The best small business financial software, QuickBooks, serves you by offering a variety of packages designed to meet your accounting needs.
This program is no longer made by Intuit. Formerly, it was Intuit’s entry-level program, but has since been replaced by Simple Start. It could not email reports or forms and could not export to Excel. These two functions might not have seemed very necessary 5 years ago, but in today’s world having them is essential.
If you are looking for Basic, consider Simple Start or Pro instead.
Are you a solopreneur, just starting, with no inventory? Intuit’s entry-level program is very easy to use. Plus, it’s the only opportunity download free QuickBooks! Yes, Intuit has made Simple Start free for the taking. There is no free QuickBooks Pro or Premier available.
Simple Start breaks financial tasks into simple steps:
- Money In – Here you can create Invoices, Receive Payments from Customers, generate Sales Receipts, and make bank Deposits.
- Your Business – Here you can record customers into your Customer List, record vendors into your Vendors List, look at your bank account registers, view a Profit & Loss statement, and other important tasks.
- Money Out – Here you Write Checks, Record Expenses, and Issue Refunds.
- Process payroll for an additional charge.
- Outlook integration.
- Exporting data to Excel not available.
There is also a flow chart, graphically showing these tasks. This helps keep you on track!
Simple Start Plus Pack
So what is the difference between the Plus Pack and the free version? The Plus Pack includes:
- 250 standard or voucher checks
- One year QB online backup service
- “Learning Accounting Essentials” training CD
- Ability to watch step-by-step tutorials
Why Get the Plus Pack?
If you are unsure which to get, I suggest you base your decision on how much you think you will actually use the extra training materials. If you will actually listen to the training CD and watch the tutorials, then get the Plus Pack. If you do not think you will use them, then get the free version. The voucher checks and online backup service are nice, but I don’t suggest you let them sway you. The training materials are the real ‘meat’ of the extras offered.
This is Intuit’s bread-and-butter program. If you have inventory and/or need up to five simultaneous users, consider Pro.
It looks different from SS, because the foundation of the program is the different Lists. Every financial transaction hangs off these Lists in one way or another. Here they are:
- Chart of Accounts – this is the holy of holies in the accounting world, the real heart of any double-entry accounting system.
- Customer List – shows all of your customers’ information, including current balances.
- Vendor List – same as for customers, but for vendors
- Employee List – ditto.
- Item List – this is where you record the items you sell. You will use this list even if you do not sell inventory items.
- There are other lists too, but these are the main ones.
In most financial transactions, you probably won’t access the lists directly. You will use forms, such as the Invoice form, the Write Checks form, the Enter Credit Card Charges form, and others. These look like the real paper forms you are already familiar with.
All these are accessed by menus. Other functions are accessed by menus too:
- Company – the following information is recorded here: company information, user names & passwords, to do list, reminders, alerts manager, general journal, vehicle mileage, and others.
- Banking – write checks, enter credit card charges, make deposits, transfer funds, reconcile, online banking, loan manager, and other tasks.
- Reports – One of my favorite things about QuickBooks is it’s powerful reporting features! Many different reports are pre-loaded, and can be further customized for your needs. Or you can start completely from scratch and extract very unique data. It’s really amazing, and I’ve always been able to get the data out of it that I needed.
- Help – Internal help is available by way of typing your query into a search box, or scrolling through alphabetized lists.
Why Use Pro over Simple Start? Pro offers the following benefits:
- Import & Export to/from Excel
- Purchase Orders
- Export to Turbo Tax
- Download bank and credit card transactions
- Track employee time & expenses in order to invoice customers
- Print 1099 and 1096
- Process FedEx & UPS shipments & labels
- Build a budget and create a business plan
- Use MS Word to create letters w/customer data
- Accountant review copy enables you to work in your file while your accountant makes changes to it at his/her office
- Other benefits too
Think of Premier as a very-enhanced version of Pro. It has all of the features of Pro, plus:
- Create Sales Orders and keep track of back orders
- Forcasting sales & expenses
- Industry-specific versions: QuickBooks Premier Accountant Edition; QuickBooks Premier Contractor Edition; QuickBooks Premier Manufacturing; QuickBooks Premier Non-Profit Edition; QuickBooks Premier Professional Services Edition; QuickBooks Premier Retain Edition
- Inventory assemblies
- Many other enhanced and useful features customized for each industry
Why use Premier instead of Pro?
If you need Sales Orders and/or Inventory Assemblies, you are ready for Premier. If you are a larger business and are in one of the specific industries above, then Premier for-your-industry is the best choice.
Enterprise is a complete step-up from any of the previous packages. The interface looks the same, but it can handle twice the data file size that the others can handle. It also has some great features:
- One full year of customer service
- Upgrades included during that year
- Data backup included
- Can operate on Linux
- Multi-location access available
- Retrieve data with Open Database Connectivity applications
- True Commerce EDI Transaction Manager
- Other features!
Handles up to ten users. Double the data capacity. Many, many enhanced features.
QuickBooks offers many features and user-friendliness not found in other packages. Fully scalable – begin with Simple Start, and grow your way to Enterprise, preserving your historical data all the way. Easy to find help, online or offline – it’s the best small business financial software available.