1. How to customize the settings on your QuickBooks™ desktop
  2. How to turn on the Reminders feature when opening a company file
  3. Password Protecting QuickBooks
  4. How To Setup QuickBooks™ to share with another computer
  5. How to set up accounts for contractors that will be given 1099s.
  6. Spring Cleaning: Personalize and Tidy Up Your QuickBooks™ Desktop
  7. Getting QuickBooks™ Ready for Tax Preparation
  8. Look Professional With Customized QuickBooks™ Forms
  9. Tune Up Your Business Plan with QuickBooks
  10. 7 Ways to Use QuickBooks™ to Manage Collections
  11. Profit & Loss Report Versus Statement of Cash Flows
  12. QuickBooks™ Helps You Navigate Tricky Waters
  13. Go Back to School With QuickBooks' Educational Tools
  14. Sales Orders in QuickBooks: Why? When? How?
  15. Classes or Types? When To Use Them
  16. Preparing Purchase Orders Precisely
  17. How to Create a Progress Invoice from an Estimate
  18. Receiving Inventory With or Without Bills in QuickBooks
  19. QuickBooks' Custom Fields: An Overview
  20. Do You Need a More Robust Version of QuickBooks?
  21. Spring-Clean Your QuickBooks™ Company File
  22. Customize Reports, Make Better Business Decisions
  23. Using Statements in QuickBooks: The Basics
  24. Creating Item Records in QuickBooks
  25. Memorizing Transactions in QuickBooks: Why? How?
  26. Preventing Data Theft in QuickBooks
  27. Using Mobile Apps with QuickBooks
  28. Customize Forms for a More Professional Image
  29. Use QuickBooks™ Custom Fields to Improve Insight
  30. Setting Up User Access in QuickBooks
  31. Make QuickBooks™ Your Own: Specify Preferences
  32. Creating Reports in QuickBooks, Part 1
  33. Creating Reports in QuickBooks, Part 2
  34. Anatomy of a QuickBooks™ Inventory Item
  35. Memorizing Transactions in QuickBooks
  36. Getting Ready for Payroll in QuickBooks™ Online
  37. How to Enter Bills in QuickBooks
  38. Need to Create Estimates? QuickBooks™ Can Help.
  39. Options for Receiving Payments in QuickBooks
  40. Issuing Credit Memos and Refunds in QuickBooks

How to customize the settings on your QuickBooks™ desktop

  1. Edit
  2. Preferences
  3. Desktop View

How to turn on the Reminders feature when opening a company file

  1. Click on Edit
  2. Click on Preference
  3. Click the picture of Reminders from the list that appears
  4. Make sure a check mark is in the box marked "Show Reminders list when opening a company file"
  5. Click the OK button

Password Protecting QuickBooks

To password protect your QuickBooks™ data file click on Company in the menu bar, then Set Up Users. From here, you can assign a password for the main (Administrator) account in QuickBooks. You can also set up user accounts, passwords, and different levels of access if you have multiple people using your QuickBooks™ file. Make sure you keep your newly created password in a safe place (just in case you forget it!)

How To Setup QuickBooks™ to share with another computer

To allow the sharing of your QuickBooks™ file, your best option is to have a computer network in place. This network will provide the foundation for you to then share the file between two or more computers. You can have either a wired or wireless network within your office.

It is also possible to take a backup copy of the QuickBooks™ file from one computer and restore it to a second computer to allow sharing of the information. However, I don't recommend this if both computers will be entering QuickBooks™ data. If you do this, you won't know who has the most recent copy of the data file, and things can get messed up quite easily. Your best bet is to talk to a local computer consultant about a network for your home or office.

How to set up accounts for contractors that will be given 1099s.

The first thing you must do is tell QuickBooks™ that you will be issuing 1099s. Click on Edit (from the menu bar), then Preferences. Scroll down until you find the picture that says "Tax:1099" and click on it. On the Company Preferences tab, answer yes to the question about the issuance of 1099 forms, then follow the rest of the instructions on this screen.

Next, you'll need to identify those vendors who are eligible to receive a 1099. Click on Vendors, then Vendor List. Double-click on the first vendor in the list, then the "Additional Info" tab. In the lower left hand corner, put a check mark in the box that says "vendor eligible for 1099" and enter their tax ID number they have provided. Repeat this process for any vendors that need to receive a 1099.

Finally, to run the 1099's and related information, click on Reports, then Vendors, then either of the 1099 reports. Verify the data, correct if necessary, and print your 1099's all within QuickBooks.

It's important to review this topic with your accountant to ensure you are collecting the proper information and preparing the 1099 forms correctly for your business.

Spring Cleaning: Personalize and Tidy Up Your QuickBooks™ Desktop

One of the reasons the QuickBooks™ line of desktop products has been so successful is because of its clean, simple appearance and efficient navigational tools. But there's room for improvement and personalization. Everyone uses QuickBooks™ just a little differently. You can create a desktop that meets your specific needs, while maintaining the program's inherent usability. Every desktop version of QuickBooks™ (except for Simple Start) offers several tools to accommodate your preferences, so we'll show you some of the best.

Establish Default Windows for Startup

QuickBooks automatically opens to its default desktop (the Home page), which displays a set of the most commonly used navigational icons, separated by type. You can change this behavior so that every time you launch the program, it opens to the screen(s) you want to see first.

You'll have to tweak your Preferences to make this happen. Click Edit | Preferences. In the list on the left, click Desktop View. You'll see a window that looks like Figure 1:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 1:

In the Desktop View section of your Preferences window, you can choose to have one window or multiple windows open, and save a desktop configuration that will open when you launch QuickBooks.

Note: If you want be able to have multiple windows open simultaneously, be sure that option is checked.

There are three options for preserving your desktop layout. If you click Save when closing company, QuickBooks will open with the windows that were open when you last closed the company file. If you don't want any windows to open, check Don't save the desktop. And if you have a set of favorite windows that you want to open each time you launch QuickBooks, set up that configuration and click Save current desktop. Of course, you can simply choose to have the Home page display when you load QuickBooks.

There are other desktop-related options in this same window that have to do with QuickBooks' help features. You may also want to adjust these if you commonly use those services.

Customize Your Icon Bar

This is probably the simplest thing you can do to improve navigation. QuickBooks™ comes with an icon bar pre-installed, a horizontal strip at the top of the screen whose icons take you to specific parts of the program. The default icon bar may serve your purposes well, but if not, you can easily modify it. Click View | Customize Icon Bar (or right-click directly on the icon bar). The window shown in Figure 2 opens.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 2:

The Customize Icon Bar window contains all the tools you need to modify the navigational icons displayed in the QuickBooks™ icon bar.

To add, edit, or delete icons, simply click on the appropriate buttons. A new window opens containing self-explanatory tools to help you make your changes. You can also add separators (vertical lines) that can divide related groupings of icons.

Tracking Open Windows

If you've chosen to have multiple windows open simultaneously, you can easily keep track of what's open-and navigate there quickly-by using the Open Windows list. To get there, click View | Open Window List. QuickBooks will open the sidebar shown in Figure 3. This list appears to the left of the main desktop or any open windows. To close it, simply click View, then uncheck Open Window List.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 3:

You can use the Open Window List to keep track of which windows are open. Clicking on one takes you there.

Customizing the Home Page

QuickBooks' Home page is one of the program's best feature. It not only serves as a navigational tool-you can click on an icon labeled, for example, Enter Bills, and QuickBooks™ will take you to that page-but it also illustrates the workflow of some processes.

You have some control over what appears on the Home Page. To make changes, click Edit | Preferences, then Desktop View and then Company Preferences tab to display the window in Figure 4.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 4:

In this window, you can turn on or off some of the icons that appear on the Home page.

Here, you can check or uncheck icons like Sales Receipts. But in order to show or hide icons, you'll have to make sure that the actual features enabling them are active or inactive.

Your current preferences are displayed at the bottom of the window. You can easily alter them by clicking on one of the hyperlinks. So if Sales Tax is off, for example, click on it, and a window opens that lets you set up a sales tax item.

Finding Favorites

There's yet another way to isolate the functions you use most often: the Favorites list. Click Favorites | Customize Favorites to access the list of options (like Chart of Accounts and Price Level List). Highlight one, then click Add. When you're done with your list, click OK. Click the Favorites menu anytime you want to access these.

QuickBooks desktop is a powerful navigational tool, and provides simple maps to all of the program's functions. Such versatility and customizability contribute to the program's overall ease of use, and make it a pleasure to use.

Setting up Preferences correctly in QuickBooks-for elements like Items & Inventory and Payments-will make the program work the way you need it to. If you have any questions on how to do this, please call us.

Getting QuickBooks™ Ready for Tax Preparation

Seems like you just finished doing your taxes, and here they come again. Whether you prepare them yourselves, hand them off to an accounting professional, or send data to a tax preparation product, QuickBooks can help you get ready.

Here's how. This is not a comprehensive list of tasks you'll need to undertake to prepare for taxes. Rather, it's an overview of QuickBooks' most tax-specific tools. QuickBooks™ supports many business tax forms, including the 1040, 1120, and 1065, and the steps outlined here apply to all small business tax filers using QuickBooks Pro, Premier, and Enterprise.

If you haven't already (and you should have), order your W-2 and 1099 Kits

These forms must be filed at the beginning of each year; they report employee wages and salaries to Federal, state, and local agencies. Data is printed directly from QuickBooks™ onto the correct line in the forms. You can purchase these kits (shown in Figure 5) directly from Intuit, and you must have a Standard Payroll or Enhanced Payroll subscription in a supported version to process them.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 5:

Intuit sells kits that help you print QuickBooks™ tax data directly on the correct forms.

Check the Company Information window to make sure it reflects the right tax form

This is crucial no matter who is preparing your taxes. You should have been thinking ahead to tax time when you set up your company in QuickBooks, but you can take this step prior to starting your prep.

Make sure you've specified the appropriate tax form for use in QuickBooks. Go to Company|Company Information, as shown in Figure 6. At the bottom of the window, find the Income Tax Form Used line, and make sure it's set to the correct form.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 6:

On the Company Information window, be sure that the Income Tax Form Used line is pointing at the correct form.

In this same window, check the fiscal year dates to make sure they're correct, and that other tax-related fields are filled out accurately.

Make sure your tax-related accounts are assigned to the correct tax line on the form

If you used the EasyStep interview for setup, QuickBooks™ automatically assigned some accounts to the correct tax line. You can change these at any time, and add your own accounts. This Tax-Line Mapping will be important down the road if you export data to an Intuit tax product and/or run tax reports.

Warning: Altering the Chart of Accounts is a precise operation, and affects many parts of QuickBooks. You may want to consult with an accounting professional.

Click Lists|Chart of Accounts. Select an account, like Interest Expense, and right-click on it. Click Edit Account, and the window shown in Figure 7 appears.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 7:

QuickBooks™ lets you do Tax-Line Mapping, which specifies the relationship between accounts and tax form lines.

If you want to change the tax line, click the arrow to the right of the current selection and choose the correct one from the drop-down list. To add an account, click Lists|Chart of Accounts. In the bottom left of the screen, click the arrow in the Account button. Click New, and follow the instructions in the wizard that opens.

Run tax-related reports

QuickBooks provides three reports that you'll need whether you or your accountant is preparing your taxes. To find them, click Reports|Accountant & Taxes.

The first report is the Income Tax Preparation Report. This lays out a list of your accounts and the tax line each is assigned to. If any that need to be assigned are unassigned, double-click on them to get to the Tax-Line Mapping window, as shown in Figure 8.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 8:

Tax Preparation Report illustrates how your accounts have been assigned to tax form line items.

Two other reports are available: Income Tax Summary and Income Tax Detail, which are just what they sound like. They provide detailed and summarized lists of transactions and their totals. You can drill down on these to see the underlying transactions.

Warning: When you run Income Tax Summary, look for a line that says Tax Line Unassigned (income/expense). Double-click on any total there to see accounts that need to be assigned to a tax line, as shown here in Figure 9.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 9:

You can quickly check your accounts in the Income Tax Summary.

QuickBooks lets you modify these reports to include additional columns, and memorize them for easy access later. Click the Modify Report and Memorize buttons in the upper left corner to do so.

You can't avoid taxes, but you can sure take a lot of the pain out of their preparation by using QuickBooks™ throughout the year to get ready. And you may get a smile out of your accountant when you hand over your carefully created records.

Look Professional With Customized QuickBooks™ Forms

One of the many ways that QuickBooks™ makes your life easier is its ability to create business forms for all of the financial transactions your company produces. You simply fill in the blanks or choose data from drop-down lists, and QuickBooks™ generates a document you can e-mail or send. Only problem is, sometimes the pre-formatted default forms don't include all the fields you need. Further, they look rather, well, plain. This being October, you might want to add a Halloween-centric logo, for example. Fortunately, QuickBooks™ is flexible. Using simple tools, you can modify the prefab forms that are included with the program to add a logo or other graphics and indicate which fields you would like to have appear.

Made To Order

To get started, click Lists/Templates. (In Simple Start, open a new invoice and click Customize/Manage Templates.) The window shown in Figure 10 opens. As you can see, QuickBooks™ already provides multiple versions of some forms. Take a look at these before you do any modifying to see if one will meet your needs.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 10:

list of QuickBooks™ forms templates gives you many pre-formatted options.

Select a template you want to start from, like the Intuit Service Invoice. Click the arrow in the Templates box, and a list of command options drops down. Click on Edit Template. The Basic Customization window opens, as shown in Figure 11.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 11:

Basic Customization window allows you to alter existing form designs.

Customizing Templates

Templates are designed for use with Intuit's preprinted forms. So if you want to make additional changes, you'll have to make a copy of the form before doing so (which may or may not work with Intuit's forms). Click Manage Templates, and then click the Copy button. The program creates a modifiable copy of the template, which you can rename by replacing the text in the Template Name box. Click OK. As you make changes on the left side of the window, you'll see those modification reflected in the graphical representation of your invoice on the right.

Make It Personal

Probably the easiest thing you can do to jazz up your invoice is to add a logo. This is simple. Click the box next to Use logo. The Select Image window opens. Browse to the image you want and select it, then click Open. The image appears with your contact information at the top of the page.

Add Interest With Color

Next up is your choice of color schemes, should you want to use one. Click the arrow below Select Color Scheme. You'll see several options here. Select the one you want, and then click Apply Color Scheme. If you don't like the fonts supplied with the template, you can easily change those, too. Under the Change Font For option, select the field type you want to modify and click Change Font. Select the desired font and any effects you want in the window that opens and click OK.

Further Customization Options

Additional changes can be tricky. To add your phone number, for example, click the box next to Phone Number. You'll have to use the Layout Designer to make this modification. To do so, click the Layout Designer button. You'll see a window similar to the one in Figure 12. If you've never used a layout design tool, you'll have to work with this a bit. You'll need to grab the phone number and position it where it should be. Then click Properties and Font (and/or Color). Make the necessary changes and click OK.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 12:

The Layout Designers allows you to make more complex adjustments to your forms.

Click the Add button to insert text boxes, data fields, and images, and Copy and Remove to use those functions. Click OK when you're happy with your changes. This will take you back out to the Basic Customization window, where you can modify your invoice further. For example, you can click the Print Status Stamp box to have QuickBooks™ stamp your invoices with words like "PAID." Click the Additional Customization button to make other changes, as shown in Figure 13. By checking and unchecking default boxes under each tab, you can continue to change the appearance of your invoice.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 13:

The Additional Customization window gives your finer control over the format of your forms.

Enhance Your Business With Custom Forms

You may be able to use QuickBooks™ invoices right out of the box. But even if you can, it's a good idea to freshen up the boilerplate forms and add your company's own personal touch to them. In these tight economic times, you should take any actions you can-small as they may be-to present a professional, personalized front to your customers. QuickBooks™ provides the tools to help you do just that.

Tune Up Your Business Plan with QuickBooks

Do you have a business plan? If you don't, even if you're a sole proprietor, you should.

Business plans can be a good barometer for the health of your finances as a way to gauge whether or not you're on the right path. If you don't have a business path (or if yours is less than organized or polished), you can use QuickBooks' tools to create or fine-tune one. We'll show you how to use these tools to get the job done quickly and easily.

