What is a Consultant Invoice?
A consulting invoice is a document that you send to clients to request payment for the consulting services you have recently completed. It would include the services and billable hours (or fixed rate) in an itemized list, alongside payment terms and details.
An invoice template can be used for a range of consulting businesses, from marketing to finance, HR to IT. Whether you’re working at an hourly rate or charging flat rate fees, it’s an important tool for any professional consultant.
Failing to send professional invoices can affect your credibility as a business and slow down the payment process. If you use a consultant invoice template that ensures you cover the relevant information, it can expedite the objective — getting paid quickly for all your hard work.
Note: Sign up now to get your free consulting invoice template that will make the invoicing process faster, more straightforward, and stress-free.
What to include in the Consultant Invoice
Whether the project is simple or more complex, any consulting invoice must include the following.
1. Contact details of both parties
As a consulting service provider, you are legally required to cover your personal information in a consultant invoice, as well as the client’s information. This is so that your client has everything they need for tax purposes.
It’s a good idea to position all contact details at the top of your document where they can be extracted in seconds if needed.
On your side, you must include the name of your consulting business, company logo, address, and contact details. On your client’s side, feature the company name, address, and contact details.
2. Invoice number and date
Any type of invoice will carry a unique identification number for easy reference and tracking. Many consultants prefer a chronological order system but you can put in any invoice number you want, from the date to something randomly generated.
Either way, we’d recommend sticking to six numbers or less (which is what you’d need if you use the date). After all, which one is harder to quote over the phone — invoice #010322 or invoice #93847583957? Exactly.
The document should also have an invoice date and a payment due date. This spells out to the client when the invoice was issued and how long they have to complete the payment, which is often needed to encourage them to pay on time!
3. Itemized services and payment due per service
The largest section of your consulting invoice is likely to be the detailed list where you break down the services performed and the payment due per service. To refresh your client’s memory, most freelancers like to include a brief description of each service.
For instance, if you work at an hourly rate as a freelance business consultant, one of the items on your list may look like this:
Likewise, if you work at a flat fee per project milestone, one of your list items may look like this:
Generally speaking, your consulting invoice should align with the service contract template that you signed with the client to initiate the work. That makes it easy for the client to see that the consulting work that was agreed upon has been completed.
US-based freelancers tend to work with clients all over the world so they may need to adapt their invoices accordingly. When it comes to payment totals, don’t forget to include VAT or any applicable taxes. If your client isn’t based in the UK (or EU), your supply of services will be outside the scope of VAT.
At the end of this section should be the total price that the client owes. Some freelance business consultants like to bold the text for all prices so that they stand out for instant recognition.
4. Payment details
Any consulting invoice needs to state the payment method that you previously agreed upon with your client, whether it’s a direct bank deposit, cheque, or PayPal. Proceed to list your payment information, such as your Stripe username or bank account details.
Because your client wouldn’t be able to pay you without your payment details, this section should be clearly visible above or below the list of services rendered.
5. Terms and conditions
Include the payment terms that you’ve already discussed with your client on your consulting invoice. These can range from “NET30” (within 30 days) to “upon receipt” (as soon as your client sees it).
Make sure you allow sufficient time for the client to submit payment, but don’t make your terms so long that you don’t have cash flow.
Usually, this section would be at the bottom of the document and may be titled “Notes.” If you’re going to be charging for late payments, add this information. For example, you could say: “Please note that 1% of the total amount will be charged for every overdue day.”
You may encourage a faster response by adding a discount clause to your consulting invoice for clients who service it on time. However, if you decide to do this, stick with a small amount. Never undercharge for your business consulting services as you deserve to be paid for the specialized expertise and value that you deliver.
How to Write a Consultant Invoice
Creating invoices is an essential part of owning a consultancy business. If you send out professional invoices, it can prompt a positive, long-lasting impression with your client since it’s the last contact you’ll have with them.
In other words, the document needs to be detailed and precise about the services provided and the financial obligation of your client.
Gather the necessary information
The truth is, it’s impossible for you to start writing your professional consulting invoice without the information that needs to go in it, from your client’s contact details to their preferred invoicing schedule.
Have an open and honest discussion with your client regarding payment before you even begin a consulting project. They need to agree to your payment rate, method, and terms, whether it’s via email or a Zoom meeting.
It’s important that none of your invoice details come as a surprise to your client. If they do, you haven’t done this step of the production process properly.
Keep a record of your consulting services
Consulting invoices can double up as timesheets to help you with tracking billable hours or completed milestones before you send them off to your client.
Fundamentally, having a professional consulting invoice template means that you won’t need to create one-off recurring invoices. It becomes a record-keeping system in which you track all the invoices sent and the payments made. This is especially helpful at tax time, along with your expense report.
That said, flexible invoice templates are also handy when you’re juggling work with multiple clients, or doing significant work for one client that involves long periods of time and several milestones. You’ll be able to track where you are in each project and with each client.
Add personal touches
Don’t be afraid to add a personal note at the end of your consulting invoice.
At the end of the day, you worked hard to gain the work, in part by getting to know the client and creating a personalized proposal. Treat the person who will pay you the same way (you never know what may come from it).
Even if this is a simple “Thank you so much for your business!”, it will leave them with a good impression, which could create more business opportunities in the future.
Creating a Consultant Invoice is Simple with Bonsai
The beauty of a master consultant invoice template is that you can customize its look and feel to reflect the image of your consulting business. Plus, you don’t have to draft a consulting invoice for every job from scratch, saving you precious time and resources when you have a full schedule.
Bonsai’s free consulting invoice template makes the invoicing process entirely effortless. Edit the information, export your document and bill clients in minutes.
In addition to offering consulting invoice templates, Bonsai allows you to automate other parts of the invoicing process, from creating reminders to issuing late fees. It couldn’t be simpler to use, or more convenient!
Consultant Invoice FAQs
How long does a consulting invoice need to be?
Whether it’s in Google Docs, Google Sheets or Bonsai, your invoice should be limited to one page so that it can be viewed wholly on a single sheet of paper. The only exception is if you have a long list of services that need to spill onto a second page.
When should I send my consulting invoice?
For service-based businesses, sending consulting invoices after a milestone has been achieved or at the end of the project is common practice. This is because job completion is still fresh in the client’s memory, which will remind them to pay on time.
Having said that, it all depends on the agreement that you initially had with your client before you signed a consultant agreement template.
When do I need to follow up on a consulting invoice?
Set up a system whereby you provide a gentle reminder to the client if a certain period of time elapses and you haven’t been paid. This could be two weeks after sending the invoice, or a week before the due date.
If your consulting invoice isn’t paid on time with a new client, check:
- If the document was delivered
- The email address
- If the client has viewed your invoice
It could be the case that the client has mistakenly overlooked your completed invoice, so always be polite when following up. Nine times out of ten, they end up paying straight away after the reminder.
Spoiler alert: Bonsai invoices allow you to provide automatic reminders.
Ultimately, remember that clients have no obligation to pay a final invoice until they receive it. Therefore, you may delay your payment if you don’t send your invoice to your client on time.