The first day “the doors open” is an amazing feeling for a small business owner, filled with a sense of accomplishment, pride, and hope for the future. Even though he or she has often tackled high hurdles to get to this step, what lies ahead can be even tougher.
All too soon, the reality sets in that instead of being able to spend time pursuing a passion, a business owner gets bogged down in all the administrative minutia of running a business. It’s not uncommon to forget to think about how to get paid until after the first few client projects are complete.
After a few weeks, in a scramble, a business owner usually turns to a manual process. This frequently looks something like putting together an invoice in Word, tracking the client name in an Excel list, and then entering what the client owes into QuickBooks. Then, owner and client alike go through extreme effort to create, send, receive and pay the invoice.
From data entry of the customer information and sale, to printing the invoice, addressing the envelope, finding/buying a stamp, and putting it in the mail, we’ve tracked manual billing processes to take an average of 2 hours of time per client per week.
Now add the flip-side effort: the client’s. After receiving the invoice, finding the checkbook, envelope, stamp, and putting it in the mailbox, you’re looking at a lot of effort before you can drive to the bank to deposit a check. Based on 2 hours of time per client, if you are billing 5 clients each week, that’s 10 hours – not the type of excess time that small business owners have on their hands.
What’s worse is that at the end of the entire manual billing process, the business owner has waited weeks to receive payment and is lacking any singular place to keep track of everything—leading to more excel work and manual data manipulation to get any sort of cash flow forecast.
Fast forward a few weeks; the business owner goes online to make his or her standard cell phone bill payment and wonders: “Could I offer something like this for my clients?”. Luckily cloud-based billing automation solutions exist that are designed for small businesses to achieve just this. Once an automation solution is utilized that includes e-mail invoicing with online payment, small businesses easily shave their time spent per bill from 2 hours to a mere 5 minutes or less.
How is this possible?
With a cloud-based solution that can be accessed from any computer, the business owner can select a customer and email an invoice with just a few clicks. The client receives the invoice via e-mail, and then clicks to make a payment online using a credit card. The funds are then automatically deposited into the small business owner’s bank account.
With automation solutions, the small business owner is now saving hours each week, which translates into lots of extra time to get back to pursing that original passion.