5 Resolutions QuickBooks Online Users Should Make for 2021

A painful year is drawing to a close. We’ll still be dealing with COVID-19 and a struggling economy in early 2021, but there’s hope on the horizon. There’s a lot you can’t control about the difficulties facing our country, but you can take control of your corner of it, especially in terms of how you manage your finances. 

If you’re already using QuickBooks Online, you know how it’s solved the past paperwork confusion. But are you taking advantage of all of its capabilities? As you turn your digital calendar to January, consider expanding your use of the website to set yourself up for success in the new year. Here are five features to explore if you haven’t already. 

Practice Proactive Reconciliation: 

QuickBooks Online’s Banking screen display registers for the bank and credit card transactions that have been posted by your banks. Do you review these frequently? It’s easy, and it’s essential. It will save time when you do your monthly reconciliations with your bank statements. Hover over Transactions in the toolbar and select Banking. You can see some of your transaction management options in the image below. 

 

 

Once QuickBooks Online has downloaded a transaction from your bank, you have multiple options for dealing with it and clearing it. 

When your statement comes, and you’re ready to reconcile, you can use QuickBooks Online’s tools that take you step by step through the process. Hover over Accounting in the toolbar and select Reconcile. Let us know if you need help with reconciliation or with managing downloaded transactions. 

Start Accepting Online Payments:

This is probably the #1 way to encourage customers to pay you faster. When you set up a merchant account through QuickBooks Payments, you’re able to accept credit cards, debit cards, and ACH bank transfers. Your invoices will include a Pay Now button and contain the information your customers need to pay electronically. Their funds will go into your bank account. 

There are other ways they can pay you directly. You can take their card numbers over the phone. You can also get a free card reader from Intuit and swipe their cards on your mobile device. And you can set up recurring payments that will occur automatically. There are no base fees – you pay per transaction. 

Set Weekly and Monthly Report Schedules: 

You may just run reports in QuickBooks Online as you need them. However, some reports should be created every week at a minimum, like Accounts receivable aging (detail or summary)Accounts Payable AgingOpen invoices, and Unpaid Bills. There are many others, but you need to keep a close watch on what you owe and who owes you. 

 

We can help you create and analyze the standard financial reports that should be produced regularly. 

It’s essential to run some other reports on a monthly (or, sometimes, quarterly) basis, including Balance SheetProfit and Loss, and Statement of Cash Flows. Rather than just providing snapshots of where you stand with money coming in and going out, they give you a more comprehensive view of your finances that can help you make better business decisions. They’re complex and often difficult to analyze, though, which is why QuickBooks Online categorizes them as For my accountant. We can create and interpret these for you. 

Expand QuickBooks Online’s Features by Using Apps: 

QuickBooks Online is generic enough that a wide variety of small businesses can use it. But that flexibility may mean that it’s not quite robust enough in one area or another, like inventory management or time tracking. There are hundreds of apps that you can integrate with QuickBooks Online to fill in the gaps. Some are free. Click on Apps in the toolbar. Again, we’re available to help if you need assistance. 

Evaluate the Cost-effectiveness of Your Vendors: 

It’s easy to stick with the same old suppliers because it’s a hassle to change. Many companies are hurting because you may find you can get what you need for less because of the pandemic. To go over your whole list, hover over Expenses in the toolbar and click on Vendors. You might clean up your list while you’re at it. Click the down arrow at the end of each row and select Make inactive if you haven’t ordered from specific suppliers over the last year. 

If you have any further questions, please contact us

How Do You Create Price Levels in QuickBooks?

You may know that when you create a product or service record in QuickBooks, you must assign a sale price to it. But did you know that QuickBooks gives you a great deal of flexibility when to comes to pricing items you sell? The software allows you to create one or more additional Price Levels that you can access for invoices, estimates, sales receipts, credit memos, and sales orders. 

There are three ways you can use these. Once you’ve created them, they’ll be available in a drop-down list in the Rate field. This allows you to assign them manually to individual transactions. The second option is to assign them globally to specific customers or jobs. Once you’ve done so, that price will apply every time you create a transaction for one of them. Finally, you can create price levels for selected items. 

