You know you need to keep track of your business income and expenses. The spreadsheet you’ve been using has turned into a monster— or maybe you’re just beginning your business endeavor, and you want to start outright. So you search for QuickBooks and find way too many products, turning your search into a chore. You have to make a choice. How can you be confident you are choosing the right QuickBooks version for your circumstances?
Choosing the Right QuickBooks Software
When you search, you discover that Intuit is the software company behind QuickBooks. You might then encounter some of these product names: Intuit Mint, QuickBooks Premier, QuickBooks Desktop, QuickBooks Enterprise, and many more. Do you really have to read the user manual for each of these just to figure out which one you should pick?
The short answer is no, but it’s important to know your options.
Sorting Through Your Options
Let’s think through our accounting software choices by first grouping them into broad categories.
Mint goes into the personal accounting software category. It is a good product for keeping track of your personal income, expenses, and household budget. However, it does not provide additional features you will need for your business. Cross Mint off the list!
The remaining products— the QuickBooks lineup— do have business features, but they do not all have the same features.
Depending upon what you sell and how you operate your business, some of these products will be obvious wrong choices.
Some of them will be right for right now, but keep in mind that you may find it useful to change products as you grow and your business needs change.
Why so many product names? Is Intuit just trying to confuse us? We can partially blame the internet for the incredible range of product names.
When QuickBooks started out, software was something you bought at a physical store, loaded onto your computer, and used on your personal workstation. Now, however, we are used to thinking of software as a cloud-based subscription app.
Intuit used to support both of these models, but QuickBooks’ lineup of desktop programs has been on a subscription model starting with their 2022 product line-up.
Intuit’s QuickBooks Desktop series is the traditional workstation software product. Like Intuit’s cloud-based apps— listed below— these programs are now fully on a subscription model. They include:
- QuickBooks Premier Plus
- QuickBooks Enterprise
Intuit’s Online series are cloud-based apps. They include:
- QuickBooks Online Simple Start
- QuickBooks Online Essentials
- QuickBooks Online Plus
- QuickBooks Online Advanced
- QuickBooks Commerce product
QuickBooks For Self-Employed
QuickBooks Self-Employed is similar to Mint, except that QuickBooks Self-Employed includes features an independent contractor or freelancer with no employees might find helpful. This can be especially helpful because it’s hard for many freelancers to manage bookkeeping on top of their other duties.
With the Self-Employed product, you can send invoices, track mileage, and keep images of expense receipts right in the app.
That’s about it, though.
You might find you outgrow Self-Employed quickly if you want to use your data to help you make decisions for the future-forecasting— or even just to make simple profit and loss statements.
If you have employees or inventory, QuickBooks Self-Employed is probably not the right product for you.
New Changes for QuickBooks in 2023
There are some exciting new changes with the QuickBooks line-up for 2023. These updates not only make it easier for you to keep track of your business’s finances, but some of these new improvements make using the programs easier and more intuitive.
Among them include:
- Cash flow hub. This feature allows you to see all your business’ income and expenses in a single dashboard. Here you can get a clear image of your business’s financial status, and easily track payments, receipts, and invoices.
- Intercompany transactions. If you have two or more companies on the same Intuit account, you can now issue bills or payments between the two. This is especially helpful if your companies do business with one another.
- Tracking vehicle mileage. You can track business mileage with the QuickBooks mobile app and import that data into your regular QuickBooks program. All of your company vehicles and their mileage data will be synced and organized between the two.
- Inventory categories. Keep your inventory better organized with this multi-level categorization.
- Inventory expiration dates. Does any of your inventory have a “sell-by” date? Keep track of that with this handy feature to reduce the risk of selling expired inventory.
- Payment links. Easily collect payment from transactions that don’t require an invoice with payment links courtesy of QuickBooks. You can also view the status of these payments on a new dashboard.
Some new quality-of-life features for 2023 include:
- Updated banking information. There now is a greater selection of banks available to produce your business’ automated bank feeds. Encryption has also been added for extra security.
- Node card reader. You can now accept multiple payment methods via a single card reader and record these payments automatically in QuickBooks.
