Quickbooks Review 2021: Online Accounting Software for Solopreneurs and Small Businesses
QuickBooks is a comprehensive, all-in-one solution for bookkeeping and other finance-related operations for small businesses and freelancers; who want to eliminate the hassle of paperwork.
Gets the job done, and then some. QuickBooks Online has an impressive feat of integrations, invoicing abilities, and automation to manage the A-Z’s of your bookkeeping game.
Known for being on the pricier side, which can be a turn off for some small businesses and freelancers.
QuickBooks Online is beginner-friendly, but their many features can take some time getting used to. Regardless, they have ample resources to guide you on your learning curve!
Although they’ve received some criticism for slow responses in the past, the team has managed to pull through and even introduce live chats for getting in touch more effectively.
When basic spreadsheets just don’t do it for your business anymore—you might find yourself on the hunt for the best online accounting software to fill a gap.
That being said, if you’re not very well-versed with accounting or financial lingo, you might find yourself on the receiving end of confusion.
What invoicing features do you need? What other apps do you need to integrate with this software?
And most of all, which one is going to be suited for the long term so you don’t have to waste time migrating data time and time again?
If these are questions that continue to plague you, it’s time to consider Quickbooks as your one-stop solution for all your small business needs.
What is Quickbooks Online?
QuickBooks Online is probably one of the most well-known online accounting software alternatives around.
It’s ultimately designed for small businesses and freelancers to streamline everything from invoicing, expense tracking, report generating, and other finance-related operations.
But even with that being said, they pack an impressive arsenal of features that are suited for medium-sized enterprises such as offering almost 600 integrations and multiple currency availability.
QuickBooks itself is a product launched by Intuit in 2002 and has grown to encompass around 4.5 million customers at the moment of writing.
What to consider before subscribing to QuickBooks Online?
QuickBooks is a beginner-friendly online accounting software in every sense of the word, but that doesn’t mean that it’s without a learning curve.
This can be attributed to the fact that QuickBooks Online simply has a lot of features.
So while their interface and dashboard are easy enough to use and navigate, QuickBooks Online has a reputation of being overwhelming from the sheer features and integration options that they have.
It might take a while to master, but here’s hoping that this Quickbooks Online review helps with breaking down its most essential features one step at a time.
Features and Benefits
1. A basic, yet easy-to-use dashboard
Quickbooks Online’s dashboard is super easy to understand. At the very start of logging in, you’re privy to your business’ invoices, current and past expenses, connected bank accounts, sale records, and more.
At the same time, all of these details are presented in pie charts or bars—making it digestible at first glance.
For easier navigation, there’s also a search button at the top of the page. Here, you can quickly access past transactions by entering the cheque number, date, or amount. The ‘plus’ icon on your dashboard is a way to create new reports, invoices, forms, and so on.
2. Powerful invoicing features
You can judge the effectiveness of online accounting software by its invoicing features, and QuickBooks Online doesn’t disappoint here.
They’ve piled on the features here, so I’ll break apart how QuickBooks Online works in terms of invoicing features point by point.
• Automated Invoicing
The more time you save on bookkeeping and records is more time you’d be able to spend focusing on actually growing your business.
This is where automation doesn’t just come in handy. It’s necessary.
QuickBooks Online understands this all too well and throws in an automated invoicing feature that gets it right.
This works the best to schedule invoices to be sent out (or even generated weekly, monthly, etc), sending invoices in batches and more.
To ensure that you’re getting your invoices paid on time, QuickBooks Online also sends automatic reminders to your clients/customers—when the due date gets near.
Both your estimates and quotes can also be turned into invoices if need be, making it a much faster process.
• Customizable Invoices
For branding purposes, you can create customizable invoices to represent your business.
You can insert your own brand’s logo, font, color schemes and other design structures that suit.
Let’s say you already have a template that you’ve been using all this while or even one that you prefer. If that situation arises, you can instead upload your own template to QuickBooks Online to use.
They’ve also added the extra option to generate multi-lingual invoicing so that you’re now able to customize invoices in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and Portuguese.
• Time-tracking Invoices
Do you run a business that depends on billable hours? If so, this unique feature of QuickBooks Online allows you to track the billable hours spent on a project to add to your invoice!
This can be done by working on a sheet known as the Weekly Timesheet.
All you need to do is enter the hours you’ve worked on for each client, specify the days etc. At the end of the month, when you’re prepping invoices to send to each specific client, your billable hours can be immediately shown in your invoice.
So you basically only need to fill this up once a week, and the rest is just done for you.
3. Cloud-Based Accounting Across Platforms
You don’t need to be connected to your desktop or PC each time to use QuickBooks Online, not when they’ve prepped a user-friendly app to use!
