Accounting & Finance

How to Use QuickBooks: An Easy 8-Step Tutorial

Read Time: 7 min

Learning how to use QuickBooks is one of the best options for a business looking for software that combines accounts payable and accounts receivable management, payroll remittance, tax preparation, and other financial services. However, for those unfamiliar with this accounting software, QuickBooks can be difficult to use. Not to worry! With a little patience, perseverance, and our eight-step QuickBooks tutorial, you’ll be ready to utilize QuickBooks to its full potential.

How Does QuickBooks Work? A Brief Overview

QuickBooks is a software program that provides premium financial tools to help you run your business. It automates manual processes of tracking business expenses, payroll, taxes, reporting needs, and so much more. As QuickBooks integrates with many available third-party software systems, you’ll likely be able to import all necessary information, making for a seamless transition period. Really, what more could a business owner ask for when it comes to accounting software?

There are several different sections in the QuickBooks platform to help you stay organized:

  • Dashboard: This page provides a quick overview of your revenue and expenses, and allows you to create an invoice or pay a bill.
  • Banking: After connecting your business bank accounts and credit cards, this section keeps you on top of account balances and helps you manage day-to-day transactions.
  • Sales: The sales segment tracks customers and pending revenue. You can create and send invoices to your customers, as well as store sale receipts.
  • Expenses: This area records your expenses. Easily add, edit, or remove expenses and track bills from one portal.
  • Payroll: This section manages your employees, payroll expenses, tax liabilities, and other related elements.
  • Reports: From this page, you can pull information from the other sections to create comprehensive documents detailing an overview of your business’s financial health.
  • Taxes: This segment offers an easy way to assess pending tax liabilities and payments you’ve made.

How to Use QuickBooks Online:
8 Steps for First-Time Setup

QuickBooks Online is a powerful automation tool that can businesses their two most important resources—time and money. But if you’ve never used QuickBooks before, we’re here to help. Below walks through the basics of QuickBooks Online, so you can get started on the right foot!

Step 1: Sign Up for a QuickBooks Account

One of the most appealing elements of QuickBooks Online is that it’s cloud-based. This means that you do not need to download or install a program to use it. To get started, sign up—online, naturally—for a QuickBooks Online account. In most cases, you’ll be offered a free trial, after which you’ll choose a paid plan to continue using it. Once you’ve signed up for a QuickBooks Online account, logging in will land you on the dashboard page.

Step 2: Customize Your Dashboard and Account Settings

Upon logging into QuickBooks Online, you’ll be prompted to choose the features you’d like to use. You’ll be offered options like:

  • Send & track invoices
  • Track sales
  • Track billing
  • Track sales tax
  • Pay employees
  • Organize expenses

Select the options you’d like to have shown on your main dashboard. Additionally, your dashboard allows you to customize it with widgets. After reviewing your dashboard settings, make any adjustments to the widgets, reports, and account settings you’d like. Because these settings are not permanent, you can play around and change what you don’t like later.

Step 3: Sync Your Bank Account and Business Credit Cards

Once you have your dashboard set, it’s time to add data to your account. QuickBooks Online offers several integrations to make this easy. You may, for example, connect your business bank accounts and business credit cards directly to the software. This saves a lot of manual data entry, which will save you time and avoidable human-error mistakes.

To connect to a bank account, simply choose your financial institution on QuickBooks, input your login credentials, and connect to the relevant account. You will automatically be able to view transactions made within the last 90 days, as well as any transactions made moving forward.

Step 4: Connect Your Payroll Software

Connecting your payroll software to QuickBooks ensures old data and new data remain stored together. This is especially useful if you’re switching mid-year or mid-quarter, as any tax liabilities will be transferred.

If you don’t have payroll software or are dissatisfied with your current payroll software, QuickBooks offers its own. Within Quickbooks Online, you can create payroll checks and pay employees via direct deposit. 

Step 5: Import Contacts into QB

Importing your contacts into QuickBooks adds your vendor contact list and your customer contact list. Integrations with big customer relationship management (CRM) companies, such as Salesforce and Hootsuite, further simplifies this process. Once your customers and vendors are synced, you can create invoices for your customers or pay bills to your vendors with ease.

