When it comes to accounting and bookkeeping software, the name Quickbooks is one of the most recognized and well-known in the world. It’s been around since the early 1980s, and as the world has changed, so has Quickbooks.
One of the most notable changes Quickbooks made came in in the first decade of the 21st century. Its parent company, Intuit, launched Quickbooks Online, a cloud-based accounting software designed specifically for small businesses.
This marked a big shift in the trajectory of Quickbooks, which was traditionally a desktop application you had to install on your computer. This product, Quickbooks Desktop, not only still exists, but it remains a top choice for businesses all around the world.
However, as cloud-based solutions become the norm, Quickbooks Online is rapidly growing in popularity, and for good reason. The years Quickbooks has spent in this space has led to a quality product that can be really useful for most small business.
The reason we like it so much is because it:
- Has a robust set of features which include invoicing, managing inventory, tracking expenses, and, if you’re willing to pay a little more, payroll
- Integrates easily with over 600 other apps and programs, which make it easy to turn Quickbooks Online into an all-in-one accounting solution
- Can be accessed from anywhere due to it being a cloud-based solution
- Offers several different subscription packages which make it easy for you to use this software while staying on budget.
If you’re interested in learning more about Quickbooks Online and whether or not it’s the right software for you, read on for our full review.
What Does Quickbooks Online Do?
As an accounting program designed for small businesses, Quickbooks does pretty much everything you could want it to do.
Of course, which features you’re able to use will depend on which plan you choose—cheaper plans allow you to do less—but here’s a list of all the basic functions you can perform with Quickbooks Online:
- Create and send customized invoices
- Accept payments using all major credit cards as well as bank transfers
- Send estimates
- Track revenue and expenses
- Generate reports
- Calculate taxes and maximize deductions
- Pay and manage bills
- Track time to charge billable hours
- Manage Inventory
- Monitor project profitability
- Manage payroll (add on service)
- Integrate countless apps, such as Stripe, Square, PayPal, Zendesk, Shopify, and many more.
Who is Quickbooks Online For?
Quickbooks Online was designed to be an accounting solution for small businesses. It can do a lot of things, but it can’t do everything. The software is best for:
- Small businesses run by the owner with only a few employees
- Service-based businesses that rely mostly on invoicing or that have limited inventory and POS needs
For medium to large-sized businesses and corporations, as well as those operating in multiple countries or that have more extensive product lines, Quickbooks Online might not have what you need.
You can try Quickbooks Desktop, as this has even more features than the online version, but check to make sure it’s going to do everything you need before committing.
What We Like About Quickbooks Online
The obvious thing to like about Quickbooks Online is that it has tons of features. For most small businesses, being able to do the things on the list above will be more than enough.
However, these features don’t really make Quickbooks unique—most accounting software will do some combination of these tasks. But one of the things that sets it apart is how easy it is to use.
This represents a big change in the way things used to be. One of the biggest knocks against Quickbooks has always been that it can be a bit cumbersome to use. But ever since Intuit rebuilt Quickbooks Online from the ground up in 2013, things have been much different.
Here’s more of what we like about Quickbooks Online:
Part of the reason Quickbooks Online is so easy to use is because of its homepage, also known as the Dashboard. This page puts all of the most relevant information about your business, such as current bank balances, current sales, expenses, bills due, unpaid invoice totals, and much more, all in one place.
Below is what the dashboard looks like which comes from the Quickbooks demos.
As you can see, this really makes it easy to get a snapshot of your business. But if you want to dig a bit deeper, then all you need to do is click on one of the options in the sidebar, and you will be taken to the relevant page.
Even someone with no Quickbooks experience can figure out how to maneuver Quickbooks Online in no time at all.
With Quickbooks Online, sending invoices is super easy. You’ll be able to customize them by adding in your logo and other personal information, and then you can send them off to be paid by customers, which they can do using their credit card or with a bank transfer.
If you prefer to use another invoicing service, such as PayPal, then you can integrate it into Quickbooks and things are just as easy.