The Game Plan

To get started, select Company > Planning & Budgeting > Use Business Plan Tool and you'll see what's displayed in Figure 14. QuickBooks' business plan tool uses a convention that other Intuit products use frequently: a lengthy wizard that walks you through the entire process. This tool supplies information and asks questions about what's needed on each screen. You fill in the answers (or select from options) and the business plan wizard works in the background to place the data in the correct place.

The first topic you'll be asked about is your company. If you're a new business, you'll have to estimate in some areas, like the percentage of your sales that will come through credit. In other cases, you'll be better able to answer in concrete terms. For example, what will your customer payment terms be? When do you want your business plan and financial projection to start?

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 14:

QuickBooks™ walks you through the process of creating a business plan with an easy-to-use interface.

What's Coming In?

Your income is up next, and this will take some figure-pulling (and maybe some hair-pulling). You can either fill in a spreadsheet manually, adding up to 20 categories, or use the Income Projection Wizard, as pictured in Figure 15. If you've already been working with your data in QuickBooks, the latter is certainly recommended. These numbers will be scrutinized very carefully, perhaps put under the microscope more than any other element of your business plan. Make sure you can back them up.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 15:

The QuickBooks™ Income Projection Wizard.

If you're projecting manually, be prepared to calculate the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS). This number contains three pieces:

  • Material: What percentage of each dollar pays for the cost of product(s)? If you're a service company, enter the associated materials costs.

  • Labor: What percentage of each dollar is tied to the employee costs associated with goods production?

  • Other: What percentage of each dollar goes into other costs?

Business Expenses and More

You have the same two choices when you're entering your expenses. You can enter them manually or use the Expenses Projection Wizard. If you do the latter, your projections can be based on either the last 12 months of history or an average from the last 12 months.

In the Interview section, you'll need to have numbers available, including:

  • Beginning account balances

  • Assets you own or need to buy

  • Cash available to invest (if applicable)

  • Amortization and depreciation

As in other areas of the business planning tool, existing data in QuickBooks™ will be automatically filled, such in Figure 16.

You'll also answer questions here about inventory (i.e., fixed or variable, minimum balance), vendor financing, lines of credit, and your total credit limit.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 16:

The business planning tool pulls in existing data from QuickBooks.

Writing Your Plan

Now it's time to write, but don't panic thinking you'll face a blank screen. The Plan section is divided into three sections, and you can toggle between them. You can view the actual plan outline tree, which is a window that provides tips and examples, as well as a text entry window, as shown in Figure 17.

Though this is primarily a text-based section including information about things like your company background, products and services, and the competition, you'll supply some numbers, too, and the rationale for arriving at them.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 17:

The Plan section is divided into three main sections.

Once you've completed all of the sections, you simply preview and print your plan. QuickBooks™ assembles it with all of the text, tables, graphs, and charts in the right place, and presents you with a professional business plan that you can take to the bank, or simply revisit from time to time to make sure you're on course.

7 Ways to Use QuickBooks™ to Manage Collections

In these trying economic times it's more important than ever to keep a close rein on your accounts receivable. Seemingly no one is immune to sudden changes in financial circumstances, so be sure to monitor your outstanding invoices closely. There's an inverse relationship between the age of an invoice and your ability to collect on it, but fortunately QuickBooks™ can help you manage your credit risk:

1. Set Reminders

As shown in Figure 18, QuickBooks™ can display a reminder window when you open your QuickBooks™ company:

Choose Company, Reminders, and then click the Set Preferences button.

Choose the My Preferences tab, and then click the Show Reminders List When Opening a Company File on the My Preferences tab.

Click the Company Preferences tab, and choose Show List for Overdue Invoices. As shown in Figure 19, you can enter a negative number to be notified of overdue invoices before they reach their due date. Click OK to save your changes.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 18:

QuickBooks™ can show you a list of overdue invoices whenever you open your company.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 19:

Enter -3 in the Days after Due Date field to be notified when invoices are within 3 days of their due date or later.

2. Monitor Customer Balances

In addition to tracking overdue invoices, you should also stay abreast of how much credit you've extended to each of your customers. One way to do this is to use the Customer Center whenever you create new invoices:

Choose Customers, and then Customer Center (you can also click the Customer Center toolbar icon or press Ctrl-J).

As shown in Figure 20, the customer center lists the Balance total for each customer. You can use this information to determine whether you want to sell additional products or services. You can quickly create an invoice from the Customer Center: select a customer name, and then press Ctrl-I (as in I for invoice).

As also shown in Figure 20, you can add an Open Balance column to the transaction list. To do so, right-click on the transaction list, and then choose Customize Columns. Choose Open Balance from the Available Columns list, and then click the Add button.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 20:

The Customer Center makes it easy to monitor open invoices.

Expert trick: To sort customer open balances in descending order, click twice on the Balance Total column.

3. Create an Overdue Watermark

An attention getting messages, such as "OVERDUE!" or "PLEASE PAY!" can add impact to follow-up copies of invoices that you send out. It's easy to add a watermark to your invoices:

Choose Customers, and then Create Invoices to display the Create Invoices window.

Click the Customize button on the toobar, and then click the Manage Templates button.

Select an existing invoice, such as Intuit Product Invoice, and then click the Copy button.

Use the Template name field shown in Figure 21 to assign a name like Overdue Intuit Product Invoice, instead of Copy of: Intuit Product Invoice.

Click OK to close the Manage Templates window, and then click the Layout Designer button in the Basic Customization window.

Click the Add button on the toolbar, and then choose Text Box.

Enter the message you want to add in the Text field, such as OVERDUE!

Click the Font button, and then make these changes:

  • Set the Font Name to Arial Black
  • Set the Font Style to Bold
  • Set the Font Size to 60
  • Change the Font Color to Silver

Once you've set the font settings, click OK to close the Font dialog box, and then click the Border tab. Unclick Top, Left, Right, and Bottom, and then click OK.

Resize and reposition the text box on your invoice, such as in the center of the body section, as shown in Figure 22.

Right-click on the text box and choose Order, and then Send Backward.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 21:

Assign a meaningful name to your new template.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 22:

You can add an OVERDUE! Watermark to a customized QuickBooks™ invoice template.

Going forward, you can choose this template from the list anytime you wish to follow-up on an overdue invoice.

4. Send E-mail Follow-ups

A friendly note can sometimes shake a payment loose on an overdue invoice. For instance, you can choose Reports, Customers & Receivables, and then A/R Aging Detail. Double-click on the invoice in question to display it onscreen, and then click the Send button on the toolbar, which looks like an envelope with a green arrow.

As shown in Figure 23, you can change customize the body of the e-mail to your liking. If you typically mail print copies of your original invoices, then consider changing the default text of the e-mail to make your collections easier.

To do so, click the Edit Default Text button and then make any changes that you like. Do note that these changes won't appear in the Send Invoice window until you close it and click the Send button again. Click the Send Now button to e-mail the invoice copy to your customer.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 23:

Customize the default e-mail text to simplify invoice follow-ups.

5. Use Statements

QuickBooks™ makes it easy to send statements to one or more customers. Choose Customers, and then Create Statements. Set the desired options, including which customer or customers to contact, and then choose Print or Email to generate the statements.

6. Tweak the Collections Report

When calling on an overdue invoice, it's helpful to make sure that your customer is aware of all pending invoices. You can easily tweak this report so that it lists all open invoices:

Choose Reports, Customers & Receivables, and then Collections Report.

Click the Modify Report button, and then click on the Filters tab.

As shown in Figure 24, click on the Date filter, and then choose Remove Selected Filter. Do the same for the Aging and Due Date filters, and then click OK.

As shown in Figure 25, the Collections Report now displays all open invoices. You can click the Memorize button to save this report for future use.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 24:

Modify the Collections Report filters to add helpful information to this report.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 25:

The resulting report shows all open invoices, as well as contact names and telephone numbers.

7. Accept Credit Cards

Many business owners avoid accepting credit cards due to the fees involved, which can top 3%. However, 97% of an overdue invoice is far better than 0%, or having to wait even longer to collect.

You can learn about QuickBooks™ Merchant Services by choosing Add Credit Card Processing on the Customers menu in QuickBooks.

Profit & Loss Report Versus Statement of Cash Flows

If you're like most QuickBooks™ users, you rely on the Profit & Loss Standard report to monitor how your business is doing. However, you may have overlooked an even more valuable report: the Statement of Cash Flows.

The Profit & Loss Standard (P&L) report is important in its own right, but it only provides partial insight into the health of your business. While the P&L shows what you earned and spent, the Statement of Cash Flows shows you where the cash came from and went to, also known as sources and uses.

As you'll see in this article, you can use the Statement of Cash Flows to determine the how various activities increased or decreased your cash balance during a given report period.

Cash versus Accrual

Unlike some accounting packages, QuickBooks™ allows you to run most reports on either the cash or accrual basis.

Cash-basis means that transactions don't appear on your Profit & Loss statement until either your customer pays their invoice or you pay a vendor (or employee). So, if you enter a bill in QuickBooks™ to be paid later, the expense won't immediately appear on a cash-basis P&L.

Similarly, invoices that you send to customers won't immediately appear on a cash-basis P&L. The expense appears when you write a check to the vendor, and the revenue appears when the customer honors their invoice. Accordingly, cash-basis reports don't necessarily report a company's true financial performance.

You could have a stellar looking Profit & Loss Report, but a list full of unpaid bills in QuickBooks. Accordingly, many accountants prefer that business owners use accrual-basis reports.

Accrual-basis reports recognize the effect of every transaction on your P&L immediately. Customer invoices appear on accrual-basis P&L reports as soon as you save the transaction, as do unpaid vendor bills. You can easily see the significance of these differences in Figure 26 and Figure 27.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 26:

Cash-basis reports only reflect paid transactions.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 27:

Accrual-basis reports include all transactions - both paid and unpaid.

Accrual-basis reports provide a much better picture of where the business stands, but can make it harder to understand your current cash position. However, a cash-basis P&L isn't a panacea for managing cash flow, as your business has many transactions that don't affect the P&L.

For instance, loan payments, owner distributions, and owner contributions affect your balance sheet, which tracks assets, liabilities, and equity. Fortunately, the Statement of Cash Flows reflects these types of transactions and more, so it's a great companion to both cash-basis and accrual-basis P&L reports.

Set Your Preference

You can instruct QuickBooks™ to always display your reports on either cash or accrual basis:

  • Choose Edit, and then Preferences.
  • Choose Reports & Graphs, and then Company Preferences.

As shown in Figure 28, specify either Cash or Accrual, and then click OK.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 28:

You can set either cash or accrual as your default report format.

Of course, at any time you can change a report to the other format. For instance, if your preference is set to accrual, but you may sometimes want to view a cash basis P&L:

  • Choose Reports, Company & Financial, and then Profit & Loss Standard.
  • Click the Modify Report button, and then choose Cash in the Report Basis section, as shown in Figure 29.
QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 29:

You can change the accounting method for your P&L on the fly

NOTE: Most, but not all, reports in QuickBooks™ allow you to change between cash and accrual. When a report is onscreen, choose Modify Report.

If you don't see the Report Basis section, shown in Figure 30, then you'll know that you can't toggle the report basis. Now that you understand the ins-and-outs of running cash and accrual basis reports, let's explore the Statement of Cash Flows.

The Statement of Cash Flows

Let's say that your cash balance at the beginning of your fiscal year was $100,000, and today it is $75,000. The net income figure on your P&L won't give you the full details on why your cash balance decreased, but the Statement of Cash Flows will. To do so, choose Reports, Company & Financial, and then Statement of Cash Flows.

Report periods: As shown in Figure 30, this report automatically defaults to This Fiscal Year-To-Date, but you can choose another time period if you wish. To do so, make a choice from the Dates drop-down list, or modify the From and To dates, and then click the Refresh button.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 30:

The Statement of Cash Flows defaults to the current fiscal year.

Your Statement of Cash Flows report will include up to three major sections:

  • Operating Activities
  • Investing Activities
  • Financing Activities

Don't worry if your report only includes one or two of these sections - sections only appear when you had relevant transactions during the report period. Let's explore each of these sections individually.

Operating Activities

The Operating Activities section of the Statement of Cash Flows recaps activities related to running your business. This section will always start with Net Income, followed by an adjustments section.

The adjustments reconcile your net income with the net cash provided by the operating activities. For instance, refer to Figure 30. Net income s $112,999 but the Net Cash Provided by Operating Activities is $42,584. Accordingly, the statement of cash flows identifies the $70,415 difference. Let's investigate a couple of the items:

Accounts Receivable (-$71,759): During the report period we sent invoices to our customers, of which $31,503.08 remain unpaid. These unpaid invoices are reflected in the Net Income figure, so QuickBooks deducts these because we haven't received this cash yet.

Inventory Asset (-$17,354): Amounts that we spend on inventory don't become part of Net Income until we've sold the items. At that point QuickBooks™ posts the expense to cost of good sold, and reduces our inventory account accordingly. Purchasing inventory is a use of cash, so it appears as a negative amount on our Statement of Cash Flows.

Remember: The purpose of the Statement of Cash Flows is to reconcile our net income with the actual change in our cash account. Thus non-cash activities, such as unpaid customer invoices or amortized prepaid expenses get subtracted or added from Net Income, so that you can get a clear picture of where cash went during the report period.

Employee Advances (-$62): We paid $62 to an employee as an advance, which has not yet been repaid. This amount isn't included in Net Income, but is a use of cash, so the amount is deducted. When our employee repays the advance, our Statement of Cash Flows will reflect a positive amount, since at that point we'll have a $100 source of cash.

Prepaid Insurance ($893): During the report period we amortized, or used up, $893 of prepaid insurance. This expense is included in our Net Income figure, but we didn't write a check for it during this report period, so QuickBooks™ adds this expense back.

Accounts Payable ($13,537): We've entered bills into QuickBooks™ totaling $13,537 that we haven't paid yet. In effect, we're temporarily borrowing this money from our vendors, so it's a source of cash. Later, our Statement of Cash Flows will show a use of cash when we pay the vendor bills. This same treatment applies to credit cards and other liabilities.

As you look through the Statement of Cash Flows, you may also see Investing and Financing activities. Investing activities may include owner contributions as a source of cash, or in the case of the report in Figure 30, the purchase of $11,500 in furniture as a use of cash.

Financing activities will show borrowing on a line of credit or other loan as a source of cash, while loan repayments (net of interest) will appear as uses of cash. In the end, you'll see exactly what caused your cash balance to increase or decrease during the report period.

Research: You can easily investigate why amounts appear on your Statement of Cash Flows. As shown in Figure 31, the QuickZoom icon appears when you hover over an amount. Double-click to display a detailed report, as shown in Figure 32.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 31:

The QuickZoom icon indicates that you can drill-down within a QuickBooks™ report.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 32:

A detailed report appears when you double-click on an amount within a QuickBooks report.

Organizing the Statement of Cash Flows

QuickBooks™ makes an educated guess at what accounts in your chart of accounts should appear on the Statement of Cash Flows. However, you may encounter instances where activities appear in the wrong section, or don't appear at all on the report. You can easily remedy such situations:

  • Choose Edit, and then Preferences.
  • Choose Reports & Graphs, and then Company Preferences.
  • Click the Classify Cash button.

As shown in Figure 33, place a checkbox in the appropriate column. You cannot remove balance sheet accounts from the statement, but you can optionally include income and expense accounts. However, keep in mind that this is not a typical need, and you should only proceed under the guidance of your accountant or tax advisor.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 33:

QuickBooks™ allows you to classify accounts as operating, financing, or investing activities.

Did You Know?

QuickBooks™ has a Product Information window that can provide a dizzying array of information. Press Ctrl-1 to display the window shown in Figure 34. Some key elements on this screen include the product number shown at the top.

Each QuickBooks™ user in your office should have the same release number. The size and location of your QuickBooks™ file is shown in the File Information section, while you can use the List Information section to determine how many customers and vendors you have in QuickBooks.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 10:

Press Ctrl-1 to view the Product Information window

QuickBooks™ Helps You Navigate Tricky Waters

The price of gasoline is just one of many factors putting pressure on our economy as a whole. Now it's more important than ever to keep a close eye on your company's performance. Many business owners compare financial results to an annual budget. If you don't have your budget in place yet, we'll show you how to get started. Even if you have, we'll show you how to use last year's results as a measuring stick with comparative financial reports. Once you understand these techniques, we'll explain why you should create a monthly appointment with yourself to ensure that your results continue to measure up-and take action if they don't.

