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I just got QuickBooks, but do not know where to start…

This is a common email I get on a weekly basis; a small business owner gets QuickBooks and assumes that everything is going to be easy and no accounting knowledge is needed to use QuickBooks.  Well, the good news is that, this could be true.  Most of my clients after some basic training and consulting on how to setup QuickBooks for THEIR business (adapted to their needs) they feel is easy to continue using QuickBooks and keep up with the accounting.  (And yes, they still talk to their accountant at least once a year to iron out some of the details and more complex entries – such as Depreciation and adjusting for non-deductible expenses).

Here is the checklist on how to get started:

  • After creating you new QuickBooks company file, have a copy of your last Profit & Loss and Balance Sheet (from whatever other accounting system you or your accountant used – in some cases the corporate Tax Return could serve as the baseline) – Go into the Chart of Accounts and organize it (create necessary accounts and delete unnecessary) so it looks at similar to your last reported financial statements.  If you are a startup, you might want to look at other chart of accounts from your industry and business type:
  • After creating your chart of accounts, enter the beginning balances of all your bank accounts, credit card accounts, and bank loan balances.  (Some of these will be on your tax return and some from the statements from the financial institutions) as of the beginning of your tax year, for example 01/01/2019 if you want to do the accounting for all of the calendar year 2019.  If you business started recently or on the middle of the calendar year, then just enter all the accounts with zero balance and enter each transaction that affecting each account from the start of the business.  Bottom line, it is best practice to have a clean/complete tax year in QuickBooks, so you can prepare your tax return completely using the reports from QuickBooks.
  • Create all your customers, vendors, and employees.  If you have the list in excel/csv, you can import them into QuickBooks
  • Connect your banks and credit card to QuickBooks: if any or all of your accounts can be connected, it is likely you will be able to download between 3 to 18 months of transactions into QuickBooks which will speed of the data entry process using the Bank Feeds (Online Banking) feature in QuickBooks Desktop and/or QuickBooks Online
  • After all transactions have been entered from the start date or beginning of the year, reconcile all the banks and credit cards to make sure that all the bank balances match with QuickBooks, minus any outstanding checks.
  • Customize templates, so when you are creating estimates and invoices for your customers, they look like they represent your brand and they make sense to your customers so they approve your proposals and pay your faster.  Also, if you want to get payments electronically, you should contact Intuit and apply to accept Online Payments via QuickBooks, so your customers can pay you with a debit card, credit card or via ACH
  • Setup your item list to make it easier to create purchase orders, estimates, invoices, etc.  Map the items to the appropriate accounts so they report in the financial statements they way it makes sense to you and your management team.   Also if you got inventory, make sure all your inventory is current by creating an Inventory Qty/Value Adjustment
  • Create additional users with limited permissions to make sure other people in your organization are helping keep QuickBooks updated and only have a access to the areas that they are suppose to have
  • Setup QuickBooks Payroll Services (additional cost) if you want to run and manage employee payroll via QuickBooks.
  • Setup your Sales Tax settings (sales tax rates, taxable items, taxable customers) if you want to manage your sales tax liability via QuickBooks.  QuickBooks does not file your sales tax return, but it can keep control over the taxable sales and taxes collected


  • Learn Accounting Fundamentals
  • Have patience, “Nothing worth doing is easy” – it is hard/confusing at first, but once you understand what needs to be done, is VERY easy
  • Have a QuickBooks-specialized bookkeeper or accountant handy to have them help you or train you during the learning process
  • Do not fire your accountant, he/she will still be fundamental help to your learning process; once you are able to manage your books 100% without the direct need from your accountant, leverage that to get your accountant to help you get organized in other areas beyond bookkeeping

You can hire us to help you through this process, email: or call: 1-800-819-6307 to setup an appointment


Lastly, there are a few freely available PDF Manuals/Guides, to request it go here:

Hector Garcia

Hector Garcia

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