5 Steps to Start Using QuickBooks in Your Small Business

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011 at 12:45 PM | Category: Business, Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech 2 comments

QuickBooksMany entrepreneurs and small business owners are natural born sales people whose excitement knows no bounds when it comes to closing deals, building strategies and devising marketing campaigns. But what about … accounting? It may feel like drudgery, but managing the business side of a business is absolutely crucial if that business is going to blossom.

Technology allows us to dispense with pencil and paper, dispose of double data entry, empty overstuffed file cabinets and do away with long nights chained to the office desk checking and double-checking rows and columns of figures. One of the more popular tools is QuickBooks from Intuit, an accounting software program. The program streamlines the accounting process.

Here, we’ll explore five ways to make the most out of QuickBooks.

1. Choose the Right QuickBooks Product

Venturing into QuickBooks requires reviewing your unique needs and studying the program’s offerings so you don’t pay for more than you need. You’ve probably noticed QuickBooks offers several options:

  • QuickBooks Online provides basic invoice creation, sales tracking, data backup and support. It comes with a 30-day free trial.
  • QuickBooks Premier contains industry-specific reports and tools tailored to a specific business type for more fine-grain control, in addition to forecasting and planning tools.
  • QuickBooks Pro targets businesses that are up and running that don’t need as much tailoring or features as those in Premier.
  • QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions is the most advanced plan. This includes expanded user controls, enhanced customized reporting and customer snapshot features that lets you view customers’ purchase history and outstanding balances.

So, which plan do you need? Here are a few important factors to consider before you buy:

  • How much is feasible for your current budget?
  • Are you working on a PC or a Mac?
  • Will there be multiple users or one user?
  • Do you need to track multiple locations?
  • Do you need a better way to track employee time?
  • Will you be using the software for payroll purposes?
  • Are you interested in detailed analysis of sales and profits?

2. Customize QuickBooks

After narrowing down your QuickBooks selection, you’ll discover a wide range of customization options. The latest version of QuickBooks Premier, for example, has features designed for specific types of organizations, including general business, contractors, retail, manufacturing and wholesale, and even nonprofit.

You must also consider who will be using the software on a daily basis. Other employees may not need access to certain information or controls, so you can customize your settings to give other users more or less power. Keep in mind that you might need to train people to use the software.

Other custom options include interface layout, designs and colors, which not only affect the basic look and presentation, but also provide better organization and visual reminders. Setting up favorites, to-do notes and alerts can keep you on-task every day.

3. Integrate Your Accounting Software and Payment Processes

One of the major benefits of QuickBooks software is the ability to connect the program with other business processes, allowing for a one-source solution that can save you time, money and hair-pulling. Synchronizing your payment and accounting processes can eliminates double data entry and provides accurate, immediate reports.

With today’s customers using the Internet to shop, pay bills and place orders, online payment processing capabilities from companies like BluePay help expand sales and improve profits. With QuickBooks, you can integrate your accounting processes with major online shopping carts, so that you have the data you need to track online purchases, invoices and other customer details without having to manually enter the information.

4. Protect Your Business Assets

No business is 100 percent safe from fraud. However, taking the proper precautions and securing your assets as much as possible can cut your risk. Fraud occurs in many different ways, from electronic credit card theft to payroll theft. Unfortunately, small businesses are often susceptible to fraudulent activity, lacking the extra funds required for advanced security plans, or not having enough money to hire more qualified, trustworthy employees.

Security is crucial when using accounting programs that give access to business information to multiple users. As covered in Customization, it’s important to edit your privacy and admin settings to limit user control. Don’t give your employees more access than they need, no matter how nice they are.

Use QuickBooks’ ability to track employee hours and ensure your workers are making the most of their time. You can also use QuickBooks to track employee discounts, minimizing the risk of abused privileges.

Set up separate logins and passwords for each QuickBooks user, and make sure the admin password remains safe. While having all of your information in one place is useful, it also requires extra security precautions. Don’t let fraud be as easy as clicking a button.

5. Take Advantage of Educational Tools and Support

With all the different features, options, tools, reports, passwords –- it looks like QuickBooks complicates accounting rather than simplifies it. It feels overwhelming, but just take it one step at a time and it’ll pay off. Although you won’t learn everything at once, just one new discovery of a function can change the way you do business. Continue to grow from there, and take advantage of the tools and support systems that you can find on the Internet and Intuit’s website.

QuickBooks tutorials can walk you through the entire process so that you can go at it on your own. QuickBooks has training sessions that connect you with experts for consulting services and instructor-led classes. Certification programs are available if you’re already a QuickBooks pro and you want to deepen your knowledge while demonstrating your expertise to clients and employers. Online support or advanced support plans give you access to the resources you need if an issue ever arises, so that you can reduce downtime and keep your business up and running.

With the right QuickBooks product, customization and training, you can gain a tighter grip on all of your financial and accounting processes and greater control over your business, no matter your needs. With your finances in order, you can focus your efforts on the core of your business for growth and success.

About the Author: Jacqui MacKenzie is a writer for Straight North, a Chicago Internet marketing agency that works with BluePay, a company offering credit card processing products. To learn more about payment processing industry, follow BluePay on Twitter.

  Copyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Meryl Evans

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