TIP: Keep in mind that tough financial years do have a silver lining-you'll likely pay less in income taxes. If revenues are down or expenses are up, don't forget to trim your withholding or estimated tax payments accordingly. Doing so enables you to boost your cash flow now, rather than waiting around on a tax refund next spring.

Budget Basics

The QuickBooks™ Planning & Budgeting menu gives you the ability to create budgets and forecasts. In reality, both features work the same way, so we'll use creating a budget as our example. But which one should you use? You might find it helpful to use the Forecast feature as an alternate budget and as a best-case scenario, while the Budget feature offers a better expectation of reality. Either way, here's how to create a budget in QuickBooks:

1. Choose Company, Planning & Budgeting, and then Set Up Budgets.

2. When the Set Up Budgets window appears, click the Create New Budget button in the upper right-hand corner.

3. Select the year that you'd like to create a budget for (such as 2010 or 2011), select Profit and Loss, and then click Next.

Balance sheet budgeting: QuickBooks™ offers the ability to create a budget for balance sheet accounts, such as planning for expected levels of cash, inventory, accounts receivable, liabilities, and so on. However, most small business owners find that just a Profit and Loss budget is sufficient for their needs.

4. Most users will choose No Additional Criteria on the next screen. However, QuickBooks™ does provide the option for a more granular budget that you break down to the customer, job, or class level. Click Next once you make a selection.

5. The next screen asks if you want to start with a blank budget from scratch or if you want to use last year's actual data as a starting point. Most users will find it helpful to use the previous year as a starting point. Click Finish after you make a choice.

6. At this point you're presented with a screen similar to Figure 35. You won't see any numbers if you chose the From Scratch option in step 5.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 35:

Starting with prior-year actual numbers can jumpstart your budget process.

7. Proceed with entering or updating your budget. Click the Save button as needed to preserve your work as you go, and then click the OK button when you're finished.

Budget Tips: The Copy Across button enables you to copy the same amount across all twelve months. As shown in Figure 36, the Adjust Row Amounts button provides a quick way to adjust existing numbers up or down by either a percentage or dollar amount. You can edit your budget at any time: choose Company, Planning & Budgeting, and then Set Up Budgets. Choose your budget from the Budget list, and then make changes as needed.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 36:

The Adjust Row button makes it easy to quickly increase or decrease budget figures by a dollar amount or percentage.

Budget Reports

QuickBooks™ offers four budget and two forecast reports. You'll use these steps to run most of these reports:

1. Choose Reports, Budget & Forecasts, and then the report of your choice.

2. A three-screen wizard appears, asking you first which budget or forecast you wish to use. Once you've made a selection, click Next.

3. The next screen asks which report layout to use - you may only one choice, Account by Month - click Next after you confirm your choice.

4. Click Finish to display your report:

  • Budget Overview - As shown in Figure 37, this report provides a twelve-month view of your budget.
  • Budget vs. Actual - This 52 column report can be tricky to navigate, as the default format shows these columns for each month, as well as a 12-month total.
QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 37:

Budget overview gives you a birds-eye view of your 12-month budget.

Report Taming Tips: There are a couple of ways to bring this report down to size. First, most users can eliminate the % of Budget column. To do so, click the Modify Report button, and then deselect % of Budget in the Add Subcolumns For section. Next, you can shrink the width of the columns. To do so, drag the diamond between the first actual and budget columns to the left, as shown in Figure 38. When you release the left mouse button, choose Yes when asked if you want to resize all of the columns. Alternatively, click the Export button to send the report to Excel.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 38:

Narrow column widths can condense particularly wide reports.

  • Profit & Loss Budget Performance This report compares your month and year-to-date actuals to the budgeted amounts, and also displays the 12-month budget. Although this report doesn't display dollar or percentage variances, you can easily add these columns. Click the Modify Report button, and then select $ Difference and/or % Of Budget in the Add Subcolumns For section, as shown in Figure 39.
QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 39:

It's easy to add or remove columns on any QuickBooks™ report.

  • Budget vs. Actual Graph This report doesn't enable you to choose a budget - the current year budget is displayed automatically. This report enables you to get a graphic view of how your results measure up to your budget. You can choose between different budget views:
    • P&L By Accounts This view compares your Profit & Loss accounts, also known as income and expense, to the corresponding budgets. The report automatically sorts variances by difference, and you can view up to six accounts at a time.
    • P&L By Accounts and Jobs This view compares your P&L accounts on a job-by-job basis. Jobs with the largest total variance from budget will be presented first, and as with accounts, you can view six at a time.
    • P&L By Accounts and Classes This view compares your P&L accounts on a class basis. As with the other views, you can view up to six classes at a time. This button appears even if you haven't set the Enable Class Tracking preference.

Class Tracking: Classes allow you to you track costs by department, project, or other categories. To enable class tracking, choose Edit, Preferences, and then Accounting. On the Company tab, select Enable Class Tracking.

Graph Printing limitation: You cannot print more than one page of the budget graphs at a time, so you'll have to click Next Group and then click Print to create a hard copy of each report group. QuickBooks™ doesn't provide a way to print all of the graphs in one fell swoop. You also can't modify the graph format, other than to choose a different date range.

Comparative Reports

Regardless of whether you use budgets in QuickBooks™ or not, it's always helpful to compare this year's results to last year. Doing so enables you to see trends in your data, such as how automobile expenses have increased. Such a report is just a couple clicks away:

1. Choose Reports, Company and Financial, and then Profit & Loss Prev Year Comparison.

2. By default you'll see this year compared to last year. However, you can easily create a multi-year comparison:

a. Click the Modify Report button.

b. In the Columns section, choose Year from the Display Columns By drop-down list, and then click OK.

c. On the report screen, choose a date range, such as 1/1/04 through 12/31/08, and then click the Refresh button. As shown in Figure 40, a multi-year comparison will appear onscreen. If you find this format helpful, click the Memorize button to save this report for later use.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 40:

You can convert the Profit & Loss Prev Year Comparison into a multi-year report.


In this article we discussed how you can use the budget and forecast feature in QuickBooks™ to plan the future of your business. As each month rolls by, you can compare your plan to actual results. In addition, you can compare this year's results to last year, or even the last several years.

Did you know?

Did you know that an accountant's copy of a QuickBooks™ file can be converted to a normal QuickBooks company, i.e. a .QBW file? There are limited circumstances where you'd want to do so, because it's not possible to merge two .QBW data files together. However, let's say that you lose access to your QuickBooks company because your hard drive crashes or someone steals your laptop. These are situations where a converted accountant's copy would be better than starting from scratch. If you need to do this, ask your accountant to carry out these steps in their version of QuickBooks:

1. Choose File, Utilities, and then Convert Accountant's Copy to Company File (QBW).

2. Choose the Accountant's Copy to convert.

3. Click OK on the prompt shown in Figure 41.

4. Assign a name to the new company file, and then click Save.

A final warning prompt will appear to confirm that this copy will overwrite any existing client copy of the books.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 41:

Converting an accountant's copy to a working QuickBooks™ company can serve as a disaster recovery method.

Of course, the best defense is to make frequent back-ups of your QuickBooks™ data on removable media, such as the USB flash drives that often cost less than $10. These easily allow you to carry your QuickBooks back-up offsite, such as in your purse or briefcase. But, it's good to know that your accountant might be able to provide a working QuickBooks™ company - as long as you recently sent your accountant's copy along to them.

Go Back to School With QuickBooks' Educational Tools

We know. When you first cracked your copy of QuickBooks, you wanted to dive in and start generating invoices. Fortunately, QuickBooks™ is intuitive enough that you were able to do just that. And its help system is so robust that you were able to get procedural questions answered quickly and easily.

But there's a lot to be said for backing up a bit and taking advantage of the myriad educational tools that QuickBooks™ offers. Even if you've been using the program for months, you may want to explore them. You'll not only save time with the help system, but you may find better ways of performing tasks.

Learn By Watching

The QuickBooks™ Learning Center, one of the first things you saw when you installed the program, is always available by clicking Help | Learning Center Tutorials. It consists of numerous multimedia tutorials and links to additional help. As shown in Figure 42, the tutorials are worth a look before you take on a thorny topic like Payroll.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 42:

QuickBooks' myriad tutorials help you absorb the basics of processes like Payroll

Though you can use QuickBooks' functions entirely from the menus, the program's home page is built to guide you through core accounting processes. If you're very new to QuickBooks™ and/or accounting, you can use the Coach function to better understand the flow. Click on Show Coach Tips in the vertical pane to the right of the main screen.

As shown in Figure 43, you'll see a small "i" next to some icons. Click on one, like the one next to Purchase Orders. Related icons light up, and numbers representing their logical order appear next to them. Mouse over one of the icons to read a brief description of the function. When you're done, click Hide Coach Tips to make them disappear.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 43:

QuickBooks' Coach tool lays out the workflow for primary accounting processe

Other Support Options

No matter how much you study and prepare, you may still run into situations where you need an expert's hand. We can be a real resource here as we have the expertise to walk you through installation and setup, processes that are critical to your effective ongoing relationship with QuickBooks. And we can also pitch in when you're facing other daunting accounting hurdles.

Another option for expert help is Intuit. The company offers a support plan that may or may not be in your budget, but it's certainly something to consider if you anticipate needing to have frequent questions answered. The best value is the Annual Support Plan ($349 for first year; $299 thereafter). You get 24x7 phone support, data backup and recovery services, and learning tools only available with the Support Plan.

Intuit also hosts an in-depth online support presence. Click Help | Support to get to the main page as shown in Figure 44. Installation, troubleshooting (with guides to error messages), company and data file management, general procedures--they're all covered there. You can search the support database or browse by topic. These and other resources are available within QuickBooks' embedded browser (you must have Internet access to reach it, as with many other features of the program -- click Help | Internet Connection Setup if you're not already set up).

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 44:

Intuit's online support for QuickBooks™ can help when you're stumped.

Interactive Help

If you haven't yet visited QuickBooks' interactive forum, you should. Click on the Live Community tab at the top of the far right vertical pane if it's not already displayed (the pane toggles between it and Help). As shown in Figure 45, you can enter questions here and get answers from other users and/or Intuit pros.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 45:

Intuit included interaction in its QuickBooks™ palette of help tools. Live Community features questions from users and accompanying answers from users and Intuit pros.

For the expanded Intuit community, click on the Visit the Intuit Community link at the bottom of the Live Community pane.

Of course, don't forget the core of QuickBooks' help scheme: the Help pane. You can get a lot of your questions answered here. This pane constantly changes to display content relative to the current screen. This content provides explanations of concepts as well as step-by-step instructions.

So don't throw up your hands in defeat when what you're attempting in QuickBooks™ isn't working. Remember how much help is available from Intuit, QuickBooks™ itself, and experts like us. Some additional schooling may just be in order.

Sales Orders in QuickBooks: Why? When? How?

There aren't that many different types of forms to keep straight in QuickBooks, but you likely don't use all of them. You probably use invoices and purchase orders frequently, and may fill out the occasional sales receipt, credit memo, or estimate.

But what about sales orders? You may find that they could make your bookkeeping more accurate and easier. There are only a few situations where they're needed, but they're the appropriate form to use at those times.

A Happy Problem

If you're lucky (or a good businessperson), you have customers who place orders frequently. It's not practical to invoice them every time they order, but you want to make sure everything is recorded. A sales order (which you'll eventually turn into an invoice) is the correct choice for these customers.

Warning: You must use a sales order from the beginning of the selling process; you can't switch gears partway through.

To get started, click Customers | Create Sales Orders. A blank form like this one will open:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 46:

To create a sales order, you simply fill in the blanks and select from drop-down lists, just as you would with an invoice.

Would you send a sales order out to a customer in a multi-order situation, or wait until you have enough sales to dispatch an invoice? That's up to you. It's a good idea if you want them to be aware of the costs that are piling up.

Looking Good

Before you begin entering data on the sales order form, check the fields to make sure they're all needed, or if you're missing any. The Template field in the upper right corner should display Custom Sales Order; change it if not. Should you want to add or delete fields, click the arrow next to Customize, then Customize Design and Layout.

If you've just been sending out the default forms that QuickBooks™ offers, you should consider adding some personalization. Click Create new design if you want to upload a logo and select fonts, colors, etc. Once you've decided on a theme, QuickBooks™ can apply it to all of your forms.

To add or delete fields, click Customize data layout. By checking and unchecking boxes, you can alter the content of your sales orders.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 47:

Just check or uncheck boxes to have field labels appear (or not) onscreen and in print. You can also change the label text, reorder columns, and designate text for a footer.

Halfway There

Another situation where you might want to send a sales order is when you're doing partial invoicing; that is, when you don't have enough items to fulfill the order as it came in.

In a case like this, go ahead and complete a sales order as if you had everything in stock. When you're done, save the sales order, then find it and open it again. Click the arrow next to Create Invoice, then click Invoice. You'll see this dialog box.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 48:

This dialog box lets you create an invoice for all items on a sales order or just a subset.

Click Create invoice for selected items, then OK. The Specify Invoice Quantities for Items on Sales Order(s) window opens. Items on the sales order you created are listed here, with additional columns for number available and number you ordered, number previously invoiced, and the unit of measured used (if applicable).

There's a check box next to Show quantity available instead of quantity on hand. Here, you can opt to display the number of each item that's truly available; that is, the number actually in inventory minus those reserved, either on other sales orders or for building inventory assembly items. Or you can request the number that's physically in inventory.

Using this information about availability, you'll enter the number of items you want to invoice from this sales order in the To Invoice column. It would look something like this:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 49:

When you convert a sales order into an invoice, you can select which items should be included.

Click OK, and your invoice appears. Do any editing necessary, and dispatch the invoice.

Tip: You can choose whether to have the items with a quantity of zero display on your invoice by going to Edit | Preferences and clicking on the Sales & Customers tab.

Tracking It All

There are several places in QuickBooks™ where you can view your sales orders. The best way to keep track of those partially filled is through two reports, Open Sales Orders by Customer and Open Sales Orders by Item. You can also see them, of course, in the Customer Center, and in the balance and transaction history found next to transaction forms.

Sales orders can help you better track sales, speed up receivables with partial invoices, and maintain communications with frequent buyers. But partial invoices require extra attention to inventory. Before working with them, it'd be best to schedule a session with us; we can help you keep things straight.

Sales Orders in QuickBooks: Why? When? How?

There aren't that many different types of forms to keep straight in QuickBooks, but you likely don't use all of them. You probably use invoices and purchase orders frequently, and may fill out the occasional sales receipt, credit memo, or estimate.

But what about sales orders? You may find that they could make your bookkeeping more accurate and easier. There are only a few situations where they're needed, but they're the appropriate form to use at those times.

A Happy Problem

If you're lucky (or a good businessperson), you have customers who place orders frequently. It's not practical to invoice them every time they order, but you want to make sure everything is recorded. A sales order (which you'll eventually turn into an invoice) is the correct choice for these customers.

Warning: You must use a sales order from the beginning of the selling process; you can't switch gears partway through.

To get started, click Customers | Create Sales Orders. A blank form like this one will open:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 50:

To create a sales order, you simply fill in the blanks and select from drop-down lists, just as you would with an invoice.

Would you send a sales order out to a customer in a multi-order situation, or wait until you have enough sales to dispatch an invoice? That's up to you. It's a good idea if you want them to be aware of the costs that are piling up.

Looking Good

Before you begin entering data on the sales order form, check the fields to make sure they're all needed, or if you're missing any. The Template field in the upper right corner should display Custom Sales Order; change it if not. Should you want to add or delete fields, click the arrow next to Customize, then Customize Design and Layout.

If you've just been sending out the default forms that QuickBooks™ offers, you should consider adding some personalization. Click Create new design if you want to upload a logo and select fonts, colors, etc. Once you've decided on a theme, QuickBooks™ can apply it to all of your forms.

To add or delete fields, click Customize data layout. By checking and unchecking boxes, you can alter the content of your sales orders.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 51:

Just check or uncheck boxes to have field labels appear (or not) onscreen and in print. You can also change the label text, reorder columns, and designate text for a footer.

Halfway There

Another situation where you might want to send a sales order is when you're doing partial invoicing; that is, when you don't have enough items to fulfill the order as it came in.