Receipt Capture and Expenses
All versions of Quickbooks Online allow you to scan your receipts so that you can automatically populate your books as you incur expenses. This is particularly helpful when using the Quickbooks mobile app as it allows you to put in receipt information no matter where you are. This information will be automatically added to your expense ledger (shown below), which will allow you to get a quick snapshot of all your business expenses. You can also pay bills and view more details about each expense so that you can be in full control of your expenses at all times.
A big benefit of Quickbooks Online being cloud-based is that you can access it from a mobile app. In general, the app is easy to use and will allow you to send invoices, enter expenses, generate reports, and pretty much everything else Quickbooks Online can do right from your phone, which is a big convenience and time saver for most.
One other thing we really like about Quickbooks is its reports feature. Generating a Quickbooks Report can be done in just a few seconds, and this will allow you to get some valuable insight into how your business has changed over time. It will also help you spot worrying and encouraging trends in time to take action. To give you an example, here’s a simple report you can generate in just a few seconds in Quickbooks Online (taken from the demo version):
We could probably spend days talking about all the different apps that integrate with Quickbooks Online, and this is one of the reasons we really like this product.
For example, if you use PayPal to accept payments, you can easily link up your account so that your books automatically update when customers pay you.
Or, if you accept in-person payments using software such as Stripe or Square, you can integrate these into Quickbooks and also plug them into whichever inventory software you use so that everything is all in one place and easy to understand.
But this really just scratches the surface, and that Quickbooks Online works so well with so many other products is one of the things that helps it stand out.
What We Don’t Like About Quickbooks Online
Obviously, no software is perfect. It’s true Quickbooks Online will be able to meet most of your needs, but there are a few things we wished were a bit different, such as:
- There’s no revert feature. So, for example, if you make a big mistake and everything gets messed up, there’s no way to return back to a previous version so that you can start over. It might not be a big problem for some, but there’s a chance it could become an issue down the road.
- Customer service can be poor. This is a complaint people have been waging against Intuit for years, and it seems things haven’t changed much. All plans come with access to basic service, but most users report at least one experience of agents not being helpful or not really knowing the best way to fix the problem they are having. We can probably chalk this up to the size of Intuit, but that’s really not a valid excuse.
- It can be buggy. While Quickbooks Online is certainly easy to use, many users have experienced moments where things don’t work quite right. For example, Quickbooks may have trouble linking with certain banks. In general, this is not a big issue, but when coupled with less-than-stellar customer service, it can certainly be frustrating.
How Much Does Quickbooks Online Cost?
No matter which version of Quickbooks Online you choose, you will be able to:
- Track income and expenses
- Send invoices and receive payments
- Capture and organize receipts
- Maximize tax deductions
- Generate basic reports
- Send estimates
- Calculate sales tax
- Monitor sales numbers
If this is all you need, then the Simple Start plan is all you need. It costs $20/month, but Quickbooks is often running a 50-percent-off sale that should save you some money. However, if you sign up during one of these sales, then the price may go up on you at some point, so make sure to remain vigilant.
If you need something more, then you can get either the Essentials plan or the Plus plan. Both give you the features above but with Essentials ($35/month), you can also:
- Manage bills
- Track time
Furthermore, with Essentials, you can have up to three users, which is helpful if you have more than one person managing the books.
The next plan, Plus ($60/month), includes all the features of the first two options, but you will also be able to:
- Track inventory
- Monitor project profitability
- Manage 1099 contractors
If you’re interested in having Quickbooks do your payroll, then you can add this service on for $35/month + $4/month (self-service) or $80/month + $4/month (full service)
When accepting payments with Quickbooks, you will be charged transaction fees, which are:
- Visa, MasterCard, American Express: 2.9% + $0.25 per transaction
- Bank transfer (ACH): Free
If you need to accept in-person payments, you can use Quickbooks Payments, which offers several POS solutions.
Overall, Quickbooks Online is an excellent cloud-based accounting program that will help your small business manage its books.
The list of features Quickbooks Online offers is long and complete, and anyone looking for this type of solution would do well with the online version of one of the world’s most well-known accounting solutions.