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you want to create a price level that’s 15 percent below the actual price that you can use in individual transactions. You open the Lists menu and select Price Level List. Click the arrow in the lower-left corner next to Price Level and choose New. A window like this will open:

You can create price levels in QuickBooks and assign them to individual sales transactions. 

Fill in the field next to Price Level Name, and then click the arrow next to Price Level Type. Select Fixed %. Select decrease from the drop-down list on the next line and enter your percentage number. Round up to the nearest is an optional field; click OK when you’re done. The next time you create a sales transaction, your new price level will be available as an option when you open the drop-down list in the Rate column. 

When you need to edit or delete a price level, go to Lists | Price Level List again and click the arrow next to Price Level in the lower-left corner. You have several options here. For example, you can make a price level inactive, so it doesn’t appear on the list. The field next to Price Level is labeled Reports. Click on the arrow to see what’s available there. 

Customers and Jobs 

You can also apply a price level you’ve created to a specific customer or job, perhaps to reward a customer for frequent purchases. When you do so, that rate will appear every time you enter a sales transaction for the customer or job you selected. 

Open the Customers menu and select Customer Center. Double click on a customer or job’s name to open the record. Click on the Payment Settings tab. Click the arrow in the field next to Price Level and select the right one, then click OK. 

 

You can assign a Price Level to specific customers or jobs. 

Per Item Price Levels 

QuickBooks also allows you to set custom prices for specific items associated with preferred customers or jobs (this option is only available if you’re using QuickBooks Premier or Enterprise). Let’s say you want to give a 10 percent discount to specific customers who purchase your website development services. Go to Lists | Price Level List and click the arrow next to Price Level in the lower-left corner again, then select New (you can also get to the New command by right-clicking anywhere in the window). 

Give your price level a name (like Web Development 10 Off), then select Per Item from the Price Level Type drop-down list. Click in front of the Item you want to include. The next line’s fields should read as pictured in the image below: 10% | lower | standard price. Click Adjust. You’ll see your reduced prices in the Custom Price column in the table above. 

You can establish a Price Level for specific items in QuickBooks.

Again, the rounding field is optional. When you’re finished here, click OK. The next time you create a sales transaction for a customer eligible for the lower price, you’ll select Web Development 10 Off from the drop-down list in the Rate column. 

Feel like you’re outgrowing your current version of QuickBooks, or is it several years old? Contact us about upgrading. We’re here to support you and help you more effectively use the software as your business changes and grows.

10 Tips for Better Budgeting

If you already have a budget, it’s probably been difficult for you to stick with it for the last several months. Unless you provide products or services that have been in high demand since the COVID-19 pandemic took place, you’ve had to adjust your budget significantly. 

Now is an excellent time to start doing some planning for 2021. While there are still uncertainties next year, creating a budget will give you a starting point. A budget increases your awareness of all of your projected income and expenses, which may make it less likely to find yourself always running short on funds. 

Here are some ways you can make your budgeting process more practical and realistic. 

Use what you already know. Unless you’re starting a brand-new business, you already have the best resource possible: a record of your past income and expenses. Use this as the basis for your projections. 

Be aware of your sales cycle. Even if you’re not a seasonal business, you’ve probably learned that some months or quarters are better than others. Budget conservatively for the slower months.

Distinguish between essential and non-essential expenses. Enter your budget items for bills and other costs that must be covered before you add optional categories.

You can use data from a previous year to create a new budget in QuickBooks Online.

Keep it simple. Don’t budget down to the last paper clip. You risk budget burnout, and your reports will be unwieldy. 

Build-in some backup funding. Just as you’re supposed to have an emergency fund in your personal life, try to create one for your business. 

Make your employees part of the process. It would be best if you weren’t secretive about the expense element of your budget. Try to get input from staff in areas where they have knowledge. 

Overestimate your expenses. Doing so can help prevent “borrowing” from one budget category to make up for a shortfall in another. 

Consider using excess funds to pay down debt. Debt costs you money. The sooner you pay it off, the sooner you can use those payments for some non-essential items. 

Look for areas where you can change vendors. As you’re creating your budget, think carefully about each supplier of products and services. Can you find less costly alternatives? 

