Did you spend the last year invoicing your clients with a beautifully designed InDesign invoice template or Word even? Are you dreading having to prepare all of your financial information for your accountant, or doing your own taxes? Maybe you’re just starting out and not invoicing all that frequently. Or perhaps your most pressing concern was having awesome looking invoices, sure to impress your new clients and re-enforce how professional you are.
STOP THE MADNESS!
Spending your time copying and pasting into Excel or using a calculator to total up your earnings for the year is definitely not how you want to be kicking off the new year. Or worse, how you want to be spending late nights in April, or just prior to your tax deadline, trying desperately to figure out how much you invoiced and expensed over the past year.
InDesign is an awesome product for making print layouts. It’s time to make a resolution to invoicing differently in 2012. Consider any option that meets the following three criteria:
1) Keep running totals of all your invoices, categorized per client, automatically.
In Billings, in the source list select Reports and then choose “Invoice Details by Client”. Then choose the date range you’re looking for and click run. You’ll get a report that shows how much you’ve made from each client along with details from each invoice.
2) Give you totals of all sales taxes you’ve collected for much easier tax remittance.
If you collect sales tax, you need to be able to easily total up how much you’ve collected either on an annual or quarterly basis. Even if you’ve tracked the grand totals in a spreadsheet, having to go through each invoice manually to pull out this data, or calculate it based on your totals can be extremely annoying. Again in the Reports section of Billings, choose “Taxes Collected”, set the timeframe to pull data from, and click run. Both you and the taxman are happy.
3) Has some sort of expense tracking capability, preferably one that helps you keep track of mileage and categorize your expenses.
Even if you don’t bill back expenses to your clients, it makes tax time quite a bit easier when you’ve done the inputting all year long instead of spending days on end searching through shoeboxes of faded and wrinkled receipts. In Billings, categories are defined in Preferences which is found in the Billings menu. Select the labels pane and then choose the categories tab. I add in each expense category I use with the prefix “Expense:” so they’re all grouped together when I’m selecting it in the slip entry window. To see how much you’ve spent, look under Reports > TimeSlip > Expenses By Category or Expense Tax Report. Take these to your accountant, or tax software if you’re doing your own and enjoy writing off all your costs of doing business.
What’s Your Time Worth?
Consider what your normal billing rate is and than estimate how much time you spent organizing all of this after the fact. Any solution you choose will pay itself back in no time.
No matter which way you go, having a system in place from the beginning of the year will make the task seem so much more manageable. Having a pile of invoices and receipts three feet tall is just the sort of job that gets procrastinated over and over again until the very last minute. Setting yourself up with a simple system that you make time for once a week, or once a month, becomes infinitely more manageable. In our next article, we’ll look at some easy ways of customizing the invoices Billings generates so your clients will be as impressed with your invoice as they are with your work.