Getting Started with Accounts in QuickBooks Online

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 complicated and it certainly 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 problems and we encourage you to contact us for assistance. We would be happy to meet with you and review your own company’s data; the familiarity may help.

How to Enter Bills in QuickBooks

It’s not as much fun as creating invoices, but the bills must be paid. Here’s how QuickBooks helps.

We’re in a bit of a transitional period with business bill-paying. Some paper bills still come via the U.S. Mail, however you may also be getting some through email. Others don’t come at all: You might get a reminder email, but you have to go to the vendor’s site to make a payment.

How do you keep track of it all so you don’t miss any due dates? You could record them on a calendar, but you’d still have to go back to the actual bill to retrieve the amount. But where is it? Is it online, in your email inbox, in a file folder, or hanging on the wall?

QuickBooks can organize this unpleasant process, saving time and helping you avoid confusion. Here’s how it works.

A 2-Step Process
QuickBooks divides your accounts payable tasks into two separate processes: entering bills and paying them. It requires some extra time upfront as you complete the first step, but streamlines the second so that the actual bill-paying only takes a few seconds.

To get started, click Enter Bills on QuickBooks’ home page to open a window like this:

Before you can pay a bill in QuickBooks, you need to create a record for it.

The toolbar for the Enter Bills window is not pictured in the image above, but you don’t need it yet. Rather, you start by clicking the down arrow in the field next to VENDOR and selecting the biller’s name from your list (or clicking if you haven’t yet created a record for that entity). The ADDRESS should fill in automatically, as should the date.

If you set up default payment TERMS in that vendor’s record, your preference should show in that field and the BILL DUE date should be correct. Enter the AMOUNT DUE and complete any of the optional fields that the transaction requires (REF. NO., DISCOUNT DATE, and MEMO).

Since this is a utility bill, the Expenses tab should be highlighted, and the amount you entered above should appear in it. Below that is the ACCOUNT field; open that list and choose the right one. Don’t worry about the CUSTOMER:JOB and BILLABLE fields. These will only be completed when you’re charging a customer for an expense or item.

Warning: If you’re not familiar with the concept of assigning accounts to transactions, please schedule some time with us. This is a critical designation that affects so many other areas of QuickBooks.

Saving Your Work


The toolbar from the Enter Bills window

Once you save your bill, you’ll be able to access it when it’s time to apply payment. How will you remember when it’s due, though? QuickBooks can remind you – or even pay it automatically. So, before you leave the Enter Bills window, click Memorize in the toolbar pictured above.

The Memorize Transaction window will open with your vendor already entered in the Name field. You’ll have three options here:

  • Add to my Reminders list. QuickBooks can add this bill to its list of Reminders. To ensure that you’ll see this every time you open the software and can make any changes necessary, open the Edit menu and click Preferences | Reminders | My Preferences. Click in the box in front of Show Reminders List when opening a Company file. Then click the Company Preferences tab (if you’re the administrator) and find the Bills to Pay row. Click the appropriate button to indicate whether you want QuickBooks to Show Summary or Show List, and enter the number of days before due date.
  • Do Not Remind Me. Just what it sounds like.
  • Automate Transaction Entry. You can only select this if the transaction will be exactly the same every time (except for the date). If the number of transactions will be limited, enter the Number Remaining. And tell QuickBooks how many Days in Advance To Enter.

If you choose the third option here, be very careful when you define the automation. You should really only do this if you’re an advanced user.

When you’re done, click OK to close the box, and save the bill.

Please contact us to schedule an appointment to review any aspect of your accounts payable, or anything else in QuickBooks.

Not Using QuickBooks Online? What You’re Missing Out On

If you dread every minute of the time you spend on accounting, you should know how QuickBooks Online can change your outlook.

How long would it take you to determine:

  • What your total expenses for this quarter are?
  • Whether or not your business is profitable as of today?
  • How much you’ve sold every month this year?
  • Which invoices are overdue?

