How to Prepare a Customer Invoice

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Basic Information to Include on Arts and Crafts Customer Invoices

Invoice Header. Maire Loughran

If you've just started your arts and crafts business, it's easy to become overwhelmed with all the details. I know when I first started my business everything was stressful. I'd get one business situation under control and another problem would come to take its place.

One of my major concerns in the start-up phase of my business was making sure my products and business correspondence was totally professional. It's always best to maintain an atmosphere of being in business for an extended length of time. Customers usually feel more comfortable purchasing from an established business. The last thing you want is to make it obvious that you're an inexperienced businessperson by putting out awkwardly-formed documents to either customers or vendors.

Don't get me wrong - everyone at one point or another is a newbie. And there is nothing wrong with that. You just don't want to come across as obviously being an inexperienced arts and crafts business owner. To that end, this article describes out how to prepare a customer invoice.

Preparing the Top Section of an Arts and Crafts Business Invoice

Whether you own some sort of boxed accounting software with the ability to prepare invoices or you plan on creating invoices using word processing or spreadsheet software, here's an example of how to prepare an invoice for a sales made by your arts and crafts business using my fictitious business Metropolitan Arts and Crafts as an example.

First let's talk about what information goes in the top section of the invoice form. Shown on this page is a no-graphics version of an invoice. If you have a logo or some other type of company art, it's nice to have it printed on your invoice too. But you always have to weigh price versus appearance. If it's going to cost too much, an alternative is to have your company name in some sort of cool type font.

Tips on Numbering Customer Invoices

Check out the fields of information on the top of the invoice. They are self-explanatory. The invoice number is personal preference. You can have them sequentially numbered, they can be tied to a year such as 2010-100 (the 100th invoice for the year 2010) or maybe associated with the customer's name. For example, Baldwin-10 (this is the 10th invoice for Lisa Baldwin).

Ok, what about the Not Paid, printed on the top? I'm totally indifferent about this addition to an invoice. I think most customers assume an invoice isn't paid when they receive it, but you may have some customers who pay prior to your shipping the product. Certainly all my retail/website clients are paid in full before they get their order. In that case, my invoicing program prints Paid.

This invoice doesn't include purchase order information. If your customer requires one, that information should also be included in the top section of the invoice.

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Listing Arts and Crafts Items Sold

Invoice Sold Items and Payment Information. Maire Loughran

Here's the continuation of the invoice for my fictitious arts and crafts company, Metropolitan Arts and Crafts. This month Metropolitan is selling various knitted products and knitting supplies wholesale to a retail shop. Also, included is the cost of a class on knitting techniques I'm presenting in November.

Listing Arts and Crafts Items Sold

I like to add enough info so it's clear what should be in my shipping container without going overboard with the descriptions. Depending on what arts and crafts you are selling, you may opt to fill in stock item numbers in the description field. Checking out my invoice, you see each line shows what the customer is purchasing, the quantity, per unit price and extended price.

Payment Details for Arts and Crafts Invoices

Make sure your invoice is very clear about the total amount due, add in any sales tax (no sales tax is due on this invoice since I am selling these products wholesale) and give your customer a grand total.

I usually hand-write some sort of thank you note on the bottom of the invoice. I'll include a brief personal message for a long-time customer who I know has had a special event in their business life. For example, Congratulations on Opening the New Shop!.

Arts and Crafts Business Contact Information

Likewise, I don't want to be vague about how and where the customer is to send my payment. Additionally, I've listed my email information so the customer can send payment via PayPal.

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Converting Customer Proposals to Customer Invoices

Depending on your type of arts and crafts business, you may use customer proposals (also known as orders, quotes or sales agreements). A proposal is a tentative agreement between your arts and crafts business and a customer which lists the products and services you'r offering for sale. It also shows potential delivery and expiration dates, payment terms, and prices. Customer proposals are used to make sure you have a meeting of the mind with the customer regarding what you'll be delivering, at what price and the associated responsibilities of the customer.

I don't see alot of customer proposals with my arts and crafts business accounting clients. In the arts and crafts world, they are mostly used to bid on jobs. For example, my local airport was soliciting bids last month for artwork installations in a new concourse of the airport.

If you use some sort of accounting or invoicing software, the software probably has a menu option to create a customer proposal. If using a soup to nuts accounting software program like QuickBooks, the proposal will sit in the accounting software until you either delete it because you didn't get the job or convert it into an actual invoice. At that point, the invoice will post as an addition to revenue and accounts receivable or cash (if you've been paid).

If you're preparing a customer proposal manually, use the customer invoice example I provide in this article, changing the header to Customer Proposal. Make sure you cover all the important facts that I list in the first paragraph on this page.

See all my tips for preparing customer invoices.