QuickBooks is the most popular small business accounting software used to manage income and expenses and keep track of financial health. You can invoice customers, pay bills, generate reports, and prepare taxes. The QuickBooks product line includes several solutions to support different business needs, including QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Payroll, QuickBooks Time, and QuickBooks Checking.
Being one of the top accounting software providers in the market today, QuickBooks offers supplementary products to augment your overall QuickBooks experience. These include:
- QuickBooks Checking: You can open a business checking account with QuickBooks Checking for free and enjoy no monthly fees or account minimums. Instant deposit is available at no extra cost.
- QuickBooks Payroll: With this, you can manage payroll easily. What’s more, you can track employee hours and billable time effortlessly with QuickBooks Payroll and QuickBooks Online.
- QuickBooks Payments: Through this product, you can integrate payments seamlessly on QuickBooks Online. Get paid easily and process online payments effortlessly.
- QuickBooks Time: Formerly known as TSheets, QuickBooks Time offers time-tracking features for employees for tracking client or project billable hours.
- QuickBooks Live: This is an online bookkeeping service wherein you can get a ProAdvisor to work with your bookkeeping needs.
- QuickBooks Capital: You can get additional financing options up to $150,000 with this product.
17 Ways Small Businesses Use QuickBooks
- Create and send invoices
- Track bills and expenses
- Pay bills online
- Customize your expense classifications with a chart of accounts
- Print financial statements for your business
- Track employee time and expenses
- Monitor project profitability
- Manage payroll
- Track inventory
- Simplify taxes
- Accept online payments
- Scan receipts
- Track mileage
- Connect your apps
- Perform accounting tasks on the go
- Collaborate with a QuickBooks ProAdvisor
- Manage sales taxes
1. Create, Send & Track Invoices
All QuickBooks Online plans allow you to create invoices and either print them or email them to customers—you can learn how to do this through our tutorial How To Create and Send Invoices in QuickBooks Online. QuickBooks will record the income and track how much each customer owes you automatically. You can view the number of your outstanding invoices—known as your accounts receivable (A/R)—and how many days they’re overdue by running an A/R aging report.
You can also create an invoice from scratch or by converting an existing estimate into an invoice. Then, customize the invoice by changing the color and adding your company logo.
2. Keep Track of Bills & Expenses
QuickBooks keeps track of your bills and expenses automatically by connecting your bank and credit card accounts to QuickBooks so that all of your expenses are downloaded and categorized. If you need to track a check or cash transaction manually, you can record it directly in QuickBooks in a few minutes.
You can also enter bills into QuickBooks when you receive them so that QuickBooks can help you track upcoming payments. You can ensure that you pay your bills on time by creating an accounts payable (A/P) report. This report will provide you with the details of your current and past-due bills. The ability to pay bills and track unpaid bills is available in QuickBooks Essentials and higher plans.
3. Pay Bills Online
You can pay bills online in QuickBooks using the online bill payment feature. Available in QuickBooks Online Essentials and higher plans, QuickBooks Online Bill Pay allows you to pay bills via bank transfer or check directly from QuickBooks in a few seconds and pay several bills at once. It also allows you to pay any vendor or supplier with a credit card. QuickBooks Online Bill Pay is integrated with QuickBooks Essentials, Plus, and Advanced.
To pay your first bill, you need to enter your bank account information, the payment method you’d like to use, and how your vendor would like to receive their payment. QuickBooks Online will then use this information automatically to process future transactions, reducing data entry. QuickBooks Online will mark your bills paid automatically and will remove them from the list of outstanding bills.
Note that you must first enter your bills in QuickBooks Online and then pay them online by clicking the + New button and then selecting Pay bills online.
4. Customize Your Expense Classifications With a Chart of Accounts
Your chart of accounts in QuickBooks provides a complete listing of all the accounts you need to track your financial data. These accounts are useful for tracking income, expenses, assets, liabilities, and equity accounts that might be required on your tax return.
It’ll make tax time easier if your Chart of Accounts includes all the line items required on your tax return. In addition to those line items, create enough detail in your Chart of Accounts to provide whatever information will help you better manage your business. Our tutorial How To Set Up a Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online walks you through how to add, delete, and customize accounts.
