If I don't understand Quickbooks online, will Quickbooks the application be better for me? (Or: HTF should I be handling my accounting?)
December 9, 2011 2:57 PM   Subscribe

If I don't understand Quickbooks online, will Quickbooks the application be better for me? (Or: HTF should I be handling my accounting?)

I'm in month two of my new business and I don't really have a bookkeeping system in place. I'd like to correct that before it bites me in the ass. Currently I have a Quickbooks online account, but honestly when I look at it I don't really know what I am supposed to *do* with it. Would the app be better for me? I've heard the Mac version of QB2012 isn't so hot. I can do Windows if I have to, but would prefer to not.

If it helps, here's a general overview of how my business finances work so far:

I'm a sole proprietorship.

All "business" money is handled through a bank account that is separate from my personal account. I haven't pulled in enough profit yet to bother paying myself, but when I do I plan to transfer the funds to my personal account before using them.

My business is service-based but I occasionally will buy parts for customers, mark them up, and then charge the customer. I have a state sales tax license and I collect tax on those items.

I use Checkout for the Mac as my POS software, but take credit card payments through Square.

I don't need to do invoicing.
posted by richrad to Work & Money (5 answers total)
Disclaimer: I am not an accountant. I was previously a SME for a call center doing QuickBooks Enterprise support.

The first piece of advice I have for anyone running a small business is to get an accountant. Get an accountant ASAP if you do not have one. Most accountants will have time available now to talk to you. They will have significantly less time from Jan 1 - Apr 15. I can't stress this enough. In my time supporting QB I repeatedly saw people doing things that were bad practices every day, and those that did them seemingly never had an accountant. Some accountants may request you use a certain program. Some accountants will help you get QB set up how they want you to have it and make sure you use it correctly.

The online version of QB is almost never worth it. Right now the "essential" is $13/month or $156/year. Inevitably you will wind up needing a feature or two in one of the more expensive versions of the QB Online service, which jumps up your cost for the QB Online to $25 or $40/month. The cost of QB Mac 2012 is at $160 through Amazon. QB Mac has been and probably will continue to be inferior to the Windows version as only about 10% of QB users run the Mac version, so updates can be slower. Be aware that you will have to upgrade versions of QB every 3 years or so as they cut off the upgrades for a given version, i.e. QB Mac 2009 no longer receives updates as of 2012. QB Mac 2012 will cease receiving updates in 2015. The updates are muy importante as they will include updates for sales tax rates and tax rules. All of that being said, the QB Mac is equivalent to QB Pro for Windows.

Your business as described does not need anything more than the Mac/Pro version. Quite frankly, your setup is what we would describe as a "simple" one as you don't have the hassles of inventory, employees/payroll, invoicing, etc. The other benefit will be that Checkout will integrate with the full version of QB easily. This will let you import your transactions and get everything loaded easily.

tl;dr: Don't use Online QuickBooks. It's not as good and quickly costs more than QB Mac. Get an accountant.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:42 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I am an accountant, and I am not your accountant. I have used QB Pro for Windows, several versions. Accounting for service companies is pretty simple and easily done in QB. I never liked the online version, which doesn't have all of the features of QB Pro.

For your own sake, take a bookkeeping class or an accounting for small business owners class ASAP. Considering paying an accountant to set up your books in QB (it is very easy for an accountant to do, and maybe not so much for you). Then you can maintain them yourself, and get the accountant to check your work periodically and do your filings for you.
posted by sillymama at 3:55 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

We are starting a new retail store. Everything I've read about surviving the first year has said to hire professionals for your accounting and legal. One of our team does bookkeeping for a living and we still feel comfortable hiring an experienced professional to help us get started.
posted by humboldt32 at 5:32 PM on December 9, 2011

Have an accountant set up your books. It will be so much less pain in the long run. They will also advise you on the best accounting system to use. You don't need an accountant to enter numbers, but you do need one to set up appropriate accounts and check occasionally that all is still wel.
posted by jeather at 5:34 PM on December 9, 2011

Thanks for the advice, all! The real app + an accountant it is.
posted by richrad at 11:33 AM on December 10, 2011

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