Still Dealing with 2019 in QBO? Clearing the Way for 2020

If you have a nagging feeling this month that you’re not caught up with your accounting tasks, it’s time to clean up your unfinished 2019 work.

It would be great if you could have closed out 2019 knowing that you were all caught up with your accounting work. You sent all your invoices, paid all your bills, and wrapped everything up with a series of reports and a proverbial bow.

Unfortunately, December rarely goes that way. You’re making last-minute adjustments for your taxes. Dealing with the holiday rush if you’re a retailer. Handling end-of-year employee issues, trying to make your monthly sales quotas, and doing something special to make your customers feel appreciated at this time of year.

On top of your daily accounting work, you’re feeling pressure in December to get a clear picture of your finances for the entire year. Then the holidays hit, and suddenly you’re ringing in the New Year without having had time for that.

Here are five things you can do clean up 2019 and make way for 2020.

1. Create two critical A/R reports: Accounts Receivable Aging Summary and Open Invoices.

This may make you feel both better and worse. On the bright side, you’ll know where you stand in terms of who owes you what and how big the problem is. On the other hand, you may find it disheartening to see how many payments are past due. These reports are easy to find. Click Reports in the left vertical pane and scroll down to Who owes you.

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The Open Invoices report can show you quickly who’s past due.

Now would be an excellent time, too, to develop some strategies to be proactive and keep your accounts receivable more up to date in 2020. We’d be happy to sit down with you and help you with this difficult task.

2. Create two critical A/P reports: Accounts Payable Aging Summary and Unpaid Bills.

Add “Stay Current with Bills” to your list of 2020 goals. But first, you have to see where you stand right now. Click Reports again and scroll down to What you owe.

Who is responsible for paying bills? If it’s you, maybe it’s time to hand over that task to someone without your managerial responsibilities who can make it a priority.

3. Create statements for all customers who are past due.

Things slip for your customers toward the end of the year, too. Give them a chance to catch up. Their invoices might have gotten lost in the year-end confusion, but you need to get current with your accounts receivable. So, send statements to those in arrears.

Click +New at the top of the left vertical pane, then go to Other | Statement

4. Clean up your customer and vendor lists.

Customers and vendors come and go, but their QuickBooks records are forever unless you do something about them. You can easily make them inactive – after confirming they have no open activity. Click Sales | Customers in the left vertical pane. Click the box in front of customers you want to make inactive and then click Batch actions | Make inactive.

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Cleaning up your customer and vendor lists will save you time in the future.

5. Always look carefully at your dashboard when you log in.

The block in the upper left corner is the most important here. You can see at a glance how much money you have tied up in unpaid invoices and how much money needs to be deposited. This will help you keep QuickBooks Online cleaned up.

More to Do

There are certainly other things you can do to clean up QuickBooks. For example, if you carry inventory, January is a good time to run the Physical Inventory Worksheet report and make some decisions about where your purchasing emphasis should be in 2020. Need help interpreting your product movement and sales priorities? We can help with that.

Finally, sometime this month—certainly in the first quarter of 2020—let us create the critical standard financial reports (under For my accountant in Reports) that you could actually generate in QuickBooks Online, but which would be difficult for you to analyze. These are the reports you would need if you were going to apply for a loan, for example, or request a business valuation. But the insight they provide can give you a sophisticated overview of your finances.

Have You Explored QuickBooks Online’s New 2019 Features?

Intuit keeps innovating. Here are some of the changes the company introduced for QuickBooks Online in 2019.

Whether you can see them now or not, Intuit added and enhanced a ton of new features in 2019. Some of you may not see all of them until 2020, since the company typically rolls them out slowly.

So, if you’re not in one of the first waves of users, we want you to know what’s coming. It may also be that your version of QuickBooks Online has incorporated the changes, but you just haven’t noticed them. Here’s a rundown of what’s in store for everyone on the horizon.

A new location for the Create button

Previously, you clicked on the +(plus) sign in the upper right corner to open the Create window (invoice, sales receipt, bill, single time activity, etc.). Now, you’ll see a button marked +New in the upper left corner.

Instant Deposits

If you use QuickBooks Online Payments, you’ll be able to have available credit card and bank transfer payments from customers deposited in your bank account within 30 minutes for a 1 percent fee. The funds will be directed to your U.S.-issued Visa or MasterCard debit card.