5. Print Financial Statements for Your Business
By managing all of your cash inflow and outflow activities in QuickBooks, you can print financial statements that provide useful information about how your business is performing. Lenders often require financial statements when you apply for a small business loan or line of credit.
You can produce three primary financial statements in QuickBooks: Profit and Loss report, Balance Sheet report, and Statement of Cash Flows. Below is a brief description of each, along with a snapshot of what they look like in QuickBooks Online.
6. Track Employee Time & Expenses
Employees or subcontractors can enter their own time as they progress through the day, or a bookkeeper can enter their weekly time if the employee submits a manual timesheet. Time entered and assigned to a customer will be available to add to the customer’s next invoice.
Also, any expense entered can be marked as billable and assigned to a customer. As with time, these billable expenses will be available to add to the customer’s next invoice. You don’t need the payroll add-on to track employee time for billing purposes. You need at least QuickBooks Essentials to track billable hours and Plus to track billable expenses.
7. Monitor Project Profitability
You can use QuickBooks Online Plus or Advanced to create and manage projects, assign income and wages to a project, and track expenses associated with labor and materials. QuickBooks Online’s project accounting module also allows you to generate project estimates and include inventories, labor, and sales taxes.
While you can’t compare actual and estimated costs, QuickBooks Online allows you to monitor the profitability of each project you’re working on by creating a project profitability summary report.
8. Manage Payroll
Payroll is an area that you don’t want to skimp on and try to do manually. Mistakes made in calculating paychecks can result in steep penalties and unhappy employees. QuickBooks has its own payroll function that can calculate and run payroll as often as you need automatically.
When you enter employee time as discussed above, the hours not only flow to your invoices but also to the payroll module. This way, you can be confident that every hour you pay your employee is also considered for billing to a customer.
The best thing about using QuickBooks Payroll is that it’s integrated with QuickBooks, so your financial statements are always up to date as of the latest payroll run. You have to purchase a QuickBooks Payroll subscription to run payroll, but you have several levels of service to choose from to fit your needs.
Running your payroll through QuickBooks will allow you to:
- Pay employees with a check or direct deposit
- Calculate federal and state payroll taxes automatically
- Have QuickBooks fill in the payroll tax forms for you
- E-pay your payroll taxes directly from QuickBooks
Our review of QuickBooks Payroll provides pricing details and more insight into its features and use cases.
Here’s a video link from Intuit on how small businesses use QuickBooks Payroll:
9. Track Inventory
Available in Plus and Advanced, the inventory management feature helps you track the quantity and cost of your inventory. As you sell inventory, QuickBooks will allocate a portion of your inventory to the cost of goods sold (COGS) automatically, which is an expense account that reduces your income. This allocation is a requirement for calculating taxable income and very cumbersome to do by hand. QuickBooks can also remind you to order inventory automatically when quantities are low.
Below is a sample Inventory Valuation Summary report from QuickBooks Online. This report shows a list of your inventory products, quantity on hand, average cost, and their total value:
10. Simplify Taxes
Perhaps the most important thing QuickBooks can do for your small business is to simplify tax time. By far, the largest headache in preparing a tax return is compiling your income and expenses.
If you use QuickBooks during the year, all you need to do at tax time is print your financial statements. Better yet, with QuickBooks Online, you can invite your tax preparer to access your account directly so that they can review your numbers and print whatever information they need to prepare your return.
11. Accept Online Payments
One of the best ways to improve your cash flow is to offer customers the option to pay their invoices online. You can add QuickBooks Payments (formerly known as Intuit Merchant Services) so that customers can pay online directly from their emailed invoice.
QuickBooks Payments is similar to other merchant services. However, because it’s integrated completely within QuickBooks, the sale, credit card fee, and cash deposit are all recorded automatically as they occur.
You can learn more about this solution through our QuickBooks Payments review.
12. Scan Receipts
Another key to making tax time a breeze is being able to organize your receipts in QuickBooks. All QuickBooks Online subscribers can download the QuickBooks app to their mobile devices for free, take a picture of a receipt, and upload it to QuickBooks Online in a few minutes.
