How To Invoice As A Sole Trader In The UK [+ Free invoice template]
For sole traders, invoicing is a necessary evil. You’ve got no admin team to look after them and no matter what trade you’re in, it’s a key part of the job – yet it’s also a mundane, repetitive, and time-consuming task.
This article will break down the key components of a sole trader invoice and provide you with a simple template you can complete on your computer and send to customers. Using this template, you’ll be able to create a professional-tier invoice in under 60 seconds (even from your smartphone in the field).
For sole trader veterans, this is a great opportunity to speed up your workflow and save a few precious hours every week. You’ll be able to spend the extra time on more paid jobs, improving your service, or to lead a healthier work-life balance.
And for those stepping into the world of being a sole trader, we’ll help you understand the ins-and-outs of invoicing: what needs to be included, how to make it look professional, and more.
Download our free invoice template
Essential components of a sole trader invoice
To keep everything running smooth – both for your customers and for yourself – an invoice must include:
- A unique and identifying invoice number.
- An invoice issue date and due date
- Your name, company name, address, and contact details
- Customer name, address, and contact details
- A description of goods and services provided
- The supply date of the above goods and services
- Individual line item charges
- Total amount charged
- VAT amount (if applicable to your business)
A unique and identifying invoice number
All invoices need a unique identification number. Firstly, this helps clear up confusion when communicating with customers and referring to specific invoices. But more importantly, it’ll help you save hours and hours when filing records and managing taxes.
An invoice issue date
An invoice issue date will help you with record keeping and is a good reference for the customer.
Your name, company name, address, and contact details
This sounds obvious – but it’s a little more complex for sole traders. It’s not uncommon to have your home address double up as your registered business address. For those that don’t want to have their home address on all their invoices for privacy reasons, look into having a PO box instead.
Customer name, address, and contact details
This will help guarantee the invoice finds its way to the right person without confusion. It will also help in the rare case of a dispute.
A description of goods and services provided
Customers like to know what they’re paying for, and not everyone remembers (or even knows) exactly what was done. By extension, it’s a great idea to break your goods and services down into individual items. Instead of writing boiler repairs and service, write down the part(s) replaced, labour charge, etc.
If you do this part well, customers will have fewer questions and will pay you faster.
The supply date of the above goods and services
This is useful to both help you keep track of your jobs but also in case any customers raise disputes or have questions.
Individual line item charges
Together with a broken down list of goods and services, you should be pricing these individually. This will help you better understand your finances and where your profit is being made, but also for the customer to have a crystal clear understanding of where their money is going.
Total amount charged
For obvious reasons, a total amount needs to be included. This should be the figure your customers need to pay (excluding any VAT, of course). Remember to make sure each individual line item adds up to this total amount perfectly.
VAT amount (if applicable to your business)
Businesses with a turnover of more than £85,000 need to register for VAT. Not all sole traders will reach this point – so take it as a sign of success if you need to register for VAT.
Extra tips to make your sole trader invoices look professional
- A clean design
- Several different payment options
- Payment terms
- Bank details
- Company logo
- Check for spelling mistakes
- Avoid industry jargon
- Send it on the same day
A clean design with a company logo
If you want to run a professional business, you must look professional too. An invoice is the last interaction with a customer (until a new job), so it’s important to leave them on a strong note.
A polished, neat, and well-designed invoice with your logo and colours promotes this idea of professionalism, and reflects positively on the quality of your work.
Several different payment options
Card, bank transfers, and open banking are today’s preferred payment options. If you can offer all three, you’ll accommodate far more customers. Open banking in particular is a newer and more efficient payment method benefiting both customers and businesses.
It can be a good idea to include a late payment policy to prevent customers taking unreasonably long to pay. If you do decide to do this, it should be clearly detailed on your invoice.
Additionally, an invoice due date is crucial if you want your customers to pay on time. Without one, the invoice doesn’t have the same sense of urgency. It can also be difficult to enforce a “late payment” situation without a clear deadline.
Bank details / payment information
If you are taking bank transfers or open banking QR code payments, be sure to include this so your customers can easily pay.
Check for spelling mistakes
Simple, yet important. Spelling mistakes just look like you haven’t spent much time on it.
Avoid industry jargon
This essentially means writing line items in a way that a customer will understand. Specific parts, pieces, and items may have names in which you can’t avoid this, but it can be a nice touch to add explanations.
Send it on the same day
If you want your customers to pay fast, you need to send the invoice while the job is on their mind. Ideally, this should be just before you leave the property or, at latest, on the same day.
This is much easier with a digital template you can fill out or with dedicated invoicing software like FieldRocket.
How to create an invoice in 60 seconds: a step by step guide
- Download the PDF template
- Add in your personal details and company details to create your own personalised invoice
- Save this for future use
- Click on the fillable fields and enter in all necessary information
- Export the PDF
- Email to your customer, or print and send
Download our free invoice template
Using FieldRocket to streamline your invoicing
FieldRocket is an all-in-one job management software that takes going paperless to the next level. Tradespeople from all walks of life – electricians, gas engineers, plumbers, HVAC specialists and many more can use FieldRocket to link together each part of their workflow.
From quotes to invoices, certificates to customer management, paperwork takes time – and it’s not paid work. With FieldRocket, each step is seamlessly connected so you can spend more time where it counts.
There’s also plenty of handy features like being able to use Crezco QR codes with your invoices to offer a quick and easy way for customers to pay.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I don’t want to include my home address on my invoices?
If you want to keep your home address private, the best thing to do is to open a PO box nearby. You can direct all legal documents and mail to here instead, as long as you check it on a regular basis.
What programme should I use to start invoicing as a sole trader?
Moving on to dedicated invoicing software is a huge step forward for sole traders. It’ll save you hours each week which you can reinvest into your business or work-life balance.
Our single most important piece of advice would be to find an all-in-one job management software. Invoices are intricately connected with other parts of your job, so it makes sense to find a platform that can manage quotes, job sheets, invoices, and customer details all together.
You’ll save just as much time connecting these parts of the job as you will on the invoices themselves.
Do I need to send paper invoices, or are digital copies fine?
Digital copies of invoices are fine, although some customers may still prefer to receive a paper invoice. In this case, we recommend simply printing off your electronic invoice. It’ll still be cleaner and more organised than any handwritten invoice.
What do I do if my invoice is not being paid by the customer?
We would first recommend making sure your invoices have a due date and clear payment window, and that you send them out quickly. If you find that a significant portion of your customers are still taking long to pay, you could consider adding a late payment charge as an incentive.
What’s the best way to keep track of all my invoices?
When you’re completing a busy schedule of jobs, it becomes impossible to manually track the status of an invoice.
Software like FieldRocket gives you a single control point to view invoices and filter by status. This way, you can easily hone in on customers who may need a little nudge.
How do I get customers to pay fast?
- Make sure you send the invoice quickly
- Offer several modes of payment to accommodate customer preference
- Keep track of all your invoice statuses (much easier with software)
- Send payment reminders
- Set a clear payment deadline
- Add a late payment charge
If you’ve been thinking about implementing software into your workflow to save time, here’s what you can do next:
- Visit our resources centre where you'll find more articles like this one and a full list of our certificates.
- Start a free trial to see exactly how our software works for your business.
- Book a demo with our customer success team. We’ll help walk you through the ins and outs of our software, how it’ll help you save time and money, and anything else that springs to mind.
- Know someone still using paper? Help them and us out by sending our software their way!