Getting Started with Quickbooks

Getting Started with Quickbooks

Getting Started with Quickbooks

It is difficult to overstate the importance of having accurate and timely accounting bookkeeping. A business owner needs to know the financial health of their business at any given point in time, and well-maintained “books” provide this. Business owners can make better, more informed decisions with timely and accurate financial information. Your business bookkeeping will tell you how much cash you have on hand, your accounts receivables you need to collect, total outstanding debt, interest expenses, and so on. Thankfully, gone are the days when a business owner needed a paper ledger and manually prepared journal entries, t-accounts, and financial statements. Today, there are many bookkeeping applications to choose from, and this guide is focused on how to register and set up QuickBooks.

QuickBooks has become the most dominant bookkeeping software tool available and has been meeting the bookkeeping needs of businesses since 1983. Yes, you read that correctly, since the early 1980s, when computers used DOS and monitors were monochromatic (only had one color)!

QuickBooks is focusing on its QuickBooks Online software, discontinuing support for QuickBooks Desktop on May 31, 2023. This won't impact the majority of QuickBooks users who are using QuickBooks Online. For those with QuickBooks Desktop, you can easily migrate your information to QuickBooks Online with help from this informative article.

This ultimate guide will show you how to quickly register and set up QuickBooks so you can finally get a handle on your bookkeeping.

What QuickBooks Plan to Choose

Since QuickBooks Desktop is being phased out, this article will only focus on QuickBooks Online. There are four main QuickBooks Online plans to choose from - EasyStart, Essentials, Plus, and Advanced. The monthly subscription price increases as the available features increase. QuickBooks often offers substantial discounts for the first three months and even offers a 30-day free trial, as seen in the screenshot below.

If you’re unsure which plan to start with, it makes sense to start with the lowest price and feature plan, EasyStart, and upgrade to a more advanced plan when you have a better idea of what bookkeeping features you need.

The QuickBooks Mobile App

One of the main advantages of using a cloud-based bookkeeping software like QuickBooks Online is that you can access and manage your books anywhere you have the internet. If your computer crashes or is stolen, you’ll still have uninterrupted access to your business’s bookkeeping.

The QuickBooks Mobile App is available for iPhones, iPads, Android Phones, and Android Tablets. The mobile app allows you to generate invoices and receive payments from your customers in real time, and capture receipts through a picture. Losing receipts is a major headache for business owners, and this simple feature keeps you organized and saves you time and effort finding or requesting new receipts. Lastly, the mobile app gives you real-time updates on when payments are received, reminders of when your payments are due, and allows you to monitor your business bank account by connecting directly with it.

Create a QuickBooks Online Account and Subscribe

It’s easy to create a QuickBooks Online account and subscribe to one of their four plans by following these six steps.

Go to the QuickBook Website

Simply go to the QuickBooks website, select ‘Sign in’ at the top right of the page and select the first option, QuickBooks Online.

From the sign-in page, select ‘Create an account.’ If you previously had a QuickBooks Online account, you may see the option to log in to your previous account from this screen.

Choose a Plan

The subscription options provided note the Plus plan is the most popular, but let's start with the Simple Start plan. If you need more features that are available in the other plans, you can easily upgrade.

Add QuickBooks Payroll (optional)

You will be asked if you want to add QuickBooks Payroll to your QuickBooks Online account. If you know you need the application to handle your business payroll and what features you need, select the plan that works best for you and your business. However, if you aren’t quite sure if you need payroll at this point, simply select the ‘Continue without payroll’ option. If you need payroll features down the road, you can easily upgrade. For this QuickBooks Ultim, we are assuming we don’t need Payroll.


Now that you have chosen the Simple Start Plan without Payroll, you can check out your purchase/subscription by selecting ‘Checkout.’

Crease a User ID and Password

Enter an email address you would like to use for your QuickBooks Online account, followed by your cell number and a strong password. Once completed, select ‘One more step.’