The list of what you can do here is pretty comprehensive as well. Most of the tasks that you have access to on your desktop can be done on the app, and its data is backed up across all devices.
All of this is done so you’re able to record transactions on the go, view reports immediately, and always be connected to your business.
Other special features of the app are also the ability to snap and scan receipts using your phone’s camera.
When you approve the transaction via the web, the transaction is immediately recorded under an expense.
Even though they’ve enforced additional controls (meant to reduce security risks, let’s say, from you losing access to your phone, etc) the app allows you to do a whole lot conveniently. In our books, this is a plus!
4. Project Profitability and Job Costing
When it comes down to tracking profitability, QuickBooks Online also makes things easier for you to take a look at.
Through a detailed process known as job costing, QuickBooks Online breaks down a better way to make business decisions through determining whether or not a project is profitable enough for you to take on.
This is done by taking into account elements like hourly labor costs, physical materials needed, and overheads.
For example, imagine you’re running a cooking business out of your very own kitchen. A potential client requests for catered meals fit for 100 people, with a budget of around $3,000.
You know you’ll be making a profit, of course, but at what percentage from that $3,000? How much can you safely allocate to wages, materials, and all the rest to still make a decent profit?
Throw what you know here, and QuickBooks Online will do the rest.
This includes giving you a good estimate of how much you need to pay hourly workers, cost compared to income and other metrics that would help you decide how to price future projects.
5. Expense Tracking
QuickBooks Online expense tracking consists of the ability to import statements from your own bank, record personal expenses, and more.
Remember the receipt scanner function enabled via the app? You can use both of these in sync, and your scanned receipt will be attached to an existing transaction for future reference.
This would also come in handy as proof of purchase when you’re billing clients. With the receipt recorded, you can then go ahead, adding it as a billable expense in your next invoice—so you’ll never have forgotten about any added charges you’ve incurred.
At the end of the day, all of this data is compiled into your cash flow statements, divided into categories, and displayed as per monthly or weekly basis for you to easily take a look at.
6. Inventory Management
If you don’t have an existing POS system integrated with your business yet, QuickBooks Online inventory management software proves extremely valuable.
Here, you can:
- Keep track of products sold, with each transaction updated in your balance sheet
- Organize them with pictures and prices
- Run reports of best selling products
- Tabulate sales and taxes paid
- Calculate the costs of a product based on the first in, first out (FIFO) method.
At the moment of writing, this feature is enabled to those on the QuickBooks Online Plus plan.
All of this is updated in real-time, making it easier for you to see which products you need to stock up on, and to even track vendor management. Thus, ordering from multiple vendors is made much easier compared to having to dig up contact info from your phone, old records, etc.
This would suit business owners who are lacking in terms of inventory management/no system to track this at all.
However, some critics argue the implementation of this feature is simply an attempt to be the jack of all trades, or relevant wherever they can be.
Our advice? If you’re already on the Plus plan, there’s no harm setting this up and trying it out for yourself.
But if you’re on other plans, there’s no use in upgrading for the sole sake of this feature. Other POS systems like Hike and Square (the latter is free for individuals and pretty affordable for small businesses) are much more comprehensive.
7. Better, Detailed Reports
For you to get a better idea of how your business is performing, having an online accounting software that generates exhaustive reports are vital.
QuickBooks Online gives you the option to create multiple reports that fit many functions.
There are your average profit and loss statements, job profitability reports, inventory management, etc.
But they’ve also made it easier to tweak and adjust balance sheets according to what you may need to look at—so you can always create custom sheets to view the metrics you want.
8. App Integrations
Right now, QuickBooks Online has about 650 apps that can be actively paired with the software.
This includes apps like PayPal that lets you import all transactions, Shopify and Square, where you can bring in more sales-related records and many, many more other options.
You can integrate apps across categories of payroll, CRM, inventory, email marketing, e-commerce and a few more.
In fact, the QuickBooks Canada team even published their own guide to the best integrations here, taking into account the ones that work best with the software.
A steady budget is a blueprint to any business’ success -small or big- so you definitely need online accounting software that supports this option.
All QuickBooks Online plans offer the option of prepping full budget sheets. Budget sheets give you a 360 view of income and expense—so you’re always on top of your cash flow.
Whether it’s meant to be prepared for the start or the end of a fiscal year, QuickBooks Online allows you to either import and work on an existing budget from your own records or work with one built from scratch.
With a QuickBooks Online subscription, you’re also allowed to run various budgeting reports at a time; whether you want them to be yearly, quarterly or monthly.
10. Multi-User Availabilities
If you’ve had to log off each time another employee, co-founder or someone else from your business wants to access the backend of your software—you won’t have a problem here.
QuickBooks Online adeptly enables multi-user support in the Essentials and Plus plan.