QuickBooks allows you to attach a receipt to the corresponding banking transaction. You can upload an unlimited number of receipts to QuickBooks Online as the receipts are stored in the cloud along with your data.
13. Track Mileage
Many self-employed individuals and employees use their personal vehicles for business purposes. This provides a generous tax deduction of 58.5 cents per mile for 2022. However, to receive the deduction, you must keep a record of the date, miles, and purpose of your trip.
QuickBooks Online makes this incredibly easy. Its mobile app will use the GPS in your phone to sense every time you’re in a moving vehicle automatically. Then, you can review your trips, classify them as personal or business, and mark them as billable to a customer. Billable mileage expenses will then be available to add to the next invoice you create for that customer automatically.
14. Connect Your Apps
QuickBooks Online integrates with hundreds of business applications available in the QuickBooks App Store. These integrated apps are designed to help you simplify the various aspects of your business, from bill management and payment acceptance to cash flow forecasting.
In addition to some native QuickBooks Online integrations—such as QuickBooks Payroll, QuickBooks Time, and QuickBooks Payments—QuickBooks Online connects with popular apps. These include PayPal, Melio, HubSpot, Expensify, LeanLaw, Square Payroll, and Expensify.
You may be interested in our review of QuickBooks Time for details of the solution’s pricing and features.
15. Perform Accounting on the Go
The QuickBooks Online mobile app allows you to execute various accounting tasks from your mobile devices. Available for Android and iOS devices, it lets you create and send invoices, accept payments online, and assign expenses to projects or customers.
You can also track your business mileage and view financial reports from your smartphone. The QuickBooks Online mobile app is available for download on Google Play and App Store, but you need an active subscription to use its features.
16. Collaborate With a QuickBooks ProAdvisor
Collaborating with a QuickBooks ProAdvisor can be a valuable experience that optimizes your accounting and financial management processes for efficiency and accuracy. QuickBooks ProAdvisors are certified in QuickBooks, and they have extensive knowledge of the software’s features and capabilities.
This expertise can be helpful with setting up your accounting processes, troubleshooting issues, and maximizing the software’s capabilities. QuickBooks users can invite an accountant to view their books, and QuickBooks Desktop users are able to export an accountant copy and import any changes the accountant has made to their file.
The best way to find a QuickBooks ProAdvisor is to search on Intuit’s Find a ProAdvisor website. We suggest reading our article on how to find a QuickBooks ProAdvisor for step-by-step guidance—and we also include a list of other places to find ProAdvisors.
You could also choose to hire a QuickBooks ProAdvisor through QuickBooks Live, an add-on to QuickBooks Online. While QuickBooks Live charges a set monthly fee that is based on your company’s average monthly expenses, you have more flexibility to arrange a payment schedule and customize services with an independent ProAdvisor.
Read our review of QuickBooks Live for more information on the product.
17. Manage Sales Taxes
QuickBooks can help small businesses manage their sales tax obligations by calculating sales tax, preparing sales tax returns, and generating reports on sales tax liability. It can automatically calculate sales tax for transactions based on the tax rates and rules for the customer’s location. This can help ensure that the correct tax amount is charged on each sale. It can also track the sales tax collected on transactions and the sales tax owed to the various tax authorities.
The platform integrates with popular sales tax software providers, such as Avalara and TaxJar, to streamline the sales tax management process and ensure compliance with local and state tax regulations. It can also support businesses that sell products or services in multiple jurisdictions, with the ability to calculate and track sales tax rates and rules for each jurisdiction.
QuickBooks Options & Pricing
QuickBooks comes in both a cloud-based online platform and a traditional desktop program. You can read about the pros and cons of each in our comparison of QuickBooks Online vs Desktop. Most of the versions will perform the tasks discussed above, but they come with an extensive variety of advanced features and a wide range of prices.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) needing cloud-based access to financial data
$30 to $200 per month
SMBs in any industry that prefer a locally installed software
From $799 per year (Premier)
From $1,340 per year (Enterprise)
Independent contractors, real estate agents, and Uber and Lyft drivers
$15 to $35 per month
QuickBooks for Mac
SMBs in any industry that require a Mac desktop solution
From $549.99 per year
QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based product that doesn’t require software installation, allowing you to access your data from any computer with an internet connection by using your secure login. It’s available in four subscription levels, Simple Start, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced, and is ideal for any business without complicated job-costing requirements.