Provide Billing Information

Enter your billing information that will be used to purchase a subscription to QuickBooks online and will be used for recurring monthly payments. Once completed, select ‘Subscribe.’

Now that you have successfully created a QuickBooks Online account and have selected your plan (remember, you can always upgrade or downgrade your plan), QuickBooks will ask you questions to help it understand what you’re looking for and what help you may need.

QuickBooks Basic Business Information - Setup

Once your account has been created and your subscription payment has gone through, QuickBooks will ask you questions to better understand how it can help you. To move to the next step, select ‘Next.’

Enter Business Name

Enter your legal business name and select whether you are moving from another accounting software and want to migrate your data. For this guide, we are assuming no accounting data is being migrated from another program. Select ‘Next’ to move forward.

What is Your Industry?

Search for your industry in the search box provided. If you can’t find one that fits your industry, select ‘other.’ Then select ‘Next’ to move forward.

What is Your Business Structure

Select what type of business structure you have. If you aren’t sure what your business structure is, check out this article by the U.S. Small Business Administration or select the I'm not sure option. For this guide, we are assuming the business is a corporation and will select a corporation. Select ‘Next’ to move forward.

Pro-tip: Registering your business as a corporation is an ideal choice for several reasons, and you can find more information on this article on Wolters Kluwer on incorporating your business.

What is Your Role Within the Company?

Here you will select what role you have within the company. If you are not the ‘Owner,’ ‘Partner,’ Employee,’ ‘Bookkeeper,’ or ‘Accountant,’ select ‘Other.’ Select ‘Next’ to move forward.

Who Works in the Business?

Select whether it's only you in your business or if you have employees, contractors, or other partners. If you select ‘Employees,’ you will be asked if you want to subscribe to QuickBooks Payroll. For this guide, we will select ‘I fly solo.’ Select ‘Next’ to move forward.

Do You Have a Bookkeeper?

Select whether you have a bookkeeper or not. If you select no, QuickBooks will offer a free onboarding call to help get you started. Select ‘Next’ to move forward.

What Features Do You Need?

In this window, you’ll select the bookkeeping features that you need to have. If you aren’t sure at the moment, select ‘Skip for now’ at the bottom.

Customizing Features

Here is the first step to set up commonly used software functions in QuickBooks Online.    

First, select ‘Get ready to invoice,’ as seen in the first screen grab below, and then select ‘Set up invoices.’

8.10 Setting Up Invoices

In this section, you’ll be able to customize your invoice template, send yourself one of your invoices so you can see what your customers see, and set up online payments. Select ‘Set up invoices.’

8.11 Personalize Invoice Template

On this page, you can select what color theme you would like for your invoices and can upload your business logo to be featured on your invoices.

Once you have selected the color theme you want and have uploaded your logo (if you don’t have one yet, no problem), you can send an invoice to yourself by simply adding your email address where noted and selecting ‘Send.’ It’s important to remember that at this point, the test invoice you received in your email is mainly to review the color theme and your logo, and it won’t include certain information, such as customer information and payment method.

If you’re not fully satisfied with the invoice draft, no problem, as you can revise it later. Once finished with this step, select ‘Next.’

8.12 Preview Invoice

To confirm if you like the design of your invoice, you can email an invoice to yourself for review by simply adding your email address where noted and selecting ‘Send.’ It’s important to remember that at this point, the test invoice you received in your email is mainly to review the color theme and your logo, as it won’t include certain information, such as the billing customer and payment method.

Once you have had a chance to review your invoice template, select ‘Next’ at the bottom of the page.

8.2 Add Payment Tools

If you’re ready to add a payment merchant to your account so you can receive payments, you can select ‘Add payments options.’ Here you can add multiple different payment providers, including Stripe, Square,, Braintree, Global Payments, PayPal USAePAY, and WorldPay. You also have the option of using a QuickBooks Payment account to receive payments, and they offer competitive transaction fees. As with other QuickBooks settings and preferences, you can revise them as you want to. If you haven’t selected a payment merchant/processor, this article from nerdwallet offers some great advice.

