Getting started using QuickBooks can be a bit overwhelming. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you begin.

If you bought or downloaded a copy of QuickBooks thinking you could dive right in and get started on your own, you have a challenge ahead of you. QuickBooks is the market leader in small business accounting software, in part because it’s easy to use.

But if you step in without knowing anything about accounting, you may find yourself in need of help. Even if you do understand the basics, you may struggle some. Here are some suggestions for your early hours and days with QuickBooks:

Take a QuickBooks training course. At the very least, look at some videos and run through tutorials. QuickBooks has written documentation built into the program and it offers some video tutorials, but they’re limited. If you don’t learn to use QuickBooks before you start using it, at least reach out for some help once you’ve gotten started.

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QuickBooks has built-in help files that will walk you through using the software, but taking a QuickBooks class will help even more.

Work with the sample files first. QuickBooks includes sample files for that very reason: so you can practice without compromising your live company data. Take advantage of these. Look at how records and transactions are filled out and try some of your own. Run a few reports.

Once you get started, back up your company file regularly. You’re probably accustomed to backing up data from the other applications you use, like your word processor. If there’s an application type that absolutely demands backup, though, this is it. You’re not just dealing with your own words. Your financial files – including all of that critical customer information – is the lifeblood of your business. Safeguard it. QuickBooks offers both local and online backup tools.

Don’t try to enter or import all of your data at once. Start with the customers, vendors and items you use the most. That way, you’ll recognize early what you don’t understand and can supplant your understanding of QuickBooks before you’re working with dozens or hundreds of records and transactions.

Earmark and/or arrange frequently-accessed features so they’re readily available. QuickBooks 2013 includes a navigational pane that you can customize to your liking. Earlier versions, too, have customizable icon bars. Set these up early, so you’re not hunting around any more often than you have to. If you come across a window that you’re going to use regularly but it’s not in the list of Favorites, make that window active and open the View menu, then select Add [Window] to Icon Bar.

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You can customize the Icon Bar in all versions of QuickBooks, even if the screen you want isn’t in the list supplied.

Test yourself after you’ve been working with the software for awhile. Try taking this exam to test your knowledge and see where you might still be lacking.

 

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