In a case like this, go ahead and complete a sales order as if you had everything in stock. When you're done, save the sales order, then find it and open it again. Click the arrow next to Create Invoice, then click Invoice. You'll see this dialog box.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 52:

This dialog box lets you create an invoice for all items on a sales order or just a subset.

Click Create invoice for selected items, then OK. The Specify Invoice Quantities for Items on Sales Order(s) window opens. Items on the sales order you created are listed here, with additional columns for number available and number you ordered, number previously invoiced, and the unit of measured used (if applicable).

There's a check box next to Show quantity available instead of quantity on hand. Here, you can opt to display the number of each item that's truly available; that is, the number actually in inventory minus those reserved, either on other sales orders or for building inventory assembly items. Or you can request the number that's physically in inventory.

Using this information about availability, you'll enter the number of items you want to invoice from this sales order in the To Invoice column. It would look something like this:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 53:

When you convert a sales order into an invoice, you can select which items should be included.

Click OK, and your invoice appears. Do any editing necessary, and dispatch the invoice.

Tip: You can choose whether to have the items with a quantity of zero display on your invoice by going to Edit | Preferences and clicking on the Sales & Customers tab.

Tracking It All

There are several places in QuickBooks™ where you can view your sales orders. The best way to keep track of those partially filled is through two reports, Open Sales Orders by Customer and Open Sales Orders by Item. You can also see them, of course, in the Customer Center, and in the balance and transaction history found next to transaction forms.

Sales orders can help you better track sales, speed up receivables with partial invoices, and maintain communications with frequent buyers. But partial invoices require extra attention to inventory. Before working with them, it'd be best to schedule a session with us; we can help you keep things straight.

Preparing Purchase Orders Precisely

Part of the reason for QuickBooks' success is its exceptional flexibility. By allowing users to turn features and preferences on and off, the same software can be used by a wide variety of business types and sizes.

In some cases, the default settings that QuickBooks™ supplies will work fine for your company. This is not necessarily true in the case of purchase orders, since the whole inventory procurement process is so complex, and users can have such a diverse range of needs.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 54:

QuickBooks™ 2013's default Create Purchase Orders screen. You can see that formatting options are available when you click the Formatting tab.

So before you order your first widget, make sure that your purchase order form is designed to accommodate all of the information you want to record and track, with no unnecessary data fields to confuse staff.

Working with Templates

There aren't many program preferences to check. If you can open a purchase order, you're set. If not, go to Edit | Preferences | Items & Inventory and be sure that the box next to Inventory and purchase orders are active is checked.

What you want to find first is the Additional Customization screen for the Custom Purchase Order Template. This is easily accessed from the Create Purchase Order screen itself in QuickBooks 2013, but if you're using an earlier edition, go to Lists | Templates | Custom Purchase Order Template. Double-click on it to open the Basic Customization page. Here, you can add a logo, change fonts and colors, etc. But go ahead and click on the Additional Customization button at the bottom of the screen. This window opens:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 55:

The left pane of the Additional Customization window contains additional fields that you might want on your purchase orders, like Ship Via and Terms.

(Tip: If you want to design multiple purchase order templates, click Manage Templates on the Basic Customization screen, then Copy on the Manage Templates page. Rename the form and make your modifications. This version will always be available as an option when you create purchase orders.)

Making It Yours

Each of this window's four tabs opens a new screen that gives you customization control over a different element of the purchase order form: the top, bottom and midsection, and printing options. You simply check the boxes next to the fields that you want to add to the current form (be sure to check both columns if you want the fields to appear both onscreen and in your printed versions; sometimes, one is not an option) and uncheck any you want to delete.

In the right pane of this window, a dynamic preview changes to reflect each addition or deletion. And when you've finished altering the set of fields, you can see an actual print preview. Close that and keep clicking OK until you get back to the Templates window.

This simplicity and ease carries over into the more cosmetic elements of your purchase order. Make sure the template you want to redesign is highlighted and click Templates | Create Form Design. QuickBooks walks you through the process of adding a logo and background, colors and fonts, and a grid style, and it lets you apply this same theme automatically to all of your forms. (You can modify your design similarly on the Basic Customization page, minus the wizard-like approach and the background options.)

Simple but Complicated

One more comment about the QuickBooks™ 2013 purchase order screen. Beyond making your formatting options available in the ribbon, it also moves you through purchasing to the receiving process. With the appropriate purchase order open, click ,b>Create Item Receipts in the ribbon. This window opens, with the correct vendor name selected. When you click in the Item field, this small window appears:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 56:

Click Yes here and select the correct PO, and QuickBooks™ fills in the data. If you check the Bill Received box, the Enter Bills window opens.

QuickBooks' purchasing and receiving tools makes your inventory-tracking job easier, but you still need to understand the workflow. We encourage you to let us work with you as you begin managing inventory ' or to contact us if you're tangled up in what can be a very challenging element of QuickBooks.

How to Create a Progress Invoice from an Estimate

The U.S. economy may be picking up, but your customers are probably still being very careful with expenditures. If your company's finances will allow it, you can help them out on sizable jobs by using progress invoicing, also known as partial billing or progress billing.

You could, of course, simply create invoices for smaller chunks of the job as they come. A smarter way is to build estimates for the entire job or sequential phases so your customer can see the big picture. You can still use progress invoicing to start collecting funds one segment at a time.

How to Proceed

First, be sure you have progress invoicing turned on. Go to Edit | Preferences | Jobs & Estimates | Company Preferences and make sure the Yes button is filled in next to the questions about estimates and progress invoicing.

Now create your estimate (these instructions are for QuickBooks™ Premier 2013; your steps may vary slightly). Go to Customers | Create Estimates. When you've entered all of the items you want to include in this phase of your project, click the ,b>Create Invoice button. This window will open:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 57:

You can decide how many of your estimate items will be included on your progress invoice.

By clicking one of these buttons, you can bill the customer 100 percent of what's due on the invoice or just a percentage. But let's say you and your customer have agreed that payment will be due in pre-defined stages, so click the third button and select one or more of the line items. Click OK. QuickBooks™ will display a new window that lets you select items and/or percentages of amounts due.

In our example here, we're going to invoice the customer for two items, the blueprints and floor plans. So we selected the button next to Show Quantity and Rate and entered the full estimated quantity for each item in the QTY columns (if you chose Show Percentage, new columns would appear). It would look like this:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 58:

You can select specific items or percentages for your progress invoice.

Click OK. QuickBooks™ will return to your progress invoice, which you can save and print or email to your customer. Your original estimate will remain unchanged.

Tip: If you don't want any of the zero amounts to appear on the progress invoice, go to Edit | Preferences | Jobs & Estimates | Company Preferences and make sure there's a check mark in the box next to Don't print items that have zero amount.

Following Up

When you want to bill for another set of items on this estimate, simply repeat these steps.

Here's an easy way to determine how much (if any) of the estimate has been invoiced. Go to the Customer Center and select the customer. Click the arrow next to the Show field and select Estimates. Any estimate that has a zero in the OPEN BALANCE column has been completely billed.

QuickBooks™ provides a report that tells you where you are with all of your progress invoices. Go to Reports | Jobs, Time & Mileage | Job Progress Invoices vs. Estimates. Your report will include the progress invoice you just created:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 59:

You can see what percentage of each estimate has been included on a progress invoice in this report.

More Options

What if you determine that you won't have one or more of the items on the estimate? QuickBooks™ lets you quickly generate a purchase order. With your estimate open, click Create Purchase Order to select the item(s) needed and generate the form. You can also click Create Sales Order if one is necessary.

Estimates provide a useful way to fine-tune your bookkeeping and inform your customers about impending costs. They can also be confusing if you don't keep up with them. We can help you determine when they're a good idea and how to keep them organized. QuickBooks™ provides good tools here, but they do require some administrative control.

Receiving Inventory With or Without Bills in QuickBooks

You're probably happy to see couriers delivering inventory items you've ordered since it means you can ship to customers, but recording the new stock means yet

QuickBooks' tools can help with this, but you need to be sure you're using the right forms. There are two different ones that you'll use, depending on whether or not you've received a bill.

Bill in Hand

Either way, you'll get started by opening the Vendors menu (or clicking the arrow next to Receive Inventory on the home page). If you do have a bill, select Receive Items and Enter Bill (Receive Inventory with Bill on the home page). The Enter Bills screen opens; select your vendor from the drop-down list. If you had entered a purchase order, you'll see something like this:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 60:

If any purchase orders exist for that vendor in QuickBooks, you'll see this message

Click Yes. The Open Purchase Orders window will open displaying a list. Select the PO(s) for the items received by placing a check mark in front of it/them and click OK.

Tip: If you accidentally click No, the vendor's information will be filled in on the Enter Bills screen, and you can click the Select PO icon in the toolbar.

Now the PO item information has been entered in the window. Check the form for accuracy, then save it.

Of course, if there was no purchase order, you'll enter the information about the items you received (descriptions, prices, etc.) in the Enter Bills screen.

Delayed Billing

If you receive items without a bill, you still need to document the shipment. Open the Vendors menu and select Receive Items (or click the arrow next to the Receive Inventory icon on the home page and select Receive Inventory without Bill).

The Create Item Receipts window opens. Select the vendor by clicking the down arrow next to that field. If a message about existing purchase orders for that vendor appears, click Yes or No, and either select the appropriate POs or enter the information about what you received.

If the items were already earmarked for a specific customer on the purchase order, the Customer column will have an entry in it, and there will be a check mark in the Billable column. If there was no purchase order and you're entering the information, you can complete those two fields manually.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 61:

If a purchase order was already assigned to a customer and is billable, that information should appear in this window.

Enter a reference number if you'd like. The Memo field should already be filled in with Received items (bill to follow), and the Bill Received box should not be checked.

Warning: Be sure that the Items tab is highlighted when you're recording physical inventory. If there are related costs like freight charges or sales tax, click the Expenses tab and enter them there.

Paying Up

When the bill comes in for merchandise that you've already recorded on an Item Receipt, you'll use this procedure to pay it:

  • Click Vendors | Enter Bill for Received Items, which opens the Select Item Receipt window.
  • Select the vendor, then the correct Item Receipt.
  • Note: If the bill corresponds to more than one Item Receipt, you'll need to convert each into a bill separately. You can create a new bill if some items received were not accounted for on Item Receipts.
  • Click the box next to Use the item receipt date for the bill date if you want to match it to the inventory availability date.
    QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

    Figure 62:

    You'll select purchase orders that you want to create bills for in this window.

  • Click OK. The Enter Bill screen opens, which can be processed like you'd handle any bill.

Though it may seem like extra work, this last procedure is important, since it prevents you from recording the same inventory items twice.

It's easy to get tangled up on these procedures. We hope you'll consult us when you begin implementing inventory management in QuickBooks, or when you're taking on a new task there. It's a lot easier to prevent errors than to go back and fix them.

QuickBooks' Custom Fields: An Overview

The beauty of QuickBooks™ is that it can be used for so many different kinds of businesses. Its smart design lets realtors and retail shops, plumbers and plastic surgeons use it to track income and expenses, pay bills and invoice customers, and to run those all-important reports.

But Intuit knows that QuickBooks™ can't -- and shouldn't -- tailor itself to individual business types (except in the industry-specific versions). So its structure and tools are somewhat generic and as universal as possible.

That's where custom fields come in. You can simply use them for your own informational purposes, but QuickBooks™ also lets you create and add fields to your existing customer, vendor, employee and item records and forms, and use them as filters in reports.

A Common Application

Let's say you want to search for your best customers to create a targeted marketing mailing.

Start by opening the Customer Center and opening any customer's record there. Click on the Additional Info tab. In the lower right corner of this dialog box, click on Define Fields. This box (with some fields already defined in this example) opens:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 63:

You can create custom fields for your lists of names in this dialog box.

You want to send mailings to customers who order frequently, or who regularly purchase big-ticket items. You can call them your High-Value Customers. Click in the first field that's available in the Label column and type that phrase, then tab over to the Cust column and click in it to enter a checkmark. Click OK. The Edit Customer dialog box opens with the new custom field included.

This field will now appear in all of your existing customer records as well as any new ones you create. You'll need to open the record for each High-Value Customer, click on the

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 64:

Custom fields appear in this box in your customer records.

Using Custom Fields in Items

If you sell physical inventory, custom fields will probably be needed in your item records. You might want to use them for t-shirt colors or sizes, for example, or to store serial or model numbers. They can be employed for all items types except subtotals, sales tax items and sales tax group items.

The process is similar to the one you used to define custom fields in your contact records. Open the Lists menu and select Item List (or Fixed Asset Item List where appropriate). Click Custom Fields in the dialog box that opens.

Tip: The Custom Fields tool is also available in the New Item dialog box. So you can move directly to that step as you create an item record if you'd like.

Click Define Fields and add your field(s). Be sure to put a checkmark in the Use column, and click OK.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 65:

QuickBooks™ also lets you define and use custom fields in your item records.

Reports and Forms

Custom fields can be invaluable when it comes to using them in forms and reports. Your fields will automatically appear at the bottom of the Filter list within your reports' customization tools, but you'll have to add them manually to any forms where they should appear.

Warning: You should probably enlist our help before you customize forms. QuickBooks™ provides tools to help you through this process, but you will encounter some potentially confusing messages as you add fields to forms, and you may have to use the Layout Designer, which can present quite a challenge.

Let's say you wanted to find out how many blue coffee mugs Suzanne Jenkins sold in November. You'd proceed like you normally do when you're customizing a report, but you'd have to scroll down to the end of the Filter list to find the Color custom field that you created. You'd enter the word Blue in the field supplied. Your Sales by Item Summary report setup would look something like this:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 66:

Filtering a report using a custom field.

This report will only run properly if you've added your Color field to your sales forms. Again, we'd be happy to help you with this, and to explore other uses for QuickBooks™ custom fields.

Do You Need a More Robust Version of QuickBooks?

If QuickBooks™ were just one product, its appeal would be more limited than it is. Because there's an entire family of Windows desktop software applications (as well as five online versions and a Mac edition), the QuickBooks™ family has found a home in millions of small businesses, and it remains the market leader.

Though QuickBooks™ versions themselves are not scalable (able to expand as your business grows), you can move up to a more sophisticated edition when you outgrow your current version.

But how do you know whether it's time to upgrade or whether you're just not stretching your current version to its fullest capabilities? We can help you determine that, and we'll help you move into a more appropriate edition when/if that occurs.

Desktop Differences

There are three Windows-based versions of QuickBooks: Pro, Premier and Enterprise Solutions. They all let you:

  • Import and export data
QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 67:

All desktop versions of QuickBooks™ let you import and export data.

  • Track income and expenses
  • Build and maintain records for customers, vendors, employees and items
  • Create and send transaction forms like invoices, estimates and purchase orders
  • Download bank and credit card transactions, and pay bills online
  • Customize and run dozens of reports
  • Keep track of your inventory of items, and
  • Add a payroll-processing service.

All three versions share a similar user interface and navigational scheme, so when you move up to the next level, you only need to learn the new features. The 2013 offerings make it even easier to learn and use QuickBooks, since Intuit completely revamped the look and feel for those most current editions.

QuickBooks™ Pro is the base desktop product, offering everything in the above list and more. But would you rather have access to 150+ reports instead of 100, including some that are industry-specific? QuickBooks Premier can provide that, in addition to charts of accounts, sample files and menus tailored to your company's industry. It also offers a business plan builder and the ability to forecast sales and expenses.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 68:

QuickBooks™ Premier helps you create a business plan.

The biggest jump in functionality, though, occurs when you move up to QuickBooks™ Enterprise Solutions. You may want to consider this upgrade when you find that, for example:

  • Your system keeps slowing down and experiencing errors because your customer, vendor, item and employee databases have grown too large
  • You need to have more than five people accessing QuickBooks™ simultaneously
  • You've launched a second company, and/or
  • Your item catalog has grown to the point where you're having trouble managing your multi-location inventory.

Robust Accounting

QuickBooks™ Enterprise Solutions is well-suited to complex small businesses, and sometimes even larger companies, depending on their structure and needs. It solves the data management problems that Pro and Premier users can experience, thanks to its 100,000+ record and account capacity.

Up to 30 individuals can use the software at the same time, and they have more flexibility than is offered in Pro and Premier. Multiple users can be on the system and still complete tasks like adjusting inventory and changing sales tax rates.

