Keeping track of your small business’s invoices, payroll, and expenses can be a lot — here’s where Intuit QuickBooks Online for small business comes in. QuickBooks allows you as a busy small business owner to outsource your bookkeeping and other accounting tasks you simply don’t have time for.
We know that choosing an accounting software can be confusing, and that’s why we wrote this QuickBooks online review. We’ll cover the various QuickBooks products, how to choose the right one for your small business, and pros and cons of using QuickBooks. Let’s get started with this QuickBooks for small business review to see if QuickBooks is right for you.
QuickBooks Products Overview
QuickBooks falls under the Intuit umbrella and offers an array of bookkeeping and accounting services to its customers. There are three main versions of QuickBooks for small business, and each is made for a specific purpose. . Each provides a mobile app on iOS or Android that allows you to access QuickBooks on the go.
Best for independent contractors: QuickBooks Self-Employed
QuickBooks Self-Employed offers many features that freelancers or independent contractors will find simplifies running a business. There are three available options.
- QuickBooks Self-Employed: Offers tools for basic bookkeeping.
- QuickBooks Self-Employed Tax Bundle: Includes everything with QuickBooks Self-Employed, plus it integrates TurboTax into the platform to simplify tax time.
- QuickBooks Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle: Offers everything above, plus gives you access to a live certified public accountant, enrolled agent, or tax attorney any time you have questions.
Users can connect their bank accounts to QuickBooks Self-Employed to separate business and personal expenses automatically, as well as track mileage and import receipts. You can also run business reports and calculate estimates for quarterly tax payments.
With the added tax bundles, you can connect your QuickBooks small business account directly to TurboTax and file your taxes from QuickBooks. The cost includes the tax filing fees for one state and one federal return. If you choose the Live Tax Bundle, you can connect with a tax professional to answer any questions throughout the year, as well as have your return reviewed before you file.
From $15 to $35 per month, but QuickBooks often has sales on the first few months.
Best for most small businesses: QuickBooks Online
QuickBooks Online is the cloud-based small business accounting software that allows you to access the platform from anywhere and likely will offer the accounting features your small business needs. There are four plans to choose from.
- QuickBooks Simple Start: Gives you the basic accounting tools your business requires to run smoothly, like the ability to create invoices and business reports for one user.
- QuickBooks Essentials: Includes everything above, but adds up to three unique users and features like bill and time tracking.
- QuickBooks Plus: Allows for up to five unique users, plus things like inventory management and project cost tracking.
- QuickBooks Advanced: Allows for up to 25 unique users and many more accounting features, like analytics and employee expense tracking.
We break down the most important features of each QuickBooks Online plan in the table below.
From $30 to $200 per month. QuickBooks often has discounts on the first several months after joining.
Best for complex accounting demands: QuickBooks Desktop
If your small business has complicated accounting needs or you prefer to work from one location, you might consider QuickBooks Desktop. With this version, you can’t log into your account from the cloud, so it would work best for those who don’t need remote access.
There are four QuickBooks Desktop packages to choose from — but anything higher than the ProPlus package may be best suited for medium or large-sized businesses.
- QuickBooks ProPlus 2022: Includes one user, but you can add up to three for an additional cost.
- QuickBooks for Mac: Comparable in terms of features and pricing to QuickBooks Pro but designed specifically for Mac users.
- QuickBooks Premier Plus 2022: Includes one user, but you can add up to five more for an additional cost.
- QuickBooks Enterprise 22.0: Includes up to 40 unique users and premium customer service.
The standard desktop option — QuickBooks ProPlus 2022 — gives you advanced accounting tools like online bill pay and customized payment stubs to vendors.
The next tier, the Premier Plus 2022 plan, offers everything from ProPlus 2022 but adds things like sales order management, inventory tracking, and the ability to create price levels.
With the upgraded Enterprise 22.0 plan, you can dial into multiple industry-specific settings for QuickBooks, as well as tap into features like advanced reporting capabilities.
From $799 to $1410 annually, but QuickBooks may have a discount available depending on the plan.
There are several useful products that you can tack onto your QuickBooks plan that are worth considering.
QuickBooks Payment allows you to send invoices and get paid using a debit or credit card, Apple Pay, e-Check, or ACH bank transfers. It works with QuickBooks Online accounts. You’ll have to pay a convenience fee for each transaction.
With QuickBooks Payroll, you can automate your employee payroll, get protection from tax penalties, have sales tax calculated for you, and offer same-day direct deposit. Also, you can incorporate important perks to offer your staff, like HR support, employee health benefits, and 401(k) plans. Be sure to pick the right Payroll plan for the version of QuickBooks you run.
