As a virtual assistant, it is obvious that you will not be working for free. You need to setup a standard invoice in order to get paid without stress, worries or delays.
But even before you think about invoicing your customer, it is important that they understand how much you charge for your services.
They also need to understand your preferred method of payment before you start working for them.
If you didn’t put these details in your contract, blame yourself if you experience delayed payments.
Pro Tip: Before you start working for a long period of time with a client, you need to establish a short trial period of say a fortnight.
This helps you determine if the client is a bad payer. Obviously, the clients need to know this before you start working for them.
Since you are working as a VA and you don’t have direct access to the client, it is better if you get paid for two weeks’ worth of work than a month’s worth.
Use an Invoicing System
You need to have an invoice system that you will use for billing your customers.
This system is also important because it will help you to file your taxes at the end of the year.
There are numerous invoicing systems that you can download from the internet. Choose a system that is cheap, simple, clean and easy to customise.
Alternatively, you can use PayPal as your preferred method of payment. Note that PayPal will take a cut and this can be very expensive if you are getting paid a lot of money.
If you are using time tracking software, it is important to export the record of the tasks executed on behalf of the client into PDF and email to them along with the bill.
In most jurisdictions, you are required to keep all your financial records for a period of time. Make sure that you have yours safely recorded and stored so that you will have sufficient evidence to support your tax returns.
Word Document Invoices
Sometimes you will be working for a one-off client that does not need an elaborate invoicing system. In such cases, use a MS Word document invoice and then email it along with a record of time spent on the project in PDF format.
When dealing with one-off clients, remember to put a Google Calendar reminder that you have sent an invoice. This will help you remember if a client has paid for your services or not.
Which Details Should be in Your Invoice?
The cost of services that you charge a customer on an invoice are dependent on whether the client is on a retainer, fixed rate, or an hourly rate.
The details on your invoice will vary depending on your country of origin because different countries have different legal obligations.
However, there are general things that you should include. These are:
- The breakdown of the hours spent on the project that you’re getting paid for
- Your bank details
- The allowed payment delay before you discontinue working for them
- The document should be titled as an invoice
- You should include your company’s name and address and in their absence, include your name and address
- The date of the invoice
- If you are using an invoicing system, include the unique invoice number that is automatically generated
- The description of the task and services offered and the dates when you completed them
- The total time spent on the project and the cost of each task included
- The total amount to be paid by the client
- The terms of payment including the date when the invoice is due
- Your tax details
- If you are running a limited company, make sure to include your registered company addresses and company number
What to Do If the Client Refuses to Pay?
Once in a while you will get a customer that is difficult and doesn’t want to pay for the services rendered.
This is especially the case if you are working for a customer whom you cannot easily identify.
This is when a contract becomes very important. Ensure that a customer has signed your contract before you start working for them.
Insist that the client pay you for services rendered on a weekly basis so that even if they refuse to pay, your loss will not be huge.
Before you start working for somebody, establish if they have hired a VA before.
If they have, check the VA’s feedback on the employer. There is not that much you can do if a customer refuses to pay you unless you can seek legal redress.
This might cost you more than the money the client owes you.
- Pick a good invoicing system that will help you keep track of what is owed to you by the customers.
- If you can get a free invoicing system, especially when you’re starting out, you will have an easy time following up your payments.
- You do not need to get a fancy invoicing system. Rather, get the one that works for you.
- Being a virtual assistant is easy if you understand that you are a professional.
- Make sure you charge what you are worth.
- Always outline the work that you have done, how much you charge, the payments you expect, and the terms under which you need to get paid.