If you’re using QuickBooks Online, you can get answers to all those questions—and more—in the time it takes you to sign on to the website.

That’s not an exaggeration. The first thing QuickBooks Online displays is what’s called its Dashboard. This is the site’s home page, which contains an array of charts and account balances that provide a quick overview of your finances. Click on an element here—say, a checking account balance—and you’ll be able to drill down and see the details behind it (in this case, an online account register). Click on the Expense graph, and a transaction report opens.

Your First Hours with QBO

First hours with QBO

QuickBooks Online is not one-size-fits-all. Its setup tools help you customize it to meet your own company’s needs.

QuickBooks Online works like other online productivity applications you may have used. It uses toolbars and buttons for navigation, drop-down lists and blank fields for data entry, and clickable links to open new related screens to trigger actions. Which is to say, the site is easy to use once you understand its structure. We can walk you through the early steps that are required, which involves tasks like:

  • Using the provided setup tools to customize the site.
  • Connecting QuickBooks Online to your bank and credit card company websites so you can work with transactions.
  • Creating records for your customers, vendors, and the products and services you sell (you’ll be able to add new ones as your business grows).
  • Learning about QuickBooks Online’s pre-built reports.
  • Familiarizing yourself with the site’s workflow.
  • Making the transition from your current accounting system.

How You’ll Benefit
Once you’re comfortable using QuickBooks Online, you’ll discover what millions of small businesses have already learned, that the site helps you:

Get paid faster. You can sign up with a payment processor to accept credit cards and direct bank withdrawals, which can speed up your customers’ responses to invoices. You’ll also be able to accept payments when you’re out of the office on your mobile devices.
Minimize errors. Once you enter data, QuickBooks Online remembers it. No more duplicate data entry that can cause costly mistakes.
Find any detail in seconds. QuickBooks Online has powerful search tools that allow you to find what you’re looking for quickly.
Better service customers. Because your customer profiles include transaction histories, you’ll be able to deal with questions and problems quickly and accurately.
Bill time as well as invoice products. QuickBooks Online supports sales of time-based services with capable time-tracking tools.
Improve your customers’ and vendors’ perception of you. Your business associates will know that you’re using state-of-the-art technology by the forms you share and the customer service you provide.
Save money and time. It does take some time to make the transition to QuickBooks Online. But you’ll quickly make that up with the hours you’ll save on accounting tasks, and be able to concentrate on tasks that improve your bottom line.
Be prepared to grow. Because all of your financial data is organized and easily accessible, you’ll be able to quickly generate reports that help you plan for a more profitable future. Banks and investors will need some of these if you decide to seek financing.

Mobile Access
Although you may do the bulk of your accounting work on your desktop or laptop, you’ll have access to many of the site’s features on your smartphone. Your home page displays both an abbreviated version of your browser-based dashboard and a list of recent transactions. You can view, edit, and build new customer, vendor, and product or service records. Snap a photo of a receipt to document an expense and look up or create invoices, estimates, and sales receipts. Record payments, view critical reports, and add notes. Of course, your mobile data is always synchronized with the site itself.

QBO mobile

QuickBooks Online lets you do much of your accounting work when you’re away from the office with its mobile app.

Happy to Help
QuickBooks Online was designed for small businesspeople, not accountants. But it includes features that are best used in conjunction with our consulting services, like advanced reports, payroll, and the Chart of Accounts. In fact, the site makes it easy for us to have access to your data so we have the ability to monitor and troubleshoot.

We’ve helped countless sole proprietors and small businesses move their accounting operations to QuickBooks Online, and we’ve seen the difference it’s made in their productivity as well as their attitude toward financial management. Contact us, and we’ll be happy to do the same for you.

How QuickBooks Online Can Improve Your Company’s Financial Health

QuickBooks Online is more than just an online bookkeeper. It can help improve your cash flow, your customer relationships, your inventory readiness, and your future.