Of course, the number of users that can use them at a time depends on your plan. At the moment, it’s 3 existing users and your accountant for the Essentials plan. That number changes to 5 users plus an accountant for the Plus plan.
Additionally, you don’t have to worry about one or two employees screwing something vital up on your sheets and records either.
QuickBooks Online allows you to tweak controls and permissions, so you can allow other users to only access specific features, instead of everything else that might be confidential data.
11. Decent Customer Support
When it comes to customer support, QuickBooks Online has a bit of a mixed reputation.
It’s not particularly hard to find other QuickBooks Online reviews out there that have had unfortunate experiences with the customer support team.
However, there’s also quite the number that is grateful for efforts taken to improve—and will swear up and down that they’ve always managed to be connected with helpful representatives.
At the moment, there are a few ways of reaching out to the team. These include:
• Email Support
You’re welcome to open a ticket concerning the issue or query you have, via their email address. According to their page, you can get connected to a support agent within 1 business day.
• Live Chat
Always a good option to have, naturally. QuickBooks Online enables this 9AM-6PM (GMT +8:00) from Monday to Friday for you to get real-time help. There’s nothing solid out there that gives me an idea of estimated wait times, but if you don’t find yourself talking to a human being after a while, you still have some other options laid out.
This works as sort of a FAQ forum where you can post up a question, and have other experts pitch in on giving you the right answer.
This is a 1-hour guide in the form of a video webinar with an expert from one of Quickbooks’ experts. It’s basically everything you can find in their articles but in video form.
Don’t feel like watching a one-hour long webinar? Just head on down to their video tutorials section! Most of the stuff here is pretty targeted to a problem (how to customize your invoice, how to add customers, etc) and they’re all under 5 minutes.
A downloadable PDF that you can save, print and refer to each time you need to clarify something really quick. Comes in handy if you have multiple users working on the account, so each person can hold a copy of the guide.
This is a particularly cool feature that we honestly wish was implemented across more software! Here, you can experiment with the backend of Quickbooks Online, everything from A-Z. Though it’s not directly a feature that helps when you have a question, this is still a good feature to try out before you subscribe.
• Social Media
If for some reason their live chats and email support aren’t working out for you, you can always try your luck contacting their team on social media. Quickbooks has a large community of followers on both Facebook and Twitter. On the latter, you can follow the account @QBCares as they seem to get back to users quite speedily.
What Are QuickBooks Online Pricing Plans?
It’s important you understand that QuickBooks has a number of products under them, and Quickbooks ‘Online’ is just one of many!
We’ll start off with their Online version anyway. Here’s a brief summation of their plans:
Note that these plans come with these specialized prices only if you purchase them for 3 months at one go.
If you’re not keen on anything long-term yet, you can try out their 30-day free trial to get a feel if you’re really going to enjoy this software. Nevertheless, after the trial is over, their prices look something like these:
The most basic plan starts at $25/month, which would give you a comfortable level of access to plenty of essential features.
If you’re running a medium to a larger enterprise, the Advanced plan allows up to 25 users and costs about $150/month instead.
Of course, QuickBooks Online offers other add-ons that can be paired seamlessly. You can connect integrations like T-Sheets (a handy time-tracking tool to manage employees, coordinate remote working, etc) and their QuickBooks Payroll system for a small fee.
QuickBooks Online is their cloud-based software, but others include:
• QuickBooks Desktop Pro ($299.95/year)
Locally installed software for small businesses, but because of certain added-on features, would be best for those well versed with accounting.
• QuickBooks Desktop Premier ($499.95/year)
Optimised for comprehensive accounting systems (industry-specific reports, sales orders and forecasting, etc). Because it’s specific to an industry, you can choose from versions that range across Contractor, Manufacturing & Wholesale, Retail, Professional Services or Nonprofits.
• QuickBooks Desktop Enterprise ($1091.70/year)
Enterprise has the same features as Premier and Pro, however, with the ability to allow for up to 30 users to access it! Evidently, this suits large enterprises and comes with add-ons like lead management, loan management, tax support and more.
For independent contractors and freelancers, QuickBooks released this product to help them primarily with managing tax and basic finances. Of course, for the price of $1/month you don’t get all the fancy features that come with the Online or Desktop products. However, you can still send invoices, prepare a tax checklist and a few more other features to make filing taxes easier.
With that in mind, their Desktop products are all locally installed software—so it won’t give you as many integrations compared to their Online products.
Regardless, it boils down to the question of preference and suitability. If your business could already benefit from Desktop-centric products like their industry reports, then just finding a few integrations to add to your account would already be beneficial to functionality.
What Do Other People Say About QuickBooks Online?
We know how important social proof is when it comes to deciding on anything, really.
Quickbooks has a Trustpilot rating of about 4.6/5 stars, calculated from 4k+ users at this time.
