Friday, January 4, 2019

Resolve to Do These 3 Things in QuickBooks Online This Month

‘Tis the season for making resolutions and setting goals. Try exploring these three areas to dig deeper into QuickBooks Online.
By now, many New Year’s resolutions have already been made – and broken. Though they’re usually created with the best of intentions, they’re often just too ambitious to be realistic.
For example, you might decide to learn more about QuickBooks Online and keep up with your accounting chores more conscientiously in 2019. That’s hard to quantify. How will you know if you achieved that goal?
Instead, why not pick three (or more) specific areas and focus on them this month? We’ll get the ball rolling for you by making some suggestions.
Explore the QuickBooks Online mobile app:
Yes, QuickBooks Online itself is already mobile; you can access it from any computer that has an internet connection and browser. But you probably don’t always lug a laptop around when you’re away from the office, and you’re sometimes at locations where using it wouldn’t be practical. But you can always pull out your smartphone and fire up the QuickBooks online app, available for both iOS and Android.


No matter how small your smartphone (this image was captured on an iPhone SE), you can still do your accounting tasks using QuickBooks Online’s app.


QuickBooks Online’s app replicates a surprising percentage of the features found on the browser-based version. You can create, view, and edit invoices, estimates, and sales receipts for example, as well as see abbreviated customer and vendor records. Your product and service records are available there, including tools for recording expenses on the road.
Create a budget for one month:
Budgets are intimidating. That’s one reason why some small businesses don’t create them. So instead of trying to estimate what your income and expenses will be for an entire fiscal year, just build a budget for one month. In QuickBooks Online, you’d click the gear icon in the upper right, then select Budgeting. Click Add budget in the upper right to open the New Budget window.
Give it a name, like “February Budget,” and select FY2019. Leave the Interval at Monthly, and open the Pre-fill data? menu to click on Actual data – 2018 (if you have data from last year). Then click Create Budget in the lower right corner. Look at last year’s February numbers and estimate how they might change in 2019. Replace the old numbers with your new ones.


Creating a framework for a budget in QuickBooks Online is easy.


We’re suggesting you try it for just one month, so you get a feel for how this tool works. And that experiment will probably leave you with some questions. We can help you go further and complete an annual budget.
Customize your sales forms:
Every piece of paper and email you send to your customers contributes to their impression of you. Are you presenting an attractive, consistent image of your business to them? QuickBooks Online can help with this. It offers simple (for the most part) tools that allow you to modify the boilerplate forms offered on the site – without being an experienced graphic designer.
Start by clicking on the gear icon in the upper right and selecting Your Company | Custom Form Styles. Unless you’ve done some work in this area before, the screen that opens will have just one listed entry: your Master form, the one that comes standard in QuickBooks Online. To see what you can do, click Edit at the end of that line. Your four options are:
  • Design. This section contains links to modifications you can make to your sales forms’ visuals. You can, for example, add a logo or color and change the default fonts.


Want to change your logo or other elements of your sales forms? QuickBooks Online has the tools.


  • Content. Do you want to add or remove the standard columns (Date, Quantity, etc.) displayed on your invoices? You can do so by checking and unchecking boxes.
  • Emails. QuickBooks Online sends email messages with forms; you can edit them here.
  • Payments. This is a reminder that QuickBooks Online supports online payments, which can help you get paid faster.
There’s more you can do to make your sales forms look professional and polished. We can help you with these tools – and any others you want to explore to expand your use of QuickBooks Online. It’s a new year, and who knows what might come your way over the next 12 months? Contact us if you want to prepare for the new accounting challenges that 2019 might present.


Social media posts
Did you resolve to grow your understanding of QuickBooks Online in 2019? We can help you explore new features.
Go mobile in 2019: Download the QuickBooks Online app for your smartphone. You’d be surprised at how much it can do for you while you’re on the go.
How are things going with your 2019 budget? If you don’t have one yet, let us show you how QuickBooks Online simplifies this critical task.

