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  • Rebecca Tabert

Should I Use Intuit Quickbooks and Which Version is Best?

**We are not paid nor affiliated with Intuit Quickbooks. The following is based on professional opinion.

Considering that QuickBooks is the most popular accounting software as of December 2023, it's likely on your radar for managing your financials. But the real question is, how do you begin, and more importantly, which version of QuickBooks is the ideal fit for your specific needs?

QuickBooks, a widely embraced accounting software, serves a diverse range of businesses, from solo entrepreneurs to large-scale enterprises. Offering a variety of versions, each with its unique advantages, disadvantages, and pay-per-use extras, it tailors to varied accounting needs. However, it's crucial to remember that QuickBooks, despite its capabilities, is not a substitute for an accountant; effective use requires a solid understanding of accounting principles and compliance rules relevant to your business.

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Do you have to use Intuit Quickbooks?

Intuit QuickBooks is just one of many accounting software options available in the market. While it's a popular choice, it's important to realize that different businesses have varying accounting needs, which may be better served by other software. Each option comes with its own set of features, advantages, and limitations, making it crucial to assess what aligns best with your specific business requirements.

When exploring alternatives, consider factors like the size of your business, specific accounting needs, and your budget. Different software caters to different scales of operation, from solo entrepreneurs to large corporations, offering a range of functionalities that might be more suited to your particular business model. It's worthwhile to research and compare the pros and cons of various software options to make an informed choice.

Ultimately, the decision hinges on finding a solution that not only fits your current needs but also has the capacity to grow with your business. Keeping up-to-date with the latest software developments and features can help ensure that you choose the most effective and efficient tool for your accounting needs.

What is Intuit QuickBooks and what are its versions?

Intuit QuickBooks is a comprehensive accounting software widely used by a variety of businesses for financial management. It offers several versions, each tailored to meet different accounting needs. Here's a breakdown of the three main versions:

QuickBooks Online (Full) [QBO Full]:

  • Target Audience: Ideal for small to medium-sized businesses.

  • Features: Includes invoicing, expense tracking, payroll processing, and financial reporting.

  • Benefits: Accessibility from any device with internet, real-time data synchronization, and easy integration with other apps.

  • Drawbacks: Monthly subscription fee, reliance on internet connectivity, and may have more features than necessary for very small businesses.

QuickBooks Online (Self-Employed) [QBO Self-Employed]:

  • Target Audience: Designed for freelancers, sole proprietors, and self-employed individuals. Typically not recommended for long-term use.

  • Features: Tracks income and expenses, calculates estimated quarterly taxes, and simplifies tax deductions.

  • Benefits: User-friendly interface, tailored for personal and business expense separation, and affordable pricing.

  • Drawbacks: Limited functionality compared to other versions, not suitable for scaling businesses, and lacks advanced features like inventory tracking or full payroll services.

QuickBooks Desktop:

  • Target Audience: Suitable for businesses that prefer a desktop solution and need more complex accounting.

  • Features: Advanced inventory management, industry-specific features, and the ability to handle more complex accounting tasks.

  • Benefits: One-time purchase, robust functionality, and no reliance on internet connectivity.

  • Drawbacks: Limited access (only on installed computers), additional costs for updates, and no real-time data sync unless using a cloud hosting service.

Each version of QuickBooks offers unique benefits and drawbacks, making it important for users to carefully consider their specific business needs, the scale of operations, and future growth prospects before making a choice. It's also crucial to note that these versions regularly receive updates and improvements, so staying informed about the latest features and capabilities can significantly impact your software selection process.

What are the steps to start which version of Intuit QuickBooks?

Deciding to use Intuit QuickBooks for your business accounting needs is the first step. However, choosing the right version and getting started involves several crucial steps. Here’s a detailed guide:

  1. Determine the Best Version for Your Needs:

    1. Assess Your Business Size and Needs: Evaluate whether your business would benefit more from QuickBooks Online (Full) [QBO Full] or QuickBooks Desktop. While QBO Full offers cloud-based accessibility and real-time data synchronization, QuickBooks Desktop is known for its advanced features and robust functionality.

    2. Consider Pricing Changes: Be aware that there has been a significant fee increase for QuickBooks Desktop, bringing its cost closer to that of QBO Full.

    3. Evaluate QBO (Self-Employed): Although QBO (Self-Employed) is convenient for basic accounting needs, it may not be suitable for businesses that require complex transaction processing or the generation of professional financial statements.

  2. Decide on Financial Statement Preparation:

    1. Identify Who Will Prepare Financial Statements: Determine who in your organization will be responsible for preparing monthly financial statements. This includes tasks like reconciling bank accounts and credit cards, preparing payroll entries, managing cash receipts, and making any necessary adjusting entries.

