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Intuit QuickBooks Online Essentials review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £19
inc VAT

Manage, file and share your accounts with this slick web-based service

It’s easier than ever to run your own business, but financial management can still prove daunting. Intuit QuickBooks is a popular accounting package, and the online version is designed to be as simple and approachable as possible while still packing in all the features that an accountant would need to manage the financial data of a business. As QuickBooks Online Essentials is an online service, you only need a web browser to access it.

QuickBooks Online Essentials is designed to be useful whether you do your accounts yourself, keep financial records so your accountant can log on to process them, or you are an accountant. Accountants can get a free QuickBooks account as long as their clients also use the service, but we’re going to be looking at the service from the perspective of a small business owner. As such, you can grant up to two accountancy firms access to your accounts.

Intuit QuickBooks
Intuit QuickBooks Online Essentials Home Screen

You’ll find everything you need to manage your accounts and payroll in tabs arrayed down the left-hand side of the QuickBooks web interface. The Home screen gives you an overview of your accounts with easily readable graphs that show the value of open, overdue and recently paid invoices, as well as expenses in different categories, recent activity and a profit and loss chart based on transactions imported from associated bank accounts.

When you log in for the first time, you’re taken through a short sequence of setup screens that prompt you to enter your company’s name and address, add a logo graphic and specify your preferred payment methods. You can also link personal and business bank accounts, the former option being useful for sole traders who don’t want or need specialist business banking. The process was seamless. All we had to do was generate secure key codes for our bank account when prompted and they were linked, with the last 90 transactions imported. Managing imported transactions is a simple matter of assigning a category to each.

You can work in multiple currencies, too, which is handy for those who have overseas clients. With multicurrency mode enabled, you can assign each new customer a working currency, although you can’t change the working currency for customers who already have financial transactions entered against them. If a customer starts paying in a different currency, you’ll need to create a new profile for them. Exchange rates are automatically calculated at the time you enter the transaction into your accounts.

Once you enable multi-currency mode, your main income and expense accounts will continue to operate in whatever your home currency is at that point. If you aren’t already in multi-currency mode, you can change your home currency at will. We’d have liked greater flexibility here, but as long as you’re aware of the issue, you can plan your books accordingly if you move your financial headquarters.

To create an invoice, just hit the plus button visible at the top of most screens and select Invoice from the Create list. You’ll be prompted to choose or add a customer, select the terms of when the payment will be due, add the product or service you’re billing for and any necessary messages or attachments. When adding customers, you can link them to your Gmail contacts book for ease of communication. You can choose to send, print or simply save your invoice depending on how you deal with your customer.

Intuit QuickBooks Invoice screen
Intuit QuickBooks Invoice screen

When you create a billable item, whether it’s a product or service, you set the rate at which it’s charged. You can also access your chart of accounts easily, which shows the balance of assets and expenditure in a range of categories, and the currency centre, where you set up foreign currencies for dealings with overseas clients and suppliers.

Invoices are a critical element of any service or sales-oriented business, but they’re not the be-all and end-all of keeping your books. QuickBooks makes it easy to enter details of bills and expenses manually, categorise outgoings and manage your employee payroll. VAT-registered companies are fully catered for, complete with the ability to prepare your returns and file them with HMRC.

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Price £19
Rating ****

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