QuickBooks Online’s sales forms (like invoices) may work fine for you. Do you know, though, how they can be customized to fit the image of your business? Ask us.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Getting Started with Accounts in QuickBooks Online, Part 2

We covered a lot of ground last month, but there are still some things to know about working with transactions you import from your banks.
Last month, we went over the basics of managing financial transactions once you’ve downloaded them into QuickBooks Online. We walked you through the mechanics of connecting to banks and credit card companies online and described the process of reviewing imported transactions, exploring concepts like:
  • Categorizing them, and marking them as billable
  • Adding them to an account register; matching them to related transactions; or transferring them to another account
  • Using Batch actions to process related groups


We explored QuickBooks Online’s Banking features last month, including the site’s ability to work with related transactions as groups.


This month, we’ll look at the process of setting up rules to automatically classify transactions as they come in from your banks. We’ll also provide a brief overview of the Chart of Accounts.
Bank Rules
We’ve already discussed QuickBooks Online’s ability to guess how transactions should be categorized (it’s not always right, but you can change incorrect ones). It also allows you to memorize transactions that recur on a regular basis; this also saves time and improves accuracy. There’s another way the site also uses automation to help minimize keystrokes: Bank Rules. Based on your input, it will scan incoming items and classify them, so you don’t have to. This can be very helpful when you regularly import transactions that share specific attributes.
Let’s look at how this works. Click Banking in the navigation toolbar, then click Bank Rules. Once you’ve created your own rule(s), they’ll appear in a grid on this screen. For now, click New rule in the upper right corner. Basically, you’re going to tell QuickBooks Online that when specific conditions are met, as you can see in the example below, it should take the specified action(s): assign a Transaction type, Payee, and/or Category. You can also have the transaction automatically added to your books.


You can create Bank Rules in QuickBooks Online that will automatically assign a Transaction type, Payee, and Category to imported items that meet specific conditions.


We suggest you meet with us if you’re going to take on this task. If your business processes a lot of transactions, Bank Rules can be incredibly helpful. But set them up incorrectly, and it could take many hours to untangle the errors.
Account Registers, Chart of Accounts
In this column and the last, we’ve been working with transactions as they come into QuickBooks Online directly from your financial institutions, before they appear in your account registers. When you clicked Add after you looked at—and perhaps modified—a transaction listed under For Review on the Banking page, you sent it to that account’s register.
Notice that the site’s registers look similar to their paper counterparts; you may remember recording checks and deposits in the back of your checkbook, if you’ve been in business long enough. There are two ways to see them in QuickBooks Online. When you’re on the Banking page, look over to your right. You’ll see a link labeled Go to Register. Click it, and you’ll be taken to that page for the account that’s currently active.
You can also open your account registers from the Chart of Accounts. We don’t talk much about this element of financial management because it’s not something you should be modifying. Nevertheless, it’s the heart of your accounting system. It consists of a comprehensive list of your company’s accounts, divided into assets, liabilities, income, expenses, and equity (along with subaccounts). Transactions are assigned to the appropriate account and recorded in the General Ledger, which is another element of accounting that we don’t discuss because you don’t have to deal with it in QuickBooks Online.


You can view your company’s Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online, but we recommend you don’t modify it.


Click on the Accounting tab in the navigation toolbar, then Chart of Accounts. You’ll see your individual bank accounts listed here, along with a View Register link.
A Critical Concept
Again, you won’t have to deal with the Chart of Accounts, but it’s very important that you understand how to manage downloaded transactions as you move them into your bank accounts in QuickBooks Online. Mistakes here can trigger errors in reports and taxes, as well as create general confusion. We’d be happy to get you on the right path with this critical function.


Social media posts
QuickBooks Online guesses at how imported transactions should be categorized. You should be checking these carefully and changing incorrect ones.
If your company’s transaction volume is especially high, you may want to create Bank Rules to help process them quickly. Ask us how to do this successfully.
Make a New Year’s resolution to get a better understanding of how accounts work in QuickBooks Online. Book a session with us to explore this.

