Karen Bershad is The Small Business Advisor. Most small business owners have a challenge handling all the different areas of running a business. The accounting can be a challenge, particularly if the software seems overwhelming. The Small Business Advisor is what you may need to get you to the next level of your business. We work at your office or provide off site assistance in getting things under control by providing a wide variety of services that are specifically for the small business.
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Whether you’re just launching a business or you’re going online with an existing company, take some time to get acquainted with QuickBooks Online.
Your first hour with any web-based application is probably spent exploring and clicking buttons, links, and other navigation tools to get the lay of the land.
QuickBooks Online should be no different. In fact, it’s even more important to take it slow when you’re using an accounting solution. If you start entering data without understanding how everything works together, you may make mistakes early on that will be difficult to undo down the road. Read More >>
Before you start entering data, make sure QuickBooks is set up appropriately for your company.
QuickBooks was designed to serve the needs of millions of small businesses. To do that, it had to include the tools and processes suitable for a wide variety of companies. But Intuit recognized that every organization is unique, so your copy of QuickBooks can be customized in ways that make it work best for you.
You could just dive in and start adding records and transactions. But we recommend you do some setup first. If you don’t, you may run into some issues later, such as finding that some features you need haven’t been turned on, for example, or that QuickBooks is simply not doing some things the way you do. The good news is that you can change many of these. Read More >>
Using Custom Fields and Classes in QuickBooks Online
By Karen Bershad on March 31, 2017
QBO’s tools are generic enough that myriad businesses can use it. But custom fields and classes help you shape it to meet your specific needs.
Small business accounting is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Your company is unique in that sense; you have your own customers and products, vendors and services. Your requirements for your accounting application—what it must do and how it does that—is unlike anyone else’s.
QuickBooks Online contains a standard set of features that can accommodate a broad cross-section of the millions of small businesses in the U.S. It also offers customization options that you can use to make it your own. Two of these are custom fields and classes. Read More >>
5 QuickBooks Online Add-On Apps You May Need in 2017
By Karen Bershad on March 6, 2017
Not finding quite everything you need in QuickBooks Online? Here are some handy add-on apps available.
QuickBooks Online may work for you just fine as is. After all, it was designed to meet the needs of the millions of small businesses that want to manage and track their income and expenses, create records and transactions, and run reports to gauge their financial health.
QuickBooks Online was also designed to grow along with your business. But there’s no need for Intuit to add internal features to do so. In fact, that would make it too expensive and unwieldy for many companies.
Instead, Intuit has partnered with other small business websites to provide add-ons—applications that extend the usefulness of QuickBooks Online in one or more areas, like accounts receivable and payable, inventory, and expense-tracking. They integrate easily to share data and do the extra work you need. Here are some of them to consider. Read More >>
2017 is here. Now’s the time to do your end-of-year QuickBooks tasks.
Since early January of this year, you’ve been faithfully creating new records, entering transactions, and recording payments. You’ve run basic reports. You’ve done your collection duties. You may have paid employees and submitted payroll taxes.
Now the end of the year is rapidly approaching. In the midst of holiday get-togethers, gift shopping, and perhaps preparing for travel, you probably have a list of work tasks that must be completed by December 31.
Is your annual QuickBooks wrap-up on that list? It should be. Here are some of the things we suggest you fit into your busy schedule sometime this month. Read More >>
In a previous column, we talked about setting up bills in QuickBooks Online. Now it’s time to pay them.
We recently laid out the benefits of using QuickBooks Online for bill entry and payment. It’s faster than manual methods. It leaves an electronic record of your accounts payable. And it helps ensure that bills are paid accurately and on time.
As we discussed, QuickBooks Online employs a two-step process for bill payment. Once you’ve completed the first (setup), the hard part is done, and you can move on to fulfilling your financial obligations. Let’s take a look.
Warning: Because you may be “handling” a lot of your bills twice in QuickBooks Online, this system can take some getting used to. We’ll be happy to walk you through the process until you’re comfortable. Read More >>
Last month, we discussed QuickBooks’ report Preferences and The Report Center. We’ll look at report customization this month.
QuickBooks makes your bookkeeping faster, safer, and more accurate than what you could do using a manual system. Still, you may occasionally tire of your daily tasks. You want to know what all of these forms and records mean in terms of your overall financial health. You want to see reports.
The actual mechanics of creating reports in QuickBooks are fairly straightforward. You can go to the Report Center, make a selection, maybe change the date range, and voila! Your company’s related data appears in neat rows and columns. Read More >>
QuickBooks comes with dozens of report templates that can be run as is. This month and next, we’ll show you ways to make them “fit” your company.