Revisit your budget frequently. You should evaluate your progress at least once a month. You could even start by budgeting for only a couple of months to allow yourself to learn a lot about your spending and sales patterns that you can use for future reference. 

How QuickBooks Online Can Help 

QuickBooks Online offers built-in tools to help you create a budget. Click the Gear (also known as the wheel) icon in the upper right corner and select Budgeting under Tools. Click Add budget. At the top of the screen, give your budget a Name and select the Fiscal Year it should cover from the drop-down list by that field. Choose an Interval (monthly, quarterly, or yearly) and indicate whether you want to Pre-fill data from an existing year. 

QuickBooks Online supplies a budget template that already contains commonly used small business items.

The final field is labeled Subdivide by, which is optional. You can set up budgets that only include selected Customers or Classes, for example. Select the desired divider in that field, choose who or what you want to be included in the next. Click Next or Create budget in the lower right corner (depending on whether you used pre-filled data) to open your budget template. If you subdivided the budget, you’d see a field marked View budget. Click the down arrow and select from the options listed there. 

To create your budget, you enter numbers in the small boxes supplied. Columns are divided by months or quarters, depending on what you specified, and rows are labeled with budget items (Advertising, Gross Receipts, Legal & Professional Fees, etc.). You enter numbers in the boxes that apply. When you click on a box, a small arrow appears pointing right. Click on this, and your number will automatically appear in the rest of that row’s boxes. When you’re done, click Save in the lower right. You can edit your budget at any time. 

QuickBooks Online provides two related reports. Budget Overview displays all of the data in your budget (s). Budget vs. Actuals shows you how you’re adhering to your budget. 

We know creating a budget can be challenging, but it’s so important – especially right now. We’d be happy to look at your company’s financial situation and see how QuickBooks’ budgeting tools—and its other accounting features—can help you get a better understanding of your finances. Please contact us with any further questions. 

How to Clean Up QuickBooks for 2020

The new year is here, and you may still have a lengthy to-do list full of tasks from 2019. There’s one task, or rather, a series of tasks that you should definitely add to that list: QuickBooks cleanup for 2020. Following the guidelines provided here will do three things. It will: 

  • Ensure that you’ve processed every 2019 transaction (or that you know why you can’t).
  • Give you a sense of closure, knowing that you’ve dealt with all your 2019 financial data.
  • Allow you to start your 2020 QuickBooks activities with as clean of a slate as possible.

First Things First 

Before you start looking at transactions and running reports, check to make sure that your last fiscal year is recorded correctly in QuickBooks. Open the Company menu and select My Company. Click the pencil icon in the upper right to open the Company Information window, then click Report Information in the tabs to the left. This window opens: 

Is your company’s last fiscal year recorded correctly in QuickBooks? If not, please contact us

Account For All Of Your Income 

You certainly want to have received all the money owed to you from 2019. So, run a report to see which customers have outstanding, overdue balances. Open the Reports menu and select Customers & Receivables | A/R Aging Summary

The first column here will read Current. You don’t have to worry about these customers. It’s the next four columns that will require follow-up. If your default payment terms are 30 days, you’ll see columns for 1-30, 31-60, 61-90, and >90. Customers with dollar amounts in those columns have not met their obligations and are past due by those date ranges. 

Note: If your default terms are different (like 15 days), you’ll need to customize the report. In the toolbar at the top, you’ll see a field labeled Interval (days). Change it to reflect your own default terms and click Refresh in the upper right corner. 

If your report contains only a sea of zeroes in those four columns, everyone is paid up. If not, you can send statements to anyone who is at least one day past due to remind them of what they owe. Open the Customers menu and select Create Statements to see this window: 

Partial view of the Create Statements window

Make sure the Statement Date is correct since QuickBooks will use this to calculate aging. Then you can either enter a specific Statement Period or request All open transactions as of Statement Date. If you choose the latter, you’ll most likely want to limit the statements to customers whose payments are overdue. So, you’d click in the box in front of Include only transactions over [your number here] days past the due date

Below these options, you’ll be able to indicate which customers should receive statements. The most common choice is All Customers (who fall into the group you just defined), but you can also send to one or multiple customers.  For example, QuickBooks will display a list if you select one of these. The right pane of this window contains several additional options that you can check or uncheck. When you’re satisfied, you can Preview, Print, or E-mail the statements. 

