Written by Christine Howard, a Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor at tonneson + co
QuickBooks is one of the most popular accounting programs available today. Both user-friendly and flexible, the program can be a valuable resource for small businesses in almost every industry when used properly. Though users appreciate the convenience QuickBooks offers, they sometimes miss out on potential efficiency gains. Here are five tips to help your organization maximize the benefits of using QuickBooks:
1. Download information from banks and credit card companies directly into QuickBooks.
Downloading bank and credit card transactions directly into QuickBooks is much faster than trying to input this data manually, one transaction at a time. Major banks, credit cards and even some credit unions give you the ability to connect QuickBooks with the account. If your banking institution does not, you can still save time by uploading transactions using an Excel .csv file or .qbo file.
2. Make use of Memorized Transactions.
For recurring transactions that take place at regular intervals, you can set up Memorized Transactions in QuickBooks. This will help you keep tabs on your cash balance as well as saving time and improving accuracy with standardized entries such as rent, bill payments and other predictable transactions that have a fixed cost.
3. Use accounts payable and accounts receivable modules.
These modules offer financial insights that can help you run your business more efficiently and increase cash flow. The accounts payable module provides an up-to-the-minute snapshot of all outstanding bills, allowing you to take advantage of term discounts. The accounts receivable module displays current information about invoices. Seeing the big picture here lets you receive outstanding payments more quickly and facilitates faster decisions, so you avoid letting customers go too far out.
4. Reconcile checking accounts.
It’s important for small business owners to know their cash balance at all times. Reconciling accounts is a task that often gets put off until later (or indefinitely), but this is unwise. Monitor outstanding checks regularly, and review bank information to detect mistakes. They’re not common, but they do happen. Uncovering a problem right away prevents it from becoming a major issue later.
5. Update annually with your CPA’s year-end adjustments.
Besides handling ongoing accounting and bookkeeping tasks, QuickBooks can make year-end accounting and tax returns more efficient. Work with your CPA to ensure that your QuickBooks file ties to your tax return, and lock the year to avoid entering data in a previous year. Giving your CPA a clean file at year-end will help streamline preparing your tax return.
These are only a few of the time-saving strategies that can help you optimize your QuickBooks experience. In some cases, however, the solution to accounting challenges lies outside your company. If you need additional support, it may be time to turn the bookkeeping over to a professional. There are several signs that you might want to seek assistance:
• If you have fallen behind in entering your information
• If your CPA has to spend hours cleaning up the books before preparing a tax return, resulting in an exorbitant tax bill at year-end
• If you cannot rely on any of the reports to make management decisions or tax planning
• If you still keep manual records or Excel spreadsheets
Any of these scenarios indicate a problem that, if left unaddressed, may negatively impact your business. Additional training on QuickBooks can sometimes help, as can setting aside time daily to focus exclusively on bookkeeping. In many cases, however, these are signs that outsourcing the work to a trained professional is the best solution to ensure your accounting stays in tip-top shape, letting you focus on growing the business rather than keeping the books.
If you need help determining the best path forward with accounting and bookkeeping for your business, contact one of our Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisors at [email protected].