My Misadventures in Setting Up My Small Business (Episode 1 – QuickBooks)

I have been wanting to write an article about my misadventures in starting my small business. There are definitely things that I am so glad that I did…and other things that proved to be a “challenge”.

Goal #1: Figure out why so many people LOVE QuickBooks

First, here is some background…

Before I started working with GP, the systems that I worked with were all DOS based. I worked with a lot of clients over the years that had QuickBooks…and some of them would tell me how much they missed QuickBooks. I knew how to run a few reports in QuickBooks but I knew that if I was going to be able to improve how I train ex-QuickBooks users, I needed to use QuickBooks. So, in 2016, I bought a QuickBooks Desktop disk at Staples and installed it on my computer.

Here is my honest opinion of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

I can see why QuickBooks is super popular. It is inexpensive and very easy to install. But coming from a world of easy exports using SmartList…QuickBooks made me frustrated. Trying to get a list of records means running a report…and exporting to Excel includes way too many blank columns and header rows. Now, I know there are AMAZING QuickBooks experts out there. I am sure I did not find all of the tips and tricks. But, I wanted to see what I could figure out…and from what I could see…getting to your data is much easier in Microsoft Dynamics GP. The fact that all companies get SmartList Designer included for free means that you can pretty much get an easy to export to Excel version of the data from ANY table! That data can either be exported to Excel or Word or setup as a Live Excel Report. This means non-GP people can see live data. Non-GP people can also see GP data using the hundreds of included SQL Reports. I don’t think there is an equivalent for QuickBooks.

QuickBooks – Sales by Product/Service Report

Microsoft Dynamics GP – Sales Line Item SmartList

I missed having Customer and Item Classes which are basic fields in Microsoft Dynamics GP. These fields would have been great for figuring out my sales done as a subcontractor vs. direct sales. I also had a hard time doing billing when different lines had different Tax Rates. (In Connecticut, consulting = 1% Tax; training = 6.35% Tax).

I started having wacky issues with my desktop version of QuickBooks. I used a repair tool but since my license was old…I decided to skip upgrading and just migrated to the cloud. One thing that frustrated me was that some functionality that was included in the Desktop version was not available in the Simple Start version. This meant that my one or two recurring AP invoices were locked in a wacky limbo. I should have just upgraded…deleted those transactions…and then downgraded…but I didn’t and that has meant an extra $45+ per month.

The QuickBooks functionality that drove me bananas was dealing with short payments in AR.

Example: I sell my workbooks via my website. When I get paid, Stripe charges me about 2-3% processing fee. I want to record the sale at full price and the difference in payment needs to go to a Fees expense account. Here is what I need to do in QuickBooks: 1) Enter an Invoice. 2) Enter a payment for the amount received. 3) Enter a Credit Memo for the difference (you cannot apply at this step). 4) Create a new “Payment” transaction for $0. This “applies” the credit. In GP, I could have setup the Customer with a “Discount” Payment term. When the payment is received…the fee would have automatically been applied and the correct “Stripe Fees” GL account would have been hit. This is so much harder in QuickBooks!

One of things that I liked about QuickBooks: Invoices include the option to pay via Credit Card. This is not included with GP. There are however some really cool add-on tools that allow for accepting Credit Cards, emailing invoices with “pay” option, and Customer Portals. For a long time, these were expensive. The good news is that I recently helped a client implement eBiz by Century Business Solutions. For the client I worked with, the software was free. I asked my contact and as of a couple months ago, they were making it FREE for everyone. They make money from the transaction fees. This is similar to how QuickBooks works. If you are interested in checking out this solution, click the link above and check them out.

One issue I had with QuickBooks that I forgot to mention when I first published this article is that emailing invoices requires you to use either a Gmail account or it will come from a generic QuickBooks email account. You cannot use your Office 365 Email address!

One of the the other tools that I really liked that is included with QuickBooks is the ability to sync with your Credit Cards and Bank Accounts. Now, to be honest, this isn’t without its flaws. Sometimes old transactions would pop-up as new transactions…and there were some other wacky things I had to work through…but it is really cool that it is included. Recently the folks at PowerGP Online released PowerGP Banking. PowerGP Online is a secure cloud based version of GP that includes A LOT of cool add-on tools. Definitely check them out. If you are running GP on-premise, I have worked with a client that loved Easy e-Bank Rec. If you get a demo from Guy (pronounced GEE), try to count how many times he calls the transactions that are matched “well behaved children”. He loves his product and he loves helping people!

I have recently posted several YouTube videos about setting up 1099 Vendors. I also cover how to update the 1099 amounts if the vendor was not setup correctly. One of the reasons I did these videos was that I was processing my 1099’s in QuickBooks. I had one vendor that was correctly setup as a 1099 Vendor in QuickBooks…but the total paid for 2020 was not showing up! I contacted QuickBooks support and was told to do a Journal Entry for this Vendor to an account that I could then select when processing 1099’s. This is the part I just don’t get!?!? If I flag a Vendor as a 1099 Vendor….WHY DO I NEED TO DEFINE EXPENSE ACCOUNTS USED WHEN PROCESSING 1099’s!! This has never made sense to me!! And even when I picked the account used all year, it only picked up a tiny fraction of what I paid. The only way I was able to get things fixed was a wacky journal entry. I had 1 vendor to update…I cannot image the stress this would cause for a large company using QuickBooks. No matter what system you use, processing 1099’s is not fun! But there are tools and utilities that are included in GP that just make this easier.

One thing that I liked about QuickBooks and 1099’s was that once I got the amount corrected….It integrated with the 1099 processing tool from QuickBooks. If you want similar functionality in GP, checkout my blog all about processing 1099 Forms. If you just need to know how to print 1099 Forms, checkout this video.

QuickBooks vs. GP – My Verdict

I have to say that learning QuickBooks was not as easy as I thought it would be. I can now tell clients that it isn’t “easier”…it is just “different”. I didn’t write about the pro’s and con’s of being able to delete and/or modify posted transactions. (Personally, I think that is a dangerous option…but I did use it and I know it was easier than correcting…but EASIER DOES NOT MEAN BETTER).

I think that the functionality that you gain in GP is huge. I hope that you can see that the option to add tools that can make Banking or 1099 Processing easier are available with GP.

If you are a small business and you think GP is too “big” for what you need to do, take a look at GP PowerOnline because you get a lot of extra functionality without having to invest in a lot of hardware or expensive upfront licensing fees.

I am moving off of QuickBooks…but my misadventures are not over. I have a plan for my next accounting system and some painful stories about using Office 365 via GoDaddy that I will share in upcoming posts.

Disclaimers and Disclosures

As I mentioned, I am not a QuickBooks expert. I love Microsoft Dynamics GP. I am sure that if you are reading this and you love QuickBooks…this post did not cover all of your favorite features and did not address why it could be a perfect fit for some companies. I am sorry! I hope you can see that I do see some features that I liked. I just honestly came out of this experiment loving GP more than I ever liked using QuickBooks.

I also referenced several 3rd party products and services. I didn’t get paid by any of them and I didn’t tell them in advance about this article. If you click the link for eBiz, and you setup an account with them, I would get a commission but I like their product no matter what…so if you don’t want to use my link….just Google them.

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