Pay Outstanding Bills 

If you have not done so yet, you should also try to settle your Accounts Payable for 2019. Open the Reports menu and select Vendors & Payables | A/P Aging Summary. Look for dollar amounts in the columns that show aging beyond the first column. You can also run the Unpaid Bills Detail report and look at the Aging column, as pictured here: 

Look in the aging column of this report to see which bills are past due and by how many days.

Note: QuickBooks has multiple Preferences that relate to reports and aging. We can go over these with you if you haven’t explored them.

If you need assistance reconciling accounts, running year-end reports, or clearing any deposits that remain in the Undeposited Funds account for 2019, please contact us. We can help you make sure your QuickBooks accounts are cleared up for the new year. 

How to Create Projects in QuickBooks Online

You already know how to determine whether your business is making or losing money overall: you run a Profit and Loss report. But what if you want to break this data down further? How can you tell whether the specific jobs you do for customers, with all their related income and costs, are profitable?

This kind of insight can have an enormous impact on future business decisions about product and service pricing, worker costs, and expenses. It can even signal whether or not you should take on specific jobs.

If you’re using QuickBooks Online Plus or Advanced, you can use their Project tools to calculate profitability. The theory is simple. You assign all relevant sales, time, and expenses to the project. QuickBooks Online will do the rest.

Getting Started

First, you’ll need to make sure that QuickBooks Online is ready to track projects. Click the gear icon in the upper right and select Account and Settings. Click on the Advanced tab and go down to the Projects section. If this feature is turned Off, click the pencil icon over to the right, click in the box to turn it On, and Save this option.

To create a project, click on Projects on the home page and then on the New Project button over to the right. This panel will slide out from the right:

Before you begin tracking a Project in QuickBooks Online, you’ll have to create a master record for it.

Enter a Project name in that field and select a Customer from the drop-down list (or ). Notes are optional but recommended. Click Save and your new project will appear in a list on the Projects page. QuickBooks Online stores that information along with the customer in your company file and makes it available when you create, for example, invoices, checks, expenses records, and time activities.
Linking Projects in Forms

Your project will appear in different places in different forms. On an invoice, it appears in the Customer drop-down list as a sub-item under the linked customer. You’ll select the project name rather than the customer to make sure the invoice was “tagged” to the project and wasn’t just a one-off bill. If you’re recording an expense, you’ll see a column for Customer/Project with other line item details.

There’s also another way to connect transactions to their related projects. On the Projects home page, click on a project name in the list. Click the Add to Project button in the upper right and select the correct transaction from the list that drops down. In some cases, like invoices, the project will already have been selected and will appear in the Customer field.

If you enter a transaction and realize later that you forgot to connect it to a project, you can correct this in most cases (like expenses and bills) by going back to the original transaction and adding (or changing) the Customer/Project name. Invoices are tricky, though, depending on their status. We’d recommend you consult with us about this.

Understanding Profitability


You can see what your profit margin is on any project at any time.

After you’ve been entering project-related income and expenses for a while, you’ll probably be curious about whether or not you’re making money – even if the project is still in progress. To do this, open the Projects home page and click on the project name. The screen that opens (like in the image above) will be devoted to that one project. You can click on tabs to see:

  • An Overview that lists your income and costs, as well as your profit.
  • A list of related Transactions.
  • Time Activity records.
  • Project Reports (Project profitability, Time cost by employee or vendor, and Unbilled time and expenses).

We encourage you to use QuickBooks Online’s Project tools but would caution you about making changes to some existing transactions, especially invoices. To ensure that you are on the right track with this feature, please contact us to set-up a consultation.

Who Owes You? 5 QuickBooks Online Reports That Can Tell You Fast

How many of your invoices are unpaid? Have any of your customers gone over 30 days past due? Did you bill all of the time and expenses for that project you just completed for a customer?

If you’re doing your accounting manually, there’s simply no way to get that information quickly. Depending on your bookkeeping system, you may not be able to get it at all.