Reports are your reward for all that hard work you put in entering records and transactions in QuickBooks. Sure, you can always find individual invoices, sales receipts, and customers by using the software’s search tools, but in order to make smart business decisions, you need to be able to see related subsets of the information you so carefully entered in neat rows and columns.
You’ve probably created at least some basic reports in QuickBooks. You may have, for example, wanted to see who’s late paying you, or whether you have unpaid bills. You might need to know your stock levels, or which purchase orders are still unfilled. You certainly want to keep a close eye on whether you’re making or losing money. Read More >>
If you plan to process your own payroll using QuickBooks, you need to understand how payroll items work.
Considering processing your own payroll in QuickBooks? Whether you’re moving from a payroll service or getting ready to pay your first employee, you’re taking on a complex set of tasks that requires a great deal of setup and absolute precision. But the reward is complete control over your compensation records and transactions, and constant access to your payroll data.
If you have no experience dealing with paychecks, deductions, and payroll taxes, we strongly recommend that you let us help you get started. QuickBooks simplifies the actual mechanics of setting up and running payroll, but there’s still a lot you need to know.
It goes without saying that accuracy is critical here. You’re responsible for your employees’ livelihoods and for maintaining any benefits they’ll receive. Federal, state, and local taxing agencies will count on you to submit the proper payroll taxes and filings on time; failure to do so can result in stiff penalties and worse. Read More >>
Will multiple employees be working with your QuickBooks company file? You’ll need to define their permission levels.
If you ever did your bookkeeping manually, you probably didn’t allow every employee to see every sales form and account register and payroll stub. Most likely, you established a system that allowed staff to work only with information that related to their jobs. Even so, there may have been times when, for example, someone pulled the wrong file folder or was sent a report that he or she shouldn’t have seen.
QuickBooks helps prevent this by setting virtual boundaries. You can specify which features of the software can be accessed by employees who work with your accounting data. Each employee receives a unique user name and password that unlocks only the areas he or she should be visiting. Read More >>
You’ll be visiting QuickBooks Online’s Settings screen regularly, so it’s good to know what’s there.
You can get into a rental car and just start driving to your destination. But you soon realize that you need to know where the temperature controls and the radio tuner are. If it starts raining, you must know where the wiper controls are. And when it gets dark, you’d better know how to turn on the headlights.
The same goes for QuickBooks Online. You can create bills and start paying them or begin to invoice customers or record expenses as soon as you set up an account (though you’ll be adding a lot of data on the fly). But you’ll soon discover that those tasks would be easier if you had established all of your Settings first.
If you have multiple employees using QuickBooks Online, for example, it has probably occurred to you that not everyone needs to have access to everything in your company file. You’ll want to connect the site to your financial accounts, build a budget, and specify payment terms and types. Read More >>
Make QuickBooks Your Own: Specify Your Preferences
By Karen Bershad on July 10, 2016
Your business is unique. Make sure that QuickBooks knows how you operate.
QuickBooks was designed to be used by millions of businesses. In fact, it’s possible to install it, answer a few questions about your company, and start working right away.
However, we strongly suggest you take the time to specify your Preferences. QuickBooks devotes a whole screen to this customization process. You can find it by opening the Edit menu and selecting Preferences.
Figure 1: The My Preferences window in QuickBooks’ Preferences
This is the screen you’ll see when you go to Edit Read More >>
Are You Applying Finance Charges in QuickBooks? Should You Be?
By Karen Bershad on June 5, 2016
Assessing finance charges is a complicated process. But if you have a lot of late payments coming in, you may want to consider it. Be sure you know what your lease agreement says before you start this process. If your lease agreement clearly states a flat fee per day, month or some other period then finance charges do not work for your situation.
There are many reasons why your tenants send in payments past their due dates. Maybe you sent an invoice for additional charges and they’re disputing the charges. They might not be very conscientious about bill-paying. Or they simply don’t have the money.
Sometimes they contact you about their oversight, but more often, you just see the overdue days pile up in your reports.
You could use stronger language in your customer messages. Send statements. Make phone calls if the delinquency goes on too long. Or you could start assessing finance charges to invoices that go unpaid past the due date. QuickBooks provides tools to accommodate this, but you’ll want to make absolutely sure you’re using them correctly – or you’ll risk angering tenants and creating problems with your accounts receivable. Read More >>
QuickBooks’ structure is universal enough to appeal to millions of small businesses. Custom fields help you shape it to meet your company’s unique needs.