If you’re already using QuickBooks Online, you know how much impact its bookkeeping abilities have had on your company’s accounting operations. You’re saving time, which in-turn saves money, and you’re reducing errors. When a customer or vendor calls with a question, or you yourself need to track down a critical detail to solve a problem, you’re able to find solutions quickly.

You may already have learned, though, that QuickBooks Online’s benefits include much more than simply getting the numbers right. When you take advantage of all it can offer, you’re likely to notice more far-reaching effects.

The Specifics
Let’s look at how QuickBooks Online accomplishes all of this. You can do much of it on your own, but we’re trained to help small businesses get the most out of QuickBooks Online. We can help you maximize the effectiveness of your accounting time so your company can:

Better balance between income and expenses.

QuickBooks Sales Transactions — improve financial health
QuickBooks Online provides quick, real-time overviews of your sales status.

You can’t begin to improve your company’s cash flow until you understand where the financial bottlenecks are. QuickBooks Online provides that information for both income and expenses in a variety of ways. In the image above, you can see that there are seven past-due invoices. Click on the orange bar to see a list of them, and you can automatically send reminders. QuickBooks Online also automates the process of sending statements.

You can also run accounts receivable and accounts payable reports that will show where you stand with customers and vendors, like Open Invoices, Uninvoiced Time, Unpaid Bills, and Accounts Payable Aging Detail. If you determine that one of your consistent problems with cash flow is late customer payments, you can set up a merchant account through QuickBooks Online to support credit card payments and bank transfers.

More repeat business because of improved customer interaction.
Your customers are like gold. To build the best relationships possible with them, you need a clear, updated picture of their transactions, their payment details and history, and your interaction with them. QuickBooks Online provides templates for Customer Information records that provide all of that, along with their contact information and a real-time update of the status of their invoices and payments, estimates, time activities, etc. The latter is provided in the form of an interactive list with links to immediate actions you can take.

A more stable, profitable inventory of products.
If your business sells products, you know that you have to be smart about inventory levels. Stock too much and you have too much money tied up unnecessarily. Too little, and you’ll be turning customers away and possibly losing their future business. QuickBooks Online’s inventory-tracking tools help you achieve and maintain that balance, so you know both when and how much to reorder.

QuickBooks Inventory — improve financial health
It’s easy to evaluate your inventory status very quickly in QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Online also offers multiple inventory reports, like Inventory Valuation Detail, Physical Inventory Worksheet, and Sales by Product/Service Detail.

Readiness for growth.
You may never want to acquire another company, or move into more spacious offices, or employ dozens of individuals. However, it’s not often that a company doesn’t want to be in a position to grow. And you never know when an opportunity will present itself that would require additional capital. Would you be ready?

If you’ve never applied for a business loan or tried to attract investors, you don’t know how much financial information you’ll need to provide, or in what format. There are very specific reports your potential lenders or investors will want to see, standard financial statements. QuickBooks Online includes templates for these, which include a Balance Sheet, Profit and Loss, and Statement of Cash Flows.

Like the reports we mentioned earlier, they’re easy to generate on the site, thanks to intelligent, customizable templates. Analyzing them, though, and making sure they’re ready to be seen by third-parties takes professional expertise. We can provide that for you. We can also help you better understand and use other elements of QuickBooks Online so that you’re taking advantage of all of its benefits. Contact us soon to set up an initial consultation.

5 QuickBooks Online Reports You Should Run Regularly

There are numerous QuickBooks Online reports that you should consult at regular intervals; however, you need to review the following five reports at least once a week:

QuickBooks Online’s Dashboard, the first screen you see when you log in, provides an effective overview of your company’s finances. It contains at-a-glance information about your recent expenses, your sales, and the status of your invoices. It displays a simple Profit and Loss graph and a list of your account balances. Scroll down and click the See all activity button in the lower right and your Audit Log opens, a list of everything that’s been done on the site and by whom.