QuickBooks Online has more than one solution to this problem. Each time you log in, the Dashboard contains a graphic in the upper left corner that tells you how many invoices are overdue and unpaid. Click on the colored bar labeled OVERDUE, and you’ll see a list of invoices with the unpaid ones right at the top.


You can tell at a glance how much of your money is tied up in unpaid invoices.

While this is important information for you to have as you start your workday, it doesn’t tell the whole story. To get that, you’ll need to access some of QuickBooks Online’s reports, five of them in particular. Click Reports in the left vertical pane, and then scroll down to the heading labeled Who owes you.

These reports are listed in two columns. Each has the outline of a star next to it. Click on the star, and the report will be added to the Favorites list at the top of the page. Click on the three vertical dots next to it, and you’ll be able to Customize the report. And as you hover over the title, you’ll see a small, circled question mark. Click on this to get a brief description of the report.

There are several reports on this list that can provide insight into where your outstanding revenue is. We recommend you run five of them at least once a week, and more frequently if your business sells large quantities of products or services. The suggested reports are:

Accounts receivable aging detail

This report provides a list of overdue invoices, along with aging information. There are several columns in the report, but you’ll want to pay special attention to the last one: OPEN BALANCE.

Tip: If you have many customers or simply a high volume of unpaid invoices, you might consider running the Accounts receivable aging summary instead.

Changing the Content

Before you run the report, you should explore the customization tools provided for it. They won’t be the same for every report, but you can start to get an idea of what can be done. Hover over the report title and click Customize. A panel like the one pictured below will slide out of the right side of the screen.


QuickBooks Online provides deep customization tools for reports.

You can see some of your customization options in the image above. Beyond these, you can also work with filters and headers/footers. When you’re satisfied with your changes, click Run report.

If you want to run a report with its default settings, click on the report title in the list to display it. You’ll have access to limited customization from there.

Four other reports you should be generating regularly are:

  • Customer Balance Summary: Shows you how much each customer owes your business
  • Open Invoices: Lists invoices for which there has been no payment
  • Unbilled Charges: Just what it sounds like: tells you who hasn’t been invoiced yet for billable charges
  • Unbilled Time: Lists all billable time not yet invoiced

We don’t expect you’ll have any trouble understanding reports like these; they’re fairly self-explanatory. QuickBooks Online offers many other reports, including the standard financial reports that need to be generated monthly or quarterly, like Balance SheetProfit and Loss, and Statement of Cash Flows. You’ll need these if you apply for a loan or need to supply in-depth financials for any other reason. If you have any questions about how to run QuickBooks reports, please contact us. We can help you analyze them to get a comprehensive, detailed picture of your company’s fiscal health.

Five Tips You Should Know About the Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online

You probably didn’t expect you’d have to become an accounting expert when you started your small business. You knew you’d have to deal with recording income and expenses, maybe track your inventory and process a payroll. But you may not have understood just how complex financial bookkeeping could be.

That’s why you decided to use QuickBooks Online, or are at least considering it. The service is an expert on accounting, and it simplifies the process. It knows exactly how you have to document transactions to stay compliant with the rules that accountants and other businesses follow. This is good practice, and it’s absolutely necessary if, for example, you ever have to apply for financing.

One QuickBooks feature you should understand is the Chart of Accounts. You won’t have to alter it in any way. In fact, we strongly advise against it—but you’ll encounter it when you work with transactions. Here are five tips you should know about it.

What is it?

These three columns from QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts display account NamesTypes, and Detail Types.

QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts is a list of financial categories that are used to classify your company’s transactions when you record them. If you were doing your accounting manually, you would have to create your own Chart of Accounts. But QuickBooks Online builds one for you based on the company type and industry you choose when you’re setting up the site.

Why is the Chart of Accounts important?

Some people refer to the Chart of Accounts as the “backbone” of your company file. All transactions flow to it. Its primary importance can be summed up in one word: reports. Your reports will not be accurate if your Chart of Accounts is poorly constructed or if you categorize transactions incorrectly. This becomes as issue when you want to:

  • Prepare taxes. Your income tax return will not reflect your reportable income and deductible expenses if transactions are not assigned to the right classifications.
  • Apply for financing, take on an investor, sell your company, etc.
  • Monitor your finances. You won’t get a true picture of your income and expenses, which makes it difficult to analyze your company’s fiscal health and plan for the future.

