Recently I worked with a team of Salem State University communication students on a marketing and advertising plan for my business. In our initial meetings I told them QuickBooks is the foundation and primary tool of my business. Given they are communications students their course requirements do not include accounting and finance so in effect I was speaking a foreign language when I spoke of QuickBooks, accounting, financial statements, etc. To give them a better understanding of my work I offered a tutorial on QuickBooks which they all promptly and enthusiastically agreed to.

We sat for an hour and reviewed the basics of QuickBooks: The chart of accounts; financial statements; the customer, vendor, and employee centers; check and credit card registers; and so on. I stressed the importance that QuickBooks is an accounting software package and as such each transaction is a double sided entry in that all entries have a debit and credit component and effect the income statement and the balance sheet. After an hour it was evident to me that they were a bit overwhelmed to say the least. What was most striking to me was the comment that based on advertising by QuickBooks, they assumed the software package was easy to set-up and use; however, based on the past hour that was clearly not the case.

So what is the lesson? In order to use QuickBooks properly it is necessary to have a qualified and certified QuickBooks consultant fully understand your business and carefully set-up QuickBooks to meet the specific needs of your company. But it doesn’t end at the QuickBooks set-up. The consultant should train you and your staff on basic accounting concepts, correct use of QuickBooks, and schedule routine follow-up appointments to ensure ongoing proper use of the software. Your goal should be a proper initial set-up of QuickBooks with the end result of a clean set of books and records for monthly, quarterly, and annual review of your company’s financial performance and good financial records to give to your CPA at tax season.