Is QuickBooks easy to learn?

QuickBooks is one of the most popular bookkeeping software out there for small businesses. It is affordable for most new business owners, and will do just about anything asked of it by new and small business. So, should owners learn how to use QuickBooks themselves? Is it easy to learn?

My answer is typical of many accounting answers: it depends. (Sorry; little in life is simply one way or another, and so goes bookkeeping.)

I look at mailers advertising courses like “QuickBooks 101” and acknowledge that the basics can be pretty straightforward. After all, click on bills and you enter a bill that you have to pay later. Easy, right? Click on invoices and you create an invoice for which you hope to get paid. Also easy. Click on write a check and you pay your utility bill. All easy! 

But what do you do with a check from a customer that you took straight to the bank? Do you simply record a deposit? It depends on whether the payment was for an invoice or not. If an invoice was created and you simply do a deposit, you’ll record income twice, and overstate sales.

And let’s say it makes sense to use savings to tide over your business’s cash flow problem. You deposit the funds into the business bank account, but what account do you credit? It isn’t income, that’s for sure. It’s either an owner contribution, or a loan to the business. If a loan, talk with a tax professional about proper documents and interest rates, etc.

What about issuing gift certificates, and then taking them as payment for goods or services? Are you dealing with expenses and then income? What about inventory damaged by a leaking water pipe? What about returned check charges? What about receiving less goods from a vendor than was ordered? What about...?

QuickBooks is designed to do bookkeeping tasks, and indeed does them well, based on standard bookkeeping practices. What it assumes is that the user is somewhat familiar with those practices. My experience working with small businesses, however, tells me that is not usually the case. The owners spend most of the time repairing vehicles, writing code, machining parts, painting houses, hosting webcasts, fixing plumbing, selling advertising, or roofing houses. That’s where their expertise lies, not with bookkeeping.

That’s not to say the business needs a full time bookkeeper, or even a part time one. But most businesses need guidance at some point or another. That’s where an experienced (read: seen most every mistake possible) bookkeeper/consultant can be of great benefit. Personally, I love teaching owners the how’s and why’s of bookkeeping in general, and QuickBooks specifically. Let me help you have the time to concentrate on what you do best!

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