What’s in the Chart of Accounts?

There are two types of accounts. One contains information that’s used in the Balance Sheet report. These accounts will have a number in the QuickBooks Balance column that’s based on all transactions up to the current date. They include Assets (bank accounts, accounts receivable, inventory, etc.), Liabilities (unpaid bills, credit cards, payroll and sales taxes, loans, etc.), and Equity.

The remainder of the accounts are used in the Profit and Loss report, otherwise known as the Income Statement. They’re divided into Income (sales, discounts given, etc.), Cost of Goods Sold (labor, shipping, materials and supplies, etc.), Expenses (advertising, insurance, payroll, etc.), Other Income, and Other Expense. You won’t see a number in the QuickBooks Balance column for these accounts because the Profit and Loss report changes based on the date range selected.

Should I ever make any modifications to my Chart of Accounts?

You can set up bank and credit card accounts in QuickBooks Online’s Chart of Accounts.

As we stated earlier, we strongly recommend that you never modify your Chart of Accounts without consulting us. However, there are two exceptions to this. You’ll want to create entries for your bank and credit card accounts. To do this, first open the Chart of Accounts by clicking the gear icon in the upper right and selecting Chart of Accounts under Your Company. When it opens, click New in the upper right corner. Choose Bank or Credit Card and fill in the blanks.

Do I need to use account numbers in the Chart of Accounts?

Generally, the smaller the business, the less need there is for account numbers. If your business is big enough that you have dedicated A/P and A/R individuals, you may want to post transactions to account numbers.

Understanding Reports

QuickBooks Online makes it possible for you to view the Chart of Accounts and those two critical reports, Balance Sheet and Profit & Loss. Customizing and analyzing them, though, is something you should do with the assistance of a tax professional. Please contact us for a consultation, our tax advisors are happy to guide you through your Chart of Accounts as well as other advanced areas of QuickBooks Online.

Need Advanced Time-Tracking? Connect QuickBooks Online to An App

You can track the hours employees work in QuickBooks Online. But if your time-tracking needs are complex enough, you’ll need an integrated app. 

If your company has a staff and sells services, you know better than anyone that time is money. It’s critical that you track every minute that employees work, as well as those that can be billed to customers. QuickBooks Online offers dedicated tools that let you do just those tasks.

But QuickBooks Online has limitations in that area, and you may need more versatile time-tracking than it provides. There’s a solution for that: add an integrated add-on application. Several are available that go above and beyond in the area of employee time management. If you’re interested in exploring these online solutions, we can help you find and get started with the right one.

What QuickBooks Online Can Do

QuickBooks Online has time-tracking features that are easy to set up and use – but you must be sure they’re turned on. Click the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner, then Account and Settings under Your Company. Click on the Advanced tab and go down to the Time Tracking section. The first two entries here should be checked; if they’re not, click in the boxes. If you don’t want employees to see how much customers are being billed for their time, keep that box unchecked. Change the First day of work week if necessary and click Save.


If you’re going to track hours worked by employees and bill them to customers, these two boxes need to be checked.

Once time-tracking is enabled, you’ll be able to enter single timed activities and/or fill in timesheets, marking them as billable where appropriate. Employees will be able to enter their own hours on timesheets, and billable hours can be easily transferred to customer invoices.

Adding an Add-On

As we said earlier, there are numerous advanced add-on time-tracking applications that can be integrated with QuickBooks Online. They contain built-in tools to facilitate their actual connections with QuickBooks Online, and they know what data needs to be exchanged and synchronized. Hours captured on timesheets goes directly into QuickBooks Online, which transfers billable hours to customer invoices and uses the data in job costing and payroll.

Here’s an example of how the setup process works in one of the most popular apps, TSheets. Once you’ve created an account (a 14-day free trial is available), you’ll click on the Feature Add-ons link in the lower left-hand corner, then Manage Add-ons. Select QuickBooks Online from the list and click Connect to QuickBooks. Click Connect again to establish the link. TSheets then asks some questions about your import preferences. When you’ve designated those and clicked on Start Import, TSheets will import your employees, customers, service items, and other data you’ve specified from QuickBooks Online.

