The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Quickbooks: Give Your Accounting A Wise Start

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Complete Idiot’s Guide to QuickbooksOk, which would you prefer doing?  Watching ESPN to see your baseball team prepare for opening day or trying to figure the last few expenses that will close your books?  Yes, the crack of a baseball bat can be more entertaining. But cracking open an accounting software does not have to be drudgery, even if accounting was not your personal strength.

One book that assures ease is The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Quickbooks by Barbara Harvie, an award winning author of small business software manuals. I received a review copy in the mail and felt the book has value beyond Quickbooks related questions.

Learn Accounting Essentials

It may be a bit disingenuous to say that this book covers the features of Quickbooks.  Hopefully, that is what you would expect from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Quickbooks.  But as you look over the pages, you’ll find that the genie grants the wish. From setting up a company file in Chapter 1 to assigning sales taxes in Chapter 17, you’ll find what you need to manage the software correctly.

As I mentioned at the start, what makes this book valuable is how accounting is weaved into the explanations.  Again, disingenuous would be the word to use if this book didn’t explain accounting well.  But it does make this book useful for those business owners transitioning from other invoice Cloud services that have cropped up since Quickbooks was first introduced.  Services such as Freshbooks and Invoicera are excellent for solopreneurs and small businesses that must manage sales, but managing finances across several sales teams require a broad accounting application for quick organization and quicker results.

The accounting topics are well structured. Each topic illustrates how features have a certain value at a certain time.  Never knew what closing the books really meant?  Just turn to page 407 for an explanation.

Get Into the Habit of Nuanced Service for Customers

Harvie’s arrangement of explaining accounting terms and practices such as tracking inventory, accounts, and vendors reveals business basics that should be aware of throughout operations. You will also gain some of the nuances to help tailor to customer needs with meaningful accounting service. A segment on invoicing customers, for example, includes arranging for separate notice schedules between largest customer and smaller businesses that may need more personalized attention.  Such dynamics extend into each reporting, such as the pricing level, as Harvie explains:

“With price levels, Quickbooks lets your charge different prices for different customers. Each time you create an invoice, sales receipt, or credit memo for a particular customer, QuickBooks uses the price level associated with that customer to calculate the price for services, inventory, and noninventory items.”

Further text explains applying a discount, but you get the idea – adjusting customer service instead of one size fit all.

This is still a manual series, so it has the similar The Least You Should Know chapter endings like The Complete Idiot’s Guide to WordPress, but Harvie does provide some resources at book’s end. Most of the book addresses the Quickbooks Pro (PC edition), but you’ll read appropriate references for the Enterprise edition for segments such as inventory costing.

What Complements The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Quickbooks

There are a number of articles and book reviews in Small Business Trends that may make for great reading alongside this guide.

You won’t be a CPA with this book, but you’ll improve the discussion you’d have with a CPA. The end result are better financial choices needed for your business. That can make the difference in reaching the economic playoffs – growing your earnings and your business as a result.

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Pierre DeBois Pierre Debois is Associate Book Editor for Small Business Trends. He is the Founder of Zimana, a consultancy providing strategic analysis to small and medium sized businesses that rely on web analytics data. A Gary, Indiana native, Pierre is currently based in Brooklyn. He blogs about marketing, finance, social media, and analytics at Zimana blog.

3 Reactions
  1. Hi Pierre,

    I think any book that helps you use important SMB tools better is empowering for a small business.

    That’s especially true if your business is still small enough that as the owner you are hands on. So, if the owner first learns how to use the tool, then he or she will better know what’s possible and what to expect from a staff member using the tool when later bringing on staff.

    And in the case of accounting, even if you use an outside accountant, you’re still probably doing at least some of the bookkeeping internally, and viewing reports and manipulating data to understand your financials better. So, knowing how to use QuickBooks can make you a better business owner.

    – Anita

  2. I just got Quickbooks and definitely need help learning it. Thanks for the review!

  3. Personally I would suggest if you are financially hard up or have better uses for the money, then go and buy that accounting software and do the job yourself.