For this guide, we will be skipping this step and will select ‘Skip for now.’

Download the QuickBooks Accounting App

You can download the QuickBooks accounting app on this page by simply selecting either the App Store or Google Play links or by taking a picture of the QR code. At this point in setting up your QuickBooks Online account, it makes sense to download and use the app after you have finished setting up your account. Once you have set up your account at least to a minimum level, it is highly recommended that you download the QuickBooks mobile app and use some of its great features. These features include organizing receipts and issuing invoices, and receiving payments from your customers in real-time. Select ‘Next’ to move forward.

One More Click!

Congrats, you have successfully made it through the QuickBooks Online business information setup questions! Select ‘Let’s go,’ and we’ll be directed to your QuickBooks Online user account page.

Setting Up Your Account

You are now directed to your QuickBooks Online account view. You will notice at the top within the highlighted purple box in the screenshot below that you have successfully provided 100% of the basic information QuickBooks needs for your account; however, you still need to set up your invoicing, expenses, and payments and then download the app.

This guide will now walk you through setting up these remaining features. Click on the ‘Get ready to invoice’ dropdown to move to invoice setup.

Setting Up QuickBooks Online Invoicing

With the basic business information you provided earlier, you already have 50% of your invoice setup complete. However, the reason it says only 50% complete is that you haven’t added a payment merchant such as QuickBooks Payments or Paypal. To learn how to set up payments in QuickBooks Online, check out this video.

This guide will now walk you through the remaining three steps to set up your invoices - adding customers, adding products or services, and invoice settings.

1.1 Add Your Customers

Select ‘Add your customer’ to allow you to create and send invoices to your customers. If you are a new business, you may not have customers to enter at this time and will add customers as you make sales.

1.2 Customers Page

You are now on the Customers page, which is a page you’ll use often. On this page, you can add new customers so you can send them estimates and invoices and receive payments. You can also see the total value of your estimates, the value of overdue and open invoices, and how much money you have received in the past 30 days.  You can also access the Customers page through Menu> Get paid & pay> Customers.

To add a new customer, select ‘New customer’ in the top right, highlighted in the purple box in the screenshot below. If you have customer information from another bookkeeping program or excel, you can also import existing clients by selecting the ‘New customer’ drop-down and uploading a CSV file.

1.3 Add New Customer

After you have selected ‘Add customer,’ you will be prompted to fill out customer information in five sections - Name and contact, Address, Notes and attachments, Payments, and Additional info as seen in the five screen screenshots below. Below we will go through each section.

Name and contact

Simply add all the contact information you have for the customer. The only required field is the ‘Customer display name.’ This field is for how you would like this customer to be displayed within QuickBooks. For example, if you would like this customer to be displayed as the name of the company rather than the name of your contact, you would add the company name in the ‘Customer display name’ field.


Add both the billing and shipping addresses if they are different. If they are the same, simply check off the ‘Same as billing address’ field box.

Notes and attachments

This is a great spot to add relevant information that will help the person doing the bookkeeping confirm and validate information prior to sending an invoice. This can be contracts, letter agreements, or any form of document.


Choose the client's ‘Primary payment method’ - cash, check, credit card, or direct debit. Set the ‘Terms’ of the payment due on receipt or up to Net 60 (payment within 60 days of the invoice date).

Additional info

Enter the client's ‘Business Number.’ If this client has an opening balance prior to you using QuickBooks, enter the ‘Opening balance’ in the assigned box.

Add Products & Services

Now for the exciting part, setting up the products and services you sell. Select ‘Add your products & services’ as seen in Screenshot #1 and select ‘Add your products & services’ again, as seen in Screenshot #2. You can also access the Products and Services page through Menu> Get paid & pay> Products & Services.