You can actually get a lot of work done from this page. Click the bar on the Invoices graph, for example, and a list view opens, allowing you access to individual transactions. Click Expenses to see the related Transaction Report. Below the list of account balances, you can Go to registers and connect new accounts.

Other Pressing Questions
The Dashboard supplies enough information that you can spot potential problems with expenses and sales, accounts, and overdue invoices. But you’re likely to have other tasks that require attention. How’s your inventory holding up? Are you staying within your budget? How about your accounts payable – will you owe money to anyone soon?

QuickBooks Online offers dozens of report templates that answer these questions and many more. If you’ve never explored the list, we suggest that you do so. It’s impossible to make plans for your company’s future without understanding its financial history and current state.


QuickBooks Online has many reports that can provide real-time, in-depth insight into your company’s financial health.
Comprehensive and Customizable
When you click Reports in your QuickBooks Online toolbar, the view defaults to All. The site divides its report content into 10 different sections, including Business Overview, Sales and Customers, Expenses and Vendors, and Payroll. Each has two buttons to the right of its name.Click the star, and that report’s title will appear in your Favorites list at the top of the page. This will save time since you’ll be able to quickly find your most often-used reports. Click the three vertical dots and then Customize to view your customization options for that report (you’ll have access to this tool from the reports themselves).
Necessary Knowledge
You can, of course, run any report you’d like as often as you’d like. Most small businesses, though, don’t require this frequent intense scrutiny. But there are five reports that you do want to consult on a regular basis. They are:
1. Accounts Receivable Aging Detail. Displays a list of invoices that haven’t yet been paid, divided into groups like 1-30 days past due, 31-60 days past due, etc.
2. Budget vs. Actuals. Just what it sounds like: a comparison of your monthly budgeted amounts and your actual income and expenses.
Warning: Some reports let you choose between cash and accrual basis. Do you know the difference and which you should choose? Ask us.

You can customize QuickBooks Online reports in several ways.

3. Unpaid Bills. Helps you avoid missing accounts payable due dates by displaying what’s due and when.
4. Sales by Product/Service Detail. Tells you what’s selling and what’s not by displaying date, transaction type, quantity, rate, amount, and total.
5. Product/Service List. An accounting of the products and/or services you sell, with columns for price, cost, and quantity on hand.

Customization, Complex
Reports Note that there’s a category of reports in QuickBooks Online named For My Accountant. That’s where we come in. The site includes templates for reports that you can run yourself, but that you’d have difficulty customizing and analyzing. These standard financial reports—which, by the way, you’ll need if you create a business plan or try to get funding for your business—include Balance Sheet, Statement of Cash Flows, and Trial Balance.

You do not need to have these reports generated frequently, but you should learn from the insights they provide monthly or quarterly. We can handle this part of your accounting tasks for you, as well as any other aspect of financial management where you need assistance. Contact us to learn more about our bookkeeping expertise and to discuss areas where we can assist you make better decisions for the future of your business.

Don’t Have a Budget? QuickBooks Online Can Help

The hardest part of creating a budget is getting started. QuickBooks Online provides tools that can jump-start the process.

You know you should have a budget. You’re aware that it can help you stay on track with your company’s income and expenses throughout the year. Maybe you’ve even tried to make one before, but you got discouraged by the mechanics or by the difficulty of estimating money in and out for the next 12 months.

June may not be the beginning of your fiscal year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a serious effort to start building a budget that can help you rein in expenses and set revenue goals.

Here’s a look at QuickBooks Online’s budgeting features.

Creating the Framework
Before you begin, you’ll want to make sure that your fiscal year is set correctly in QuickBooks Online. Click the gear icon in the upper right, then click Your Company | Account and Settings | Advanced. If the First month of fiscal year isn’t correct, click the pencil icon over to the right and change it. Then click Save and exit out of this window.