You can manage more than one business using QuickBooks™ Enterprise Solutions, even working in two company files at the same time and combining reports. Reporting capabilities themselves are much more sophisticated: The Intuit Statement Writer helps you create professional financial statements, and you have much more control over customization of your output.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 69:

QuickBooks™ Enterprise Solutions offers more sophisticated inventory management tools than Pro or Premier.

Inventory management goes many steps further in this sophisticated software. It supports management of multiple warehouse and trucks, and allows transfers among them. Finding specific items is much easier because you can track down to the bin level. FIFO costing is offered as an alternative to average costing, and you can scan items and serial numbers directly into QuickBooks™ Enterprise Solutions, which tracks both serial and lot numbers.

More Power, More Support

There are many smaller features that make this application far more powerful than QuickBooks™ Pro and Premier ' and also a little more difficult to master. When you think the time is right, we can help you move your current data file into QuickBooks™ Enterprise Solutions and provide training.

It's important that you have the right fit when it comes to your accounting software. So consider your current setup carefully before you decide to move up.

Spring-Clean Your QuickBooks™ Company File

After this ridiculously long winter, you will probably hear few complaints about things like puddles in the street, summer heat and spring cleaning. Most people are eager to throw open the doors and windows, and attack the dirt that the season left behind, both inside and outside of the house.

It is not hard to see when your home is dirty. QuickBooks™ company file errors are harder to detect, but they are there, including:

  • Performance problems
  • Inability to execute specific processes, like upgrading
  • Occasional program crashes
  • Missing data (accounts, names, etc.)
  • Refusal to complete transactions, and
  • Mistakes in reports.
QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 70:

If some transactions won't go through when you click one of the Save buttons - or worse, QuickBooks™ shuts down - you may have a corrupted company file.

Call for Help

The best thing you can do if you notice problems like this cropping up in QuickBooks™ especially if you're experiencing multiple ones is to contact us. We understand the file structure of QuickBooks™ company data, and we have access to tools that you don't. We can analyze your file and take steps to correct the problem(s).

One of the reasons QuickBooks™ files get corrupt is simply because they grow too big. That is either a sign of your company's success or of a lack of periodic maintenance that you can do yourself. QuickBooks™ contains some built-in tools that you can run occasionally to minimize your file size.

One thing you can do on your own is to rid QuickBooks™ of old, unneeded data. The software contains a Condense Data utility that can do this automatically. But just because QuickBooks™ offers a tool doesn't mean that you should use it on your own.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 71:

Yes, QuickBooks™ allows you to use this tool on your own. But if you really want to preserve the integrity of your data, let us help.

A Risky Utility

The program's documentation for this utility contains a list of warnings and preparation steps a mile long.

We recommend that you don't use this tool. Same goes for Verify Data and Rebuild DataUtilities menu. If you lose a significant amount of company data, you can also lose your company. It has happened to numerous businesses.

Be Proactive

Instead, start practicing good preventive medicine to keep your QuickBooks™ company file healthy. Once a month or so, perhaps at the same time you reconcile your bank accounts, do a manual check of your major Lists.

Run the Account Listing report (Lists | Chart of Accounts | Reports | Account Listing). Are all of your bank accounts still active? Do you see accounts that you no longer used or which duplicate each other? Don't try to fix the Chart of Accounts on your own. Let us help.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 72:

You might run this report periodically to see if it can be abbreviated.

Be very careful here, but if there are Customers and Vendors that have been off your radar for a long time, consider removing them once you are sure your interaction with them is history. Same goes for Items and Jobs. Go through the other lists in this menu with a critical but conservative eye. If there is any doubt, leave them there.

A Few Alternatives

There are other options. Your copy of QuickBooks™ may be misbehaving because it's unable to handle the depth and complexity of your company. It may be time to upgrade. If you are using QuickBooks™ Pro, move up to Premier. And if Premier isn't cutting it anymore, consider QuickBooks™ Enterprise Solutions.

There is cost involved, of course, but you may already be losing money by losing time because of your version's limitations. All editions of QuickBooks™ look and work similarly, so that your learning curve will be minimal.

Also, try to minimize the number of open windows that are active in QuickBooks. That will improve your performance. And what about your hardware? Is it getting a little long in the tooth? At least consider adding memory, but PCs are cheap these days. If you are having problems with many of your applications, it may be time for an upgrade.

A Stitch in Time

We've suggested many times here that you contact us for help with your spring cleanup. While that may seem self-serving, remember that it takes us a lot less time and money to take preventive steps with your QuickBooks™ company file than to troubleshoot a broken one.

Customize Reports, Make Better Business Decisions

Do you remember why you started using QuickBooks? You may have simply wanted to produce sales forms and record payments electronically. Gradually, you expanded your use of the software, perhaps paying and tracking bills through it and keeping an eagle eye on your inventory levels. Certainly, you've run at least some of the pre-built report templates offered by all versions of QuickBooks™ since their inception.

QuickBooks' automation of your daily bookkeeping tasks has undoubtedly served you well. But that's merely limited use; now it's time to take advantage of QuickBooks' greatest strength: customizable reports.

One of the rewards for diligently entering all of your accounting information is a better grasp of your company's financial performance to date. That insight ultimately leads to better business decisions that can contribute to your future growth and success.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 73:

QuickBooks' Report Center can help you learn about what each report is designed to tell you. But smart customization requires deeper insight.

Making Reports Meaningful

Like many other tasks in QuickBooks, report customization tools aren't that difficult to master. What's challenging is:

  • Understanding what each report is designed to tell you
  • Determining which reports are most relevant to your business information needs, and
  • Designing each to produce the critical insight you need in order to move forward.

The first of these is fairly clear. You can understand what many reports do by their titles, their content, and the descriptions QuickBooks™ offers. We recommend that you spend some time looking at the Report Center in QuickBooks™ to familiarize yourself with your options.

The second two challenges are a bit more formidable. It's our job to assist you in establishing a workflow in QuickBooks™ to keep accurate records and produce necessary transactions. But we want you to do more than just maintain the status quo. When you analyze and interpret what your reports are telling you, you can make smart business decisions.

So if we haven't gone over this with you already, we encourage you to schedule some time with us so you can get the maximum benefit from your QuickBooks™ reports.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 74:

You can't miss QuickBooks' customization link when you open a report. But the trick is knowing how to best use its options for your business.

A Simple Set of Steps

Let's take a look at a report you may already be generate: Sales by Customer Detail (Reports | Sales | Sales by Customer Detail). QuickBooks™ comes with a commonly-used set of default columns in its reports. This particular report contains column labels like Type (invoice, sales receipt, etc.), Item and Quantity, and Sales Price. You can easily change the date range that's offered as a default up below the toolbar. But to get to QuickBooks' powerful customization tools, click Customize Report. A window with four tabs opens. They are: Display. Options in this window help you specify the columns you want to appear in your report. In the lower left corner, there's a list titled Columns that contains every possible column label for that report. If you scroll down, you'll see a check mark in front of the default columns. Click on any of those to uncheck them, and click in front of any that you'd like to add. Other options here include how your data should be totaled and sorted. Some reports let you choose between cash and accrual basis. Filters. This is the difficult one--and the tool that will provide the most insight. Filters determine which subsets of related data you'll see (accounts, items, customer types, zip codes, etc.) by including only those that meet certain conditions. Here's where we can really help you answer critical business questions that will lead you to smart decisions.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 75a:

In this example, you've created a filter that will find all commercial drywall jobs that have been invoiced in the current fiscal quarter. You could narrow this report further by, for example, class, state, and paid status.

Header/Footer and Fonts & Numbers. You can tailor the design and layout of your reports here.

Well-formulated reports can help you spot cash flow problems, maintain the right inventory levels, see which jobs are the most profitable, and compare your estimates to actual costs. You'll also be able to identify your best customers, your most sought-after items, and your most successful sales reps. Careful customization of your reports--and thorough analysis of their data--will make the answers to your constant questions about your company's future direction much clearer. We can help you take full advantage of these powerful tools.

Using Statements in QuickBooks: The Basics

Sending invoices to your customers to bill for products and/or services is probably one of the more enjoyable parts of your job - second only to recording payments received. And thanks to the company file you've built in QuickBooks, creating invoices is generally a very simple process that requires no duplicate data entry.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 75b:

You probably use QuickBooks' invoice forms frequently, so you know how much easier it is to fill them out than to create paper bills.

QuickBooks™ also includes easy-to-use templates for another kind of customer form: the statement. These forms are generally not used nearly as frequently as invoices. However, you may find them more appropriate if you:

  • Want to create a form that lists all of a customer's open charges
  • Have a customer who accrues multiple charges before being billed
  • Receive advance or regular payments, or
  • Need a historical accounting of a customer's activity, including charges, payments, and balance.

Limitations of Statements

QuickBooks™ places some restrictions on statements. For example if you have a number of related charges for which you want to create a subtotal for, you'll have to use an invoice. Statements also cannot include sales tax, percentage discounts, or payment items. Products or services requiring descriptions that run more than a paragraph can't go on a statement. Customization options, too, are limited: you can't add custom fields to the statement form, nor can you include a message to your customers, like, "We appreciate your business."

The "Reminder Statement"

There may be occasions when you want to create a form that lists invoices received, payments made, and any credits given for one or more customers. This may be necessary when, for example, a customer disputes a charge. You may also want to send out these statements to remind customers of delinquent payments.

You do not have to enter any new data for these statements. Instead QuickBooks™ will pull the existing activity that you ask for in the Create Statements window, shown below. To get there, either click on the Statements icon on the home page, or open the Customers menu and select Create Statements.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 76:

The Create Statements window in QuickBooks™ offers multiple options for defining the statements you want to send to customers.

As you can see, QuickBooks™ offers a lot of flexibility in the creation of statements. You can specify:

  • The active date range. Under SELECT STATEMENT OPTIONS, you can either enter a date range or request a statement for every customer who has open transactions as of the Statement Date (be sure that this date is correct before proceeding). You can also ask to include only transactions that are past due by a specified number of days.
  • The customers to include. Do you want to use the conditions you just outlined to apply to All Customers? If so, click on the button in front of that options. If you choose Multiple Customers, a small button labeled Choose will appear. Click on it, and a window displaying your customer list opens. One Customer also opens your list of customers. If you've assigned types to your customers and want to include only those in one category (like Residential or Commercial), click Customers of Type. And Preferred Send Method lets you limit your statement output to customers who receive either emailed or printed forms.
  • The template to use. Click the down arrow to see the statement templates available. If you have not customized QuickBooks' standard form and want to do so, let us help.
  • Whether QuickBooks™ prepares one statement per customer or per job. This is a very important distinction, so choose carefully.
  • Miscellaneous attributes of your statement run. Click on the box in front of any that should apply.

If you assess finance charges, you can do so here. This is an advanced activity in QuickBooks, and we'd be happy to provide guidance in this area.

When you're done, you can Preview your statements, Print, or E-Mail them by clicking those buttons.

Entering Individual Charges

If you need to enter individual charges, you'll have to work with QuickBooks' customer registers. You'll find these by either opening the Customers menu and selecting Enter Statement Charges or highlighting a customer in the Customer Center, then clicking the down arrow next to New Transactions and selecting Statement Charges.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 77:

A Statement Charge in the customer register.

We highly recommend that you let us help you get started if individual charges are necessary. Like many of QuickBooks' functions, this isn't a difficult activity once you understand it. But it's much easier and economical for you to get upfront guidance than for us to come in and untangle your company file.

Creating Item Records in QuickBooks

Whether you're selling one-of-a-kind items or stocking dozens of the same kinds of products, you need to create records for each. When it comes time to create invoices or sales receipts, your careful work defining each type of item will:

  • Ensure that your customers receive correct descriptions and pricing,
  • Provide the information you must know about your inventory levels, and,
  • Help you make smart decisions about reordering.

You'll start this process by making sure that your QuickBooks™ file is set up to track inventory. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Items & Inventory. Click the Company Preferences tab and click in the box in front of Inventory and purchase orders are activated if there isn't a check in the box already. Here, too, you can ask that QuickBooks™ warn you when there isn't enough inventory to sell. Click OK when you're finished.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 78:

You need to be sure that QuickBooks™ knows you'll be tracking inventory before you start making sales.

To create your first item, open the Lists menu and select Item List. Click the down arrow next to Item in the lower left corner of the window that opens and select New. The New Item window opens.

Warning: You must be very precise when you're creating item records in order to avoid confusing your customers and creating problems with your accounting down the road. Please call us if you want us to walk you through the first few items.

QuickBooks™ should display the list of options below TYPE. Since you're going to be tracking inventory that you buy and sell, select Inventory Part. Enter a name and/or item number in the next field. This is not the text that will appear on transactions; it's simply for you to be able to recognize each item in your own bookkeeping.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 79:

Let us work with you if you have any doubts about the data that needs to be entered in the New Item window. It must be 100 percent accurate.

In the example above, the box next to Subitem of has a check mark in it because "Light Pine" is only one of the cabinet types you sell (you can check this box and select if you want to create a new "parent" item on the fly). Leave the next field blank if your item doesn't have a Part Number, and disregard UNIT OF MEASURE unless you're using QuickBooks™ Premier or above.

Fill in the PURCHASE INFORMATION and SALES INFORMATION fields (or select from the lists of options). Keep in mind that the descriptive text you enter here will appear on transaction forms, though customers will never see what you've actually paid for items, of course (your Cost, as opposed to the Sales Price).

QuickBooks™ should have automatically selected the COGS Account (Cost of Goods Sold), but you'll need to specify an Income Account. Please ask us if you're not sure, as this is a critical designation. The Preferred Vendor and Tax Code fields will display lists if you've already set these up.

QuickBooks™ should have pre-selected your Asset Account. If you want to be alerted when your inventory level for this item has fallen to a specific number (Min) so you can reorder up to the point you specify in the Max field, enter those numbers there (the Inventory to Reorder option must be turned on in Edit | Preferences | Reminders).

If you already have this item in stock, enter the number under On Hand. QuickBooks™ will automatically calculate Average Cost and On P.O. (Purchase Order).

Click OK when you've completed all of the fields. This item will now appear in your Item List, and will be available to use in transactions. When you want to create, edit, delete, etc. any of your items, simply open the same menu you opened in the first step here (Lists | Item List | Item).

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 80:

The Item menu, found in the lower left corner of the Item List.

Precisely created Inventory Part records are critical to accurate sales and purchase transactions. So use exceptional care in building them.

Memorizing Transactions in QuickBooks: Why? How?

One of the reasons you started using accounting software, among many others, was to save time. And QuickBooks™ has complied. Once you create a record for a customer, vendor, item, etc., you rarely, if ever, have to enter that information again; you simply choose it from a list.

You no longer waste time searching through endless piles of papers to find the one you need; you just do a search. And when you need a report on your monthly sales or inventory purchases or your payroll liabilities, you don't have to wrestle with Excel or locate the right paper records; you just click a few times.

Memorized transactions can be another major time saver. You might use them when you, for example:

  • Provide the same service for a customer on a regular basis,
  • Charge a monthly fee for rentals, maintenance, membership, etc.,
  • Pay a bill to the same company regularly or
  • Have a standing order with a vendor for a similar set of items.

It's easy to create memorized transactions. QuickBooks™ provides an icon for them in the toolbar of every transaction form that's supported, like invoices, bills, and purchase orders.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 81a:

When you see the Memorize icon in the toolbar of a transaction form, you know that you can create a template to use over and over.

To get started, create a transaction that you know will be repeated - even if the amount will be different every time (you'll still save time because you won't have to fill in or select absolutely every detail). Let's say you're doing some social media consulting for a customer, and you've contracted for eight hours every month. Create the invoice for that billing. Then click the Memorize icon. This window opens:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 81b:

Your customer will already appear in the Name field. You'll have to choose from among three options so that QuickBooks™ knows how to handle this recurring form:

Add to my Reminders List. If you choose this by clicking on the button in front of the option, QuickBooks™ will add this transaction to your existing Reminders List.

Note: Confused about how you get QuickBooks™ to remind you about actions you have to take? Help is just a phone call away.

Do Not Remind Me. We don't recommend this option unless you have an exceptionally good memory, few memorized transactions, or a tickler file in another application. Even then, reminders are a good idea.

