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Tips for budgeting in QuickBooks

For any small-business owner using QuickBooks for small business accounting, there are an overwhelming amount of options within the program that might pertain to your business. The hard part is finding the features that make sense for you and maximizing your time while working on them.

One feature that all small-business owners eventually need is budgeting. With some basic budgeting tools, a business owner can forecast certain trends over a period of time, make wiser decisions on upcoming major purchases, and track cash flow. QuickBooks makes all of these very easy by following a few simple steps.

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New Features of QuickBooks 2014

Small businesses require powerful bookkeeping tools with a low-cost entry point. Intuit’s QuickBooks has become the industry leader for small businesses for doing just that. With different options to get you started, QuickBooks can become a business lifesaver. And several new features in QuickBooks Pro 2014 continue to add value to this prominent program. First, QuickBooks 2014 has added many new email capabilities. While you’ve been able to email customers in QuickBooks for some time, the new version allows more complex email templates that allow you to create a more professional presence directly out of the program. In addition, QuickBooks has added the ability to attach multiple files to one email so you can avoid clogging up customer inboxes with multiple messages. Another new feature is the “Income Tracker.” This handy tool allows you to show “all your income-producing transactions in one spot, including overdue invoices so you can remind customers to pay up,” according to the QuickBooks website. In conjunction to QuickBooks’ reminders feature, the Income Tracker creates a significant one-two punch to remind yourself and your customers of any money owed. Another new feature is an improved bank feed in QuickBooks 2014. This allows you to see your banking account activity in one place. Managing multiple bank accounts is much easier and the interface helps you make more informed decisions about your money. While having QuickBooks 2014 can save you a lot of time and bookkeeping energy, in every class I teach at the Digital Workshop or community colleges, I give my disclaimer that every small business owner needs to talk to an accountant. In fact, my accountant has saved me many times — and I thank her more and more everyday — because the accounting side of QuickBooks is often more complex than using the software program itself. You should always consult with a professional before diving into any version of QuickBooks and creating a headache for yourself later. [Originally posted in the Coloradoan on...

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Quickbooks Tips & Tricks Part III: Online Version Offers Access to Financial Info on the Go

This week I’m writing the finale of a three-part series on the benefits for QuickBooks for your business. I briefly spoke about the advantage of QuickBooks Pro forms and the Snapshots feature, but QuickBooks offers many other bonuses that will adhere to the modern businessman. In today’s fast-paced digital age, we’ve all become accustomed to accessing information from anywhere. Laptops and smartphones remove deterrents from getting the info you need to keep up with the speed of business. For someone always on the move, QuickBooks offers an online version. This version is designed for those who need their financial records from anywhere. From any place at anytime, you can check your customer’s records, pay a bill, or run a crucial report to monitor the health of your business. Intuit, the maker of QuickBooks, now offers collaboration tools to allow multiple people to work on your company file at one time. The information will sync automatically, so everyone has information updated in real time. One of the major advantages of the online version of QuickBooks is the ability to streamline all of your transactions to one place. If you have multiple people entering information, they can enter it and access it from anywhere. This is a huge time saver for those always on the move and still in need of their financial information. The major question that inevitably comes up with QuickBooks Online is, “is it safe?” The answer is a definite yes. Using similar encryption as major banks and complying with U.S. regulations for online security, QuickBooks Online protects your data from hackers as well as any other online transaction. If you trust online banking, such online accounting should fall in the same boat. One major disadvantage I’ve found to QuickBooks Online compared to other online accounting solutions is that it’s not easy to integrate your invoicing and accounting to other online systems. For example, if you use an online system to process an order and payment, it may not be able to automatically create an invoice in QuickBooks Online. You would need to enter the information in to the accounting system manually. QuickBooks Pro and Online are both packed with features aimed at helping the small business keep up with the big boys. Both offer trial versions for you to test what’s right for your business setup. I can tell you that it is an invaluable tool for my business, and one we also love to teach others about. Stu Crair is the owner and lead trainer at The Digital Workshop Center, providing digital arts and computer training instruction in Fort Collins. Reach him at (970) 980-8091 or...

