How to Use Quickbooks for Small Businesses


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QuickBooks is one of the best-known and most frequently used accounting programs available. It’s a great tool for small businesses to keep on top of everything having to do with their finances ― from inventory to taxes.

QuickBooks offers many tiers, and with everything moving online, the service has many options that don’t require installation onto a computer. However, if you prefer more traditional QuickBooks options, the Desktop Pro Plus, Premier, and Enterprise options are also available. These are programs that must be downloaded and installed onto a desktop computer for use.

This article will:

  • Give an overview of the different QuickBooks service options
  • Explain how to set up QuickBooks on desktop
  • Give details on what you need to know to have your QuickBooks accounts running smoothly

What Is QuickBooks?

QuickBooks is an accounting service developed by Intuit that’s primarily marketed to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). The popular brand has been around for nearly three decades and began as a desktop-installed software program.

However, QuickBooks has since expanded to offer cloud-based, online-only versions that are compatible across several platforms, including PC, Mac, smartphones, and tablets.

QuickBooks online versions also have added functions that allow businesses to accept payments, manage, and pay bills, and payroll functions. Intuit has been investing heavily into its online versions with frequent updates. Its products are also often offered at a discount from their original prices.

QuickBooks desktop versions get yearly updates with incremental updates and minor tweaks to their layout designs. The Desktop Pro Plus version is advertised alongside the online versions but its features appear lacking amid a transition to a primarily cloud-based accounting service.

If you’re interested in this version, you might find one of QuickBooks’ online versions more useful due to having more feature options and a cheaper price.  

The Premier version includes various inventory and transactions features and is especially good for companies who are dedicated to using desktops for their accounting. The Enterprise version is for the biggest companies ― among small businesses ― and includes several advanced pricing, inventory tracking, and costing features that are geared toward manufacturers with complex needs.

The Premier and Enterprise versions aren’t prominently displayed on the QuickBooks sale options page. The best way to find these options is to look them up using a search engine. Due to the nature of the Enterprise versions, you must contact Intuit directly to facilitate the purchase of this software.

What Are the Pricing Tiers for QuickBooks?

  • Simple Start: $25/month
  • Plus: $80/month
  • Advanced: $180/month
  • Desktop Pro Plus: $349/year
  • Premier Plus: $549/year
  • Enterprise: $ 1,275/year

How to Set Up QuickBooks on Desktop?

Fortunately, the setup for all of QuickBooks desktop versions, including Desktop Pro Plus, Premier, and Enterprise, is the same no matter which version you have. Find detailed instructions for how to install and set up QuickBooks below. 

Different versions of QuickBooks
Source: QuickBooks
  1. Go to the download page.
  2. Select which product and version you need.
  3. Select search and then download.
  4. Download QuickBooks and install. Select Next in the Install Wizard. If the download doesn’t start automatically, select the install icon from the desktop or location where the download is.
  5. Read license agreement then Accept and Continue.
  6. Enter license and product numbers. Select locate license and product numbers if you don’t have them. This takes you to a page where you enter your business phone number to get that info. Alternatively, log in to your Intuit account to find them.
  7. Select Next.
  8. Select the first option, Express for Standalone Machine Workstation.
  9. Select Custom and Network options to install on a server. To learn more, select Explain these choices in detail.
  10. Select Next.
  11. If QuickBooks is already installed on the computer, you may see the option to upgrade or change the location of the install.
  12. QuickBooks installs automatically.
  13. Select open QuickBooks.
  14. You’ll be prompted to reboot your computer if installing QuickBooks for the first time.
  15. Activate QuickBooks Desktop, Select Begin Activation.

Your Installation and activation of QuickBooks are now complete. The program opens, and you can now create, open, or upgrade your company file with your new version of QuickBooks. 

8 Best QuickBooks Tips

Once you’ve got QuickBooks installed, you can begin using all the functions within the program. If it’s your first time using QuickBooks, it might be intimidating, but there are many tips you can take advantage of to optimize your experience.

  1. Choose a Highly Secure Password
    • Keep in mind that QuickBooks isn’t only dealing with the financial data of your company but also likely linked to your online banking and deserves the highest security you can provide. To update your password, “access Account” and “Change Password.”
  2. Customize Your Icon Bar
    • Customizing your Icon Bar within QuickBooks gives you easy access to the functions you need the most. You can access View>Customize Icon Bar to make updates.
  3. Turn Off Spell Check
    • The Spell Check function in QuickBooks can be challenging as it often doesn’t catch errors where there are errors and vice versa. A good tip is to turn off the feature and edit within QuickBooks manually.
    • You can access the option to turn off Spell Check through Edit>Preferences>Speller and then uncheck Always Check Spelling.
  4. Enter Correct Company Information
    • Make sure you enter the proper information about your business within the Company Tab. Information, including your Tax ID number goes in this tab and ultimately populates how QuickBooks works for you. Inputting the correct information and double-checking what’s in the system is extremely important.
  5. Input Accurate Customer Details
    • Similarly, you should know how to properly enter new customers into your system through the Customers Tab, set their payment preferences, and execute tasks, such as invoicing and reconciliation.
  6. Linking Your Email to QuickBooks
    • Linking your email address to your QuickBooks account is also a great option for paper-free transactions. You can invoice and send reports directly through QuickBooks with your email connected to the program. Email services that can be linked include Outlook, Gmail, and Yahoo, among others.
  7. Backing Up QuickBooks
    • Ensuring that your QuickBooks data is secure is extremely important when running a business. You should consider your backing up options when using QuickBooks. QuickBooks Online versions backup automatically via the cloud.
    • However, if you’re using a desktop version of QuickBooks, you want to invest in your own backup solution to ensure you don’t end up losing your data if a system crash occurs. Some backup options include saving data on a CD, hard drive, USB flash drive, or on your own cloud server.  
  8. Chat With Staff
    • QuickBooks has an option that allows staff in a company to have different accounts and a chat feature that allows staff to communicate with each other within the program. A company’s staff can discuss matters about QuickBooks while directly viewing the system so that everyone is on the same page. You can open a new chat by accessing Company>Chat.


QuickBooks remains an excellent program for small businesses to maintain their finances. Whether you choose an online version or a desktop version, you’ll be using an accounting program that’s full of features aimed at helping you be well versed in the numbers side of your business.

Installation isn’t as challenging as it seems, and the software clearly has the stamp of approval from countless businesses to still be highly recommended after all this time.

QuickBooks FAQs

Does QuickBooks Online Require Any Set Up?

No, you just register online and log on from a web browser or an app to use the online version.

Who Should Use Which Version of QuickBooks?

  • Independent bookkeepers starting their own business might do well with QuickBooks online due to efficiency and price.
  • Bookkeepers looking to find a job with a small business might do well to know both online and desktop versions of QuickBooks because small businesses tend to favor desktops but are also interested in updating to more modern programs.
  • Most small businesses might do well with QuickBooks online because the cloud-based platform better ensures that the company’s data is backed up.
  • Small businesses with unique inventory costing needs might still favor desktop versions of QuickBooks but have to be sure to have methods of backing up data.

Is the Cost of QuickBooks tax-deductible?

QuickBooks is tax-deductible, in accordance with IRS publication 946, “off-the-shelf computer software as qualifying property for purposes of the section 179 deduction.”

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