Click the gear icon again and select Budgeting, then click Add budget in the upper right.

QuickBooks Online asks you the questions that need to be answered before you start filling in your budget grid.

The first thing you’ll do is give your budget a descriptive name by entering it in the Name field. Next, open the drop-down list under Fiscal year and select the correct 12-month period. You can create your budget in one of three intervals: Monthly, Quarterly, or Yearly. If you want to populate your budget with numbers from this year or last, make that selection in the Pre-fill data? field.

There’s one more option at the top of the Budgets Grid screen that’s not shown in the image above. You can Subdivide by Customer, Class, or Location. This can be useful if you want to view budget data specific to a subset of entries in each of those categories. You could, for example, choose three customers and view only their numbers in the grid individually, one at a time.

Providing Your Numbers
Once you’re satisfied with the selections you’ve made, click Create Budget in the lower right. The screen will refresh and display a grid that you can edit.

Let’s say you’re working on a budget for the second half of 2018. QuickBooks Online brought in your numbers for January-May. You see that the numbers don’t vary much from month to month on one specific line item, so you’re going to assume that they will continue to be true (unless you know something that will affect it after May). You could enter a rough average of the first five months in the JUN field.

Hover your cursor over the arrow to the side of that field, and this sentence appears in a small bubble: Click to copy the value across on the row. QuickBooks Online will then enter that number in the JUL through DEC fields.

QuickBooks Online can save you some time as you enter data in your budget grid fields.

When you’re done entering data in all of the fields relevant to your business, click Save in the lower right and close the window. Your budget will now show up in the list.

Tip: If you have multiple blank rows and don’t want them to be displayed, click the gear icon in the upper right corner of your budget page. Click in the box in front of Hide blank rows to create a checkmark.

The Hard Part
QuickBooks Online simplifies the mechanics of creating a budget, but it’s up to you to supply the numbers. There’s lots of common-sense advice that experts offer for this process, like:

  • Remember seasonal upswings and downswings.
  • Make your goals as realistic as possible. You might want to create separate budgets for “needs” and “wants.”
  • Track your expenses carefully for a period of time so you can estimate more confidently.
  • Create reports regularly that compare your budget vs actuals.

QuickBooks Online can help you with that last piece of advice; it offers a report called Budget vs. Actuals. You’ll find it in the Business Overview group.

We can help, too. Once we understand a little more about your business structure and goals, we can take a look at your income and expense history, make some personalized recommendations, and start you on the path to a more focused financial future.

QuickBooks Tip: Customizing QuickBooks’ Forms

The invoices and other forms you send to customers and vendors should reflect your company’s attention to detail, accuracy, and consistency.

Every opportunity you have to interact with your customers and vendors is critical. Whether it’s a phone call, an in-person connection, or an email, how you present yourself reveals a lot about you. Are you efficient? Friendly? Do you handle orders and problems and payment issues quickly and carefully?

Your accounting forms can also contribute to your image. They should always be:

  • Neat and attractive.
  • Easy to read, with the most important information displayed prominently.
  • Consistent with any graphics you use on other company materials.
  • Accurate, above all.

You might be able to use at least some of QuickBooks’ form templates as is, without any modifications. But couldn’t they be better? More visually appealing? Formatted to include only the fields that your business most often needs? QuickBooks contains the customization tools you need to make them so.

Improving What Exists

You can personalize your QuickBooks forms and make them consistent with any design themes your brand may use.

We’ll look at the modification options for an invoice, though, depending on what version of QuickBooks you’re using, you can also work with sales receipts, purchase orders, statements, estimates, sales orders, and credit memos. Start by opening the Lists menu and selecting Templates. Highlight Intuit Product Invoice in the list. Click the down arrow next to Templates in the lower left corner and choose Edit Template.

The above image displays part of the window that opens. Here, you can add a logo, change the color scheme, and change fonts for your company’s contact information and the labels that identify each field (like Bill To, Terms, and Quantity). The right pane of this window shows you what the form will look like as you make changes.

