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How to Setup QuickBooks For Your Small Business

QuickBooks is the world’s most popular accounting software. Ready to setup QuickBooks for your small business? Today, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about setting up QuickBooks quickly and easily.

Getting Started With QuickBooks

Here’s a step by step guide to getting started with QuickBooks for the very first time:

Step 1) Register for QuickBooks

The new version of QuickBooks lets you register for the service in under 60 seconds. All QuickBooks packages also come with a free trial. QuickBooks Online has three different subscription options, including:

  • Simple Start: $5/month – Lets you create invoices and estimates and download bank transactions
  • Essentials: $10/month – All Simple Start features; manage and pay bills and multi-user support
  • Plus: $21/month – All Essentials features; Track inventory and prepare and print 1099s

Editor’s Note: Looking for information on payroll services? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

You can gain free access to all of these subscription plans for 30 days. That free subscription gives you full access with no restrictions.

To start your QuickBooks Online free trial, you’ll need to enter your name, email address, username, and password. There’s no credit card required to start your free trial.

You’ll need to use a compatible browser to use QuickBooks Online. Compatible browsers include Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer 10, and Safari 6.1 or higher. Once you’ve signed up for the trial, you’ll be able to login and immediately see the QuickBooks dashboard.

Step 2) Customize your Company Preferences and Account Settings

You can use your QuickBooks dashboard to display a helpful To Do list and other tools. When you login for the first time, you’ll also see a series of tutorials that let you setup different parts of your new account.

Before you do any of those things, you should first set your company preferences.

To start, click the Company tab at the top menu bar and then select Preferences. Edit your company’s contact information. Then, change your account settings however you like. Settings you might want to change include:

  • Invoice automation
  • Time tracking and payroll
  • Credit card payments (you may want to choose to accept online payments, for example)

One of the nice parts about QuickBooks Online is that you’re not forced to complete all of these settings options prior to opening your account. The old desktop versions of QuickBooks forced you to edit all of these settings (even if you didn’t totally understand what they meant).

If you don’t want to change these settings around right now, you can just ignore them until you have more time.

Step 3) Import Business Data to QuickBooks

The new QuickBooks lets you important existing QuickBooks straight into your new account with no hassle or manual transfers required. You can directly import company data from QuickBooks Desktop, transactions from your bank accounts, customer data from Excel, email apps, and your Excel chart of accounts.

To do these things, click on the Company tab in the top menu bar, then select More and Import Data from the dropdown menu.

You’ll see a wide range of data import options available. If you want to import your chart of accounts, as mentioned above, you can upload your XLS file and then match each field to your QuickBooks fields. You’ll want to review the data to make sure it’s accurate before finalizing the import.

Uploading customer and vendor lists is as easy as uploading an Excel or CSV file. Follow the same process: match each field to your QuickBooks fields, then check to make sure there are no errors.

Some of the business data you can import into QuickBooks includes:

  • QuickBooks desktop company data
  • Transactions from your bank (QuickBooks supports QBO, OFX, and QFX files)
  • Customer or vendor data from Excel, Outlook, or Gmail
  • Products and services from Excel
  • Chart of accounts from Excel

QuickBooks is smart enough to smoothly handle most imports. However, you may encounter a few errors along the way. When you import your chart of accounts, for example, you may encounter “Type” errors. This just means that the “Type” of business in your chart of accounts is not recognized in QuickBooks’ database of types of businesses.

You can also experience errors when the “type” isn’t specific enough. QuickBooks is particularly picky about banks, for example. if your bank is just listed as “bank” in your chart of accounts, then QuickBooks may get you to categorize it as a certain type of bank (like a checking, savings, money market, cash on hand, or trust account, for example).

You might feel that QuickBooks makes you over-categorize certain businesses. But hey, at least it helps you keep your business a little more organized.

Step 4) Sync your Bank Accounts with QuickBooks

Automatically connect your business’s bank account data with QuickBooks by clicking on the Banking tab at the top of the screen. Then click Download Transactions.

You’ll see a pop-up window where you can enter the name of your bank and the account number for the account you wish to sync. At this point, you’ll need to use your online banking login name and password.

Then, QuickBooks will spend a few minutes importing all your business account’s bank transactions into the software.

Once that transfer is complete, you can attach vendor or customer names (or even specific accounts) to each transaction. This can help you make sense out of a wall of credit and debit info.

Most modern banks have seamless QuickBooks integration and the process should go smoothly. However, if you use a local credit union or a more obscure bank that uses an outdated online banking platform, then you may have some trouble with this step.

Step 5) Sync your Business Credit Cards

Make sure all your credit card info shows up in QuickBooks by syncing your credit card accounts. This means you don’t have to manually record your data: QuickBooks will automatically keep track of it and ensure it’s accurate

To sync your credit cards, click on the Banking tab on the top menu bar, then select More and then Registers from the drop down menu.

Type in a new account name, then click OK. You’ll see a pop-up window appear asking what type of account you’d like to set up. Choose the Credit Card option and QuickBooks will launch a credit card setup wizard. This wizard will help you sync your cards in just a few easy steps.

Step 6) Customize Your Invoices with Company Branding

Good businesses have good-looking invoices. Make sure your customers are impressed by your invoices by customizing your QuickBooks invoice with your company logo and branding.

