds any errors on the invoice, they may dispute the invoice and request that it be corrected.
  6. Once the customer is satisfied with the invoice, they will make payment according to the terms agreed upon with the company (e.g. payment upon receipt of the invoice, payment within 30 days, etc.).
  7. The company will receive the payment, either through electronic transfer or by cheque.
  8. The company will record the payment in their financial records and mark the invoice as paid.

What should an invoice include?

There are several key elements that are typically included on an invoice, such as:

  • The company’s name and contact information
  • Customer’s name and contact information
  • A unique invoice number for tracking purposes
  • Clear description of what you’re charging for
  • The date the invoice was created
  • A list of the goods or services provided, along with the price of each item and date they were serviced
  • The total amount due
  • Payment terms (e.g. payment upon receipt, payment within 30 days, etc.)
  • Any applicable taxes or fees


What are your rights to be paid?

Unless there is an agreed-upon date for payment, the customer must pay you within 30 days of receiving the invoice or the goods and services.

If obtaining payments is difficult, you can use a statutory demand to formally request the amount you’re owed.

You also have the right to charge interest for late payments of what you are owed.


Benefits of using online invoicing over paper invoicing

There are several benefits to using online invoicing instead of paper invoicing:

  1. Efficiency: Online invoicing allows you to create and send invoices quickly and easily, without the need to print, stuff envelopes, and mail them. This can save you a significant amount of time and effort.
  2. Accuracy: With online invoicing, you can easily track and update your invoices, reducing the risk of errors. This can improve the accuracy of your billing and reduce the need for costly corrections.
  3. Cost savings: Online invoicing can save you money on paper, ink, and postage, as well as the time and effort required to process paper invoices.
  4. Improved cash flow: Online invoicing allows you to receive payments more quickly, which can improve your cash flow and help you manage your business finances more effectively.
  5. Enhanced security: Online invoicing can be more secure than paper invoicing, as it reduces the risk of sensitive information being lost or stolen.
  6. Environmentally friendly: Online invoicing is a more environmentally friendly option, as it reduces the need for paper and reduces the carbon emissions associated with the transportation of paper invoices.
  7. Keep track of invoices: With an online system, invoices can easily be kept in an orderly form which also makes them easier to find.


Conclusion- What is an invoice in business

Invoicing is an important part of the financial management process for both companies and customers. It helps to ensure that payments are made in a timely manner and allows companies to track and record their revenue. It also helps customers keep track of their expenses and budget accordingly.


Overall, the invoice process is a crucial part of the financial transactions that occur between companies and customers. It helps to ensure that payments are made accurately and on time, and helps both parties to keep track of their financial obligations and transactions.


If you’re looking to automate your invoicing process, check out our specialist system where you can use one tool for all your document processes. 

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