Mileage Tracker

This is a tool previously found only in QuickBooks Self-Employed, but QuickBooks Online users will now have access to it. It does just what it sounds like: allows you to track business-related mileage so you’ll have a numerical total to enter when you come to that deduction on your income tax return. You can record trips manually by entering starting and ending addresses (or the total miles). Or, if you’re using the QuickBooks Mobile app, you’ll be able to turn on GPS and let your smartphone record the mileage automatically.

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QuickBooks Online’s Mileage Tracker allows you to record business miles driven manually or automatically and calculates your tax deduction.

New navigation tools in QuickBooks Mobile app

You’ve probably gotten used to navigating from a list of features in the QuickBooks Mobile app. You should soon see an entirely different look for navigation that uses icons representing common tasks (Transactions, Expenses, Mileage, etc.). These will appear when you click on the Shortcuts tab. You’ll find the remaining tools under the All tab.

Health benefit management

QuickBooks Online now allows you to compare, buy, and manage employee health, dental, and vision coverage.

Receipt Capture

Receipts can be the bane of a business owner’s existence. Many still use the “shoebox” method, tossing receipts in a box and entering them when tax time rolls around. Not a particularly elegant solution. Now, you can snap photos of receipts and move them into QuickBooks Online in one of three ways, by:

  • Scanning through the mobile app.
  • Uploading, then dragging and dropping.
  • Forwarding through email.

Receipts are automatically categorized and matched to transactions; if there’s no match, you can create a new transaction. Your receipts appear in the Receipts dashboard under the Banking tab.

Multilingual invoicing

Do you have international customers? If so, you may be able to send them invoices in their native languages. Besides English, QuickBooks Online now supports French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese (Brazil), and Chinese (traditional).

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You can now send invoices to customers in any of six languages.

One-step contractor payments

You can now select trackable details like class, project, and location by making selections from drop-down lists in the contractor payments window.

Next-day deposits

If you’re a QuickBooks Online Payments subscriber, you’ll be able to get next-day access to payments customers have made to you via credit card or ACH. You’ll have to sign up for this service, and fees apply to ACH payments (1 percent of the total deposit, up to $10).

Auto-calculated sales tax

QuickBooks Online has streamlined the process of adding sales tax to sales forms – even if you’re a cash-basis business. After you’ve done some initial setup work, QuickBooks Sales Tax will do the necessary calculations and add sales tax automatically.

Hello, 2020

We hope that 2019 has been a good year for your business, and we wish you the best in 2020. If you’re still struggling to use QuickBooks Online to maximize productivity and make better business decisions, remember that we’re here to help. We can also advise you on any of the new features Intuit has introduced. Contact us anytime to set up a consultation.

4 Things You Should Know About Advanced Settings in QuickBooks® Online

Do you know about all of QuickBooks Online’s settings? What you’re missing may be important.

Looking through all the settings available in QuickBooks Online is something like reading the owner’s manual when you get a new car. You know you should do it, but you find yourself consulting it only when you encounter a problem.

Whether you’re new to QuickBooks Online, or you’ve been using it for a while, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with these important preferences.  Settings do more than turn features off and on: they can teach you about tools you might not have known were available.

Let’s explore some that you may have missed.

Closing the Books

You’ve probably heard this phrase before but do you know what it actually means in QuickBooks Online? When you set a closing date, you’re indicating that no transactions entered prior to that date should be changed.

Click the gear icon in the upper right, then select Your Company | Account and Settings. Scroll down to the Advanced section in the left vertical toolbar. Under the first heading, Accounting, check the box in front of Close the books. Enter a date and choose one of the two options for exceptions, as pictured in the image below:

You can close the books as of a specific date in QuickBooks Online so users can’t change transactions entered before then.

Warning: Talk to us before you make this decision. We can discuss the pros and cons.

Categories

QuickBooks Online offers a couple ways to categorize transactions so you can see related data in searches and reports. Scroll down to Categories and click on the Off button to the right of Track classes to turn this feature on. QuickBooks Online will then add a Class field to forms like invoices, along with a drop-down list that you can build with your own options. For example, you could create categories like departments, customer types, and product lines.  You can choose to assign classes to entire transactions or to individual rows in them, and you can ask to be warned if you try to save a form without selecting a Class.

Track locations works similarly. You can assign a location (territory, store, department, etc.) to each transaction if you’d like.

Automation

By using QuickBooks Online for your daily accounting tasks, you’re already saving time. But the site offers a way to save even more with its Automation tools. Here’s what you can do:

  • Pre-fill forms with previously entered content. Once you’ve saved a transaction for a customer, vendor, or employee, you can choose to have QuickBooks Online complete some fields in the next form you create for them.
  • Automatically apply credits. Do you want QuickBooks Online to apply credits to the next invoice you create for a given customer? Most businesses do, but a specific example of a time you wouldn’t check the box would be if you’re a property manager who requires security deposits.