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QuickBooks Tips & Tricks Part II: Snapshots Help Organize Business Information

  With a 500-word limit on each Digital Trends column, it can be a challenge to deliver some interesting content while not getting too “techie” and talking over people’s heads. Last week, I ran out of room to write everything I wanted to say about the power of QuickBooks Pro for small business. Part two of this series focuses on more QuickBooks Pro features that all small business owners should know about. In the 2011 version of QuickBooks Pro, a new feature called “Snapshots” was introduced. Snapshots is a fast, flexible way to manage the health of your business by looking at your income, expenses, profit/loss trends, and more in one location. Starting on the icon bar in QuickBooks, you can launch Snapshots and you will see a widgetized abundance of information. Each widget breaks down one fundamental part of your business in more detail. Crucial statistics such as income and expense trends, current account balances, and accounts payable are immediately available. When you find something missing for your business needs, there are also a handful of additional content widgets you can easily add to your Snapshots page. Furthermore, because these are widgets, they can be arranged in any way you see fit. Additional features of the Snapshots page come from two other tabs at the top of the window. If you’re dealing with customer payments, you can start by clicking the “Payments” tab and view your recent transactions, jump immediately to payment reports, or see more charts that help give you a better payment breakdown. The “Customers” tab at the top of the window is used to analyze the details of your transactions for one customer at a time. This tab allows you to view a customer’s trends over time or just to see which items one customer has purchased most. I love the Customers tab as it helps me remember my previous interactions with a customer, and any other pertinent information I need, before I go forward with setting up a new sale. As a result, I’m a more informed business owner and am able to provide better service and insight to my customers. Lastly, one of the great features of the Snapshots page is that you can drill down on any transaction, graph, or widget listed to get more information. Typically in the form of a QuickReport, QuickBooks immediately allows you to dig into the dirty details as you need them. For finding mistakes or learning the “whys” behind any transaction, there’s no easier way to drill into the information as you need it. Stay tuned for next week’s final part of this QuickBooks series. [Originally published in The Coloradoan on...

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Quickbooks Tips & Tricks Part I: Streamlining Business Forms

I’ve turned over the teaching duties for a lot of classes at the Digital Workshop, but one that I still love to teach is QuickBooks Pro. It is near and dear to my heart because it organizes my business’ accounting, makes my life easier around tax time, and provides easy client and vendor lists among numerous other vital tasks. Most importantly, QuickBooks shows me the health of my business at any point in time. Through easy balance sheet reports and profit and loss statements that help me track where the money goes, QuickBooks is the most important software we use in the Workshop’s administrative office. There’s so much to discuss with QuickBooks that I’m splitting up discussion of its major advantages in my column into a three part series. Today, the first topic I want to discuss is the ability to use QuickBooks forms. In QuickBooks, forms are intended to mimic a real, paper form that you may have used in the past at your office. The most obvious example of this is the handwritten check. Many businesses still rely on checks to provide an adequate paper trail of their expenses, payroll, and more. However, with the popularity of check cards and QuickBooks printed checks, the handwritten check has become almost obsolete. With QuickBooks, you can use the check form screen and fill out a digital version of the check as you would have always done in the past. However, below the form is a related accounting section. This allows you to properly do your accounting of the income or expense accounts the check is related to at the same time. But wait; you still need to print checks to and send them in the regular mail? Checks specifically designed for the printer are readily available and can be printed on directly from QuickBooks. You can designate which checks need to be printed as a batch, put a stack of printable checks in your printer, print, sign, and mail. The amount of time this saves is immeasurable for any business writing checks each month. When you pay with your credit or debit card, QuickBooks allows you to designate your own electronic abbreviation in place of a check number such as “çheckcard.” Therefore, you can still use the check form accurately and not mix up the check numbers of actual checks. This is one of any number of time-saving tricks you can learn in QuickBooks. Stay tuned for next week’s column to learn more about the advantages of QuickBooks for your business. [Originally published in The Coloradoan on...

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