If you’re using QuickBooks, you probably know that you’re complying with the rules of double-entry accounting. The software is designed such that you can be compliant with these requirements without even being aware of it. You’re dealing with invoices and purchase orders, bank account reconciliation and bill-paying and payroll, not debits and credits and journal entries. QuickBooks does the double-entry part in the background.
While every business that uses QuickBooks is following those same rules, each has its own unique structure and its own need to modify some elements of the program to do certain tasks, for example:
This is where custom fields come in. Read More >>
Accounting is about more than just numbers. QuickBooks lets you make documents available from within the program itself.
You could call QuickBooks a “green” computer program. It can conserve reams of paper by storing customer and vendor records, for example, emailing transaction forms, and accepting online payments.
Most small businesses are a long way from being “paperless offices,” despite the predictions so many people made when PCs became commonplace. Even though you’re making an effort to be as digital as possible with your accounting files, not everyone else is yet. So you still have to deal with paper.
And you’re probably still consulting paper documents or stored computer files or scanned images that relate to your accounting data. QuickBooks makes it possible to keep this information close at hand, easily accessible from the software itself.
The Doc Center
QuickBooks provides a centralized area for managing the documents you want to keep close at hand. The Doc Center contains tools you’ll need to work with your documents. From here, you can:
Figure 1: You’ll use the tools in the QuickBooks Doc Center to work with the documents you want to have available from within the program.
There are probably times when you have supporting documentation for invoices or tenant/vendor item records, for example. In these cases, you can attach those background documents to the related QuickBooks forms.
It’s not difficult to work with documents in QuickBooks. But if you don’t have much experience working with file attachments or scanning paper forms, we can walk you through the process.
To get started, click on the Docs tab in the left vertical pane or open the Company menu and select Documents Read More >>
QuickBooks provides multiple ways to get information about your customers, and their payments, and your company itself. The software’s Snapshots provide quick, thorough overviews.
What do you do when you need to get information in QuickBooks about customers or about payments they’ve made in QuickBooks? You have several options. You could, for example:
One of QuickBooks’ strengths is its flexibility. It helps you find the exact information you’re looking for in a variety of ways. Which one you choose at any given time depends on what screen you’re working on at the moment and precisely what slice of data you need. Read More >>
Yet another calendar? Yes. It’s a good idea to use QuickBooks’ calendar to stay on top of your financial transactions.
These days, some of us find ourselves updating multiple calendars. There’s the Outlook calendar or other web-based solution for scheduling and task management. Maybe a smartphone app to track to-do’s on the road, and a paper calendar as backup.
But where do you keep track of your everyday financial tasks? Including these in your scheduling calendars and/or task lists will make for very crowded screens, not to mention how inconvenient it can be to keep switching between applications.
So consider adding one more tracking tool: the QuickBooks calendar. This graphical screen isn’t designed for data entry (except for to-do’s). Rather, it’s designed to give you a quick overview of your financial activity, both historically and in the future. Read More >>
In the Real Estate Investment industry and as a contractor, you sell services to your customers, you'll need to understand how to use QuickBooks' time-tracking features.
Usually contractors do not keep much if any inventory on hand. Most work is done with materials either supplied by your customer or you purchase what is needed to complete that particular job and bill the customer accordingly.
But if you are only billing for time and services, that becomes a different story. There's no real inventory tracking involved -- except in terms of knowing how much manpower you have available at any given time. But just like you wouldn't want customers to walk off with merchandise they haven't bought, you don't want any billable minutes or hours to be ignored. Both scenarios eat into your profits.
Gone are the days when you had to count on employees to fill out detailed timecards and hope that they remembered to document everything. QuickBooks can help ensure that you're getting paid for all time and services rendered. Read More >>
We’ll be ringing in the New Year soon. Will you have wrapped up your 2015 finances by then?
There’s something very satisfying about turning our calendars to January. It always feels like a fresh start. We resolve to develop new, better ways of using our work and leisure time. We reflect on what we accomplished in the last 12 months, and we look forward to achieving even more in the next 12.
But sometimes we have a nagging feeling that we forgot something. And it often has to do with our finances, both personal and professional.
You can take steps now to make New Year’s Day less worrisome. Doing some extra work in QuickBooks during December will ensure that you’ll start 2016 ready to move ahead, rather than scrambling to see what you missed on January 2. Read More >>
Preserve your relationships with customers, vendors, and others by setting up reminders in QuickBooks.
How many calendars do you maintain? Many business people have more than one. Maybe you use a web-based or desktop application like Google Calendar or Outlook for meetings, task deadlines, travel dates, etc. Your Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) might have another. Perhaps you still have a paper calendar as backup.