Bank registers in QuickBooks Online resemble paper checkbook registers, but they don’t work the same way. We can help you understand the differences.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Need to Create Estimates? How QuickBooks Can Help You with This.

Estimates can be effective sales tools – if they look professional and offer attractive prices. Here’s how to create them using QuickBooks.
You don’t need to be a car repair shop or an HVAC technician to present prospects and customers with estimates. In fact, there may be many times when an unexpected estimate—or bid, or proposal—will land you a job you didn’t necessarily expect.
Of course, the bottom line is the meat of your estimate, the price you’re willing to accept for your work performed. It’s your job to determine that. But let QuickBooks do what it does best: provide intuitive, efficient tools for creating and modifying estimates.
First Steps
Before you start creating estimates, you’ll need to make sure they’re turned on in QuickBooks. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Jobs & Estimates | Company Preferences. If the Yes button below DO YOU CREATE ESTIMATES? is not filled in, click inside of it to turn on this feature. Also, the Warn about duplicate estimate numbers check box should be activated.
There are actually three ways to open an estimate form. You can click the Estimates icon on the home page or open the Customers menu and select Create Estimates. You can also open the Customer Center (Customers | Customer Center) and click on the Transactions tab. Click the New Transactions button in the toolbar and choose Estimates.


If you haven’t explored QuickBooks’ Customer Center, you should. You can do a lot of your sales work directly from there, like creating estimates.
As you can see, you can create multiple types of sales forms from here. You can also see lists of existing and historical transactions.
Making It Yours
Before you create your first estimate, you should make sure that the form’s header, footer, and columns contain the fields you want. Use one of the three methods we just outlined to open a blank form. Then, with the Formatting tab at the top of the window active, click Customize Data Layout in the toolbar that opens to launch the Additional Customization window.
Take your time working with the options in this window. QuickBooks gives you an incredible amount of control over how your estimates will look, but don’t get ahead of yourself. Start with the most important content: the text you want to have appear. By default, the software opens a template called Custom Estimate that contains commonly-used fields, like Cost, Description, and Markup. You can easily change these by checking and unchecking their corresponding boxes.
You’ll check and uncheck boxes to indicate the fields you want to appear in the Header, Columns, and Footer of your estimates.
You’ll notice that you can have specific fields appear on the screen and/or on printed copies of your estimates. You can also change the field names (use Bid or Proposal instead of Estimate, for example), and for columns only, the order in which they appear.
Warning: Be careful with the Markup field of your estimates. You wouldn’t want your customers to see this, so be sure that it is NOT checked in the Print column.
As you make changes to this template, you’ll see the graphical Preview over to the right change to reflect your modifications. Click Print Preview to see a larger, finished version of your template. When you’re satisfied with it, click OK. This will replace your Custom Estimate template.
Adding Templates
You probably noticed other links and icons related to the formatting of estimates. These open advanced tools that we can help you understand. Once you’ve mastered them, you can save multiple versions of your estimate templates to use in different situations. These features include:


If you want to create a different look for the Custom Estimate template or build    and save a new one, you can walk through this customization wizard.
  • Customize Design. This opens a multi-step wizard that helps you select a background, font, and grid style.
  • Download Templates. You can choose from multiple pre-designed templates.
  • Basic Customization. This window supplies tools for adding a logo and changing colors and fonts.
  • Layout Designer. We only recommend this tool if you already have freeform design skills.
Just Like Invoices
Creating an estimate in QuickBooks is just like filling out an invoice. You enter data where appropriate, and select options from drop-down lists. If you don’t have any experience with sales forms and need some guidance, we’re here to help. We can set up a time to go over the entire process – and answer any other questions you might have about QuickBooks while we’re at it. So, get started and connect with us at your convenience.


Social media posts
A carefully-crafted estimate that offers a reasonable price can help boost sales. QuickBooks can help you create them.
Have you explored QuickBooks’ Customer Center? You can create transactions like professional looking estimates from there and see lists of existing ones.
Did you know QuickBooks supports deep customization of professional looking estimates, which can enhance your company’s image? We can help with this.