QuickBooks is famous for its customizable invoices. Some of the things you might want to change on your invoices includes:

  • Style
  • Size
  • Color
  • Font
  • Layout

Keep in mind that complete invoice customization is only available to QuickBooks Plus subscribers.

To access the customization menu, click on the Customers tab at the top of the QuickBooks menu. Then, select Create Invoices. Choose your desired invoice template from the drop-down list. The invoices all have the same basic layout but shift certain things around – so experiment with a few different designs before finding one that suits your business.

If you want to make further changes to the invoice, then you can click the Formatting tab and then click Customize Date Layout.

A display window will pop up featuring a wide range of options for customizing your invoice. You can change all of the settings I mentioned above (style, size, etc.) and also change how your invoice prints.

Make sure to add your company logo to your invoices. To do that, click on the Create Invoices tab, then choose Customize Design and Layout. Click the Customize Data Layout button and then the Basic Customization Button, which you’ll find at the bottom of the Additional Customization window. Look for the Use Logo checkbox, and then wait for the window to pop up asking you to select the file that will be uploaded.

You might notice that your logo looks a bit distorted or cropped on your invoice. Keep in mind that QuickBooks will edit your logo to fit inside a square space. If this doesn’t suit your company’s logo, then you may need to crop the logo yourself to make it fit into a square.

Once you’ve chosen the logo file that best suits your business, click on Open to preview the new square image and then press OK to save it.

Step 7) Importing your Contacts to QuickBooks

QuickBooks Online makes it easy to import your contacts. If you didn’t already import your contacts in step 3, then now’s a good time to do it.

First, click on Company > More > Import Data, then select Customers or Vendors (depending on which type of contact you’re importing).

You can upload this data in the form of an Excel or CSV file. Your Excel file should have customer data separated from line to line (say, the phone number in one vertical column, website in another, name, address, etc. in other vertical columns). As long as your contact list is in that format, QuickBooks will figure it out.

After you import that file, QuickBooks will automatically fill your data into its own fields. This data should copy over fairly smoothly, but QuickBooks will sometimes have some errors.

You’ll also notice that QuickBooks probably has more fields than you actually need: you might not have a customer’s fax or ZIP code, for example.

Once you’ve reviewed the data on the import screen and assigned it to the correct fields, you can click Continue, then review your data, then make sure all your contacts were uploaded successfully.

Important Tips and Tricks When Using QuickBooks for the First Time

If you’re just starting to use QuickBooks for the first time, then you should avoid using certain tools until you become more familiar with the software. Here are some tips that will help you survive your first few days with QuickBooks:

Avoid Using Invoices and Estimates At First

The Invoices and Estimates features in QuickBooks can be very useful. However, we recommend you avoid using these features until you’re more familiar with the software. The reason? QuickBooks automatically posts accounting activity whenever you use these functions. Consider creating estimates and invoices separately (like in Word) and post that data manually to QuickBooks. Once you figure out how the amounts are generated, then you can start using the built-in Invoices and Estimates to make your business’s QuickBooks account 100% accurate.

Separate Business and Pleasure

One of the most helpful parts of QuickBooks is being able to sync your checking account into the software. All transactions automatically appear in the software and you don’t need to manually enter anything. The problem with this approach comes from when you mix business and pleasure: it’s important that your business account does not include personal transactions. We recommend using one checking account or credit card account for business and a separate one for personal expenses.

Recognize that There Are Pro QuickBooks Advisors Available to Help

Did you really mess up something badly in QuickBooks? Stuck on a problem and have no idea how to solve it? If you’re at a dead end, then you can always call a QuickBooks Pro Advisor. Intuit has a QuickBooks Find a Pro Advisor system that lets you find nearby QuickBooks professionals based on your ZIP code or postal code.

These professionals have passed exams and are certified QuickBooks experts (they’re also typically CPAs). If you don’t want to pay to have a pro help you out, then you can also brose through Intuit’s QuickBooks Support Database here.

Consider Connecting QuickBooks with Payroll Software

Some business owners enjoy the challenge of calculating payroll themselves every pay period (seriously). Others prefer an easier approach and will sync third-party payroll software with QuickBooks.

All major payroll software programs sync with QuickBooks (payroll software makers know that QuickBooks is the most popular accounting software). Good payroll software will help you stay up-to-date on the latest tax laws and tax code changes, which can help you save a lot of time and money (you won’t get penalized for not knowing a tax withholding changed in the middle of the year, for example).

By following the tips, tricks, and tutorials listed above, you can become a QuickBooks master in no time. Learning how to set up QuickBooks has never been easier.

Editor’s Note: Looking for information on payroll services? Use the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you to provide you with the information you need:


About Johnson Hur

After having graduated with a degree in Finance and working for a Fortune 500 company for several years, Johnson decided to follow his passion by embarking on a path to the digital world. He has over 8 years of experience with large companies setting marketing strategy.

One comment

  1. This is really helpful! The setup process is nicely organized. I did some research last year when I noticed how heavily Intuit is promoting Quickbooks Online and this so this information wasn’t easy to pull together. You’ve clarified a number of things for me. I’ll pass the word to my clients. Good job, thanks!

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