QuickBooks Online offers several automation options.

  • Automatically invoice unbilled activity. Be careful with this one. When you have customers with unbilled activity, QuickBooks Online can automatically create invoices for them on a schedule you designate. You have a few options here. You can simply ask for a reminder as the date approaches, or you can allow the site to automatically create invoices – with or without notifying you.
  • Automatically apply bill payments. When you record bill payments, QuickBooks Online can automatically apply them to the oldest recorded bill.

Time Tracking

Does your company sell services that are billed by the hour? If so, there are a couple of options you can turn on here. When you create timesheets or individual timed activities, you can add a Service field to the tracking form. You can also include a checkbox to indicate that a block of timed work is billable to customers. If you do the latter, you can opt in or out of letting users see the actual rate you’re charging customers.

Checking Your Work

QuickBooks Online refers to these as Advanced Settings for a reason. Making the wrong choices on any of them could lead to unhappy or confused customers and/or inaccuracies in your accounting file. We think you should know about these options, but we also hope you’ll schedule a consultation with us before attempting to set them up. It’s always much easier to spot problems in the making than to correct mistakes already made.

Could Your Sales Invoices Be Better? How QuickBooks Online Can Help.

Every interaction with your customers can enhance your image. Here’s how QuickBooks Online contributes to that.

Getting paid by your customers—on time, and in full—can take some effort on your part. You set smart due dates and enforce them. Price your products and services so they’re both reasonable and profitable. Accept online payments.

But are your invoices working for you here? QuickBooks Online provides sales form templates that you can usually use without modifying. But it also offers tools that support multiple kinds of customization. It helps you shape the content and appearance of your invoices and their accompanying messages to be consistent with your company’s brand.

These may be cosmetic changes, but they can affect the way customers react to communications from you. You have few chances to make an impression, so anything you can do to enhance and personalize every interaction will have impact on their impression of you. Neat, well-designed sales forms convey professionalism and attention to details.

Here’s a look at what you can do.

Editing Fields

Unless you use every single field in QuickBooks Online’s default sales form template, your invoices will look sloppier than they might otherwise. The site gives you control over much of the content that your customers will see. To make changes, click the gear icon in the upper right of the screen and select Account and Settings, then Sales. You’ll see Sales form content in the left column. Click on any of the fields to the right to open a more thorough list of options.

QuickBooks Online lets you turn fields on and off in your sales forms and specify other preferences.

Click on the status (On, Off) in the right column to change it. When you’re satisfied with your selections, click Save. Then close that window by clicking the X in the upper right corner.

You have more options than these. Click the gear icon again, and then Your Company | Custom Form Styles. You’ll see that there is already a “master” form. You can either edit it or create a new one. We recommend leaving the master form alone so you always have a clean copy to consult if you get tangled up while you’re working.

Click the down arrow in the New style box in the upper right and select Invoice. In the screen that opens, enter a descriptive name for your template in the field at the top and then click Content. A graphical representation of your invoice will appear in the right pane, grayed out. It’s divided into three sections: header, footer, and table (the middle of the invoice where you describe what you sold). Each displays a small pencil icon on the right side of the screen. Click the one in the middle to make that area more visible.

It’s easy to specify which fields should appear on your invoices, what the labels should say, and how wide the space should be.

As you check and uncheck boxes to indicate what content should be included, your invoice on the right will change to reflect your actions. You can Preview PDF by clicking that button in the lower right. When you’re satisfied with the changes you’ve made to all three sections, click on the Design tab.

Changing the Look

You don’t have to be a graphic artist to have QuickBooks Online forms that look attractive and consistent, which highlight your brand. The site provides tools that give you control over the appearance of your invoices, not just their content. Click each link below the Design tab to:

  • Choose a template.
  • Add your company’s logo.
  • Select a color scheme and fonts.
  • Change the printer settings to accommodate letterhead, for example.

 Choosing Your Words

You have control over the messages that go out with your invoices.

Finally, click the Emails tab. Options here let you customize the emails that are sent to customers along with their invoices. Again, changes you make in the left pane will be reflected in the graphical version on the right side.

When you’ve completed all of your modifications, click Done.

We gave you this whirlwind tour of QuickBooks Online’s invoice customization options so you’d know what was possible. We expect you might need some assistance when you sit down to apply the concepts you’ve learned about to your own company’s sales forms. We’re available to help you present a polished, carefully-crafted image representing your brand to your customers.