Nothing you’ve done so far will prevent you from using Intuit’s pre-printed forms. But when you click Additional Customization at the bottom of the screen, you’ll be warned that if you make modifications beyond this point, the forms may not print correctly. To be safe, click Make a Copy. You’ll be able to print this new version on plain paper.

Deeper Customization

The image below shows you part of the window that opens when you click on Additional Customization. The first two columns here are the most important; they let you specify the labeled fields that will appear on your invoices. When Header is the active column, you’ll be able to choose the content that will go at the top of your form, like Date, Invoice Number, and Terms.

Next to each default label, you’ll see boxes for Screen and Print. Click in these boxes to create or delete checkmarks; this will indicate whether each label will appear in the software itself and which will be printed for your customers to see. If you’d like to change the language QuickBooks uses to describe each, enter your preferred word or phrase in the Title column.

With the Header column highlighted, you can shape the appearance of the top section of your invoices.

 

Warning: As you’re checking and unchecking boxes, a dialog box may open telling you that your changes will cause some fields to overlap on your form. If you click the Default Layout button, QuickBooks will make automatic adjustments to fix this. Clicking Continue means you’ll have to use the software’s Layout Designer to make your own adjustments. This tool is not particularly intuitive, and it requires some design skills. If you must work with the Layout Designer, let us help.

When you click the Columns tab, you’ll see a list of the fields available for the main body of your invoices, like Description, Quantity, and Rate. This works similarly to how you just modified the Header, with one exception: You’ll be able to enter numbers in the Order column to specify the placement of each field. Here again, you’ll be able to watch a preview of your form change in the right pane.

If you want to start over, click the Default button to revert the form to its original state. When you’re done, click OK.

Neatness Counts

Whether you print and mail your forms or simply dispatch them electronically, we strongly encourage you to make them as professional and polished as you possibly can. Their appearance will enhance or detract from the image your customers and vendors have of your business. Let us know if we can help here. We’d be happy to help you learn about and implement the customization options that QuickBooks offers.

QuickBooks Tip: Get Paid Faster Using QuickBooks

Are your customers slow about paying their invoices? QuickBooks can help accelerate your receivables.

Your company’s cash flow depends largely on how quickly your customers pay the invoices you’ve sent. And if you’re like most small businesses, those checks tend to dribble in close to—and after—the due date. If you operate on a slim margin, this often means that you’re late at paying your own bills.

It’s essential, then, that you do what you can to get incoming revenue moving as quickly as possible. QuickBooks offers numerous ways to help you accomplish that critical goal.

Simplify the Payment Process
The single most effective step you can take to speed up customer remittances is to allow payment by credit card or electronic check. If you’re currently only accepting paper checks, you already know what problems that option can create, like mailing time, trips to the bank, and insufficient funds.

To establish this capability, you’ll have to sign up for a merchant account that will connect your bank to the financial institutions used by your customers. There are fees associated with this, and the initial setup will be unfamiliar to you. We can help with this.


Once you sign up for a merchant account, you’ll be able to accept payments from customers by credit card and bank transfer.

Having a merchant account will accelerate your receivables and improve your company’s cash flow, but it has other benefits, too. For example:

  • Your customers will appreciate the convenience, and may even be more likely to make a purchase.
  • In 2018, customers and prospects expect to be able to pay for items and services electronically. Not allowing this affects their perception of you as a forward-thinking, progressive business.
  • You’ll save time, which translates to money. Instead of chasing payments, you can be working on ways to meet your goals and help your company grow.

Always Know Where You Stand
If you’re conscientious about keeping your records and transactions updated, you’ll always have access to the most current data about your company’s financial status. You’ll be able to answer questions from customers and vendors quickly and accurately, and your daily accounting tasks will be much easier to accomplish.