QuickBooks Point of Sale
QuickBooks offer a point-of-sale system you can use with its Desktop version. QuickBooks Point of Sale can sync directly with any QuickBooks Desktop package. So, if you’re using QuickBooks Desktop and need a POS system, consider this option through QuickBooks.
Track hours for employees and contractors, create schedules, and track mileage. You can also create a punch-in clock, if needed. You can sign up for one of two plans that integrate with QuickBooks and start at $20 per month.
How to Choose the Right QuickBooks for Your Small Business
Choosing an accounting software like Intuit QuickBooks for small business can be tricky, so we’re here to help.
Before deciding which QuickBooks product might work best, first think through the necessary features that will help you grow your business. A free trial or a demo can provide valuable insight — and it may help to compare another service, like Freshbooks vs. QuickBooks. Decide whether you’ll need expert accounting or bookkeeping advice from QuickBooks, as well, as that will affect the price.
Next, think about access. Consider whether logging in through an internet connection via QuickBooks Online or access from one set location via QuickBooks Desktop would work better for your small business.
Also, consider the future. Make sure you choose the version of QuickBooks that can scale to your changing needs — since not all QuickBooks versions can. And decide how many people need unique user IDs or whether you can share one login.
Last but not least, consider the cost. The price of your accounting software shouldn’t eat into your overhead budget too much.
QuickBooks Features & Pricing Comparison
This table details each of the four QuickBooks Online plans and compares each of their features.
|QuickBooks Online Feature||Simple Start Plan ($30/month)||Essentials Plan ($55/month)||Plus Plan ($85/month)||Advanced Plan ($200/month)|
|Track income & expenses||X||X||X||X|
|Create invoices to send to clients||X||X||X||X|
|Share tax information||X||X||X||X|
|Create financial reports, like balance sheet and profit & loss statement||X||X||X||X|
|Put together project estimates||X||X||X||X|
|Prepare 1099s for any contractor||X||X||X||X|
|Track employee and billable hours||X||X||X|
|Online bill pay||X||X||X|
|Analyze project profitability through job costing||X||X|
|Track key performance indicators||X|
|Integrate with other business service apps (HubSpot, DocuSign, etc.)||X|
|Data backups and restoration||X|
|Personalized customer support||X|
Setting Up QuickBooks for Your Small Business
If you’re wondering, “How does QuickBooks work for small business?” we have your answer. You’ll set up QuickBooks in the same way no matter which version you have. Here are the steps you’ll follow for setup:
- After purchasing, head to the QuickBooks download page.
- Choose the appropriate product and click “Search.”
- Download and install QuickBooks.
- Accept the license agreement.
- Enter your product and license numbers (which you can search for or log in to Intuit to find, if you don’t have them).
- Choose where to install the software. You can change the location of the install in the following step if needed.
- Open QuickBooks and it will prompt you to reboot your computer if it’s the first time you’re installing QuickBooks.
- Choose “Begin Activation” to activate your product.
If you have any issues with setup, you can find the appropriate customer support team to reach out to on the QuickBooks website.
Best Practices for Using QuickBooks
There are several tricks you can put in place to protect yourself and optimize your experience when using QuickBooks as a small business owner. Here are a few tips to help you use QuickBooks.
Pick a secure password
Using QuickBooks accounting can be a huge help as a small business owner. But remember that QuickBooks stores the financial information of your business and is connected to your business’s banking and credit card accounts. So it’s important to pick a password that can’t be easily discovered by hackers. Update your password by selecting “Access Account” and heading to “Change Password.”
Make sure you have backups
As a business owner, you never want important information to be stored in only one location. Thus, having backups of the business information stored in QuickBooks is essential to prepare for the worst. If you’re using a QuickBooks Online version, it’s easy — it will back up to the cloud automatically. However, QuickBooks Desktop doesn’t automatically backup your information. So you’ll need to implement a backup solution using an external hard drive, cloud server, or other data storage option.
Input the right business details
You’ll put in your business’s information, like your Tax ID number, in the “Company” tab. Make sure that this information is accurate to make sure your financial statements and tax information is correct. An accountant might pull from the information you add in QuickBooks, so it will lessen confusion and the possibility of making mistakes if you put the information in correctly from the start.
Ensure customer details are accurate
To make sure you pay bills to your vendors and manage customer payments correctly, make sure your customer details are correct within QuickBooks. You’ll do this by heading to the “Customer” tab and controlling settings for things like payments and invoicing.
