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What’s the difference between an estimate and an invoice?

Estimates and invoices in ZipBooks are very similar in appearance and function. The main difference is that an estimate (also sometimes called a bid or a quote) is a proposal of services or sales, and what they will cost if a customer hires you, and an invoice is a bill for those products or services once a customer does, in fact, hire you or purchase something from you.

Here is an example of when you would use each:

You have a carpet cleaning company and a potential customer contacts you, asking what you would charge to clean three rooms of her house. She hasn’t officially hired you yet. What she wants is an estimate for what you will charge her to perform that service.

You create an estimate in your ZipBooks account with the details of the service she specified, and send it over to her. If she decides to accept the terms of your service, you could easily turn that estimate into an invoice, which you would send to her after you clean her carpets.

Alternatively, if a customer called you and said simply that they would like to schedule a time for you to come and clean their carpet, you would create only an invoice, because they’re not asking to see an estimate before they decide whether or not to hire you.

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