Automatic Transaction Entry. This absolutely saves the most time. It's also the riskiest option. If you select this, QuickBooks™ will send the transaction through at the intervals you've defined. You'll have to enter a number that indicates how many times you want the form sent and how many days in advance it should be entered.

Next, you'll tell QuickBooks™ how often this transaction needs to be created by clicking on the down arrow to the right of How Often. Click on the calendar icon in the Next Date field to select the exact day this should occur next (you'll have an opportunity when you work with the Reminders List to specify how much advance warning you want).

When you're done, click OK.

Once you start memorizing transactions, QuickBooks™ will store them in a list. When you get a reminder that one is due soon, open the Lists menu and select Memorized Transaction List. You'll see this screen, populated with your own work:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 82:

You'll open the Memorized Transaction List to enter one or to work with one you've already created.

Highlight a transaction in the list and click the down arrow next to Memorized Transaction in the lower left corner to see your options here. You can also click Enter Transaction, and your original form will appear. If you've saved it with a permanent amount, you can just save and dispatch it. Otherwise, enter the correct amount before you proceed.

If you're fairly new to QuickBooks™ and don't feel like you're well acquainted with its time-saving features, please call to set up a time for some training. Better to do that up front than to have to untangle a jumbled company file.

Preventing Data Theft in QuickBooks

Thanks to the internet, privacy has been on the wane over the last few years. We assume that our addresses and phone numbers are public information, thanks to sites like Switchboard and 411.com. We hope that our dates of birth are private (though the number of birthday wishes on Facebook makes that doubtful), and we assume that our Social Security numbers are hard to get.

Your customers trust you enough to provide you with additional private information, like credit card numbers. And you've seen what an uproar occurs when major corporate entities like Target and Home Depot get hacked.

Your small business may not have hundreds of thousands of customer information files, but you can still be targeted by external hackers and even your own employees. Are you taking measures to ensure the security of that data stored on your hard drive and/or in the cloud?

Your Inner Circle

The last thing you want to imagine is that one of your own employees has been tampering with your QuickBooks™ company data. It happens, though, and you need to protect yourself from potential internal attacks.

One of your internal controls, then, should include the establishment of boundaries for every employee who has access to QuickBooks. You can restrict each staff member to specific areas of the program instead of sharing a master password and giving everyone free rein. Go to Company | Set Up Users and Passwords | Set Up Users to do this.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 83:

If you click on Selective Access in this window, you can restrict your employees' activities to specific areas and actions.

The User List window opens, which will display all users who have been set up already, including you as the Admin. Click Add User and enter a name and password. Click the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks™ license, then click Next. Click on the button in front of Selected areas of QuickBooks. Click Next.

The next 10 screens break QuickBooks™ down into separate activities and activity areas, like Sales and Accounts Receivable, Checking and Credit Cards, and Sensitive Accounting Activities. On each screen, click on the button in front of the correct option:

  • No Access
  • Full Access
  • Selective Access (lets you specify what areas and actions will be allowed for that employee)

Other Internal Controls

QuickBooks' Audit Trail is your friend. It records everything that is entered or changed in the software, by whom, and precisely when. To view it, open the Reports menu, then click on Accountant & Taxes, then Audit Trail. Like all QuickBooks™ reports, it can be customized to display the entries you need to see.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 84:

Audit Trail provides a detailed history of all activity in the software.

There are other reports that you should review frequently, and some that we should create and analyze for you at least every quarter, if not monthly. We can suggest reports that would help you look for fraud, and tell you what to look for.

Common Sense Practices

It goes without saying that protecting your entire hardware/software/cloud configuration will help keep your QuickBooks™ company file safe from external marauders. You must employ state-of-the-art antivirus and anti-malware applications and keep them updated. Talk to us if you need recommendations and/or help implementing them. If you're a sole proprietor or you work from your home, restrict the computer where QuickBooks™ resides to business software and websites only. Never let anyone install applications, play interactive games, etc. on it. Change your own QuickBooks™ password at least every 90 days, and do backups to secure drives or websites. When you run into problems with QuickBooks' functioning, please let us help. Even a computer troubleshooting specialist will not understand the program well enough to solve problems, and he or she may compromise your data file further.

As security software and systems get smarter, so do the hackers. Don't let your company and its customers be victims of data theft.

Using Mobile Apps with QuickBooks

In days gone by, running a company was a 40-hour per week proposition. You might have taken work home some evenings or gone into the office on weekends.

Those days are over, thanks to the internet and mobile technology. This fundamental change in the way we do business means that it's now hard to get away from work. Your smartphone and tablet are usually within easy reach, and they're always tempting you to check in.

On the flip side, that kind of 24/7/365 accessibility has numerous benefits. There are, for example, apps that can be integrated with your desktop QuickBooks™ company file, which enable you to:

  • Make sales wherever you are,
  • Document expenses as they're incurred, and
  • Monitor employee time for payroll purposes.

Let's take a look at these in more detail.

Mobile Sales

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 85:

One of the oldest apps that integrates with QuickBooks™ is GoPayment. You can process transactions on your smartphone or tablet from anywhere.

Payment-processing on smartphones has become commonplace these days. You've probably seen merchants accepting credit cards on mobile phones in one of two ways: by swiping the card on a small card reader that attach to their device or by entering bank cards numbers directly.

Intuit's GoPayment lets you do either. You can download the free app and process a customer's payment on your smartphone. However, you still have to download it into QuickBooks™ and either create a sales receipt or match it to an open invoice. This isn't a difficult process once you understand it, but you must be sure to do it correctly from the start. We can do some practice runs with you.

Benefit: Improved sales that aren't dependent on location.

Travel Expenses On-the-Go

One of the smartest, most useful apps that has ever been created is the expense reporter particularly when used by your road warriors for on-the-go expenses. There are a handful of these. Travelers can record expenses in two ways: they can either enter the information directly or snap a picture of a receipt with a smartphone. When your employees get back to the office, they're able to prepare complete expense reports, whose approved data can be transferred into QuickBooks.

Concur is one of these apps. When you set it up, it imports Account Codes, Customers, Jobs and Classes, and Vendor and Employee Records from QuickBooks™ so that these can be assigned for each expense entry. Credit card transactions can be imported directly. When an expense report is completed, it can be sent to a manager for approval, and reimbursement is then deposited in the employee's bank account.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 86:

Intuit's App Center is home to hundreds of add-on applications for QuickBooks.

Tallie works similarly. It can automatically categorize expenses and alert approvers to expense policy violations. Used in conjunction with Bill.com and SmartVault, it can accommodate a sophisticated, seamless accounting workflow. We'll see more multi-app integration as cloud-based financial solutions mature, but if you're going to attempt such a setup, let us help you with the initial mechanics.

Benefit: More accurate, policy-compliant expense reports.

Time-Tracking and Timesheets

If all of your employees walk through the office door every morning and stay there, you don't need a mobile app for time-tracking. But for businesses whose cash flow depends on recovering and recording every minute of billable time, a smartphone time-tracker is ideal.

TSheets Time Tracker can help improve your bottom line in numerous ways. This particular app:

  • Accommodates real-time mobile data entry,
  • Tracks employee locations using GPS, and
  • Creates timesheets that can be synchronized with QuickBooks, tracking billable time by customer, job, employee, etc.

Benefits: Employee accountability; recovery and correct classification of all billable hours; and less time required to create timesheets.

Moving Toward Integration

Given the size limitations of smartphones, some mobile apps contain only a subset of the features found in their desktop counterparts. But that subset is chosen based on the needs of mobile users.

Fewer features mean that your learning time for the mobile apps that integrate with QuickBooks™ will be minimal. But the steps to sync with QuickBooks™ must be followed to the letter, and you may not be familiar with such a process. We want you to experience the benefits that these smartphone solutions can offer without compromising the integrity of your QuickBooks™ company file. Let us introduce you to these forward-looking, beneficial tools.

Customize Forms for a More Professional Image

You probably don't get as many paper forms in the U.S. Mail as you used to. But when you do, do you draw conclusions about the business that sent them based on what their forms look like?

Whether or not you think you do, most people make judgements on businesses based on collateral materials. You might notice that there's no company logo, or that there are unnecessary blank fields. Maybe the print is very light or blurry, and there's no message at the bottom thanking you for your business and your payment.

How you present yourself on paper does matter. There's a lot of competition out there, and you need to use all of the tools available to you to stand out. QuickBooks™ provides one way to do so with its simple forms customization features.

Getting Started

To see what forms are available for customization, open the Lists menu and select Templates to open this window:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 87:

QuickBooks' Templates window shows you what forms can be customized and provides tools for working with them.

Before you try your hand at customizing a form, make a copy to work with first. Highlight Intuit Product Invoice. Click the down arrow next to Templates in the lower left, and select Duplicate. A small window will open, displaying your options. Select Invoice and click OK.

QuickBooks™ will then take you back to the Templates window, and you'll see a new entry labeled Copy of: Intuit Product Invoice. Right-click on it and select Edit Template from the menu that opens. This will open the Basic Customization window.

There are two parts to this screen. The editing options for the template you selected will appear on the left, and a preview of your invoice will display on the right. As you make modifications to the template, the preview will change to reflect them.

The best, most noticeable thing you can do to customize your invoice is to add a logo. Click the box in front of Use logo, and locate the file in the computer directory that opens. Double-click it. You logo will appear to the left of your company name and address in the upper left corner of the preview.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 88:

The Basic Customization window displays options for modifying your copy of the Intuit Product Invoice template.

You can make numerous changes to your template in this window, like:

  • Selecting a new color scheme,
  • Changing fonts,
  • Deciding how much of your contact information should appear, and
  • Indicating whether the Print Status Stamp (PAID, PENDING, etc.) should appear where appropriate on your invoices.

Note: You can choose to use the same modified design on multiple types of forms. This is a little complicated; let us help you.

More Customizing Options

The changes you just made were fairly superficial. However, QuickBooks™ offers tools that let you go much further, modifying the actual content of the invoice itself, its columns, and its fields. To get started on this, click the Additional Customization button at the bottom of the screen. The window that opens displays a preview of your invoice on the right side, just like in the previous window.

Your customization options appear on the left side, divided into five different sections. You'll work primarily with three of them for your invoice:

Header. This includes all of the information that appears on about the top third of the form, like Bill To, Terms, Due Date, and Project/Job.

Columns. What are you billing the customer for? Item, Description, Quantity, Rate, etc.

Footer. What information will you want to enter after you've completed the invoice's product or service content? You'll likely want fields like Total, Balance Due, and Payments/Credits, perhaps a Message.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 89:

QuickBooks™ gives you tremendous control over the content in your forms.

As you can see in the above image, QuickBooks™ lets you choose whether specific fields and columns will appear on your invoices onscreen and/or in print. You can also change field labels if you'd like. And if you have overlapping fields or want to further modify the appearance of the invoice, you can use the Layout Designer. It's a simple tool, but it requires some design skills.

Of course, you may not be printing many invoices at all if you're set up to email them and accept payments online. But your customers, of course, will still see how carefully you've crafted your forms, which will feed into their overall perception of you. Let this impression be a good one.

Use QuickBooks™ Custom Fields to Improve Insight

If you're using QuickBooks, you probably know that you're complying with the rules of double-entry accounting. The software is designed such that you can be compliant with these requirements without even being aware of it. You're dealing with invoices and purchase orders, bank account reconciliation and bill-paying and payroll, not debits and credits and journal entries. QuickBooks™ does the double-entry part in the background.

While every business that uses QuickBooks™ is following those same rules, each has its own unique structure and its own need to modify some elements of the program to do certain tasks. For example:

  • Store more specific information about customers, vendors, and employees in their records,
  • Differentiate between variations of similar inventory items, and
  • Create more targeted reports.

This is where custom fields come in.

Defining Custom Fields

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 90:

QuickBooks™ comes with pre-designed form and record templates.

One of the ways that QuickBooks™ simplifies your life as your company's accounting manager is by providing pre-designed record and form templates. Need to create an invoice? There's a form that already contains the most commonly-used data fields; you just fill in the blanks or select from drop-down lists. Want to store information about your customers and about the items you sell? Ditto.

However, if you need more fields than QuickBooks™ offers on a record or form, you can easily add your own. The software lets you add 15 fields total to customers and jobs, vendors, and employees, and you're limited to seven for any one record type (if you want to use the same field in two of these, it will only count as one). And you're allowed to define up to five fields for your item records.

This type of modification is easy to do, but it's critical that you think carefully about what fields you should add. You don't want to learn three or six months down the road that one isn't really necessary and two more are needed, for example. This is especially important when you're creating records for inventory items.

You may want to schedule some time with us to go over this (and to explore QuickBooks' item-tracking features if you're new to managing inventory). You can change custom field names, but you need to understand how this will affect your data if you do this.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 91:

It's easy to add custom fields to records, but be sure you give a lot of thought to what will be needed.

Let's say you want to add some custom fields to your customer records. Open the Customer Center by clicking the tab in the left vertical pane or opening the Customers menu and clicking on Customer Center. Double-click on a customer or click on the small pencil icon in the upper right. The Edit Customer window opens.

Click on the Additional Info tab on the left and then on the Define Fields button in the lower right. The Set up Custom Fields for Names window opens, as pictured above.

Click in the first column, under Label. Enter the name of the field as you would like it to appear in records and reports. Then click in the box or boxes below Cust, Vend, or Empl. If you want to use the same field in more than one record type, enter a check mark in both. Continue to enter field names until you're done, then click OK.

Now when you create a customer record, you can fill in the blanks. And your new fields will appear as filters in some reports.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 92:

Custom fields can sometimes be used in reports.

You'll follow a similar set of steps when you create custom fields for items in QuickBooks. Open the Lists menu and select Item List. Double-click on any item to open the Edit Item window. Click the Custom Fields bar on the right, then Custom Fields and Define Fields. If your company sells a lot of products with multiple variations, call the office before you attempt this.

Personalizing your copy of QuickBooks™ by adding custom fields has a lot of benefits. But this major structural change requires a lot of thought and planning up front to make sure that this feature is a plus for your business.

Setting Up User Access in QuickBooks

If you ever did your bookkeeping manually, you probably didn't allow every employee to see every sales form and account register and payroll stub. Most likely, you established a system that allowed staff to work only with information that related to their jobs. Even so, there may have been times when, for example, someone pulled the wrong file folder or was sent a report that he or she shouldn't have seen.

QuickBooks™ helps prevent this by setting virtual boundaries. You can specify which features of the software can be accessed by employees who work with your accounting data. Each employee receives a unique username and password that unlocks only the areas he or she should be visiting.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 93:

To help minimize errors, maintain data integrity, and preserve confidentiality, QuickBooks™ lets you restrict users to designated areas in the software.

Here's how you as the Administrator can define these roles. Open the Company menu and select Set Up Users and Passwords | Set Up Users. The User List window opens. You should see yourself signed up as the Admin. Click Add User and enter a User Name and Password for the employee you're adding. Confirm the Password and check the box in front of Add this user to my QuickBooks license. Click Next.

Note: You can have as many as five people working in your QuickBooks™ company file at the same time, depending on how many user licenses you've purchased. Not sure? Press F2 and look in the upper left corner. If you need more than five user licenses, please call the office to find out about upgrading to QuickBooks™ Enterprise Solutions.

In the next window that opens (see above screen), you'll be given three options. Probably you'll most often select the second option, which lets you specify the screens this user can see and what he or she can do there. The first--All areas of QuickBooks--would seldom be granted. And the third allows us to come in and do whatever tasks have been outlined in our work relationship (troubleshooting, monitoring, creating and analyzing reports, etc.).

Click the button in front of Selected areas of QuickBooks and then Next. You'll see the first in a series of screens that deal with the software's functional areas: Sales and Accounts Receivable, Purchases and Accounts Payable, Checking and Credit Cards, Inventory, Time Tracking, Payroll and Employees, Sensitive Accounting Activities (funds transfers, online banking, etc.), Sensitive Financial Reporting, and Changing or Deleting Transactions.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 94:

When you give employees Selective Access in a particular area, you can further define their roles there.

The Sales and Accounts Receivable screen is a good example. You can see the options offered in the above image. By clicking on the buttons pictured, you're giving this employee permission to both create and print transactions. Below these options, you'll be able to keep him or her from seeing customers' credit card numbers in their entirety by clicking in the small box. When you're finished, click Next.

