If you are a small business owner, you have likely heard of QuickBooks before. You may have even tried it but given up because it seemed too difficult to understand. However, learning to do your own bookkeeping will save your business money and is extremely easy to do once you understand the basics of QuickBooks. Although certainly not required, some understanding of business accounting is also helpful. Introductory Financial Accounting is an excellent resource designed with small business owners in mind.

Part of the problem is that QuickBooks does so much that it can seem overwhelming when you first start out. However, as you will soon realize, you only need to be concerned with a fraction of the available tools offered by QuickBooks. As your experience and comfort levels increase, you can slowly add new features to your existing skill set and improve not only your use of the software, but your overall business workflow as well.

For example, QuickBooks does an excellent job of helping you to manage customers. Not only can you store names, addresses, and phone numbers, but you can also process payments by credit card, email invoices, and create statements. Customers can be associated with a specific sales representative and you can even set different price levels for each customer.

QuickBooks is also great at managing inventory. If you sell physical products, you can use the power of QuickBooks to improve your current inventory control procedures by including information such as vendor cost, stock on hand, and pending orders.

You can learn more about these advanced features in Quickbooks Made Easy.

The point here is that QuickBooks can do a lot more than just bookkeeping; however, since that is its primary focus from a small business perspective, that is all you should be worried about initially. You can always use QuickBooks for more of your business activities in the future and it will save you from a lot of frustration right now.

Getting Started

After installing QuickBooks, the first thing you need to do is complete the EasyStep interview process. Basically, QuickBooks asks you a series of questions about your business so that it can tailor the software to your business’s needs.

During the interview process, you will be asked to enter your company name and information. The more information you fill in accurately now, the less information you will have to fill out when you start generating invoices and other bookkeeping tasks using the software.

You will also be asked to select your industry. This is important because your selection will be used to create a chart of accounts for your company. The chart of accounts is the foundation of your bookkeeping system and QuickBooks can create these charts relatively accurately based on requirements typical of your industry. You can always edit it later if your industry isn’t specifically covered in the interview process or if there are some additional accounts you wish to add.

Setting up your administrative password is another important step. Your financial information and that of your business are contained within QuickBooks. You should focus on creating an extremely strong password and avoid common phrases that could easily be guessed by someone else.

Although it’s not necessary, you should also add your bank account to the QuickBooks system. QuickBooks can automatically sync with your bank account; significantly reducing the amount of time you need to spend adding transactions to your bank account register.

The setup process is covered in more detail in Mastering QuickBooks 2013.


Once you have completed the EasyStep interview process, your QuickBooks company profile should be relatively accurate. This creates less work for you and significantly shortens your learning curve.

Basic navigation is done using the Header Menus and the Icon Bar. The header menus are at the top of the program window and give you access to all of the features within QuickBooks. It can seem intimidating because there are so many options, but just remember that you do not need to know how to use them all. Focus on accessing the things you actually need and your stress level will go down instantly.

Sometimes the header menus are cumbersome. Instead, you can use the icon bar to access any section of the QuickBooks software that you want quickly and easily. You can customize the icon bar with things you frequently use so that you have quick access to them whenever you want.

Chart of Accounts

Even though QuickBooks will set up a chart of accounts for you automatically based on your answers during the initial interview process, there will be times when you need to modify the chart of accounts yourself. If you’re unfamiliar with the chart of accounts, it is simply a list of all of your accounts used to track financial transactions within your business.

The more detailed your chart of accounts is, the easier it will be to track financial data and file taxes at the end of the year. For instance, instead of simply having an account called “Office Expenses,” you could have separate accounts for office supplies (paper, pens, folders), office utilities (Internet, heat, light), and office equipment (computers, printers). Of course, this is only an example but the more detailed your chart of accounts is, the easier it will be to isolate areas of excessive spending when you start using the powerful reporting features built into QuickBooks.  These reporting features are explained in QuickBooks Pro Training.

QuickBooks makes bookkeeping easy; even for the uninitiated. The user interface relies on forms, lists, and registers. Traditional accounting requires double ledger journals and other complicated-sounding accounting tools that are beyond the scope of most small business owners. With QuickBooks, you can avoid all of this and keep track of your finances in only a few hours each week.

Not only will QuickBooks save your business money that would normally be paid to a bookkeeping service, you will most likely notice trends of wasteful spending; revenue that could be better spent growing your business. If you aren’t using QuickBooks are ready, it’s time to stop making excuses and start taking control of your business’s finances.

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