Setting up the books for your small business can be quite overwhelming. Unless you have prior accounting or bookkeeping knowledge, you will need some help getting started with QuickBooks. Luckily, you don’t need an accounting background to complete the QuickBooks setup process; our step-by-step course was created just for QuickBooks beginners like you.
QuickBooks offers a free 30-day trial. Our step-by-step lessons make setup easy, so follow along with your own free trial of QuickBooks Online. Fit Small Business readers can receive up to 50 percent off their purchase of QuickBooks Online.
The key to being able to manage your bookkeeping smoothly in QuickBooks is getting off to a good start. By investing a little time upfront to learn how to set up QuickBooks, you will save time and money in the long run.
We have simplified the QuickBooks setup process by breaking it down into 15 lessons, some of which include:
- Setting up a good quality chart of accounts: This will ensure that you have accurate financial statements
- Setting up customers and vendors: This will ensure that you have accurate sales and expense reporting
- Connecting QuickBooks Online with your bank and credit card accounts: To ensure all income and expenses are accounted for
- Customizing QuickBooks Online with your company information: To create professional-looking sales forms
The 15 lessons you will need to complete the QuickBooks Online setup are listed below.
In this lesson, we will walk you through how to set up basic company information. This includes company name, logo, address, email, website, and legal entity — sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC), S corporation — information. This information will be used on reports, customer invoices, and tax returns.
In this lesson, we will walk through how to customize sales forms so that they are professional and provide detailed information like payment terms, discount field, field for deposits, and other key information for customers. We recommend customizing your sales forms before learning how to set up sales forms in the next lesson.
In this lesson, you will decide what information will appear on your sales forms. This includes service date, shipping fields, and whether or not your customer prefers to receive invoices via email or snail mail.
In this lesson, we will determine the level of detail that you should include on sales forms as it relates to products and services sold to your customers. This includes cost, quantity, and detailed description.
In this lesson, we will walk through how you can personalize email messages that you send to your customers along with their invoices, sales receipts, and estimates. For example, you can add a message at the bottom of each invoice that says, “Thank you for your business” or “We appreciate your prompt payment.”
In this lesson, we will walk through the QuickBooks setup options you have when sending statements to your customers. If you prefer to send invoices to your customers instead of billing them on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis, then you can skip this lesson.
In this lesson, we will walk through how to customize your QuickBooks set up to track your expenses. This includes billing customers for expenses incurred on their behalf, setting up accounts payable and creating purchase orders.
In this lesson, we will walk through how to turn on settings for your financial reports, including your profit and loss statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement.
In this lesson, we will show you how to connect your bank account to QuickBooks so that your banking transactions download into QuickBooks automatically. We will also explain how to import your banking transactions using a comma-separated value (CSV) or Microsoft Excel file.
In this lesson, we will show you how to connect your credit card to QuickBooks, so that your credit card transactions automatically download into QuickBooks. We will also explain how to import your credit card transactions using a CSV or Excel file.
In this lesson, we will walk through how to set up QuickBooks Online to give your accountant and other users like a tax professional or bookkeeper access to your QuickBooks data.
In this lesson, we will walk through how to add, edit and delete accounts from your chart of accounts list in QuickBooks. When you create your QuickBooks file, you will have a chart of accounts list based on the industry that your business falls into.
In this lesson, we will walk through how to set up QuickBooks Online to track the products and services that you sell and cover various options for tracking inventory.
Lesson 14: How to Set Up Customers in QuickBooks Online
In this lesson, we will walk through how to set up QuickBooks Online to track key fields of information for your customers like email, phone number, primary contact, and social media channels. This information will be used to communicate with customers and generate customer and sales reports.
Lesson 15: How to Set Up Vendors in QuickBooks Online
In this lesson, we will walk through how to set up QuickBooks Online to track key fields of information for your vendors like email, phone number, primary contact, and credit limit. This information will be used to communicate with vendor suppliers, generate vendor reports, and vendor bills.
