It's no secret that small business owners, by and large, love to hate QuickBooks. While 80 percent of small businesses use QuickBooks over any other bookkeeping software, at any given moment many of those same business owners find themselves at their wit's end when trying to close out a year's worth of data. Frazzled, frustrated, and angry, they declare the problem to be QuickBooks itself.
As someone that has been involved in small business bookkeeping for some time, I can see why people say the things they do. What is the point of doing all the work to put your data into QuickBooks if it comes out wrong at the end of the year?
In an effort to set the records straight, I want to clear up some common QuickBooks myths:
- Any small business owner can get started on QuickBooks. This myth is perpetuated by the Intuit company, maker of QuickBooks. They lead potential customers to believe that using QuickBooks is as simple as online banking. While the day to day use of the software is intended to be user friendly, the setup requires both knowledge of accounting principles and knowledge of the software. An improperly set up QuickBooks file is tantamount to building a lop-sided foundation for a house. It doesn't matter if the rest is done correctly, the result will always be wrong. Consult a professional to get properly set up and get trained briefly, and your frustrations will be greatly diminished.
- Most of my problems are because I haven't upgraded. This is also propaganda straight from the horse's mouth. The principles of accounting haven't changed since QuickBooks was invented. It has always operated on debits and credits and always will. An upgrade will provide you with additional features and that is about it. An improperly set up file will still not work properly on the new version of the software. One issue to note, however, is that Intuit always eventually stops supporting older versions of the software, forcing you to upgrade if you want help from them. Since their help is so expensive anyway, just call a local pro.
- If I sign up for the payroll service, most of my issues will go away. Again, an improperly set up company file in QuickBooks will lead to more heartache, frustration, and fees from the federal government. The payroll service is automated; if the base data is wrong, the resulting payroll calculations will be wrong. While any payroll service will make your payroll life easier, you still have to ensure your company file is correct and current.
- QuickBooks doesn't work right for my type of business. QuickBooks is based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). These principles are true accross the board - construction, service, retail, non profit, partnership, etc. The program will keep track of your money provided you enter the data correctly. Certain types of companies are more difficult and time consuming to get set up, but any company can make use of QuickBooks. As stated above, it is imperative that a professional set up the company file and train the user.
- QuickBooks is my only option. Intuit definitely has the lion's share of the market in small business accounting, but that doesn't mean it's the only option! FreshBooks and LessAccounting are two Web applications that keep things even simpler than QuickBooks. FreshBooks is the simplest, but of course it doesn't do many of the things that a broader program can do. On the more difficult side, Peachtree is a desktop application that is much more complex than QuickBooks, but can be customized to a much greater degree. It is not for the faint of heart. Additionally, MYOB and Microsoft Office Accounting are desktop based solutions that operate much like QuickBooks. Use the option that best suits you. To discover what features your business will need and what you are capable of doing on your own, consult with a professional.
By clearing up these myths, I hope to encourage people to get the help that is needed early on. Most business owners are capable of entering the day-to-day transactions into accounting software. However, a little direction and set up help will prevent all your good intentions and hard work from going to waste.
AccountingWEB would like to thank Maine Accounting for providing this article.