A consulting invoice is a formal document a consultant issues to a client, outlining the services provided and the associated costs. It serves as a legal record for both parties and is essential for accurate accounting and timely payment. Depending on your business model, you may choose to issue this invoice before or after you render your consulting services.
What to Include on a Consulting Invoice
Before you issue a consulting invoice, make sure it contains all the elements that define the scope of your work, the agreed-upon payment, and legal requirements. This is where a pre-made consulting invoice template may be beneficial.
A professional consulting invoice will include this information:
- Consultant details: This is where you include all your information, such as your name or business name, address, contact information, and tax identification number.
- Client details: Include all the client’s information, including their name, address, and contact information.
- Invoice number: Each invoice should have a unique number for tracking purposes. Consider having your invoices follow a sequential order.
- Invoice date: Mention when the invoice is issued, which will help you with recordkeeping.
- Due date: Indicate when the payment is due.
- Description of services: Include a detailed list of all services provided, often broken down by hours or fixed rates.
- Payment terms: Specify how you accept payment, any late fees, and other terms.
- Total amount: This is the final cost of your services, including any applicable taxes or additional fees.
How to Bill Clients as a Consultant
As a consultant, you want to present professional invoices outlining your business relationship with your client. Follow these steps to facilitate a smooth transaction every time:
Step 1 – Research the Market and Determine Your Rate
Don’t choose your consulting rate based solely on what you think you’re worth. While you may be right, you must ensure your desired rate is competitive. Research the market to see what others in your position charge.
Then, consider the job’s complexity and your level of expertise. These factors can help you choose a fair and competitive rate. Someone just starting out won’t command the upper end of rates, but you can increase your rates as you gain experience.
When you’re just starting as a consultant, you can use an independent contractor agreement to establish arrangements with your clients.
Step 2 – Establish Your Fee Model
The next step is determining how you will charge your clients for the services rendered. You have a few options:
- Flat fee: Choose a fee and charge this amount for the entire project.
- Hourly rate: Choose a rate and charge your clients by the hour. For this, timesheet invoices are beneficial and will let you and your clients know the work you completed for the included billable hours.
- Retainer: You receive a fee upfront from your clients. Once that money is gone, the client must make another deposit for you to continue working on their project. Your client may expect an expense report if you choose this option.
Regardless of the fee model you choose, ensure you communicate it with your clients. It needs to be present in your service contract and invoice.
Step 3 – Detail Each Service Billed
When you create an invoice, itemize the services you provided to your client. Complete this task in an easy-to-understand way. Every service should have the agreed-on rate included. The services you put on the invoice should come directly from the contract.
Step 4 – Keep Track of Invoices and Payments
Develop a system for tracking invoices, payments, and follow-ups. You can choose a pre-made system or use a simple computer program. This helps you create and keep an organized financial record and aids in timely payment collection.
Tips for Writing a Consulting Invoice
Here are some tips to help you write a thorough consulting invoice:
- Be transparent. Make sure your consulting invoice uses plain language. Clearly outline every service billed and the payment due date.
- Be professional. Always maintain a professional tone to uphold credibility when sending consulting invoices.
- Send your invoice immediately. Issue invoices as soon as possible to get paid faster and avoid collection issues.
- Review before spending. Double-check all the entries to avoid discrepancies or errors before sending your invoices out.
- Add expenses if applicable. If you incur any expenses, like traveling to a client’s office, you can note these on your invoice so the client understands why they’re being billed in addition to your service rates.
Consulting Invoice Sample
Download a consulting invoice template as a PDF or Word file below.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I invoice a consulting client?
To invoice a consulting client, you need to create a process. For example, the first step is to finalize the scope and cost of your services. Once finished, create an invoice that includes all the necessary elements (as mentioned above).
You can send the invoice to your client via mail (a hard copy) or as a digital file. You can also include additional documents like expense tracking and a purchase order.
What is a typical consulting fee?
There is no such thing as a “typical” consulting fee. Conduct research on rates for consultants in your field and consider your experience. This kind of reflection can help you determine a suitable consulting fee for your services.
When should I send an invoice to consulting clients?
When your client signs a contract, it should include a payment schedule you both agree to. This is the payment schedule you should follow with your invoice. For example, you may issue an invoice every month or when you complete certain milestones.
What types of businesses hire consultants?
Many businesses hire consultants to provide expert advice on how to improve their operations and implement effective solutions for workplace issues. Some examples of businesses that may hire consultants include:
- Retail companies
- Healthcare companies
- Food industry companies
- Technology companies