There’s another benefit, though: reports. One of the five best things about QuickBooks is its ability to create dozens of reports using pre-formatted templates. You only have to choose the one you want to see, and the software will display it using your company’s data. You also have the option to customize these reports extensively, so they contain the exact cross section of data that you want to see.

QuickBooks contains dozens of templates for pre-formatted reports that you can customize and create very quickly.

You can see in the image above that several of QuickBooks’ reports are focused specifically on the status of your customers’ invoices and payments. We strongly recommend that you run these reports regularly. The more you know about who is behind and by how much, the more targeted your collections efforts will be.

You’ll also notice that there’s a category of reports called Accountant and Taxes. You can certainly create these yourself, but some, like Trial Balance, will be unfamiliar to you. There are others listed under Company & Financial that are quite complex, but quite important. We’d be happy to analyze these for you on a regular basis (monthly or quarterly) and provide insight that will help you make better business decisions.

Remind Late Payers
There are all kinds of reasons why customers pay invoices late. Their bills may have been lost in the mail. They may have ordered so much that they’re confused about which invoices haven’t been paid. And they may just be low on funds.

You can’t do much about the latter reason, but QuickBooks provides a way for you to update customers about their past due payments: statements.


Sometimes, customers just need a full accounting of what they owe in the form of a statement.

It’s not difficult to follow QuickBooks’ customization options for statements, but we’re here to help if you run into difficulties. In fact, we’d be happy to sit down with you and talk about these as well as other options for improving your company’s cash flow. It’s a multi-faceted problem with many solutions; we can go over the options with you. Contact us now to work on making the rest of 2018 more profitable.

QuickBooks Tip: Using Time Tracking in QuickBooks

Previously, we learned about getting QuickBooks ready for time-tracking by activating it in Preferences. We also created a record for a service item. Now we’ll actually use that record in the two ways you’ll be using it in QuickBooks: to pay employees for their hourly work and to bill customers for services.

Recording Employee Hours
There are two ways to enter hours for your employees who provide services to customers and are paid by the hour. The first is to create a work ticket for a single activity. Click Enter Time on the home page, and then Time/Enter Single Activity to open this window:



Single-activity work tickets for employee hours are especially useful if you need to set a timer.

First, check the date to make sure it displays the day when the work was actually done, not recorded. Click the arrow in the field next to Name and select the employee’s name from the drop-down list that opens, then do the same in the Customer:Job field below. The Service Item field needs to display the name of the service performed by the employee.

If you want to time a period of activity, use the Start, Stop, and Pause buttons under Duration. You can also replace the 0:00 that appears by default with the number of hours and minutes that were worked.

In the middle column, you’ll select the correct Payroll Item from the drop-down list. You can add a new employee if necessary without completing his or her entire record, but be sure to go back and complete it before your next payroll.

Hidden behind the drop-down menu is a field titled WC Code, which stands for Workers’ Compensation Code. It will only appear if you’re using QuickBooks Enhanced Payroll and have that feature turned on.

Tip: If these two fields do not appear, you’ve selected an employee who isn’t timesheet-based.

In the upper right hand corner, you’ll see a field labeled Billable. Be sure you click in the box to create a checkmark if you’ll be invoicing a customer for the work done.

Save the activity record when you’ve completed it.

Using Timesheets



You can enter employees’ hours directly on a timesheet instead of creating a single activity record.

QuickBooks offers a second option for entering employee hours: timesheets. You’ll notice that there’s a Timesheet icon in the toolbar of the Time/Enter Single Activity window. If you click on it with a completed record open, a new window opens containing a graphical representation of a paper timesheet.

If you enter employee hours in a single activity record, they will appear on a timesheet, and vice versa. There are two advantages to entering hours directly on the timesheet, though. The first is that it’s faster. And secondly, you can click the Copy Last Sheet icon if you’re just going to duplicate an employee’s previous pay period’s hours. If you want to go there straight from the home page, click Enter Time | Use Weekly Timesheet.