    2. Ensure Adequate Training: Ensure that the person or team handling the financial statements is well-versed in the selected QuickBooks version and understands the specific accounting needs of your business.

  3. Review and Verify Financial Accuracy:

    1. Regular Financial Review: Consistently review the financial statements produced to ensure accuracy and completeness.

    2. Resolve Unknowns: Address any discrepancies or unknowns in the financial data promptly. This step is crucial for maintaining the integrity and reliability of your financial records.

Who can start which version of Intuit QuickBooks?

Any individual or business entity can start using any version of QuickBooks, be it QBO Full, QBO Self-Employed, or QuickBooks Desktop. Before starting with QuickBooks, it is advisable to understand the terms of service, especially regarding data ownership and access rights. Here are the key points to consider:

Ownership of QuickBooks Online (QBO):

  • Direct Subscription Ownership: If you pay for the QBO subscription yourself, you are the owner of the account. This ownership allows you to retain all your data and continue using the same subscription, even if you decide to change accountants.

  • Accountant-Owned Subscription: If your accountant pays for your QBO subscription, they own the account. In this scenario, if you switch accountants, you'll need to start a new QBO account and potentially lose access to the data processed under the old account.

Using QuickBooks Desktop:

  • Payment and Ownership: With QuickBooks Desktop, even though you might pay a fee (usually smaller than QBO), you do not own the software in the same way as QBO. This aspect is important when considering long-term usage and data access.

  • Accessing Data: Maintaining a good relationship with your accountant is crucial. If you use QuickBooks Desktop and decide to switch accountants, you can request a "Backup Copy" of your QuickBooks file. This backup contains all your data, enabling you to seamlessly continue your bookkeeping with a new accountant.

It’s often beneficial to consult with a tax or accounting professional when deciding on the best QuickBooks version for your needs and understanding the implications of ownership and data management.

When is the best time to start using Intuit QuickBooks?

Choosing the right time to start with Intuit QuickBooks depends on your business's financial readiness and needs. Here's three points you should consider:


  1. Financial Readiness: Start when your business can comfortably cover the QuickBooks subscription fee and any bookkeeping costs. This ensures you're not overstretching your budget.

  2.  Business Complexity and Growth: If your business transactions are becoming more complex or if you're planning to scale up, it's a good time to implement QuickBooks. It helps in managing financial activities more efficiently.

  3.  Consider Future Needs: Think about not just your current financial situation, but also your future plans. If growth or increased complexity is on the horizon, getting QuickBooks sooner rather than later can set a solid foundation for your financial management.

Most common myths about Intuit Quickbooks

Myth: QuickBooks is Only for Large Businesses

Reality: QuickBooks caters to a wide range of business sizes, from self-employed individuals to large enterprises. The variety of versions available, including QuickBooks Online (Self-Employed) and QuickBooks Desktop, allows for tailored solutions for different business needs. This flexibility makes it suitable for small businesses and startups as well.

Myth: QuickBooks is Too Complicated for Non-Accountants

Reality: While QuickBooks has robust features, it's designed to be user-friendly. Many versions offer intuitive interfaces, simplified dashboards, and user guides to help non-accountants navigate the software. Additionally, QuickBooks Online provides an accessible platform for those with basic accounting knowledge.

Myth: QuickBooks Online is Less Powerful than Desktop

Reality: QuickBooks Online and Desktop cater to different needs but are both powerful in their own right. QuickBooks Online offers the convenience of cloud access and real-time data syncing, making it ideal for businesses needing accessibility. On the other hand, QuickBooks Desktop provides advanced features for more complex accounting, but it's not necessarily 'better' – just different.

Myth: QuickBooks Can Fully Replace an Accountant

Reality: While QuickBooks is a powerful tool for financial management, it doesn’t replace the expertise of a professional accountant. Accountants provide valuable insights, compliance guidance, and strategic financial planning that software alone cannot offer. QuickBooks is best used as a complement to professional accounting services.

Myth: All QuickBooks Versions are Basically the Same

Reality: Each QuickBooks version is designed with specific target audiences and needs in mind. QuickBooks Online is tailored for cloud-based accessibility and ease of use, while QuickBooks Desktop offers more complex functionalities. Understanding the unique features and capabilities of each version is key to choosing the right one for your business.

More Reading

Final Thoughts

QuickBooks, as highlighted initially, is a versatile accounting software, fitting a range of business needs from solo ventures to larger enterprises. Its diverse versions, from QuickBooks Online for ease of access to QuickBooks Desktop for in-depth accounting, cater to various business requirements. However, remember that QuickBooks doesn't replace the critical expertise of a professional accountant. For optimal use, it’s crucial to consult a tax professional or accountant. They can guide you in choosing the right QuickBooks version and offer strategic financial advice, ensuring your business's financial management is both effective and compliant.

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