You may think I'm odd, but recently while acting as bookkeeper for Tin Shingle entering thousands of transactions into our newly created QuickBooks Online account, I joyously tweeted to QuickBooks that I was "high on QuickBooks". I was loving it and I had to share it with them!
Next thing I new, I got a lovely little tweet back from Intuit (Quickbook's parent company) saying that their SVP Caroline Donahue had a special video "Thank You" recorded just for me! When I shared this with our accountant, he nearly fell off his chair. I've included it here for your to see. But there's more. I've recorded a video back for her, plus, I'm sharing with you the specifics about why I had such a good time entering our transactions, and why our accountant gave our books an A+ at tax time.
My response video back to Intuit AKA Quickbooks:
And now, the details...
The beginning of 2014 brought me a new challenge: taking over the bookkeeping duties for all of our transactions at Tin Shingle. Our bookkeeper used to do this for us, but when she moved on, I decided to take it over - at least for a little while.
I'm no stranger to QuickBooks. I have used the software since I startd my own business in 2006, and still use it for my digital marketing consultancy. But QuickBooks version 2010 has been my main point of contact with the software in my service-based business, and I had a feeling I was missing out on a fresh interface and more modern features as QuickBooks improved and evolved over the years.
THE EXPERIMENT: "I CAN DO IT MYSELF!"
Confession: I put off doing our books for the entire year. This meant I had all of 2014 to enter at once. All sales. All credit card fees for each sale. All checks and credit card expenses. All before March 2015, which was my goal for getting it to our accountant. We had never filed late before, and I wasn't going to file late on my watch as bookkeeper.
Because I am a Mac user, I never actually saw our QuickBooks because our bookkeeper was on a PC. Instead, we reviewed reports that had been pulled from QuickBooks into Excel. In terms of communicating with our bookeeper, I would log expenses or sales into a Google Doc. I wanted to start fresh with our books so that my business partner, our accountant and I could see our financials at all times. I also wanted to set things up a little differently than our bookkeeper had.
On January 1, 2015, I respected one of my business resolutions to dive into QuickBooks Online and get fluent with it. I started an account, and carefully and methodically set up new bank accounts in our brand new fresh QuickBooks Online company account. For nearly six weekends in a row, I manually entered transactions, reconciling all of the way. You could find me at wine bars, coffee shops, even in the parked car while my family worked out at our gym. My accountant was in instant-reply to all of my tricky questions so that I entered them correctly in QuickBooks.
I CAN SEE!!!
Make that "We Can See!" Thanks to QuickBooks Online, Sabina and I can meet online and both look at our financials. Sure, we did this with Excel spreadsheets, and by me adding up numbers and presenting them in emails. But with QuickBooks, we could see monthly reports online for both income and expenses. And this is normal with accounting software, but because we did not have access to it, we never saw it in the interface. Like I mentioned earlier, I use QuickBooks for my consulting business, so I see it all the time over there and am used to running reports in a few clicks. But now...I can't believe we didn't do this sooner. The online version connected us.
When we do have a bookkeeper again, they can have a login at their own level. We can decide what of our company we want them to see. If we're hiring someone to enter data, or if we had an admin on staff, they can have a special login.
Online Bank Accounts
Whoa. What a game changer. There are two reasons I love this feature:
1. The balances of our bank accounts and credit card are presented on the home page. At-a-glance, I can see what the true balances are, and what the QuickBook balances are (aka, transactions that have been entered into QuickBooks). Normally, I log into each bank account to look at bank and credit card balances. But with this interface, I am presented with all of them at once after logging in once to QuickBooks. Muahaha.
2. Transactions made in real life can auto-sync over into QuickBooks! This is HUGE. When you auto-sync, the dollar amount, date, and reason for the expense is all typed up for you. You do nothing but review it and click "YES". If you paid your sub-contractor, BAM, it will be in your books when you go to suck it down from your bank. I used to log this into the Google Doc for our bookkeeper and I'd actually put off paying someone if I wasn't near my Google Doc to log it.
This works if you're doing your books every month or two months, because QuickBooks only syncs for a limited number of past days. I was hesitant to connect our bank accounts to QuickBooks. I feared that transactions would be pulled over from the bank or credit card that would mess me up in some way.* (big * here! see * below) For instnace, if I manually entered a transaction, would an auto-sync transaction come over and duplicate? Actually yes it can, but there are ways to avoid this (see below). But it is very worth it to sync.
Switching systems is an uncomfortable thing. You know how something works in one world, and you don't have time to learn it in another world. Even though I'm used to a 2010 edition of QuickBooks, the online version of QuickBooks uses similar terms, so the learning curve of finding how to enter transactions was a little easier. The navigation, however, is totally different. All of the top navigation icon buttons that I actually stopped using because they overwhelmed me, are gone. There is a simple left navigation that operates like a simple menu in an app. There is a fly-out navigation at the top which took some getting used to, but I'm able to hop around in it now.
Storage of Credit Card Details
If you are billing a client, and the client gives you their credit card number, you can store it in QuickBooks for manually processing that payment. This is not something we use at Tin Shingle, but for consultants or agencies who bill clients for work, this is a very nice feature. I am an advocate of billing clients up front for certain types of jobs, and this makes doing that easy.
Chase Paymentech to Replace PayPal for Sales and Reporting
I love PayPal for many reasons, such as this one for easy payment button creation. But not for exporting data. Credit card sales do not play nice with QuickBooks because PayPal sends it over in way that is one number - the number you earned minus the credit card transaction fee. So for instance: If a membership due processes for $150, PayPal takes a cut for $4.05 (and if it's on an Amex card, it's $5.25). Both of these numbers need to be in QuickBooks. On the Sales side, the $150 needs to be represented as Membership Income. On the Expenses side, $4.05 needs to be represented as a Bank Fee. But PayPal sends the whole thing over as a sale for $145.95. Wah Wah. We are switching our merchant account to Chase Paymentech, but they promise me that I will love the reporting exports. Which means I just gained hours of time because I will not be manually entering sales and credit card fees.
*CONFESSION ABOUT RECONCILING
I never "reconciled" before. In my first business, I entered in months of transactions at one time. If balances didn't match up, I thought "Eh! The computer broke!" Then I would pay someone to fix it. I would pay someone to reconcile a year's worth of transactions, which can get really expensive because you're paying someone to search for a needle in a haystack so that your QuickBooks balance matches your actual bank balance.
For the first time, I "reconciled". I'd heard bookkeepers talk about this, and they'd moan "That was really hard to reconcile!" and I didn't know what they meant. Now I do. Reconciling means that if you're off a penny or more, you have to find the error that you made when typing in the amount. Or when accepting transactions from your connected bank. Maybe you typed in $75 instead of $74. I began checking my balance every 10 transactions or so. That way, I could spot a wrong number right away and correct it.
* The online banking in QuickBooks almost got in the way of this. Because you can sync transactions from your bank or credit card, if you paid your credit card from your bank, the transaction shows up in both places. I caught this right away because I was...reconciling!! So now I know which transactions to delete that have been brought over from the online banking. This part sounds scary, but trust me, it is worth the time you'll save. You will reconcile with any accounting software. QuickBook's presentation of the transactions made reconciling manageable and easy to correct.
Thanks QuickBooks for helping Tin Shingle meet the April 15th tax deadline, with an A+ from our accountant!