Screenshot #1

Screenshot #2

2.1 Enter your Product or Services Information

Selection ‘Non-inventory’ under Product/Service Information. For this guide, we will be focusing on service products.

2.11 Enter Product & Service Details

Enter the details of the service you sell. Provide the Name, SKU (Stock Keeping Unit), a category the services fall under, a brief description, sales price or rate, and confirm the Income account. If you want to personalize the information even more, upload a related image in the top right.

2.11 Tailor Invoice Settings

On this page, you can edit your invoice settings. As you start to build and send invoices with QuickBooks Online, you’ll have a good idea of what you need or want to have on your invoice. This page allows you to tailor your invoices as you see fit. Selecting ‘Tailor your invoice setting,’ seen in Screen Shot #1, will send you to Account and Settings. Screen Shot #2 is the Accounts and Setting page, where you can customize your invoices. You can also access the Account and Settings page through the homepage> cog wheel (top right)> Account and settings.

Screenshot #1

Screenshot #2

Get Paid Online - QuickBooks Payments

In this section, you can select and apply for QuickBook Payments, which will allow you to accept payments through QuickBooks at 2.9% and .25 cents per transaction. Once you have applied and been approved for QuickBooks Payments, you can speed up your deposits by selecting Step #2 in the screenshot below and order a card reader to collect payments from your customers. Steps #2 and #3 are contingent on Step #1, ‘Apply for online payment,’ which is why this guide will not go through these steps.

Organize Expenses

In this section, QuickBooks walks you through how to organize and manage your expenses. You can also access this page by going to homepage> menu> bookkeeping.

In Step #1, QuickBooks will walk you through connecting directly with your bank and bank accounts, which will allow you to capture income and expenses for your bookkeeping easily - no manual entries! In Step #2, you will be able to categorize your transactions, and QuickBooks will provide you with suggestions if you’re unsure what category an expense should fall under.

QuickBooks gives you many ways to automate your bookkeeping to help keep your business books up to date and accurate. In Step #3, you can set ‘Rules’ that QuickBooks will apply to transactions that are recorded in your various bank accounts or credit products. You can also access this page by going to homepage> menu> bookkeeping> rules.

4.3 Set Rules

To enter a new rule, select ‘New rule’ at the top right of the screen. You also have the option to import rules if you select the drop-down menu under ‘New rule.’

4.31 Create a New Rule

Creating rules will allow QuickBooks to do a lot of the heavy administrative lifting for you, and they are easy to set up. For example, suppose you have a recurring mobile charge from AT&T that is automatically paid through a credit card. In that case, you can set a rule with a ‘Description’ that ‘Contains’ AT&T. You can now set the ‘transaction type’ to Expense and enter the appropriate expense ‘Category.’

Now when a transaction is recorded in one of your connected bank or credit card accounts, or if you upload the transactions to QuickBooks through a CSV file, QuickBooks will automatically categorize the transactions for you according to the rules you have set. It is important when first using these rules to validate that the rules are being applied appropriately to the recorded transaction.

Track Receipts

QuickBooks makes it easy to upload receipts and pay bills from your computer or smartphone when using the QuickBooks mobile app. QuickBooks makes it easy also to forward emails with receipts to your QuickBooks account, and it will record and categorize the transactions for you.

You can also access this page by going to homepage> menu> bookkeeping> transactions > receipts.

5.1 Upload and Forward Receipts

On this page, you can upload receipts you have on your computer or from an email with the receipts that were sent to QuickBooks. Once receipts have been recognized by QuickBooks, you can select ‘Review’ and confirm and categorize the transaction.

Bringing It Together

You have now successfully registered, subscribed, and completed the basic setup for your QuickBooks Online account. You have taken the first, and arguably the hardest step in getting your business bookkeeping in order -  the first step! If you found this guide useful checkout other useful content from Business Frame:

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