By completing this course, you will be ready to start running your day to day business with QuickBooks Online. If you would like to find a local bookkeeper to either provide QuickBooks training or to manage the bookkeeping process, check out our National Bookkeeper Directory.
8 Tips on QuickBooks Setup and Use
In this section, we have provided you with a few tips and best practices that we recommend. Plus, we sat down with a few QuickBooks pros who shared their tips, tricks and best practices for managing your books. Hire an expert to set up and train you properly and select the right version of QuickBooks are the top two tips included.
1. Hire an Expert to Set Up QuickBooks for You
While you may not have the budget to hire a bookkeeper, you need to invest in hiring a QuickBooks ProAdvisor to set up your books and train you on how to use the software. Some ProAdvisors charge an hourly rate and others charge a flat rate. Our How to find a QuickBooks ProAdvisor includes tips on how to find an expert in your local area and the average cost of company file setup and training.
2. Select the Right Version of QuickBooks
Choosing the right version of QuickBooks for your business will require you first to determine what you need the software to do. For example, do you need to track unpaid bills or invoice customers? Once you know what you want the software to do, you need to decide between the online or desktop version.
You can access QuickBooks Online from any computer or mobile device with an internet connection. QuickBooks Online comes in three editions, and pricing plans start at $20 per month. QuickBooks desktop software must be installed on a desktop computer and starts at a one-time fee of $299.99.
3. Understand How the Undeposited Funds Account Works
“The Undeposited Funds account is automatically created in QuickBooks when you receive payment from a customer. Each time you enter a customer payment into QuickBooks the Undeposited Funds account is increased. Once you record a deposit transaction in QuickBooks, the funds in the Undeposited Funds account transfer to your business checking account that you select when you record the transaction. If you don’t clear this account out, you will not be able to reconcile your bank account to QuickBooks.”
― Mike Faremouth, Certified QuickBooks Advanced ProAdvisor and Owner, The Mobile Accountant
4. Don’t Create Accounts With Vendor and Customer Names
One of the most common mistakes is to add specific accounts for vendors and customers to the chart of accounts in QuickBooks. All of the accounts that are listed on the chart of accounts will appear on a financial statement, and you don’t want your customer and vendor names on the financial statements. Therefore, these accounts should remain generic in nature. For example, instead of setting up an account called “T-Mobile,” you would call the account Telephone or Cellphone Expense.
5. Don’t Commingle Business with Personal Funds
While it might be tempting, you never want to commingle your personal and business finances. When you’re first starting out, this is easy to do because you think that you don’t have enough money coming in to justify a separate business bank account or you might be spending personal funds to pay for business expenses. Don’t fall into this trap. Setting up a business checking account should be done before receiving that first customer payment.
6. Begin With the End in Mind
“What do you want your business to look like in five years? The chart of accounts, workflows and standard operating procedures should be built around that. Do you want to invest in training yourself in accounting principles and software or invest in an expert to do that for you so that you can concentrate on the development and growth of your business?”
― Phyllis Godwin Robinson, CEO, Accounting & Tax Paladin, LLC
7. Create Bank Rules to Save Time
“Learn how to add rules to manage bank feeds. If you have multiple feeds and need different classes or location, you can set an entire feed to a location or class which will save you a ton of time that you would have normally spent manually categorizing banking transactions.”
― Joshua Ott, Owner, J.OTT Business Solutions
8. Use the Document Storage in QuickBooks Online
“QuickBooks Online allows you to store key documents within the program. You can upload contracts and attach them to customers, warranty paperwork for fixed asset purchases, W-9 forms for independent contractors and source documents as support for journal entries and other transactions.”
― Luann Rae Meador Keller, Certified QuickBooks Online Accountant
Now that we have given you a preview of what’s included in the course along with tips from the pros, it’s time for you to get started with the first lesson, How to Set Up Company Information in QuickBooks Online. If you’re a seasoned QuickBooks user, then select the lesson that you need to brush up on.
Be sure to sign up for your QuickBooks account so that you can follow along with each lesson. Click the button below to save up to 50 percent off your purchase.