5 Tips for Novice QuickBooks Users

Running your own business is challenging enough.  Compound that with learning new software? Yes, it can be a challenge. But to really understand the numbers in your business, you need more than a checkbook.  You need accounting software like QuickBooks.  And then you must learn the basic accounting concepts so that you can understand how to work with it. How do you do this? How can you enter data without making a mistake?

The learning process for financial software for your small business can be unnerving. Your livelihood depends on getting everything right. A mistake in an invoice you’re creating is more serious than using incorrect grammar or punctuation in a letter.

That is why a good introduction to QuickBooks is necessary. You’ll need to set up the program correctly and learn the most basic, often-used functions. Check out Accounting BootCamp, which provides the jumpstart and foundation you need to thoroughly understand the fiscal side of running your business.

You can start with these five tips to get acclimated right now.  

1.  Familiarize Yourself with QuickBooks’ Lists

You’ll consult and use lists a lot in QuickBooks. Transaction forms offer access to data you’ve already created and will use. For example, when you need to select a customer, you can just open a drop-down list and click on one.

QuickBooks also provides free-standing lists that you might need to use outside of transactions, though they’re often available there, too. Open the Lists menu to see them. They include Item List, Sales Tax Code List, and Class List. Click on one to open it, and you’ll see a series of menus running across the bottom of the window. They allow you to, for example, add or edit items, take actions like entering a sales receipt, and run related reports.

2.  Troubleshoot Transactions

What do you do when you know you’ve entered a transaction but can’t find it? QuickBooks has good search tools, but sometimes you don’t have enough details to hunt effectively for the missing invoice, bill, etc. Two reports can help.

The transaction you’re seeking may have been accidentally voided or deleted. Open the Reports menu and select Accountant & Taxes | Voided/Deleted Transactions Summary or Detail. If you know when the original transaction was entered, change the date range at the top of the screen. You really shouldn’t have many of these. If you do, you must determine why this is happening so frequently. You can get into trouble if you void or delete transactions to solve a problem that should be resolved another way.

While you’re in the Accountant & Taxes report list, open the Audit Trail to view a listing of transactions that have been entered or modified, when, and by whom. You should get to know this report if you have multiple users accessing and working with QuickBooks data.

3.  Work with Windows

Every time you open a window in QuickBooks, it stays open. You can always close it by clicking the X in the upper right corner of the window – not the program X in the farthest upper right corner. If you have a lot of windows open, all of that clicking can become tiresome.

Open the Window menu to see your options there. You’ll see a list of all the open windows. Click on one to go there. You can also “tile” the windows vertically or horizontally, so they overlap on the screen or “cascade” them, which places them on top of each other with only the window label showing. And you can close all of them at once by clicking Close All.

4. Use “Local” Menus

Most QuickBooks windows provide ways to take related action. But most also offer “local” menus or right-click menus. Open an invoice form to see how this works (Customers | Customer Center | Transactions | Invoices). Right-click in the header of the invoice. Your menu options here include:

  • Duplicate Invoice
  • Memorize Invoice
  • Transaction History, and
  • Receive Payments.

You’ll also find these commands and more in the toolbar at the top of the window.

5. Practice with a QuickBooks Sample File

Before you enter real data in QuickBooks, or if you’ve already done so and want to try out a new feature without risking an error, use one of QuickBooks’ sample files. That’s why they’re there.

You can open one of these when loading QuickBooks. You’ll see a window labeled No Company Open. Click the arrow in the box on the lower right that says Open a sample file. You can choose between a product – and service-based business.

Once you’re in QuickBooks, you can switch back and forth between your company file and a sample file by opening the File menu. Click Open Previous Company and select from the list. It should be obvious but be sure you’re in the correct QuickBooks file before doing anything.

How’s it Going?

If you’ve been using QuickBooks for a while, how are you doing with it? Are you struggling with any functions? Feeling like you’re not using as much of the software as you should? Or are you just really behind in all of your data entry and thus not really getting a true picture of your financial position?

Fear not! Help is available!

Accounting BootCamp is a 3-week intensive designed specifically for small business owners. This coaching program equips business owners with an understanding of basic accounting principles every business owner should know.

Plus, it enables you to get your books up to date, to resolve on-going QuickBooks problems, and to develop a habit of good bookkeeping practices with accountability. 

The ultimate result will be accurate financial data to make wise business decisions, enhancing the longevity of your business!

Contact our office at 301-714-2071 or visit www.SaundersTax.com  for more information. We have been helping small business owners experience a Less Taxing Life and More Prosperous Solutions since 1984!


Janet Donahoe obituary 1935~2023

A graduate of Wilson College and The Catholic University of America, Janet taught English and Latin in Pennsylvania and was a school librarian in Virginia. 

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