- Unfortunately, QuickBooks does not make accounting easy. QuickBooks is a tool to a small business owner in the way that a nail gun and a circular saw are tools of a construction framer building a home. The tools enable the tradesman to work faster and with more accuracy than he would be able to with more primitive tools. But he has to understand engineering and construction concepts and building codes in order to build an inhabitable home. If he does not, the home will not be structurally sound or safe and it will not pass inspection. He may even have to tear the whole house down and start over again. QuickBooks has the reputation of being a simple accounting for dummies type of program. QuickBooks is simple compared to accounting softwares built for very large companies but it is actually quite complex to most people. There are a hundred ways that you can royally screw things up. There have been times I have advised clients to scrap their disastrous QuickBooks files and start over completely. You certainly do not have to be an professional accountant to use QuickBooks successfully. But if you can find someone familiar with accounting and with QuickBooks to give you some one-on-one training and review your work from time to time, you will have a much smoother foray into QuickBooking. I suggest that you have an expert help you to set your file up initially and to establish some processes that work for your business and work flow. Processes will be key to your success. Having a list of the types of tasks you will need to do and how to do them will help you to get your company file up and running.
- You've probably heard the saying garbage in, garbage out. If the data entered into your QuickBooks file is trash, your income statement and balance sheet and check register balance will be trash. Your financial statements will only be useful if they are complete and accurate. Part of that is making sure that you haven't accidentally left anything out and that you haven't recorded anything twice. You need to routinely confirm that you have recorded everything that has happened. So how do you make sure that you haven't mistakenly forgotten to record a $300 equipment purchase or a $2,500 sale? Through the process of bank and credit card account reconciliation. You literally match every transaction listed on your monthly bank and credit card statements to a transaction in your QuickBooks file. That sounds tedious but if your bank accounts are set up right and you know how to use the Reconcile tool, it is usually a breeze. You need to reconcile your transactions every month in order to ensure that your records are complete. There are probably other things specific to your business that you can and should be doing on a weekly or monthly basis to ensure that your QuickBooks data is accurate. Have someone familiar with accounting and with QuickBooks create a short checklist of things (including reconciliation) for you to do at the end of each month to make sure your file is in good shape. Then have them check your work monthly or quarterly just to make sure everything remains nice and tidy.
While I don't believe that keeping a QuickBooks (or any other accounting software) file is something that a small business owner has to do to be successful, I think that most small business owners benefit by doing so. QuickBooks is a fantastic user-friendly software. That said, many new users are surprised and overwhelmed with the complexity of the program. Know going into it that you are going to need some help! When you know what you need to do and how you need to do it, and even how you can verify that you've done it correctly, you are well on your way to successful QuickBooking.