Before coming to the greatness that is Accounting Outside the Box, I had very little interaction with QuickBooks, desktop and online. Basically all I had to do was learn a crash course in how to accept customer payments via credit card and print off the receipt for them to sign. Easy enough after the first few times and with the help of a cheat sheet.

But that’s what I’ve found to be the secret to QuickBooks for newbies, cheat sheets.

For myself, it was always nice to have a quick and easy reference to consult when trying to remember what exactly to click on to start doing a bank reconciliation, how to properly enter expenses, code them right, and how to properly code deposits. Especially when working on various companies, it can be difficult to remember who codes this as what and who logs a deposit as a cash register and who logs it as a sale. Not to mention it’s quite frustrating simply not knowing what an expense is or how to code it and I’d have to use what I call the ‘dummy code’; ‘Ask My Accountant’, called such simply because I’d feel like a dummy not knowing what to do with the transaction and having to save it to ‘Ask My Accountant’ for Kim to review later.

I’d see a check written to someone but there’d be no memo of what it was for or the bank statement would show a transaction as a jumble of letters. It was always frustrating not knowing what something was or how to code it properly. However, with some time, practice, and a wee cheat sheet, it got much easier to understand, especially when I understood how to still do the reconciliation and then go back and fix codes. So, everything I used the ‘dummy code’ for, I could go back and make changes, which greatly reduced my stress level when doing reconciliations (Lists and then Chart of Accounts became my best friend)!

These little notes that I would make for each client helped with the learning curve, especially if a client had a more complex system for tracking expenses, like a construction company. Plus, it’s nice to have back up notes just in case technology goofs and doesn’t save information for some reason. But it was also nice having a short procedure at hand saying do this, then this, and then this is next.

Not coming from a bookkeeping or accountant background, I’d easily get flustered with QuickBooks; not just because it was a program to learn, but also learning a certain way of thinking. It was learning what can be classified as a meal, or travel or an office expense. Why one client might be able to claim Netflix as an expense while another cannot. How to not have micro categorization such as office supplies for post-its and pens then having general supplies for hand soap and paper towels. Switching from an operating account to a sweeps account.

In time, though, with the great guidance and patience of Kim, it became a more likable program. It certainly has its quirks, but I can totally see why people use it and why it’s so popular; it certainly is faster than the old fashioned way! But it’s also proof that the program CAN be learned and that basically any mistake can be fixed. It’s just a matter of learning the little ins and outs of QuickBooks.

I’d have to say the best thing next to the cheat sheet is to not be afraid to ask questions, because not doing so can lead to mistakes which then leads to more work, and patience. I had to give myself pep talks when I’d get frustrated simply to remind myself that I didn’t come pre-programed to understand a system I’ve never used before, therefore, I was going to have to ask questions and make a few mistakes before getting it right. Thus, training was necessary and within a couple of bank reconciliations, I started understanding the ins and outs, but there’s a key factor here; good training! So fear not friends, don’t let QuickBooks scare you!

Come to us if you have any questions, comments, concerns or just need some clarification when it comes to QuickBooks!