You may need our assistance with one task in particular: setting up the Payroll Item Mapping Tool. This ensures that your pay types (salary, overtime, etc.) match those in QuickBooks Online. There are many other internal settings that will require your attention before you start using TSheets.

You can fine-tune your time-tracking app’s settings, as in the above image from TSheets.

Sophisticated Tools

TSheets and other QBO-friendly time-tracking applications have their own unique set of features, but they all focus on getting your employees paid for their work and your company paid by customers who use your services – accurately and in documented detail. Prices vary, but they generally charge a monthly base fee and an additional monthly fee for each user.

Employees can, for example:

  • Punch into and out of specific jobs on a virtual time clock (desktop or mobile). Facial recognition adds another layer of security.
  • Use timecards or timers to record work hours.
  • Record their breaks and time off based on the stated company policies.
  • Track time when Wi-Fi or cellular service is not available.

Managers can:

  • Access and approve timesheets from the mobile app.
  • Schedule shifts and assign employees to them.
  • See who’s working (and on what) and locate them via GPS tracking.
  • Generate real-time, live reports.

Keep in mind, when you add an app to QuickBooks Online, you essentially need to learn how to use an unfamiliar website or program. Since they both touch upon payroll and customer billing, time-tracking applications must be understood thoroughly and used with precision. If your needs go beyond what QuickBooks Online can do, please contact us and let us help you select and implement the right app for you.

The Life of an Estimate in QuickBooks Online

Estimates-or quotes, or bids-are useful tools when you’re pitching a sale of products or services. Here’s how QuickBooks Online handles them.

Sales estimates are standard procedure in many professions. You wouldn’t authorize a car repair without one. Nor would you OK a remodeling job on your kitchen or a summer’s worth of yard landscaping without knowing what the costs will be upfront. Estimates don’t have to be formal documents. You could scribble a proposal for products or services and their prices on a paper napkin and have your customer sign it. But as we’ve said before, the quality of your sales documents reflects on your company’s professionalism as well as its image.

QuickBooks Online offers specialized tools to manage this step in the selling process. You can create detailed estimates that the site can easily convert to invoices when you get an approval. And QuickBooks Online reports help you monitor the progress of your quotes. Here’s how it works.

A Dedicated Form

You probably already know how to create an invoice. If so, you shouldn’t have any trouble generating estimates because the forms are very similar. To get started, click the + (plus) sign in the upper right corner of the screen. In the Customers column, click Estimates. A form like this will open:

QuickBooks Online provides a form template for your estimates.

Open the drop-down list in the Customer field and select the correct one (or +Add new).

Note: If you click on +Add new, you’re only required to enter your prospective customer’s name to create an estimate; contact detail, of course, will not appear on the form. You can go back later and complete a customer record, but it’s best to at least enter a physical and email address. Click +Details to open the complete record, then save what you provide there.

The word “Pending” should appear below the Customer field. This refers to the status of your estimate. Click the down arrow to the right of it, then on the down arrow in the small window that opens to see what options you’ll have later. If you want to copy someone else on the estimate, click the small Cc/Bcc link to the right and provide the email address(es).

Enter (or select by clicking on the calendar graphic) the Estimate date. If your offer is only good for a limited period of time, enter an Expiration date; otherwise, leave that field blank. Then go down to the Product/Service grid and select the items for which you’re providing an estimate, one on each line. Fill in the Qty field and check the labeled box if the item is taxable.

If you had created a product record for it already, the other fields should be completed automatically. If not, click +Add new. The Product/Service information pane should slide out from the right side of the screen. Here again, you’re only required to enter a Name, but you should really create the whole record and save it to return to the estimate. If you’ve not been through this process before, we can walk you through it.

You can add a discount to the estimate as either a percentage or a dollar amount in the lower right corner of the screen. You can also edit the customer message that appears in the lower left and attach any files necessary. When you’re done, save the estimate.

Estimate Options

You can work with your estimate from the Sales Transactions screen.

If you’re not already there, click the Sales link in the left vertical toolbar, and then the All Sales tab and the Estimates bar. Find your estimate and look at the end of the row, in the Action column. If you want to convert your estimate to an invoice, click Create invoice. In the window that opens, indicate whether you want to invoice:

  • A percentage of each line item,
  • A custom amount for each line, or,
  • The total of all lines.

