If you run a small business, you’ve likely heard of QuickBooks Online, the smart accounting software that helps you keep on top of everything from taxes to payroll. But if you’re new to QuickBooks (or perhaps you’ve switched from QuickBooks desktop version), you might be wondering just how to use it.

Don’t worry – we’ve got all the help a new QuickBooks user needs in this simple-to-understand guide. Ready to find out how QuickBooks Online works? Let’s get started, with ten easy steps.

1. Get to grips with the QuickBooks Online dashboard

quickbooks online dashboard

The first step to learning how to use QuickBooks Online for a business is familiarising yourself with the dashboard.

This is the first thing you’ll see when you log into your QuickBooks account online, and it’s from the dashboard that you can navigate to everything you’ll ever need as a QuickBooks user. Spend some time looking at the different menus in the dashboard, getting to understand where you can find everything.

2. Add your company information

After your first QuickBooks login, you should set up your company information and preferences. From your dashboard, click on the gear icon and select ‘account and settings’ then select the ‘company’ tab. From here, you can add information about your company like:

  • Company name
  • Company type
  • Contact information
  • Address
  • Company logo

3. Choose your financial preferences

Whilst you’re updating your company information, you can also tweak your financial preferences in this part of your QuickBooks Online account from the sales, expenses and advanced tabs. Update things like your credit card payments, invoice automation, VAT details and your company’s year-end date so all the information is accurate for your reports.

4. Import your business data

Quickbooks data import dashboard

It’s quick and easy to automatically import your business data to your QuickBooks Online app, so you don’t have to start from scratch. You can import information such as your bank transactions, your Chart of Accounts, supplier bills, employees, budgets and customer or vendor data.

QuickBooks Online offers multiple options for importing data, so you can choose the one that works best for you and your business. Different methods you can go for include:

  • MS Excel files
  • CSV files
  • Intuit Interchange Format (IIF) (that’s QuickBook’s proprietary text file)
  • Web Connect file

5. Customize your Chart of Accounts

Your Chart of Accounts is the list of different categories used in QuickBooks to categorise money for your company’s financial statements. There are five categories set up in QuickBooks Online by default: income, expenses, assets, liabilities and equity. Many people who use QuickBooks for business will leave these default settings, but you may want to customize the categories to suit your specific needs. You might want to rename the categories, or perhaps you’ll find that you need to set up an additional category that doesn’t fall under the five already listed.

To do this, simply head to ‘Accounting’ in the dashboard, then click on ‘Chart of Accounts’. Select ‘New’, then ‘Expense’ or ‘Other Expense’ for ‘Account Type’. Choose a ‘Detail Type’ and then add the name of your new expense category, including a description.

Need to know how to export your Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks Online? From your Chart of Accounts screen, choose the ‘Run Report’ button. You’ll see four options: print, email, export and settings. Simply select the relevant one to export it to an Excel sheet or PDF.

Using the Chart of Accounts in QuickBooks

6. Connect your bank and credit cards

You can sync your QuickBooks Online account with your bank accounts and credit cards at this stage. This means that QuickBooks will automatically download and categorize your previous transactions from your accounts, saving you time and effort as you won’t have to enter any details manually.

Head to ‘Bank Accounts’ on your dashboard and click ‘Connect account’, then search for your bank and sign in using the same username and password as you use for your online banking. Once it’s connected, you’ll be able to see all of the accounts you hold with this bank, so select your business account, and then select the transactions you want to transfer over to your QuickBooks account. Most banks will show transactions from the past 90 days, although some banks will let you go back as far as 24 months.

Once you’ve selected the relevant transactions, QuickBooks will download them automatically. Then, after your transactions have been downloaded, you’ll just need to approve how they’ve been categorized.

Connecting your bank and credit cards to QuickBooks

7. Add more users

Want to add more users to your account so you don’t have to do it all yourself? With QuickBooks for a small business, you can add additional users from your sales manager to your bookkeeper.

You can adjust the settings for each user, allowing them to do specific tasks, but your subscription level will determine how many users you’re allowed, so if you’re seeing a user limit, you may want to consider upgrading to the next level.