Keep clicking Next and proceed through the rest of the screens. Your choices will be similar on each. But be sure to read all of the descriptive text very carefully. Keep in mind the importance of confidentiality issues and security as you go along.

The ninth screen, Changing or Deleting Transactions, deserves special attention. First, should this employee be able to change or delete transactions in his or her assigned area(s)? Even though you trusted these employees to work with finances when you hired them, consider this question carefully. Depending on the volume of transactions processed every day, you may want to reserve this ability for yourself.

We may or may not have established and password-protected a Closing Date for your company file. This is the date when the books for a specific time frame have been "closed," meaning that transactions should not be entered, added, or deleted prior to it. We can talk with you about the pros and cons of such an action.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 95:

A summary of user access rights

Here and on every other screen in this multi-step wizard, you can always click the Back button if you want to return to a previous window. When you're finished, you'll see a screen like the one in the above image that summarizes the choices you have just made.

If you're feeling any uncertainty or confusion about the whole issue of access rights, please call to discuss your options. These are important decisions. You'll want to stress to your employees that restricting their permissions does not signal a lack of your trust in them. Rather, QuickBooks™ provides these tools to protect everyone who uses the software as well as any external individuals and companies that might be affected.

Make QuickBooks™ Your Own: Specify Preferences

QuickBooks™ was designed to be used by millions of businesses. In fact, it's possible to install it, answer a few questions about your company and start working right away.

However, we strongly suggest you take the time to specify your Preferences. QuickBooks™ devotes a whole screen to this customization process. You can find it by opening the Edit menu and selecting Preferences.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 95:

This is the screen you'll see when you go to Edit | Preferences in QuickBooks. You can turn features off and on, and customize the software in numerous other ways.

Let's look at some examples of what you can do on this page. In the image above, Accounting is highlighted. You can see that QuickBooks™ makes it easy for you to specify your preferences. You simply click in boxes to check or uncheck them. Sometimes, you'll click on the desired button in front of a list item. Other times, you'll be asked to enter numbers and text.

Tip: When you click on a tab in the left navigation pane of the Preferences window, you'll notice that there are two tabs in the larger pane on the right. If My Preferences is highlighted and there are no options on that screen, click on Company Preferences.

Some of the screens here, like Accounting, contain complex concepts. Do you know, for example, why you would or wouldn't want to Use account numbers? What Retained Earnings are?

Warning: While the mechanics of this process are simple, there may be times when you don't understand what's being asked because you're either not familiar with the terms or you don't know which option you should choose. Rather than guessing, please connect with us to set up a time to go over all of the content in the Preferences window.

Some preferences are easier to define. Let's look at one of these.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 97:

The Time & Expenses window in QuickBooks' Preferences

The image above is a partial snapshot of the screen that opens when you select Time & Expenses from the left vertical tab in the Preferences window.

Tip: If you start making changes and decide you'd like to return to the options selected before you started, click the Default tab in the upper right.

Your options here are very simple:

  • Do you want to use the time-tracking features in QuickBooks?
  • On what day does your work week start?
  • Does all of the employee time worked and recorded get billed back to the appropriate customer? (You can change this manually on each time entry by checking or unchecking the box in front of Billable.)
  • When you create an invoice for a customer who has outstanding time charges, do you want to be able to select those from a list?

If you check the box in front of Create invoices from a list of time and expenses, this box will appear when you open the Create Invoices window and select a customer who needs to be billed for time:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 98:

If you are creating an invoice for a customer who has received services but who has not been billed for them yet, you can opt to have those charges added to the invoice.

You'll notice that there's a box in the lower left corner labeled Save this as a preference. While QuickBooks™ allows you to specify preferences in countless areas in the Preferences window, you will often have the opportunity to make an exception for a particular action as you're working on transactions. Also, as shown here, you can sometimes turn on specific preferences once you've already started a task.

You're not required to go through all of the entries in the Preferences window before you start working. You can always go there to see if there's a setting you can change if an element of QuickBooks isn't performing the way you expected.

It's a good idea to learn about all of your options in the QuickBooks™ software before you get started--and we can help. If you let us go through this process with you, you'll not only learn about the customization allowed, but you'll also get a good introduction to all of the things that QuickBooks™ can do, and learn more about your business and its needs.

Need help? Don't hesitate to call!

Creating Reports in QuickBooks, Part 1

Reports are your reward for all that hard work you put in entering records and transactions in QuickBooks. Sure, you can always find individual invoices, sales receipts, and customers by using the software's search tools, but in order to make smart business decisions, you need to be able to see related subsets of the information you so carefully entered in neat rows and columns.

You've probably created at least some basic reports in QuickBooks. You may have, for example, wanted to see who's late paying you, or whether you have unpaid bills. You might need to know your stock levels, or which purchase orders are still unfilled. You certainly want to keep a close eye on whether you're making or losing money.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 99:

The QuickBooks™ Report Center displays examples of reports you can create using your company's own data.

QuickBooks™ makes it easy to get those answers in only a few seconds. But to get really meaningful, targeted views of your accounting information, you'll want to shape your reports so that they reveal precisely what you need to know. You can do some of this on your own, but you might want to enlist our help to drill down even further--and to create and analyze the more complex output that some reports can provide.

Configure Preliminary Settings

As often happens when starting a tutorial on a specific QuickBooks™ feature, the first step is to send you to the Preferences window. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Reports & Graphs. With the My Preferences section open, you can instruct QuickBooks™ on some of the ways reports should be handled. You can choose to:

  • Have the Modify Report window open every time you create a report (to remind you to make any necessary changes first).
  • Set your Refresh options. If you always want to have the most current data displayed when you generate a report, you can tell QuickBooks™ to Prompt me to refresh or Refresh automatically by clicking on the button in front of the appropriate response. Choose Don’t refresh--the fastest method--if you don't want to be interrupted when you're working with a report. You can refresh when you're done.
  • Draw graphs in 2D to make them run faster, and Use [black and white] patterns instead of colors to better differentiate between segments.

Each person who has access to QuickBooks™ can set these Preferences any way he or she wishes.

Setting Up Company Preferences

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 100:

You must be the QuickBooks™ Administrator to set Company Preferences.

You can decide on your own whether Aging Report should start the aging process from the due date or the transaction date. Decide how you want Items and Accounts to appear in reports. And if you click the Format button located directly below Default formatting for reports, you can alter their appearance, for example, by changing fonts and indicating what information should appear in the header and footer.

For other preferences, you may need help. For example, do you understand the difference between running Summary Reports as Accrual or Cash? And have you worked with a Statement of Cash Flows before so you can assign accounts to various sections? This is a report the office should be generating and analyzing periodically for you, so don't worry about dealing with it on your own.

Note: QuickBooks™ was designed for small business people, not accountants. But if you really want to get the most out of it to make the best business decisions possible, call the office for assistance with any concepts you don't understand.

Navigating the Report Center

Unless you're working with a very old version of QuickBooks, you have two options for accessing the software's reporting functions. You can simply click on Reports in the left vertical pane to open the Report Center. Or you can get there by opening the Reports menu (which includes links to other areas, like the Transaction Journal, in addition to lists of QuickBooks' reports divided by category).

Next month's QuickBooks™ will cover several reports and their customization options. In the meantime, as always, don't hesitate to call if you need help with QuickBooks™ reports and setup.

Creating Reports in QuickBooks, Part 2

QuickBooks™ is a faster, safer, and more accurate method of doing your bookkeeping than using a manual system is. Still, you may occasionally tire of your daily tasks and wonder what all of these forms and records mean in terms of your overall financial health--and how to create the reports that go along with them.

The actual mechanics of creating reports in QuickBooks™ are fairly straightforward. You can go to the Report Center, make a selection, maybe change the date range, and voila! Your company's related data appears in neat rows and columns.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 101:

You may be able to get some of the information you need by simply changing the date range on a QuickBooks™ report.

But perhaps you to see different columns than what QuickBooks' report templates include. Furthermore, you might want to filter your output for more meaningful, targeted analysis. Some of QuickBooks' reports--particularly those included in the categories Company & Financial and Accountant & Taxes---can be a little advanced for the average small businessperson with little bookkeeping experience. Yes, they're easy to run, but they are also difficult to understand so you may need the assistance of a professonal.

We strongly encourage you to let us run these more complex reports, such as the Balance Sheet, for you on a regular (monthly or quarterly) basis. Balance sheets provide valuable insight when making critical business decisions.

But we don't want to discourage you from working with QuickBooks' reports on your own either. Some of the easier reports are A/R Aging Detail (to keep an eye on past-due payments) and Unpaid Bills Detail (to see where you stand with your own financial obligations).

Make Reports Yours

Sometimes, QuickBooks' own report output is a bit too broad for your needs. So the program provides sophisticated customization options. You can work with these to narrow down and shape the data that appears in your reports.

First, columns. Building reports from scratch would be too time-consuming and frustrating for you to do all of the time. And it's unnecessary, since QuickBooks™ provides templates for its reports, sets of columns and data filters that would serve some businesses well, but which can be modified by each user.

Try this. Open the Profit & Loss Detail report and click on the Customize Report button in the upper left corner. You will see that the Modify Report window opens.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 102:

QuickBooks™ lets you modify the columns that appear in reports.

The Display tab should be highlighted. Change the Report Date Range if necessary by clicking on the down arrow to the right of the Dates field. You can also create your own custom date range by deleting the dates in the From and To fields and entering new ones, or by clicking on the small calendar icons and clicking on the desired dates.

Warning: Do you understand the difference between running reports as either Accrual or Cash? This is important. If you don't, let’s get together to go over some basic report concepts.

It's easy to change the default columns that appear in reports. You can either enter a column label in the Search Columns box or scroll down the list of all possible labels. Click in the space in front of the ones you want to include, and click on existing check marks if you want to remove those labels. You can also designate a sort order, either Ascending or Descending.

If you want to work with the Advanced options, or if you come across a Display screen that puzzles you (depending on the report, you may have some complex choices), let us know.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 103:

QuickBooks™ report Filters screen

When you're done here, click on the Filters tab. This is a powerful element of QuickBooks™ report customization. You can limit your report output to data that meet certain criteria. In the image above, for example, you can tell QuickBooks™ which subset of Accounts should be included. Click on the Billing Status filter, and you can limit the results to Any, Not Billable, Unbilled, or Billed. You get the idea.

You can apply multiple filters to a report. Every one you select will appear in the list under Current Filter Choices.

The Header/Footer and Fonts & Numbers tabs are primarily cosmetic options you can explore on your own, but as you can see from this brief overview there are many ways to use QuickBooks™ reports as is or customized for your particular situation. We recommend that you work with reports regularly, both on your own and with us. The insight they provide can help your company grow and flourish instead of just getting by.

Anatomy of a QuickBooks™ Inventory Item

When you started your business, maybe you were able to keep track of your inventory by peering in the closet or your garage. As it grew, that simply took too long. But you became tired of running out of stock because you didn't have time to constantly check its levels, and you forgot about items that did not sell and were tucked away in a corner.

You need inventory-tracking. QuickBooks™ can help you create thorough records for each product you sell. It keeps track of how much you have on hand and warns you when your stock is running low. And its reports tell you what is selling and what is not, so you can make better, smarter purchasing decisions.

Activating Inventory-Tracking

Before you get started creating item records and including them in transactions, you need to make sure that QuickBooks™ is set up to start tracking. Open the Edit menu and click Preferences. Click Items & Inventory in the left vertical pane and then select the Company Preferences tab. This window will open:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 104:

QuickBooks™ needs to know what your intentions are when it comes to inventory-tracking.

First, of course, click in the box to the left of Inventory and purchase orders are active if it is not already checked. Click the next box down if applicable. The rest of this window deals with two concepts you need to understand. Quantity on Hand refers to the number of items that you actually have. Quantity Available subtracts items currently on Sales Orders. QuickBooks™ will warn you if you do not have enough of a specific item to commit to a customer. You just have to decide which definition of Quantity you want to use.

When you are done here, click OK.

Accuracy Matters

Now you can start entering records for the products you sell. Accuracy is absolutely essential here. You will see why as you explore QuickBooks' tracking capabilities.

There are a few ways to open an item record window. You can click Items & Services in the upper right corner of the Home Page, or open the Lists menu and select Item List. Both will open a window displaying any item records that have been entered in a register-type view. Right-click anywhere and select New, or click the arrow next to Item in the lower left corner and select New.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 105:

Double-and triple-check your work as you enter information in the QuickBooks™ item record window.

QuickBooks™ lets you create records for numerous types of items, including Service, Discount, and Inventory Assembly. To see how inventory-tracking works, select Inventory Part from the drop-down menu under TYPE. Next, enter an Item Name/Number in that field.

If you have already named a main category (like Hardware, in the example above) and want to place your product in a subcategory of it, click the Subitem of box and choose from the drop-down list. Manufacturer's Part Number is optional. You can ignore UNIT OF MEASURE, if this is not an option in your version of QuickBooks.

Purchase Information

If you buy this item from a vendor, fill in this side of the window. Write the description that should appear on purchase transactions when you place an order. Enter the cost you pay for it, and select the COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) account if the default is not correct. Do you buy this product exclusively from one supplier? Select the name in the drop-down menu under Preferred Vendor.

Sales Information

Enter the description you would like customers to see on invoices and the price you'll charge. If you are at all unsure of what to select for Tax Code or Income Account or need assistance understanding your Chart of Accounts and how these accounts are used in records and transactions, please call the office.

Inventory Information

Here is where the software's tracking capabilities come in. QuickBooks™ will probably default to your Inventory Asset account, which is fine. Enter the minimum number of items that should be in stock when you get a reminder to reorder, and the maximum you want to have at any one time. Fill in the On Hand field with the number you currently have. QuickBooks™ will automatically calculate the Total Value.

In the screen shot above, you see an example of what that last line looks like once you start using that item in transactions. You will see its Average Cost and the number that are currently on purchase orders and sales orders.

Creating records for every product you sell can be tedious, time-consuming work. But the payoff comes in the real-time knowledge you will have of your inventory that will lead to better, smarter purchasing decisions. As always, help is just a phone call away.

Memorizing Transactions in QuickBooks

Your accounting work involves a lot of repetition. You send invoices. Pay bills. Create purchase orders. Generate payroll checks and submit payroll taxes.

Some of the time, you only fill out those transaction forms once. You might be doing a one-time purchase, like paying for some new office furniture. Other times, though, you're paying or charging the same companies or individuals on a regular basis.

QuickBooks™ contains a shortcut to those recurring tasks, called Memorized Transactions. You can save the details that remain the same every time, and use that template every time the bill or invoice is due, which can save a lot of time and improve accuracy. Here's how it works.

Making Copies

To memorize a transaction, you first need to create a model for it. Let's say you have a monthly bill for $450 that's paid to Bruce's Office Machines. You'd click Enter Bills on the home page or open the Vendors menu and select Enter Bills. Fill in the blanks and select from drop-down lists to create the bill. Then click Memorize in the horizontal toolbar at the top of the form. This window will open.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 106:

Before you can Memorize a transaction, you first have to create a model (template) for it.

The vendor's name will already be filled in on the Memorize Transaction screen. Look directly below that. There are three ways that QuickBooks™ can handle these Memorized Transactions when one of their due dates is approaching:

  • Add to my Reminders List. If you click the button in front of this option, the current transaction will appear on your Reminders List every time it's due. You might request this for transactions that will change some every time they're processed, like a utility bill that's always expected on the same day, but which has a different amount every month.
  • Do Not Remind Me. Obviously, QuickBooks™ will not post a reminder if you click this button. This is best used for transactions that don't recur on a regular basis. Maybe you have a snow-shoveling service that you pay only when there's a storm. So the date is always different, but everything else is the same.
  • Automate Transaction Entry. Be very careful with this one. It's reserved for transactions that are identical except for the issue date. They don't need your approval--they're just created and dispatched.

Click the down arrow in the field to the right of How Often and select the correct interval. Then click the calendar icon to pick a date for the next occurrence. If you have selected Automate Transaction Entry, the grayed-out lines below Next Date not shown here) contain fields for Number Remaining and Days in Advance to Enter.

How Does QuickBooks™ Know?