Review your invoice when it opens, complete any other fields necessary, and save it. Your estimate’s status has now been changed to Closed, and the new invoice created from it will appear on the Sales Transactions screen. It will also be included in the Estimates by Customer report.

If you can create an invoice, you can create an estimate. The tricky part comes in when you must amend an estimate before you bill it – or even alter it and resubmit it. If you’re going to work with estimates extensively, contact your Tarlow tax advisor to ensure you’re getting it right from the start.

How QuickBooks Protects Your Data, and How You Can Help

The data in your QuickBooks company file contains some of the most sensitive information on your computer. Make sure it’s secure.

Your customer list is gold. And those Social Security and bank card numbers in your payroll, client, and vendor records need to be protected from intruders and only viewed by authorized employees.

It’s not just large corporations and financial institutions that get hacked. That’s what the bad guys want you to think. Small businesses are often the victims of data breaches because their owners think they’re immune from data theft and destruction.

Even if you’re password-protecting your PCs and running antivirus and anti-malware software, there’s more you need to do when it comes to your accounting records. Here’s what we suggest.

Restrict access by setting up user permissions.

If you have multiple staff members using QuickBooks, don’t share the same user name and password. That obviously gives everyone access to all data and activity. If something goes awry, you have no way of knowing when or how it happened, and who was responsible. To protect yourself and everyone else who logs in, it’s critical that all users have their own unique logins. They should only be allowed to access information and functions that relate to their job duties.

You can restrict QuickBooks users to certain screens and activities.

To assign these permission levels, open the Company menu and click on Set Up Users and Passwords, then Set Up Users. This opens the User List window, where you should be identified as the Admin. Click Add User. Enter a user name and password for an employee who needs access (this can be changed later). Check the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks license.

Tip: Not sure how many users are allowed under your current license? Click F2 and look in the upper left corner. If you need to add licenses, let us know.

Click Next. The next screen lists three options. You can grant access to all areas or to selected areas. You can also create a login for us as your external accountant, which lets us see everything except sensitive customer data. Select the second option and click Next. You can see in the image above that you can give the employee different levels of responsibility. When you’ve made your choice, click Next. The subsequent nine screens deal with different areas of QuickBooks and their related activities.

Tip: When you need to change your password, which you should do at a minimum every three months, go to Company | Set Up Users and Passwords | Change Your Password.

Save your company file elsewhere.

You should always be backing up your company file to an external storage device (like a CD or thumb drive). To set this up, open the File menu and select Back Up Company, then Create Local Backup. This window will open:

The Create Backup window

Make sure Local backup is selected, then click the Options button below (not pictured here). Click Browse to see a directory of your PC and select the correct destination. Leave the two boxes below it checked; this will add the backup date/time to the filename and limit the number of backup copies to three.

By default, QuickBooks will remind you to back up your file every fourth time you close your company file; you can change this number if you prefer. Leave the Complete verification option checked and click OK, then Next. Specify when you want to save your backup copy and click Next again. You can schedule regular backups of your company file on the next screen if you’d like. When you’ve completed this screen, click Finish.

You should also consider saving a copy of your company file to the cloud. Intuit offers its own service for this; it costs $9.95/month or $99.95 annually, but it gives you 100 GB of storage space, so you can back up other critical business files, too. If you can’t swing this financially, at least store your backups to a portable device that you can carry offsite.

Warning: If you already pay for cloud storage from another vendor, don’t assume you can copy your QuickBooks file to it. Talk to us.

Other Steps

There are other things you can do to protect your QuickBooks data, including:

  • Insist on strong passwords. Yes, it’s a pain to create and remember them, but it’s critical here.
  • Keep everything updated. That includes your operating system and anything else that requires updates.
  • Minimize web browsing on work computers and remind employees about smart email behaviors.

We strongly recommend that you consult with a seasoned Tarlow tax professional as you’re setting up any kind of backup system for QuickBooks. The software’s instructions are straightforward, but we don’t want you to do anything that would jeopardize the integrity of your company file. Please contact us with any related questions or to schedule a consultation.