Most reviews can be seen commending the hard work of customer service representatives and other forms of support that’s been given.
However, there are a few complaints about the discontinuation of some services for the QuickBooks Desktop 2017 program.
QuickBooks announced that after 31 May 2020, they were discontinuing services such as the Live Support, Online Banking, Online Backup, Payroll Services and a few others that were integrated with the 2017-version software.
They explained that the reason for this was that it’s a ‘balancing act’ between making new software easier to use and supporting older versions—but naturally, a few people weren’t pleased.
Nevertheless, if you’re thinking of subscribing to any QuickBooks’ Desktop products in the year 2020, you can still add-on these services without a problem.
Is QuickBooks Online Right For You?
Here’s a brief summary of all the points mentioned above, and where they fall in our QuickBooks Online review.
What Are Some QuickBooks Online Alternatives?
FreshBooks stands out for their extremely user-friendly interface, which has gained them the reputation of software perfectly fit for freelancers and self-employed individuals.
As such, one of their strengths is the time-tracking ability to curate time-specific invoices for clients, record timesheets and input them automatically at the end of a project.
This also includes tracking for your employees in order to manage hourly wages better—as well as monitor your payroll this way.
To sweeten the deal, FreshBooks even throws in a built-in timer option for their users!
Where they lack compared to QuickBooks Online lies in other aspects such as automation. For instance, FreshBooks still requires you to manually categorize your transactions once they are imported from your bank account.
QuickBooks Online does that for you automatically.
QuickBooks Online has also been touted for having features better suited for small businesses such as better bank feed management, comprehensive bill pay options.
This includes the inventory management feature, which FreshBooks doesn’t not have at all. They merely can integrate with other apps to do so.
FreshBooks’ pricing also works differently. Although their plans are priced lower than QuickBooks Online, note that they bill you per additional user.
For example, if you were to sign up for the FreshBooks Plus plan, you’re paying a total of $25 + $10/person if you were to bring onboard another colleague or employee.
If you opt for Quickbooks Online’s Essentials plan—you’re getting a $40 flat fee for 3 users.
Another accounting software, this time hailing from New Zealand is Xero.
Their most basic Early plan starts from $25/month but you’re only allowed a maximum of 5 invoices and quotes, the ability to enter 5 bills, reconcile 20 bank transactions and to scan bills + receipts with Hubdoc.
As their plans progress, you obviously get access to more features, but if you’re looking for unlimited invoices and the ability to handle multiple currencies—you have to opt for their Premium ($65/month) plan.
Xero’s payroll options start from their very Early plan itself, but you’ll only have access to managing one person. Paying the full $65 allows you to run payroll for up to 5 people, but it’s still pretty limited if you ask us.
You can always add more users across, but it’ll cost you. For instance, 10 people altogether in the Premium payroll costs $75, 20 people cost $90, so on and so forth.
All plans come with the ability to integrate with about 800 apps, a mobile app platform, bank transaction syncing, updates every 3-6 weeks and round the clock support.
Pricing: $25 – $150
Number of Invoices: Unlimited
Payroll: Extra costs, starting from $45 per month
Pricing: Starting from $25 and can be customised per users in a payroll
Number of Invoices:
– Starter: 5 max
– Standard & Premium: Unlimited
– Starter: 1 person
– Standard: 2 people
– Premium: 5 people (can be customized to add more)
After exploring the intricacies of QuickBooks Online and comparing it to other online accounting software out there, the question remains.
Is this a platform you can see yourself using long-term?
The conclusion to that can be answered by taking into account all the cards you have on the table.
This starts from the users you want to give access, the magnitude of the number of clients you have and many other elements that you should consider before signing up.
Pricing is a huge deal too, especially when you’re a small business owner or freelancer finding a bookkeeping software.
We’re aware that this software doesn’t come cheap, of course.
So, one thing you should keep in mind if you’re planning to be a QuickBooks Online subscriber is the fact that this lets you have unadulterated access to a huge pool of resources, a helpful community and guides all along the way.
If you prefer to test out QuickBooks Online before committing, always remember that they have the 30-day free trial ready. When you decide to subscribe, click here to get 50% off your subscription for 6 months.
DISCLOSURE: The HUSTLR goal is to help readers navigate around the digital economy by learning digital skills to achieve their life goals. This blog post may contain affiliate link(s) and any purchase(s) made through such links will result in a small commission to HUSTLR (at no cost to you). However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair in order to help you make the best choice.
Jesslyn has been a senior content strategist and writer for personal finance and side hustles for the past 4 years. She believes in the power of an idea and breaking the rules whenever necessary. Above all, balance is everything. When she’s not writing up a mad scramble, she leans towards wine bars and yoga studios on the weekends.