Use QuickBooks Online to Master Your Small Business Accounting

This post is brought to you by Intuit QuickBooks. While this post was sponsored by Intuit QuickBooks, all content and opinions expressed here are my own.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners tend to be a pretty bunch.They recognize the need that they can fill, work tirelessly to offer the best product or service they can, and they take full control of their careers by creating a new small business.

Related: 20 Unique Business Ideas (That You Can Start Today!)

However, there is one aspect of being the boss that can strike fear into the hearts of even the most dauntless new entrepreneur: handling the accounting. This is where a service like QuickBooks Online can help.

QuickBooks Online is an affordable way to manage your small business accounting. It offers features such as expenses and receipt tracking, bill management, estimates, and invoicing. Access all of your bookkeeping, taxes, and reporting needs from anywhere with an Internet connection.

The program makes it easy and affordable for small business owners to manage their own books. Here’s how signing up with QuickBooks Online will help you organize your finances so you can focus on doing the entrepreneurial work you do best:

What is QuickBooks Online?

You’re probably at least familiar with the well-known QuickBooks program, which has been a beloved fixture of the business accounting industry for many years.

Related: My Accountant Reviews QuickBooks Online vs Desktop

Here’s a quick video (less than two minutes) that will give you a better idea of how QuickBooks can help you run your business efficiently:

QuickBooks Online takes just what a small business owner needs from the original software, and offers a streamlined, online-only version that will solve many of the common problems you might face as an entrepreneur.

Since this program is part of the QuickBooks Online suite of internet programs, you can use it anywhere you have Internet access. Use it at your family or friend’s house, in another state, a restaurant or hotel with Wi-Fi, or your laptop on your bed if you have Wi-Fi there, or even on your smartphone or device.

That can help you stay on top of small details because you can handle them when you think of them, rather than have to wait until the next time you’re in front of a computer.

It can be accessed from your computer, your phone, or a tablet which makes it convenient when you have a team. You can also share details of your business finances with your accountant and makes it easier to stay organized.

How Does QuickBooks Online Work?

Quickbooks Logo

When you sign up with QuickBooks Online, you will start by linking your bank accounts to the program.

This allows QuickBooks Online to automatically pull in your transactions into the software. All transactions sit in a holding area while they wait for approval from you. Once you have approved the transaction it is added to your actual books.

Depending on your business, when you first sign up you may have a lot of transactions to categorize since it will pull transactions in from the past. This initial categorization may take a little time, but it will make tax season much easier since you will not have to reorganize your transactions.

QuickBooks also learns your transactions as you go. For example, it will learn that charges from Home Depot are always categorized as supplies and charges from 7-11 are always gas.

In addition, you can create Transaction Rules that will help to pre-categorize certain regular transactions. When a particular vendor expense clears your bank, or when you deposit a check, you can create a Transaction Rule that will always categorize these transactions in the same way, which can save you a ton of time. The transaction will still wait in the holding section for your approval, but it will be categorized correctly and you can just click “Add.”

If you have QuickBooks Desktop and would like to switch to the online version, Intuit makes it easy. They copy the data from your desktop version and add it online. However, you won’t be able to sync the two versions.

If you want to access your QuickBooks software when you’re away from your computer, you will need to switch to the online version. There is also a mobile app that works with iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets to make it easy to keep tabs on your business.

Use QuickBooks Online On-the-Go

One of the things that separates QuickBooks Online from other small business accounting programs is the on-the-go features that are included with the smartphone app. For instance, the program lets you instantly track and organize expenses right from your phone.

Related: How to Track Your Expenses

You can sort your business spending with a swipe, making expense tracking far easier and more fun. You can also connect to apps you already use for seamless integration with the tools already in your financial toolbox.

Another timesaving smartphone and tablet feature is the ability to organize receipts by snapping photos of them.

The program enters the transaction information for you and automatically matches and categorizes expenses from the receipt. It then stores and organizes the photos of the receipts so you’ll be ready for tax season.

Creating and sending invoices is also effortless with the app. You can generate invoices straight from your smartphone and keep tabs on any open invoices so you can send overdue notifications when necessary.

The app also notifies you when your invoice is sent, viewed, and paid, so you will never have to keep track manually of who owes you what.

QuickBooks Online Features

As a small business owner, you need a powerful yet intuitive solution to help you manage your accounting. This is where QuickBooks Online really shines, delivering a robust suite of features tailored to meet the needs of small businesses.

While the online version of QuickBooks is not as robust as the desktop version, it offers several great features. Where there are gaps, the software offers seamless integration with a number of apps to enhance functionality.

Since QuickBooks online is cloud-based software, you can count on regular product updates.

