When you start a business there are things you need to make sure are done properly. One of the most important ones is invoicing. Invoicing properly is important to your cash flow and for tax purposes if it ever comes to that. With the recent update to presumptive tax laws for small businesses, some are pondering regularly submitting taxes instead. Thanks to technology we now have invoicing apps that make the task possible via a simple phone. However, you will still see many prefer to make their own invoices. What’s the right thing for you to do?

Invoicing apps

It’s no understatement to say there are many of these apps out there. They are available on all platforms including web-based ones. Some are usually an extension of accounting software. These help to take some of the donkey work out of invoicing like design and formatting. With a few clicks or touches, the invoice is prepared. You simply enter the details and it’s done. Sounds great right? Over and above that some will offer both emailing and automatic follow up on invoices. This is a God-send for anyone who has had to follow up invoices. Let’s look at the pros and cons of using invoicing apps;



Invoicing applications provide quick and easy formatting for your invoices to give them a functional competence of displaying all the information that need be displayed without you requiring an Excel refresher course.


Invoicing apps will also give you the look you need. Whether its professional, bleeding edge, playful or vibrant. The ability to tweak this easily and add your logo means you can have the look you want very easily.

Follow up

In some cases, you get the emailing and follow up functions which really cannot be underestimated.  They can help you paid easier and automating the follow-up process ensures it gets done.



Yeah, there’s nothing out therefore free, at least nothing worth having. As is becoming modern the app itself is free and there is a subscription fee or a commission attached. You will find the solutions that are connected to accounting software will normally have a fixed monthly subscription price. One that is becoming very popular has a US$20 per month subscription which can be a lot for many small businesses in Zimbabwe. Others may get their money through charging you per transaction processed through them. No matter which way look at it these apps are never free.


With most if not all of these apps there is a need to set the app up to work properly. The best example I can give is Value Added Tax. VAT is so complicated that it goes by different names (Goods and Services Tax and Sales Tax) in different parts of the world with varying rates and varying exemptions. The ideal situation is to set up the software to know when to apply it and when not to also applying the rate. This is not as easy as it sounds.


The other option is of course doing it yourself. This can take many forms but for simplicity’s sake let’s consider the use of a spreadsheet program or application to create your invoices. A valid tax invoice by Zimbabwean standards must have 14 essential elements these include the vendor name, customer name, items, description and more. Depending on your skill level you can create an invoice from scratch or use a template.



Provided you are skilful with navigating spreadsheets and a little desktop publishing creating your own invoice will come with flexibility for you. You can easily edit any element of the invoice and quickly apply changes forced by changes in the tax system such as VAT percentage.

Free or low cost

If you have the knowledge and ability the other advantage of the DIY approach is it costs you little to nothing. Even for those with limited knowledge templates are available for free out there. With the humble beginnings of many Zimbabwean small businesses, this is an important advantage of doing it yourself.


Knowledge gap

It’s not all Rose’s and sunshine with doing it yourself. DIY is great if you have the knowledge but if you don’t you are more likely to make a mess of the invoice. While these are things you can learn you would still need to find a place to learn them from. DIY is therefore more attractive to those who have prior or tacit knowledge of invoicing.


Doing it yourself can also some complexity. While invoicing is nothing data entry the process leading up to having the invoice template ready can include placing formulae in a spreadsheet, a prospect most people shudder at the thought of.

Those are the things you need to think about when it comes to invoicing. I prefer the DIY route but I only recommend it for those who at least have spreadsheet skills.