Ask any small-business owner or accountant to name a type of accounting or bookkeeping software and QuickBooks will likely be one of the first products that comes to mind. QuickBooks has been on the market for more than 20 years and has grown more robust and popular over time. The resources in this guide can help you learn QuickBooks and tailor it to your business’ needs.
QuickBooks is a software package that helps companies perform bookkeeping, accounting, payroll, inventory tracking and other financial tasks. QuickBooks can also be used to prepare financial statements and reports.
QuickBooks grew out of a simpler program called Quicken and both were developed by the software company Intuit.
Intuit also markets QuickBooks’ cousins, which include QuickBooks Online, QuickBooks Self-Employed, QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping, QuickBooks Desktop Pro and QuickBooks for Payroll. There’s also an Apple version: QuickBooks Desktop for Mac.
QuickBooks is available on a subscription basis. Prices start at $15 per month for the self-employed version with limited functionality, while the most in-depth advanced version costs $150 per month. Intuit offers a free 30-day trial period and discounts for the first three months or one year, depending on the product and promotion period.
QuickBooks is used by business owners, accounting managers, investors and bookkeepers, among others.
Dustin Singer, a real estate investor at Dustin Buys Houses in Pittsburgh, says his company uses QuickBooks on an almost daily basis.
“We constantly have new receipts and expenses being uploaded, sales and profits being recorded, profit-and-loss and balance sheet reports being monitored, and new assets being added,” Singer says. “QuickBooks allows us to save hours, avoiding spreadsheets and expense organization. We can also store all of our receipt information digitally for easy access.”
Terry Saracino, a bookkeeper, virtual assistant and certified QuickBooks advisor at Pinnacle Virtual Services in Hamburg, New Jersey, uses QuickBooks and QuickBooks Enterprise Desktop for her clients.
Examples of tasks she performs include tracking inventory, setting up rules for recurring transactions, producing customized reports and ensuring everything is in order for tax preparation at the end of each accounting period.
Saracino says QuickBooks is efficient, enables her to collaborate with her clients and integrates well with other platforms to help her keep each client’s financial picture accurate and up to date.
“Not only does QuickBooks have their own payroll platform and time tracking, it also allows many other payroll vendors the ability to directly download that information into QuickBooks Online,” Saracino says.
Intuit and other companies offer resources for beginners to learn QuickBooks and for pros to master more advanced functions. Before you start to learn QuickBooks, it’s helpful to know some basic computer skills, such as how to access online courses, and have at least a beginner’s level knowledge of accounting practices and terminology. Alternatively, you could pick up these skills along the way as you learn QuickBooks.
Build a Foundation with QuickBooks Tutorials, Training and Support
Intuit provides an array of free online resources to help you to learn QuickBooks.
- QuickBooks Support. Search through more than 500,000 online articles for information about how to learn and use QuickBooks. Topics include how to set up banking, set up customers and vendors, customize reports, and pay expenses and bills.
- QuickBooks Small Business Webinars. Intuit offers weekly, live-streamed one-hour webinars to help you learn QuickBooks’ basics. Topics include getting started with QuickBooks Payroll; managing sales, invoices and customers; and managing expenses, bills and vendors.
- QuickBooks Community. Search for answers, tips and inspiration from other QuickBooks users.
- The QuickBooks Blog. Find out what’s new in QuickBooks.
Try Third-Party QuickBooks Training Sites
Other companies also offer resources to help you learn QuickBooks.
- QuickBooks Explained. Six online tutorials, posted in 2018, help you gain a working knowledge of QuickBooks basics.
- FreeBookkeepingAccounting.com. This free online tutorial explains some QuickBooks basics.
- Quick Bookkeeping. This 27-minute video offers an introduction to QuickBooks.
- Fit Small Business. These 39 short videos highlight basic functions of QuickBooks.
- Bottom Line Accounting Solutions. This six-week workshop focuses on the QuickBooks inventory module.
- “QuickBooks 2021 for Dummies.” This book by Stephen L. Nelson is $26.99.
- Insightful Accountant. This accounting webinar series includes occasional updates about QuickBooks features and functions.
- Woodard. This company offers webinars for small-business accountants and bookkeepers. Topics have included a comparison of QuickBooks Online Advanced and QuickBooks Enterprise. Members can request access to recordings and handouts.
Consider Taking an Online QuickBooks Course
A number of online learning companies offer QuickBooks courses.
With all the resources available from Intuit and others, you may not need to take an online course to learn QuickBooks. Though, some might prefer the structure of a QuickBooks class.
If you own a small business, your bookkeeping service or CPA firm may be willing to help you get started with QuickBooks and learn how to do specific tasks you’ll need to work with your bookkeeper or accountant.
Quicken is a simplified version of QuickBooks that helps people manage their banking, investment, retirement and credit card accounts. This personal financial management program may be too limited for businesses to use.
FreshBooks is an alternative to QuickBooks that may be a good fit for freelancers, self-employed professionals, and small businesses with employees or contractors. FreshBooks’ lite, plus and premium packages may cost less than QuickBooks, depending on the package.
Xero is a cloud-based accounting program designed for small businesses. According to the company’s website, Xero integrates with more than 800 other apps and programs, including PayPal, Squarespace, Bill.com and Shopify. Pricing may be comparable to QuickBooks or FreshBooks, depending on the package.
Matthew Fulton, co-founder and CTO of Parkway Business Solutions in Ventura, California, is familiar with multiple accounting platforms since his company designs bookkeeping and payroll services.
“While Xero and FreshBooks offer great platforms, we find that their features tend to be underdeveloped in comparison to QuickBooks,” Fulton says.
Before you start to learn QuickBooks, you may want to set up a study schedule, join a Meetup or Facebook group, or coordinate with your bookkeeper or CPA. Or you may want to just dive in and get started with the many resources available.
“If you’re looking at QuickBooks for the first time, check out their test drive account to familiarize yourself with all of the features,” Fulton says. “If you set aside 15 to 30 minutes a day to learn something new in QuickBooks, before you know it, you’ll have mastered the program.”