What you get with QuickBooks Online

Features available with the online version of QuickBooks:

  • Bookkeeping made easy: Get automatic downloads and categorization by connecting your bank and credit card accounts. Enter transactions, record expenses, invoice customers, send reports and more–from anywhere.
  • Bank reconciliations: Easily reconcile bank accounts and transactions in your accounting records.
  • Sales tax: Get automatic downloads and categorization by connecting credit card and bank accounts. Use the integrated calculator to add sales tax for thousands of states, cities, and counties from the QuickBooks database.
  • Expense tracking: Track business expenses through online accounts or by taking photos of receipts. All data syncs instantly across your phone, computer, and tablet.
  • Receipt tracking: The built-in receipt scanner helps you track and organize your expenses. All receipts are stored as digital files for documentation come tax time.
  • Bill management: QuickBooks Online helps you track and organize your bills and due dates. If you have the Advanced version you can also use QuickBooks Online to pay your bills
  • Reporting: Run profit & loss reports, review your balance sheet, generate cash flow statements, and much more. QuickBooks online comes with more than 50 built-in accounting and business reports. The Simple Start and Essential versions can run basic reports. The Plus and Advanced version can run more advanced reports. 
  • Generate estimates: Create estimates for clients and view estimate status. Save time by duplicating a previous estimate or using a template. Seamlessly convert estimates to invoices for added convenience.
  • Invoice clients: Invoice clients and get paid quickly with built-in payment processing. Clients can pay with a credit card, bank transfer, PayPal, and more. QuickBooks automatically records the payment and transfers the money to your connected bank account.
  • Progress invoicing: If a project takes weeks or months, use QuickBooks online to bill incrementally and accept payments throughout the duration. Split an estimate into multiple invoices based on project milestones, stages, and so on.

QuickBooks Online Tiers

QuickBooks Online recognizes that not every small business has the same needs, so it offers three different service tiers—although you can try before you buy with a free 30-day trial of these options.

Simple Start

This version allows you to customize and send invoices, track income and expenses, create and manage estimates, and sync bank accounts and apps. You can add enhanced payroll or full-service payroll to this version for an additional monthly fee.

Essentials

In addition to the features you get with Simple Start, Essentials also allows you to manage bills, and gives you instant sales and profit reports. As with Simple Start, you can add enhanced payroll or full-service payroll to this version for an additional monthly fee.

Plus

In addition to all of the Essentials features, Plus also allows you to track inventory and prepare and print 1099 forms for your independent contractors. You can add enhanced payroll full-service payroll to this version for an additional monthly fee.

Advanced

The highest level of QuickBooks Online is designed for larger businesses, allowing up to 25 user licenses. It comes with all of the features of Plus and the ability to import hundreds of invoices at one time, create dynamic, presentation-ready reports, and get deeper insights. You can also control who can and can’t see your sensitive data and get help from a dedicated customer success manager.

Common Questions about QuickBooks Online

If you’re considering investing in QuickBooks Online for your business, you probably still have a few questions. Below is additional information to help you decide what is the best software for your small business.

How much is QuickBooks Online per month?

QuickBooks Online has a different pricing structure than QuickBooks Desktop. While the desktop version comes with a one-time fee that allows you to download the program to your computer, the online version comes with a monthly subscription.


QuickBooks online pricing is as follows:

  • Simple Start: $20 per month
  • Essentials: $40 per month
  • Plus: $70 per month
  • Advanced: $150

You can opt for a 30-day free trial and you will be billed the full amount of the level you selected once the period is over. Alternatively, you can opt to sign up for three months at a 50 percent discount.

The Advanced level doesn’t offer a free trial but has an introductory offer of 60 percent off for three months.

You will need to choose the free trial or three-month discount offer – not both.

QuickBooks Online and Desktop are structured differently and have different price points. If you’re looking at both and wondering how they compare, keep in mind you will be looking at a monthly cost vs a one-time fee in most cases.

QuickBooks Desktop has the following pricing:

  • Pro: $299.95 (one-time fee)
  • Premier: $499.95 (one-time fee)
  • Enterprise: $1,155 per year

Can I get QuickBooks Online free?

If you want to try out QuickBooks Online for free, Intuit offers a 30-day free trial. The trial is available for the Simple Start, Essentials, and Plus options but not the Advanced option. Once your trial ends, you will be charged the full price based on the tier you selected.

Is QuickBooks Online as Good as Desktop?

QuickBooks Online offers many of the same features as QuickBooks Desktop. The desktop version has been around longer and has more robust options. The online version has several gaps that are filled using third-party QuickBooks apps.

With that said, the online version does not require installation on a computer and can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection. If you don’t need many advanced accounting features or are ok using third-party apps, QuickBooks Online can work well for you.

Many businesses are making the switch to the online version because of the added convenience.

When comparing the two products, you have to weigh the cost of the monthly expense vs. the one-time fee. In addition, QuickBooks Desktop does not offer online or an on-the-go option so you’re tied to your computer.

The desktop version does come with more advanced features, especially if you run a business with a large inventory. If you go with the online route, you will also have to pay for apps to use some features that are included with the desktop version at no extra cost.

Look at the features of both versions to see what you can live without before making a decision.

Intuit has made the shift to cloud-based accounting software and put a lot of money toward promoting it. The company is investing more in its online products than the desktop version.

The Bottom Line on Quickbooks Online

You may be your own boss, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to keeping your small business finances in tip-top shape.

Getting the right software can be the difference between having your finances in order or struggling to catch up at the end of each month.

QuickBooks Online will make it easy for you to manage your money and your time, so you can keep your focus where it needs to be: on building your business.

 

About Emily Guy Birken

Emily Guy Birken is a former English teacher and respected personal finance blogger. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her engineer husband and two high-energy little boys. She has written four books: The Five Years Before You Retire, Choose Your Retirement, Making Social Security Work For You, and End Financial Stress Now. Emily's thoughts on parenting and life in general are found at The SAHMnambulist.