Step 6: Organize & Categorize Transactions

Within each module in QuickBooks, there are options to categorize your transactions based on how you’d like to prepare your balance sheet. You can assign special accounts for specific purchases or create unique identifiers for different groups of clients. QuickBooks automatically categorizes expenses for you, but if it’s unable to match a transaction to a category, you’ll be able to add the details yourself.

Step 7: Connect to Apps for Ease of Access

Being browser-based, QuickBooks Online does not require you to install a program. Of course, you can download the mobile app and connect to your account—putting the entirety of your business financials in the palm of your hand. The benefits of doing so include easy access from anywhere, payment processing on the go, and the ability to immediately upload receipts.

Step 8: Integrate QuickBooks with Your Invoicing Software

Quickly create invoices, accept payments, and manage accounts receivable by seamlessly linking your current invoicing software. QuickBooks also provides its own invoicing software. Whether a third-party’s or QuickBooks’s invoicing software, you can send invoices in real-time through QuickBooks Online so you’re paid faster.

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Other Tips for Using QuickBooks for the First Time

After completing the above steps detailing the overall setup of QuickBooks, it’s time to dig deeper into the platform. Below, we explain how to utilize its more specific business features.

receipt and calculator

How to create an invoice

Invoicing within QuickBooks Online is simple:

  1. On the Dashboard, choose “Create Invoices.”
  2. Select an existing customer from your list or add a new one.
  3. Likewise, select an existing product or service from your list or add a new product or service if necessary.
  4. Attach relevant documents.
  5. Select your customer’s payment options.
  6. Save and send an e-invoice to your customer, or print the invoice and mail it.
dashboard showing graphs

How to track sales and cash flow

Too often, business owners are without a proper system in place to prevent overspending. Fortunately, QuickBooks has features in place so you can know where your business financially stands.

To track your cash flow, head to the Reports or Banking section. Reports are generated if you’ve synced your bank account, used the invoice feature, and kept your vendor invoices up-to-date. You’ll see your net cash balance, including any pending transactions.

someone giving income to someone

How to pay bills and manage expenses

The expense feature within QuickBooks Online allows you to pay bills and track expenses. To enter an expense on QuickBooks Online:

  1. Select the Expense section.
  2. Click “Add an Expense.”
  3. Select a vendor from your existing vendor list or add a new one.
  4. Fill out the form. (Similar to adding a vendor, you can add a product or service in this window.)
  5. Enter the amount and source of the payment.
an employee at their desk

How to manage employees

Calculating payroll can become increasingly complex with ever-changing payroll tax rates, potential tax liens, wage garnishments, etc. Fortunately, QuickBooks automatically updates payroll tax rates and tracks wage garnishments—ensuring you never miss a liability. To add an employee within QuickBooks:

  1. Navigate to the Payroll section.
  2. Toggle to the tab for “Employee” or “Contractor.”
  3. Click “Add an Employee.”
  4. Input their information and hit save.
a financial document showing a report

How to create reports

To create a report, follow these steps:

  1. Select the Reports section.
  2. Choose a tab at the top or scroll down for additional options.
  3. Choose the timeframe for your report. (If you’d like to compare two timeframes, you can do so using the “Compare Another Period” button.)
  4. Generate the report.
a hand catching a percentage sign

How to manage taxes

To manage your taxes, follow these steps:

  1. Navigate to the Taxes section.
  2. Choose “Get Started” to flow through the onboarding wizard during which you’ll input sales tax liability and how frequently you need to remit taxes.
  3. Press Save.
  4. Select the time period for which you’d like to see your tax liabilities and refresh the dashboard.
  5. Click “Pay” to see view outstanding payments and “History” to view payments you’ve made.

Where to Find Free QuickBooks Training Online

If you’re looking for free QuickBooks Online training, there are many tutorial videos on YouTube made by accounting professionals. QuickBooks even has its own Youtube channel offering video resources. While online courses are available, they will likely cost you.

How to Use QuickBooks for Small Business:
Closing Thoughts

QuickBooks Online is a perfect choice for small to mid-sized business owners looking to take better control over their operations and finances. With the suite of powerful tools offered by QuickBooks, you’ll be able to create custom invoices, accept credit card payments, and integrate with third-party merchant services! As we said earlier, what else could a business owner ask for when it comes to accounting software?

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