Do you need to bid for jobs? QuickBooks’ customizable estimate forms can set you apart from your competition. Ask us about this.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Getting Started with Accounts in QuickBooks Online, Part 1

QuickBooks Online was built to work with transactions downloaded from your online financial institutions. Here’s how to work with them.
The ability to import transactions from financial institutions into QuickBooks Online is definitely one of the best things about the site. You may have even signed up for that very reason. By now, you’ve probably already set up at least one connection. But are you using all of the QuickBooks Online’s account tools? There’s a lot you can do once you’ve imported in data from your bank or credit card provider.
We’ll explore these features in this column and the next.
First Steps
If you’re a new subscriber, you may not have established these critical links yet. It’s an easy process. Start by clicking the Banking link in the left vertical navigation pane.  In the upper right corner, click Add Account and enter the name of your financial institution if it’s not pictured. Then follow the instructions you’re given on the screen. These can vary depending on the bank or credit card provider, but you’re always at least asked to enter the user name and password that you use to log into each online.
Need help with this? Let us know.
Viewing Your Transactions
Once you’ve made a successful connection, you’ll be returned to the Bank and Credit Cards page. You should see a card-shaped graphic at the top of the screen for each account you’ve linked. Click on one. The table that opens is not your account register. The view here defaults to For Review, which refers to transactions you’ve downloaded. The All tab should also be highlighted; we’ll get to Recognized transactions later.
When you first download transactions into QuickBooks Online, before you’ve done anything with them, many will appear under For Review.
There’s a lot going on here, so don’t be surprised if you’re confused. Review each transaction by clicking on it. QuickBooks Online will have guessed at how it should be categorized, but you can change this by opening the list in the category field and selecting the correct one. It’s critical that you get this right, since it will have an impact on reports and income taxes. If you need to Split it between multiple categories, click on that button found to the right.
If the transaction is Billable, check that box and choose a customer from the drop-down list. If you don’t see this box, click the gear icon in the upper right and select Account and Settings | Expenses. Check to see that Make Expenses and Items Billable is turned On (click on Off, then check the appropriate box to turn it on).
Next, determine how you want to process the transaction by clicking on one of the three buttons at the top of the transaction box. Do you want to accept it and Add it to that account’s register? Do you want QuickBooks Online to Find (a) Match for it (like a payment that matches an invoice, for example)? Or, do you want to Transfer it to another account? Once you’ve made one of these three selections, the transactions that you’ve added or matched will move under the In QuickBooks tab (where you can still Undo them) and will be available in the account’s register.
Other Options


You can save time by using QuickBooks Online’s Batch Actions tool.
Say you run a cross some duplicate or personal transactions that you don’t want to appear in the current account’s register. Check the box in front of each, then click the arrow in the Batch Actions box. Select Exclude Selected. They’ll then be available under the Excluded tab. You can also Accept or Modify multiple transactions simultaneously by using this tool.
So far, you’ve been viewing All your transactions. Click on Recognized to the right of it. These are transactions that are already familiar to QuickBooks Online because they’ve appeared before and/or have been matched, or because you’ve created Bank Rules for them (we’ll address that concept next month). You’ll need to address these the same way you did the transactions in the For Review section; you can either Add or Transfer them.
If you’re new to QuickBooks Online, this may all sound pretty complicated. It can be at first. But once you’ve worked with downloaded transactions for a while, you’ll understand the flow much better.  If you’re not clear on the process from the start, it can lead to trouble. Contact us at your convenience. We’d be happy to sit down with you and go through it all using your own company’s data; the familiarity may help.


Social media posts
If you’re new to QuickBooks Online, there’s a lot you need to understand about dealing with downloaded transactions out the gate. Let us help.
When you download transactions into QuickBooks Online, the site sometimes automatically “matches” them to existing entries. We're here to explain and help you navigate this.
Tired of reviewing downloaded transactions one by one in QuickBooks Online? Click on the Batch Actions button to explore this feature.  We can show you how.
QuickBooks Online often guesses at how downloaded transactions should be categorized. You should always check these for accuracy, and we can show you how.