QuickBooks Desktop comes in three versions. Each requires you to install the software on your computer.
- QuickBooks Premier is ideal if your business falls into one of these industries: manufacturing, contractors, professional services, retail, or nonprofit.
- QuickBooks Enterprise is for large enterprises with complicated pricing and heavy inventory.
- QuickBooks Accountant Desktop is optimal if you’re a bookkeeper serving a client using QuickBooks.
If you want to learn more about the four QuickBooks Desktop versions, read our
- QuickBooks Pro review
- QuickBooks Premier review
- QuickBooks Enterprise review
- QuickBooks Accountant Desktop review
In our QuickBooks Desktop comparison article, we break down each of these to help you understand the various versions.
On a tangent, you can be more productive with QuickBooks Desktop by getting a hosting provider. QuickBooks hosting lets you access your desktop software anywhere through a remote server, and a good place to start would be our list of the best QuickBooks hosting providers. You may also want to switch completely to cloud-based software. Our guide on how to convert QuickBooks Desktop to Online walks you through the simple process.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is ideal for freelancers, real estate agents, and independent contractors, like Uber and Lyft drivers. Similar to QuickBooks Online, it’s a cloud-based product that can be accessed with your secure login from any computer with an internet connection.
It includes unique features that are unavailable in QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop, like the ability to track business and personal expenses from the same bank account and transfer data to TurboTax. It will even calculate your estimated quarterly tax payments and remind you when they’re due.
There are three QuickBooks Self-Employed pricing plans: Self-Employed, Self-Employed Tax Bundle, and Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle. To learn more about it, read our review of QuickBooks Self-Employed.
If you’re a startup with plans of expanding your workforce, QuickBooks Self-Employed won’t be the best fit as it cannot be upgraded to other QuickBooks versions.
QuickBooks for Mac is the only QuickBooks desktop product available for Mac users. This edition is very similar to QuickBooks Desktop Pro, and it works well for most small businesses that don’t manufacture products. Read our QuickBooks for Mac review to learn more.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Depending on your QuickBooks product and plan, you can use QuickBooks to create and send invoices, manage and track unpaid bills, handle inventory, keep track of project profitability, view financial reports, and more.
QuickBooks Online is a cloud-based software that can be accessed anytime and anywhere from any internet-enabled device and has monthly subscription options. Meanwhile, QuickBooks Desktop is an on-premise software that needs to be installed on the computer where you use it and is available as an annual subscription. For more information about the differences between the two programs, read our QuickBooks Online vs QuickBooks Desktop comparison.
No, there’s no free version of QuickBooks for businesses, but there’s a free trial for the first 30 days for new users. Meanwhile, QuickBooks Online Accountant is free for professional bookkeepers. If you want a free option, check out our top-recommended free accounting software.
Excel and QuickBooks are drastically different programs. QuickBooks is by far the most popular small business bookkeeping program in the United States, whereas Excel is a spreadsheet program the advanced users may be able to use to create their own custom bookkeeping program. While we don’t recommend using Excel as your base bookkeeping program, Excel has many great accounting uses. Our QuickBooks Online vs Excel comparison will help you better understand the differences between the two programs.
The best QuickBooks product depends on your needs and the size of your business. SMBs needing remote access to their account files should choose QuickBooks Online. If you want the speed and usability of desktop software, then QuickBooks Desktop is preferable. If you’re a freelancer, consider QuickBooks Self-Employed. Learn which is right for you in our QuickBooks Online versions comparison guide.
One of the best things about QuickBooks Online is that they have a user-friendly interface. All QuickBooks Online products have the same interface, and so do all the QuickBooks Desktop products. There are also available free online training resources that you can use to get up to speed quickly. To get started, check out our free QuickBooks Online tutorials.
QuickBooks is the most popular small business accounting software. It comes in a variety of editions and has web-based and desktop programs. QuickBooks includes features that allow you to keep track of your income and expenses, pay your employees, track your inventory, and simplify your taxes.