Most business owners issue invoices on a regular basis. This can become repetitive and time-consuming if you manually create each and every invoice, but using a pre-made invoice template can save you time and make sure that your invoices contain all of the necessary details. Here’s what sole traders should look for in an invoice template.
Basic information on an invoice template
Regardless of your business structure, it’s important that your invoice template contains some basic information. Without this, your invoices aren't considered to be official documents, so check that every invoice you issue contains:
- The word ‘invoice’
- A unique invoice number
- The date the invoice was issued
- The invoice due date
- Your name, address, and contact details.
- Your customer’s contact details
- Details of the products or services sold (including a brief description and the price)
If you’re registered for VAT, your invoice template should also include the rate of VAT charged, the total amount of VAT due, and your VAT registration number.
Additional information on an invoice template
The purpose of an invoice is to outline the details of a sale and let customers know how much they need to pay. Although not strictly necessary, it’s a good idea to add a few pieces of extra information to your invoice templates. Including:
- Payment terms: let your customer know which payment methods you accept and what happens if they don’t pay on time
- Images: show your customer exactly what their purchased goods should look like
- Attachments: attaching additional documents (such as drawings, plans, or a contract) can provide information that doesn’t fit within the invoice template.
Formatting an invoice template for sole traders
While there are some official rules on which bits of information need to be included on your invoice template, the guidelines for formatting an invoice template are much less restrictive.
The best way to format an invoice template is to think about your invoice as containing four distinct parts that each contain different pieces of information:
- The header: here’s where you should enter your customer’s contact details (i.e. their name, company address, and email address).
- Top right or left: here’s where you should enter information about the specific invoice, including the word ‘invoice’, the invoice number, the issue date, and the due date.
- Centre: here’s where you should list all of the products provided. You should always include a description and price for each product, but you may also want to include the number of units sold, the price per unit, images of the products, and a product number. The total amount due and details about sales tax should be listed underneath all of the invoice lines.
- The footer: here’s where you outline your company details. You should always include your name, address, and contact details, but you may also want to include your bank details.
Formatting your invoice template in this way makes it easy for your customers to understand how much they need to pay, and makes it easier to find specific invoices at a later date.
Standard invoice template vs. invoice template for sole traders
There are very few differences between a standard invoice template and an invoice template for a sole trader. They both need to contain the same basic information and they should both follow the same guidelines for formatting and design. However, there are a few things that set an invoice template for sole traders apart from an invoice template for other kinds of businesses:
Unlike corporations and limited companies, sole traders don’t need to use an official business name; instead, they can trade under their own given name. Your invoice templates should show whichever name you trade under, so if you trade under your own name, make sure this is displayed. On the other hand, if you do use a business name, make sure this is shown instead.
Every invoice you issue needs to include the address your business is registered at. As sole traders are much more likely than corporations and limited companies to trade out of their home, your invoice template may show your personal address. However, only show your personal address you don’t have an official company address.
Every company registered for VAT should show their VAT registration number (VRN) on their invoices. Companies may also want to display their company registration number (CRN), but, because sole traders don’t have a CRN, there’s no additional registration number that they need to display. Sole traders do have Unique Taxpayer References (UTRs), but these are highly confidential and should never be displayed on an invoice template.
Invoicing software with invoice templates for sole traders
There are two different ways to use a pre-made invoice template for sole traders. The first option is to download a template for Word or Excel. This requires you to manually update the details of every invoice you send and develop a system for recording, storing, and managing your invoices.
The second option is to use online invoicing software with pre-built invoice templates. Not only does online software automatically update many of the details on your invoice template, it also makes it easier to record payments, create customer statements, and report your income to the tax authorities. To find out how invoicing software can help sole traders like you, try Debitoor for free.