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Any successful business has to pay close attention to its billing; timely payments and accurate accounting are obviously essential to success. But who thinks about what message their billing operation is sending to clients?

John Rampton does.  He is founder of the online invoicing company Due, and he recently contributed an article to Entrepreneur magazine’s website called, “What Your Invoicing Habits Say About You as a Small-Business Owner.”

“This is your business and having good invoicing habits is important,” he writes. “You are projecting the image of your business. Being perceived in a negative light sets up several mental processes in the mind of your client.”

If you bill too soon after a project is complete, your clients may become suspicious. If you rely too heavily on automation, customers may think you’re lazy. He thinks asking for down payment shows professionalism, but asking for full payment upfront is a bad idea.

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