Billing Customers for Time
QuickBooks makes it very easy to transfer billable hours worked by employees to the corresponding customers’ invoices. After you’ve entered blocks of time spent on services, open an invoice form and select the customer. This window will open:



Once you’ve entered billable hours worked by an employee, simply open an invoice form and select that customer to open this window.

By default, Select the outstanding billable time and costs to add to this invoice? is checked. When you click OK, a new window opens displaying a grid that contains all of that customer’s billable time. You can Select All or click in front of each entry you want to include. You’ll notice here that there are also tabs on the grid for Expenses, Mileage, and Items that can be billed back to the customer.

If you choose not to carry billable hours over to the invoice at the present time, you can always add them by clicking Add Time/Costs in the invoice’s toolbar.

Questions? We’re always available to help ensure that you’re billing customers for all costs they incur – and to talk about any other element of accounting that affects your cash flow.

QuickBooks Tip: Tracking Time in QuickBooks

When you sell a product to a customer, you know it. It goes away, and your inventory count in QuickBooks is reduced by one. This tracking helps you know what’s selling and what’s not, and it signals when a reorder is due.

If your business provides services to customers, though, you’re selling your employees’ time and skills. There’s no inventory count; you can sell as many hours as you have workers to fill them. Tracking time accurately and comprehensively, though, is as important as knowing how many hard drives or tote bags you’ve sold.

QuickBooks contains tools to help you record the hours employees spend doing work for customers, so you can bill them for services rendered. You can also use these same features to enter employee time for payroll purposes. The software offers two options here: single-activity records and timesheets.

Building the Foundation
We’ve discussed QuickBooks’ Preferences many times before. The software was designed to support small businesses with a wide variety of structures and needs, so it needs to be flexible. For that reason, we always recommend that you check in with your “Preference” options before you explore new features.

To get there, open the Edit menu and select Preferences. In the left vertical pane, click on Time & Expenses, then on the Company Preferencestab at the top. Here is a look at the top part of the window that opens:


The Company Preferences window for Time & Expenses displays multiple options.

To make sure that QuickBooks’ time-tracking features are turned on before you start, click the button next to Yes under Do you track time? Specify the First Day of Work Week by opening that drop-down list. If you know that all your time entries will be billable, click in the box in front of that statement.

There are other options in that window; we’ll talk about them next month.

Creating Service Items
Before you can start tracking billable time, you have to create a record for each service offered – just like you would for a physical product. Click the Items & Services icon on the home page or open the Lists menu and select Item List. The window that opens will eventually display a table containing all the items and services you’ve created.

To define a service item, click Item in the lower left corner, then New, to open a window like this:


You can create numerous types of items in QuickBooks; Service is one of them.

Click the down arrow in the field under Type to see your options here. There are many, ranging from Service to Inventory Part to Sales Tax Group. Select Service. In the field under Item Name/Number, enter a word or phrase and/or number that describes the service, and that won’t get confused with another.

If you had already created an item like “New Construction Services” and you wanted “Carpet Installation” to appear as a subitem of it, you’d click in the box in front of Subitem of to create a checkmark, then open the drop-down list below it and select “New Construction Services.”

Ignore the Unit of Measure section. If this designation is important to your business, talk to us about upgrading your version of QuickBooks. Connect with us, too, if the service you’re defining is used in assemblies or is performed by a subcontractor or partner, as these are more advanced situations.

Enter a brief Description in that box and your hourly charge—to the customer—in the field to the right of Rate. Click the down arrow in the field next to Tax Code to select the item’s taxable status.

It’s very important that you get the next field right. QuickBooks wants to know which account in your company’s Chart of Accounts should be assigned to this item. In this case, it would be “Construction Income.” If you’re not yet familiar with the concept of assigning accounts, let’s set up a session to deal with this and other basic knowledge you should have.

When you’re done, click OK.

If you have any questions related to this article, please give us a call.