To invite a new user, simply head to ‘Settings’ from your dashboard, then ‘Manage users’. Choose ‘Add user’ and select the user type you want to create. You can choose from:

  • Primary admin: The main user with access to every area of the QuickBooks account. By default, this is the person who set up the account.
  • Company admin: This user also has full access, and can do everything the primary admin can do, other than add, remove or edit the primary admin.
  • Standard user: You can set different access levels for standard users, allowing them to work with, for example, expenses, sales or suppliers. They can add users, enter timesheet data, manage subscriptions and update company information – note that the QuickBooks Online app doesn’t currently support this type of user.
  • Reports user: Available in QuickBooks Online Plus, this type of user can see all reports apart from the Audit log showing your payroll information.
  • Time tracking only user: If you need employees or suppliers to log their time but don’t want to give them access to reports, you can add them as a time tracking only user.
Set Up and Manage Users in QuickBooks Online

8. Set up payroll

Wondering “how does QuickBooks payroll work”? Adding your payroll to QuickBooks keeps everything in one place. You can categorise your payroll expenses so you can easily see exactly what proportion of your monthly spending is on staff wages, and you don’t need to worry about keeping another system updated.

Now it’s time to get it set up. Head to ‘Payroll Settings’ and then ‘Setup Overview’. Here you can add vital information for your QuickBooks Payroll, including:

  • Pay policies: this includes your payment schedules and vacation policies
  • Tax setup: Essential to ensure that tax payments are processed properly
  • Deductions: If you have standard deductions for all employees, like health insurance or retirement plans, you can add them here
  • Preferences: This covers things like accounting and cheque printing

Once you’ve added this information, head to ‘Accounting’ from the setup overview screen, then choose ‘Company and Account’. Decide which account will be used to track payroll expenses.

To add employees to your payroll, head to ‘Employees’ from your dashboard. From here you can add your employees’ details. Note that all employees will have the standard pay policies and deductions you’ve already set up, but you can also choose to add them when you add employees instead. You’ll be guided through the process as in this video below to set up their tax information, salary details, and other information like their pay schedule.

Set up QuickBooks Online Payroll

9. Connect your apps

With QuickBooks Online you can access your accounts anywhere, at any time. But it also connects with thousands of compatible apps, available in the QuickBooks App Store, guaranteed to make your life easier, with 86% of QuickBooks customers agreeing that apps save them time. From expense management to QuickBooks cash flow forecasting, you can choose a selection of apps that will streamline your processes and make it easier to stay on top of your business finances.

QuickBooks app store

You can browse the different categories in the app store, or if you know what you’re looking for, simply search for the app’s name. The Float app is QuickBooks’ most popular operational cash flow forecasting add-on, so if you’re looking to understand what your future bank balance looks like, join the thousands of users already using Float to save hours every week.

10. Reconcile regularly

QuickBooks Online will save you time and effort – but it works best when you keep it up to date. You should reconcile your accounts regularly (QuickBooks recommends doing so every month) so that your accounts reflect what’s on your bank and credit card statements. As Float pulls through real-time information from QuickBooks Online, regular reconciliation also ensures that your cash flow forecast is always accurate.

Spending a few minutes every day, week, or month reconciling your accounts will save you from headaches further down the line. Here’s how to do it:

  • From the home screen, click on the gear icon and then ‘Reconcile’
  • Choose the bank account you want to reconcile
  • Enter your ending balance and end date from your statement
  • Click on ‘Start Reconciling’ – this will pull through the transactions for the specified period
  • Check the transactions in QuickBooks against those on your bank statement
  • In QuickBooks, tick the correct transactions
  • The difference amount should be zero – this means that the transactions match
  • If there is a difference, check that the number of transactions is the same on both sources. If there are missing transactions in QuickBooks, you can manually add these in.
  • If the issue is with the date of transactions, just click on the date and change it to the correct one as per your bank statement
  • If neither of these things solves the issue, check that the amount of each transaction is correct in QuickBooks
  • Click on ‘Finish Now’

Need to know how to undo reconciliation in QuickBooks Online? If you need to undo an entire reconciliation period, this can only be done in QuickBooks Online Accountant. Otherwise, you can manually undo transactions one by one by following these steps.

How to reconcile bank account in QuickBooks

Ready to take QuickBooks Online for a spin? One of the best ways to get to grips is to take QuickBooks Online for a test drive.

QuickBooks is easy for beginners and ideal for small businesses who need to save time and money whilst keeping on top of their spending and income – and syncing it with Float will ensure your forecast is always up-to-date with a live picture of your cash situation.

Now you know how to get set up, find out more about how Float works with QuickBooks Online.