Tailor your icon bar
Save time by customizing your icon bar on QuickBooks. You can choose which tabs are easiest to access for you, like “Services,” “Payroll,” or “Help.” Centering your most-used tabs can make using QuickBooks smoother. Change your icon bar by clicking on “View” and choosing “Customize Icon Bar.”
Pros and Cons of QuickBooks for Small Business
- Eases the burden of running your small business. Being able to offload some of the administrative work can free up your valuable time.
- Simplifies your business processes. Automating your processes and bundling many of its operations into one platform can make everything run smoother.
- Reduces error. Having automated processes can reduce human error and keep your books more accurate. Because it’s cloud-based, QuickBooks also provides real-time updates, which can reduce errors even further.
- Meant to scale. QuickBooks is meant to grow alongside your small business, so you can keep using it for a long time.
- Popularity makes it easy to find help. Beyond the support QuickBooks provides, there are forums, tutorials, and other helpful resources available to users, just because so many people use the software for their small business accounting.
- Monthly fee. Each of the main QuickBooks products have either an annual or a monthly fee.
- Additional features and products increase costs. Although QuickBooks comes with many features, choosing any add-on products will cost you.
- Limits on the number of users. You have to pay more to add more unique users to each account.
- Learning curve. While it’s generally known for its ease of use, QuickBooks can be a little hard to figure out, especially if you don’t have a background in accounting.
Quicken vs. QuickBooks
You may have heard of Quicken, another accounting software program, and wondered if it might be the right choice for you. Both software platforms can track your expenses and income and help you create budgets. They both also provide reports. But the major difference between Quicken and QuickBooks is that Quicken is meant for personal finance and QuickBooks is meant for small businesses.
You might use Quicken for your business if you’re a sole proprietor using your personal bank account for your business. However, it’s generally better to separate your business finances from your personal finances, and QuickBooks can integrate easily with your business bank account to handle your small business accounting software needs. QuickBooks software for small business also provides you with advanced features like the ability to create invoices, track inventory, and handle regular expenses like payroll. As an accounting solution for small businesses, QuickBooks is usually a better choice.
When to Use QuickBooks and When To Use Something Else
Thanks to its suite of business accounting tools and easy integrations with other software, QuickBooks for small business online is often a great choice for many small businesses. However, it has a few limitations, and you may want to consider a different accounting software in several situations, such as:
- Your business grows out of the range that QuickBooks can support. Even at its highest tier, QuickBooks offers a limited number of licenses, and you may simply outgrow QuickBooks.
- You need stronger compliance or audit trail options. Because QuickBooks allows you to do things like delete entries or restate results, it’s not technically GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) compliant.
- You need dedicated support for complicated accounting software issues. QuickBooks does offer customized support for its higher tier customers, which can be very helpful. But if you have a complicated accounting system for a larger business that needs a more customized solution, it may be time to upgrade to something else.
- You want better reporting capabilities. While QuickBooks provides great, user-friendly reporting for small businesses, especially cash flow, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and others, if you have complicated dashboards or want more intelligence tools, there may be other options that are better suited to your needs.
These are all accounting issues that small businesses run into as they become medium-sized businesses.
Is Using QuickBooks Difficult?
QuickBooks is known for being easy to use, but this depends on your level of comfort with basic accounting and your ability to learn software quickly. Luckily, due to its popularity, there are lots of tutorials and forums available to help answer basic questions, and QuickBooks does provide help with live support when you need it. If you hire an accountant or other financial professional, they should be able to use QuickBooks easily and may be able to help you learn to use it, too.
If you’d like to explore other bookkeeping and accounting options outside of QuickBooks for small business, here are a few of our top picks for best accounting software options for small businesses.
Like QuickBooks, FreshBooks also offers an online version that you can log into remotely. The platform offers basic accounting tools, like invoicing, payments, time tracking, and proposal creation. Pricing is based on the number of billable clients rather than the number of users.
TurboTax is an Intuit company that can act as your business’s accountant. You can file your state and federal taxes with the company’s professionals on staff. This option could work well for freelancers, independent contractors, or small businesses.
Bench offers bookkeeping and tax services. Its experts can file your business taxes for you and help you if you’re behind with your bookkeeping. Bench offers two packages — one if you’re less than two years behind on your books and one if you’re more than two years behind.
1-800Accountant can work on bookkeeping, payroll, taxes, and can help you through an audit. You get matched with a CPA that understands your state laws and your industry.
If these options aren’t a good fit for your business, use Nav to find the right business solutions for you. You can also see curated options for business credit cards and small business loans for you based on your business details.