- Reports performance optimization. Keep track of outstanding or aging customer invoices, and prepare detailed reports from large amounts of data in just seconds.
Do I Need QuickBooks Desktop?
Some businesses may benefit from QuickBooks Desktop more than others. Those who would benefit most from this line of programs include:
- Sellers or resellers who need to track inventory
- Businesses who can benefit from job costing features to more easily see where they’re making or losing money on particular jobs
- Manufacturing companies
The Benefits of QuickBooks Desktop Products
As a whole, QuickBooks Desktop can help your business with all its financial needs— even if you’re not subscribed to the most feature-heavy versions of the program. Every version of the program includes features that are vital to a healthy and robust business model. Let’s take a look at some of these.
All business owners can benefit from QuickBooks Desktop reports. They help you see at a glance how your business is doing.
The reporting benefits include the typical profit and loss statement, balance statements, cash flow projections, outstanding invoice reports, and best-selling item reports, to name just a few reports all businesses will benefit from.
Employee Tracking with T-Sheets
Beyond the more common reports, though, QuickBooks Desktop products track employee information, too. Businesses can keep track of employee time and employee-related expenses by using the free TSheets by QuickBooks app in conjunction with their QuickBooks Desktop product.
If your business employs several employees who perform a lot of project work, this tracking is especially helpful. It gets down to the granular level— if you want to find out how much the business paid for particular employees to work on particular projects, you can! These programs also help you calculate sales and income tax.
Differentiating Between QuickBooks Desktop Options
Deciding which QuickBooks Desktop version is right for you depends on two main factors— which features you want and how much money you want to spend on your subscription. Here’s a breakdown of the three main programs:
- QuickBooks Enterprise is the most expensive of the three Desktop options with the most features.
- QuickBooks Premier Plus is less expensive than Enterprise. It still has many features, but fewer than Enterprise.
Remember— if you know you want a QuickBooks Desktop product, deciding which version to buy is as simple as determining what features you don’t need and don’t want to pay for.
Differentiating Between QuickBooks Online Options
QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Desktop share many of the same features, especially since all QuickBooks Desktop programs have moved onto the subscription-based model. Even still, the list of supported features is constantly growing for both versions.
So how do you decide which program to use if you want to use QuickBooks Online? Again, it can be as simple as knowing how much you want to pay for what features. Here’s a very brief rundown of the available programs:
- QuickBooks Online Advanced is the most expensive with the most features.
- QuickBooks Online Simple Start is the least expensive with the least features.
And like with the Desktop programs, you can always upgrade to a more comprehensive program when you need to.
QuickBooks Desktop vs. Online
There are some basic questions you should ask yourself as a business owner when deciding between QuickBooks Desktop vs QuickBooks Online. The most basic to ask yourself is: do you want the flexibility of web-based software, or are you okay with a locally installed piece of software on your computer?
However, with QuickBooks Desktop’s transition to an online subscription model, this line is becoming increasingly blurred. However, there are still a few options that come with Desktop that might make it better for your business’s needs than Online.
Do you have a product-based business with inventory? Do you require more advanced job costing features?
If you answer yes to either of those questions, then the Desktop Version provides a significant benefit over the Online Version. This is because the QuickBooks Online programs do not have these features yet. They do have some inventory support, but it is not yet as robust as the inventory tracking features in QuickBooks Desktop.
So, if you are a reseller or a manufacturer, QuickBooks Online might not have everything you need quite yet.
Remember— now that QuickBooks Desktop is an online subscription, this distinction could change if the two models become more and more similar.
Still Not Sure Which Version is Right for You? We Can Help!
Even with all this information at your fingertips, deciding which version of QuickBooks is best for your business can still be hard. But don’t worry; you can reach out to the professionals at Mission Accounting Help for more personalized guidance. We can even help set your business up with the right version of QuickBooks.
We’re here to help— it’s in our name!
Bernard Roesch, MISSION Accounting’s founder, is a Harvard MBA and a QuickBooks ProAdvisor. He and the rest of the team here can help you choose a QuickBooks product that’s right for you, set it up, so it’s optimized for your business, and train you and your staff on how to use it. We also provide ongoing or project-based bookkeeping and CFO services. Let us know how we can help you!