But where do you keep track of bills that need to be paid, invoices that have to be sent, materials for jobs that must be ordered, etc.? Do you include that information in your general business calendar(s) and hope they don’t get lost in the shuffle?
QuickBooks has a better solution. The software contains a dedicated set of tools that automates the process of setting up and displaying reminders. Once you’ve created them, they can be the first thing you see when you open QuickBooks in the morning. Read More >>
Customize QuickBooks Forms for a More Professional Image
By Karen Bershad on October 20, 2015
Want an easy, free way to make your business look more professional and polished? Customize your forms. QuickBooks has the tools.
As a Real Estate Investor you may be asking yourself “Why do I need to do this? I don’t send out invoices or statements” – You may, on a very rare occasion, need to do just that for a late paying tenant or invoice them for repairs that they are responsible for. Or you may need to provide financial documents from QuickBooks to a lender/investor.
You probably don't get as many paper forms in the U.S. Mail as you used to. But when you do, do you draw conclusions about the business that sent them based on what their forms look like?
Whether or not you think you do, most people make judgements on businesses based on collateral materials. You might notice that there's no company logo, or that there are unnecessary blank fields. Maybe the print is very light or blurry, and there's no message at the bottom thanking you for your business and your payment.
How you present yourself on paper does matter. There's a lot of competition out there, and you need to use all of the tools available to you to stand out. QuickBooks provides one way to do so with its simple forms customization features. Read More >>
Getting paid by your tenants in a timely fashion is one of the biggest challenges of being a landlord. QuickBooks can help in several ways.
You're meeting your business goals. Making sure that every property that has a tenant has been invoiced in QuickBooks. (You invoice in QuickBooks so you can track the timely payments made by the tenants.) You take advantage of vendor discounts. Basically, doing everything in your power to keep cash flow humming.
But you can't control how quickly your tenants pay you.
You can, though, use QuickBooks' tools to:
Figure 1: QuickBooks lets you accept payments from tenants in multiple forms. Accepting credit cards and e-checks is likely to speed up your receivables.
It's probably one of your favorite QuickBooks activities. Be sure you understand the mechanics of recording payments.
There are numerous ways to prioritize your workday. Do the most difficult things first. Get important phone calls out of the way. Respond to various emails.
But it's likely that one activity takes precedence when you see that it needs to be done: recording payments. While you're probably very careful with this process, it's critical that your actions here are accurate. If they're not, you could either lose money that you've earned or anger tenants by requesting payments they’ve already made.
QuickBooks comes with some helpful pre-defined payment types; however, you also have the flexibility to edit that list and add new types. To see your list, open the Lists menu and select Customer & Vendor Profile Lists, then Payment Method List. This window opens: Read More >>
Why You Should Be Using Mobile Apps with QuickBooks
By Karen Bershad on July 1, 2015
Intuit discontinued its own QuickBooks mobile app a while back, but there's still plenty of processing power available for your smartphone or tablet.
In days gone by, running a company was a 40 hour per week proposition. You might have taken work home some evenings or gone into the office on weekends.
Those days are over, thanks to the internet and mobile technology. This fundamental change in the way we do business means that it's now hard to get away from work. Your smartphone and tablet are usually within easy reach, and they're always tempting you to check in.
On the flip side, that kind of 24/7/365 accessibility has numerous benefits. There are, for example, apps that can be integrated with your desktop QuickBooks company file, which enable you to: Read More >>
Be proactive about the security of your QuickBooks company file, and you'll be less likely to encounter data theft.
Thanks to the internet, privacy has been on the wane over the last few years. We assume that our addresses and phone numbers are public information, thanks to sites like Switchboard and 411.com. We hope that our dates of birth are private (though the number of birthday wishes on Facebook makes that doubtful), and we assume that our Social Security numbers are hard to get.
Your customers/tenants trust you enough to provide you with additional private information, like credit card numbers, bank numbers and more. And you've seen what an uproar occurs when major corporate entities like Target and Home Depot get hacked.
Your small business may not have hundreds of thousands of customer/tenant information files, but you can still be targeted by external hackers and even your own employees. Are you taking measures to ensure the security of that data stored on your hard drive and/or in the cloud?
Your Inner Circle
The last thing you want to imagine is that one of your own employees has been tampering with your QuickBooks company data. It happens, though, and you need to protect yourself from potential internal attacks.
One of your internal controls, then, should include the establishment of boundaries for every employee who has access to QuickBooks. You can restrict each staff member to specific areas of the program instead of sharing a master password and giving everyone free rein. Go to Company Read More >>