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Invoicing as a self-employed tradesperson

If you’re newly self-employed one of the most important things to learn is how to create and send invoices. Invoicing doesn’t need to be complicated and with a little practice, you’ll easily master the process.

Invoices are legal documents that let your customers know when and how much to pay you.

Invoices help you to keep detailed and accurate records of your company finances. And when you come to fill in your tax return and manage your business’s cash flow, they’re incredibly helpful in seeing how much you’ve been paid.

If you and your customer are VAT registered, invoicing is a legal requirement even if you’re self-employed. We’ve outlined below what you should include on a self-employed invoice.

What should be on an invoice?

what should be on an invoice

Making sure your invoice is compliant is essential if you want to avoid legal complications in the future.

You should include the following pieces of information on every invoice you issue:

  • The details of your company e.g., name, address, phone number
  • The details of your customer e.g., name, address, phone number
  • A unique reference or identification number
  • A description of the work you’re carrying out
  • Dates of when you plan to do the work, the invoice date, and the date the invoice is owed
  • The amount of the invoice and any invoice payment terms
  • VAT and the final figure owed
  • Details for how your clients can make payments

Top invoicing advice

Preparing and sending invoices is one of the most important parts of being self-employed. This is how you are paid for your work and you want to make sure your invoices say everything they need to and can be prepared and dispatched efficiently.

Writing up invoices can be a confusing task if you’re new to it. You also don’t want to get it wrong, so you can feel a bit uneasy about putting them together for customers.

Even if you’re a seasoned pro, you could be missing out on quick and easy methods of creating and sending your invoices.

Top tips to win at invoicing

Create and use a template

Creating a standard invoice template for your business is the quickest and easiest way to speed up your invoicing process. But what needs to go on an invoice?

Well, there are a few pieces of information that legally must feature on an invoice, which we’ve listed for you, but the most important piece of information on an invoice is how much you’re charging your client, and what for.

These details will, of course, depend on the work you’ve performed for them and when you started.

You should always put as much detail on your invoice as possible, not only for the sake of transparency with your client, but also for yourself should you ever need to go back through your old invoices.

Once you’ve created a template, filling out an invoice becomes a simple game of paint by numbers, and saves you hours of unnecessary work. If you need a little help in putting together your template, we’ve produced our own set of invoice templates that are free to download. We’ve created templates for sole traders and limited companies and whether your business is registered for VAT or not. We have it all covered for you.

Top tip = Invoice on the move

Invoice templates are a great first step to making this process as quick and easy as possible, but you can still go one better: invoicing on-the-go.

This allows you to prepare and send invoices wherever you are and whenever you need to. It means you can send invoices when you are ready and speed up the payment process – after all, the earlier you send an invoice, the earlier a client can pay it.

Online accounting software, like Powered Now (where Checkatrade tradespeople get a cheaper rate!), allows you to send and track your invoices (and expenses and other important accountancy information) with ease.

More and more of these services are available on more platforms than just your laptop or PC, with tablet and mobile access making on-the-go invoicing simple, easy, and accessible, no matter where you are.

Definitely click below to find out more about why Checkatrade is teamed up with Powered Now.

Make sending invoices easy

Our members are benefitting with a free invoice app, and you could too.

See exclusive deal

Manage your invoices with a mobile app

By becoming a Checkatrade member you will get a free quoting and invoicing mobile app!

Powered Now app on a tablet device

If you’re looking for an all-in-one app with self-employed invoice examples, consider using an app like the 1Trade App from Powered Now – an invoicing, quoting and job management service that’s tailored specifically to tradespeople.

There are lots of templates available on the app, including:

  • Invoices
  • Quotes
  • Job sheets
  • Certificates
  • Business forms
  • Estimates
  • Scheduling
  • Invoicing

All these handy tools are available within the app, making it a one-stop shop for all your business needs.

Even better, as a Checkatrade member, you can download the 1Trade App for free as part of your membership. This is just one of the many benefits you receive as a Checkatrade member.

Make sending invoices easy

Our members are benefitting with a free invoice app, and you could too.

See exclusive deal

When to send an invoice

how to write an invoice for self employed

Most tradespeople will have their own preference when it comes to sending an invoice. There’s no right or wrong answer.

Think about the following options and pick the one that works best for your business:

  1. Immediately: Send out your invoice just before yo start (if you need a deposit), or as soon as you start working on the job.
  2. Split: For big projects, many tradespeople ask for instalments spread over the duration of the work. For example, you may ask for half upfront and the rest upon completion. Or for the material cost upfront and the labour cost on completion.
  3. On completion: Another option is to invoice your customer once you’ve completed the work.

It’s also essential that you make the payment date clear on your invoice, so your customer knows when the money is due.

When to send an invoice reminder

Once your invoice has been issued your customer/client will have a certain amount of time before the money is due. However, you may find that some customers forget to pay their invoices on time, which is why you’ll need to know when to send an invoice reminder.

We recommend waiting until a few days before the invoice is due before sending out any reminders. If your customer doesn’t pay their invoice on time, it’s worth regularly sending out reminders.

How to deal with late payments and unpaid invoices

It can be frustrating when clients don’t pay their invoices on time, and this may affect your company’s cash flow. To help with this, we’ve put together a guide on how to deal with late payments and unpaid invoices.

Common questions answered

Do I need to invoice as a self-employed tradesperson?

This depends on whether you and your customer are VAT registered. If you both are then issuing an invoice is a legal requirement. However, sending out invoices is also helpful for keeping your records up to date, particularly when it comes to paying taxes.

Can I invoice without being self-employed?

Yes, you can issue a private invoice. However, this isn’t required by the HMRC and may cause some confusion when you calculate your taxes.

Useful checklist for invoicing when you’re self-employed

  • Invoicing is a brilliant way to keep on top of your company finances.
  • Invoices must contain a range of essential pieces of information such as a unique reference and payment dates.
  • As a self-employed tradesperson, issuing invoices to your customers will give them all the information they need.
  • Invoices will help to make sure you’re paid the correct amount on the correct date.
  • Becoming a Checkatrade member is the best way to receive support and help when starting a new business

* Research conducted by Deep Blue Thinking, October 2021.

Make sending invoices easy

Our members are benefitting with a free invoice app, and you could too.

See exclusive deal

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