Obviously, you'll want advance warning of transactions that will require processing. QuickBooks™ lets you specify how many days' notice you want for each type. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences. Click Reminders in the left vertical pane, then the Company Preferences tab. You can tell QuickBooks™ whether you want to see a summary in each category or a list, or no Reminder. Then you can enter the number of days' warning you want.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 107:

QuickBooks™ lets you specify the content and timing of your Reminders.

Working with Memorized Transactions

Once you've created some Memorized Transactions, you will undoubtedly need to review them at some point. QuickBooks™ makes this happen. Open the Lists menu and select Memorized Transaction List to see all the templates for recurring bills, invoices, etc., that you've defined. Right-click on one you want to work with and this menu appears:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 108:

The Memorized Transaction List with the right-click window open.

You have several options here. If your list is so long that it fills multiple screens, you can Find the transaction you're looking for. If you've created multiple related transactions, you can save them as a New Group. You can also Edit, Delete, and Enter Memorized Transactions.

Anytime you're letting QuickBooks™ do something on its own, it's critical that you thoroughly understand the mechanics of setting the process up. We'd be happy to go over the whole topic of Memorized Transactions with you, or any other aspect of QuickBooks™ operations.

Getting Ready for Payroll in QuickBooks™ Online

Payroll is probably the most complex element of small business accounting. Not only are you directly responsible to your employees, but you also have to make sure you are handling everything related to benefits and payroll taxes correctly.

Whether you are switching from a manual system to QuickBooks™ Online, or you have just hired your first employee, you will soon discover that the site can make your payroll-related tasks much more organized and accurate--speeding up the process tremendously.

But before you start getting ready for your first payroll run, you have a lot of setup work to be done. Be sure to leave yourself time before those first paychecks are expected. This is not meant to be a payroll setup tutorial. While some step-by-step instruction is provided, initially, we just want you to see what information you will need to have available and how QuickBooks™ Online handles it.

Building a Backbone

There is no particular order set in stone for your payroll preparation tasks, although you will need to provide some background information about your company and its policies before you can start creating employee records.

QuickBooks™ Online does not walk you through the steps required. It does though display a page with links to all of the data you will have to enter. Click the gear icon in the upper right, and then click Payroll Settings. You will see this screen:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 109:

QuickBooks™ Online's Payroll Settings screen displays links to the pages where you will manage your setup tasks.

You would have entered information about your Contact Information and Work Locations (under the Business Information heading) when you first signed on to QuickBooks™ Online. At the same time, you would have been exposed to the Chart of Accounts, which already has accounts designated for payroll. You can see them by clicking Preferences | Accounting, but please do not customize these. If modifications are needed, we will do them for you.

Payroll Policies

How often will you pay your employees? Go up to the Payroll heading in the upper left and click on Pay Schedules. Click Createand open the drop-down list next to Pay Period to select the frequency desired. Then enter the date for the first payroll you will run in QuickBooks™ Online and the end date for the period that it covers. Click the box below if you want this to be the default setting for all employees. Then click OK to return to the previous page.

Open the Vacation and Sick Leave Policies window. If you do not yet have accrual rules for these paid days off, let us help you here. It is complicated. When you are done, click the back arrow to return to the Pay Policies window and select Deductions/Contributions. Are you offering benefits like health insurance? You will need to have your paperwork and information handy before you start completing this section.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 110:

Before you can pay employees, you will need to have entered information about the benefits you offer so you can withhold dollars for them.

Click the plus sign (+) in front of Add a New Deduction/Contribution and complete the fields here, then click OK. You will assign these deductions to employees on their individual records in QuickBooks™ Online. If there are any Employee Garnishments needed (like child support), click the down arrow next to Add Garnishment for and select the worker from the list. You will provide details for these in the window that opens. This information was most likely provided to you by the agency requesting it. When you are done, click OK.

Taxes and More

If you are new to payroll and have never dealt with payroll taxes before, you are going to need our help getting this complicated element set up correctly. Even if you have, we would recommend that you call and set up a consultation with one of the QuickBooks™ Online experts in the office. QuickBooks™ Online does a good job of providing guidance here, but failure to submit payroll taxes (or pay them incorrectly) can lead to penalties and fines--or worse.

In addition, there are other setup tasks you will need to complete, like:

  • Connecting your payroll bank account to QuickBooks™ Online.
  • Creating employee records.
  • Setting payroll production preferences.

Setup is by far the most challenging part of processing payroll in QuickBooks™ Online. Once that is done, you will just be entering hours and making modifications. Please contact the office if you are planning to take this on or have any questions.

How to Enter Bills in QuickBooks

You may have noticed recently that business bill-paying is undergoing a transition. While some paper bills still come via the U.S. Mail, you may also be getting some of those bills via email. Sometimes, you might get a reminder email, but then must 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 pinned to the corkboard 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:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 111:

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 one of the QuickBooks™ professionals at the office. This is a critical designation that affects so many other areas of QuickBooks.

Saving Your Work

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 112:

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 the payment. How will you remember when it's due, though? QuickBooks™ can remind you â?? 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.
QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 113:

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

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

Next month, the second step will be discussed: the actual paying of bills. In the meantime, please call if you want to schedule a session to go over any aspect of your accounts payable â?? or anything else in QuickBooks.

Need to Create Estimates? QuickBooks™ Can Help.

You don't need to be a car repair shop or an HVAC technician to present prospects and customers with estimates. In fact, there may be many times when an unexpected estimate--or bid, or proposal--will land you a job you didn't necessarily expect.

Of course, the bottom line is the meat of your estimate, the price you're willing to accept for your work performed. It's your job to determine that. But let QuickBooks™ do what it does best: provide intuitive, efficient tools for creating and modifying estimates.

First Steps

Before you start creating estimates, you'll need to make sure they're turned on in QuickBooks. Open the Edit menu and select Preferences, then Jobs & Estimates | Company Preferences. If the Yes button below DO YOU CREATE ESTIMATES? is not filled in, click inside of it to turn on this feature. Also, the Warn about duplicate estimate numbers check box should be activated.

There are actually three ways to open an estimate form. You can click the Estimates icon on the home page or open the Customers menu and select Create Estimates. You can also open the Customer Center (Customers | Customer Center) and click on the Transactions tab. Click the New Transactions button in the toolbar and choose Estimates.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 114:

If you haven't explored QuickBooks' Customer Center, you should. You can do a lot of your sales work directly from there, like creating estimates.

As you can see, you can create multiple types of sales forms from here. You can also see lists of existing and historical transactions.

Making It Yours

Before you create your first estimate, you should make sure that the form's header, footer, and columns contain the fields you want. Use one of the three methods we just outlined to open a blank form. Then, with the Formatting tab at the top of the window active, click Customize Data Layout in the toolbar that opens to launch the Additional Customization window.

Take your time working with the options in this window. QuickBooks™ gives you an incredible amount of control over how your estimates will look, but don't get ahead of yourself. Start with the most important content: the text you want to have appear. By default, the software opens a template called Custom Estimate that contains commonly-used fields, like Cost, Description, and Markup. You can easily change these by checking and unchecking their corresponding boxes.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 115:

You'll check and uncheck boxes to indicate the fields you want to appear in the Header, Columns, and Footer of your estimates.

You'll notice that you can have specific fields appear on the screen and/or on printed copies of your estimates. You can also change the field names (use Bid or Proposal instead of Estimate, for example), and for columns only, the order in which they appear.

Warning: Be careful with the Markup field of your estimates. You wouldn't want your customers to see this, so be sure that it is NOT checked in the Print column.

As you make changes to this template, you'll see the graphical Preview over to the right change to reflect your modifications. Click Print Preview to see a larger, finished version of your template. When you're satisfied with it, click OK. This will replace your Custom Estimate template.

Adding Templates

You probably noticed other links and icons related to the formatting of estimates. These open advanced tools (if you need help understanding these, don't hesitate to call). Once you've mastered them, you can save multiple versions of your estimate templates to use in different situations. These features include:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 116:

If you want to create a different look for the Custom Estimate template or build and save a new one, you can walk through this customization wizard.

  • Customize Design. This opens a multi-step wizard that helps you select a background, font, and grid style.
  • Download Templates. You can choose from multiple pre-designed templates.
  • Basic Customization. This window supplies tools for adding a logo and changing colors and fonts.
  • Layout Designer. This tool is only recommended if you already have freeform design skills.

Just Like Invoices

Creating an estimate in QuickBooks™ is just like filling out an invoice. You enter data where appropriate, and select options from drop-down lists. If you don't have any experience with sales forms and need some guidance, please call and set up a time to go over the entire process, as well as answer any other questions you might have about QuickBooks.

Options for Receiving Payments in QuickBooks

One of the reasons we like QuickBooks™ is because it uses language and processes that are familiar to small business people. Instead of using the term "accounts receivable," it has a menu label that says Customers and menu items that use phrases like Create Invoices and Receive Payments. You would have to go into the Chart of Accounts to find standard accounting terminology â?? and we never recommend that you do that without consulting with a QuickBooks™ professional first.

Yet when you're doing customer-related tasks, you're following a traditional accounts receivable workflow, a series of steps that completes a sales cycle, like Estimate | Invoice | Payment | Deposit. QuickBooks™ keeps it simple for you and doesn't often force you into unfamiliar territory.

One of the more pleasant elements of accounts receivable is the process of receiving customer payments. There's more than one way to do this, and it's very important that you use the correct way in each situation.

Payment Methods

Before you record your first payment, you'll need to make sure that QuickBooks™ is set up to accommodate its Payment Method. QuickBooks™ comes with some standard types, but you can add, edit, and delete your own options (though not those that are built in to the software).

Open the Lists menu and click Customer & Vendor Profile Lists, then Payment Method List. This window will open:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 117:

You can work with Payment Method options in this window.

To use any of the commands in the Payment Method drop-down list, you'd highlight the method by clicking on it and opening the options list by clicking the down arrow in that field.

When you add or change an existing entry, the window that opens contains fields for both Payment Method and Payment Type. They should be identical or at least very similar.

Settling an Invoice

If your company sends invoices, you'll need to record their matching payments in the Customer Payment window. Click Customer | Receive Payments or the Receive Payment icon on the home page. There's also a button for this in the toolbar in an open invoice. However you get there, here is what it looks like:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 118:

You'll record payments that customers send in response to invoices in this window.

Select a customer in the RECEIVED FROM field, and any outstanding invoices will appear in the table below. The CUSTOMER BALANCE appears in the upper right corner. Enter the PAYMENT AMOUNT and verify the date.

Click in the box for the correct payment method to the right. If it's a check, enter the number in the CHECK # field. If you choose CREDIT DEBIT, you can enter the card details in the small window that opens. If you provided this information in the customer's record and chose that as the PREFERRED PAYMENT METHOD, it should fill it in automatically.

To set a PREFERRED PAYMENT METHOD, which will save time, open the customer record and click the small pencil icon in the upper right. Click Payment Settings and complete the fields in that window.

If the customer has paid less than the balance due, you can either LEAVE THIS AS AN UNDERPAYMENT or WRITE OFF THE EXTRA AMOUNT. Select one of those two options in the lower left and save your work when youâ??re done.

Instant Payments

You'll use a different form when a customer gives you a payment in exchange for the goods or services you provided, without receiving an invoice. Click Customers | Enter Sales Receipts to open a window like this:

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 119:

If a customer gives you a payment without receiving an invoice, you'll provide them with a Sales Receipt.

You'll complete this form much like you did the CUSTOMER PAYMENT window, except you won't be applying the payment to an existing invoice.

Receiving payments from customers is one of the easier tasks you'll do as a QuickBooks™ user, but if you don't use the software's tools correctly, your books will be difficult to untangle. To ensure that you're doing this element of your work right from the start; contact the office to schedule a consultation.

Issuing Credit Memos and Refunds in QuickBooks

QuickBooks™ is very good at helping you get paid by your customers. It comes equipped with customizable invoice templates for billing customers and sales receipts for recording instant sales. It supports online payments, so you can accept debit or credit cards and electronic checks. It simplifies the process ofrecording payments and itoffers reports that let you keep track of it all.

There are times, though, when you have to issue a payment to a customer. QuickBooks™ provides forms that allow that transfer of funds: credit memos and refunds. Do you know when and how they should be used? Here are the basics:

Credit Memos

A credit memo is just what it sounds like. A customer returns an item for which theyâ??ve already paid, and you have to credit him or her for its cost. This is the more complicated of the two and requires more bookkeeping since youâ??re tracking the sale, its payment, and the returned item. You can deal with the amount of the credit by:

  • Retaining the funds in the customer account.
  • Issuing a refund.
  • Applying it to the next open invoice.
QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 120:

When you issue a credit memo to a customer, you have three options for returning the money they paid.

To create a credit memo, click Refunds & Credits on QuickBooksâ?? home page or open the Customers menu and select Create Credit Memos/Refunds. The Credit Memo window opens. Select the correct Customer:Job. In the line item section of the form, choose the merchandise returned in the Item column and enter a quantity. Repeat the process if more than one item was returned, then click Save & Close. The Available Credit window, pictured above, will open. Click the button in front of the option you want.

Select the first option if thatâ??s what you want and click OK. The window will close, and the customer will have had that credit amount applied to his or her own account. You can see this in the Customer Center if you click on Customers in the navigation toolbar (or Customers | Customer Center). You can then either click on the Customers & Jobs tab and scroll down until you can highlight your customerâ??s record or click on Transactions | Credit Memos.

Click on Give a Refund to open the Issue a Refund window. Everything should be filled in here except for the payment method. If you select Cash from the Issue this refund via drop-down list and then pick the correct account from the list that opens, the refund amount will be subtracted from the account. Select Check and then the Account, and check the box in front of To be printed. That refund will be in the list the next time you open the File menu, then Print Forms | Checks. Choose a credit card and check the box in front of Process credit card refund when saving box to issue a credit card refund automatically.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 121:

The Issue a Refund window.

If there is an open invoice, the Apply Credit to Invoices window will open, containing a list of unpaid bills. If there isnâ??t already a checkmark in front of the invoice you want to apply it too, click in the first column to create one. QuickBooks™ will tell you how much credit was applied and whether any remains. When youâ??ve checked the screen for accuracy, click Done.

Dealing with Overpayments

Letâ??s say a customer is catching up on multiple outstanding invoices and he or she sends you a check for the total but overpays you. Open the Receive Payments window by going to Customers | Receive Payments or clicking Receive Payments on the home page. Select the customer and enter the Payment Amount and Check #. QuickBooks™ will have put a checkmark in front of all the outstanding invoices listed to indicate theyâ??ve been paid.

In the lower left corner, youâ??ll see a section titled Overpayment. The extra amount and your two options for dealing with it appear here. You can either credit the customer or issue a refund. Click the action you want to take, then save the transaction.

QuickBooks™ Customization Tips

Figure 122:

If a customer overpays you, you can use QuickBooksâ?? built-in tools to credit him or her.

You can also issue refunds through the Write Checks window, but this is a more complicated procedure. Itâ??s easier to process a credit memo.

If youâ??re at all unclear about what is described here, please contact the office for assistance. Refunds or credits that come through incorrectly (or not at all) can make customers very unhappy and may affect future sales. Why not let a QuickBooks™ professional help you get it right the first time?

At Nugent & Associates, we're not just number crunchers. We bring over 3 decades of invaluable certified public accounting and tax expertise to your company – serving as business and financial strategists who can offer such services as tax and financial planning, investment advice, diligent financial records, and help with estate planning.

Even better, we will give you time to focus on what you do best: running the day-to-day operations that drive your business toward success.

Take advantage of our FREE and no obligation business checkup.

We will visit you at your business at a time and day convenient for you, analyze your numbers, discuss your goals and concerns and report back with a complimentary detailed written analysis to help your business succeed!

At Nugent & Associates, we're not just number crunchers. Our people bring decades of invaluable certified public accounting and financial and tax expertise to you – offering tax and financial strategies to individuals such as yourself. If you have any questions or concerns about your own tax, financial or investment matters, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Experienced tax and financial experts are not just for the super rich. At a reasonable fee you too can maximize your wealth and receive professional guidance for retirement, and/or any tax issues you may be facing, no matter your situation, with a tax and financial expert as your consultant.

Contact Nugent & Associates today. We don't charge for phone calls. You may just find you found an ally in your quest to have a great financial future.

After all, at Nugent & Associates, we succeed when you succeed!



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