Invoice templates vs online invoice software, what do I choose?

An invoice template in Microsoft Word or Excel can seem like a great option. After all, an invoice is just a one-page sheet of paper with some numbers and descriptions, right?

Actually, that piece of paper is just one part of the process of running your business and getting paid, and using a Word or Excel template creates as many problems as it solves. Online invoice software is much more efficient for invoicing purposes than traditional invoice templates.

Made to get you paid

Simply put, invoice software is made to get you paid faster.

Professionally designed invoices give your customers clear information, focusing on the action that matters most: Pay this invoice now, please.

Unlike Excel and Word invoice templates, with invoice software you can provide your customers with the convenience of paying by credit card. Invoices viewed online can have a “pay now” button with a credit card form attached to it, so customers can pay on the spot when they view your invoice.

For instance, when your customer (let’s call her Jane) is in the line at Starbucks, with a million other things to get done during the day, she can access her invoices on her smartphone and PAY before she even orders her coffee. She gets the convenience, and you get money in your pocket faster.

Not only does invoice software process the transaction and generate a receipt for Jane, but you will also see when Jane received (and read) the email, when she paid, and how much she paid. Can your PDF do that?


Online invoice software is designed with automated features to help you process invoices with ease and efficiency.

There’s nothing more uncomfortable than chasing down your customers for money. With invoice software you can send automatic reminders to customers who haven’t paid yet, slimming the chances of getting your money late.

For your regular customers, you can automate your invoices so that they send on a regular schedule (say, the first of every month). According to our data, three quarters of Wave users have repeat relationships with their customers. These are situations that beg for recurring invoices — a feature that invoice software provides with just a few clicks.

The best invoice software has real accounting functionality built right in. With all your financial information in one place, you can sail through tax season with less worry and stress.

Powerful tools

Invoice software stores your products, prices, customers, and taxes, so each time you create an invoice, you can do it in a few clicks. It also provides you with insight to help you identify where the majority of your income comes from; which clients pay on a consistent basis; and what products sell the most. Additionally, customer credit card data is stored in a PCI-compliant way that puts security first. (Did you know it’s illegal for you to write a customer’s credit card number down on a piece of paper and store it in your files? Scary but true…)

With many online invoice software options (such as Wave), your data is stored, managed, and processed in the cloud. In other words, your information is stored online as opposed to your computer’s hard drive. So if your computer goes BOOM!! you have nothing to worry about… all your data will be safely tucked away in the cloud, backed up on multiple servers so your business records remain safe.

On the go

Whether you are at home or on the go, online invoice software allows you to record your invoices with ease and convenience. You can process your transactions from your laptop from any location — no need to wait until you get home to bill your customers.  Better still, if you’re an iPhone user, you can invoice right from Wave’s mobile invoice app.

Wave in action

With Wave, it’s easy to be organized, look professional, and get paid faster. Here is an example  of what the workflow can look like for you:

  1. Create and send an estimate for a customer. You look like a pro for doing this, and you and your customer both know what the job looks like and what it includes, to avoid headaches down the road.
  2. The customer approves.
  3. You do your work, and then convert your estimate into an invoice with just one click!
  4. You send your customer the invoice via Wave, with another couple of clicks. You get to track when the invoice was sent, and when it has been viewed by your customer.
  5. Since you’ve enabled Payments by Wave, your customer can pay you immediately, via credit card, rather than waiting until they find a check, an envelope and a stamp and get it in the mail.
  6. All your accounting records are updated automatically. Say goodbye to messy paper files where you keep track of the money you’ve received.

Online invoice software does all of the above by the click of a few buttons. Not only will it save you time and effort, but you’ll also get insight to your invoicing process that is impossible to get with invoice templates. But most importantly, it makes life easier—both for you, and for Jane.

Stewart Escalona

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Stewart Escalona
By Stewart Escalona

The information and tips shared on this blog are meant to be used as learning and personal development tools as you launch, run and grow your business. While a good place to start, these articles should not take the place of personalized advice from professionals. As our lawyers would say: “All content on Wave’s blog is intended for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice.” Additionally, Wave is the legal copyright holder of all materials on the blog, and others cannot re-use or publish it without our written consent.