Disclaimer: This is by no means a paid advertisement for Intuit Quickbooks systems, and we would love to hear from you if you’ve had similar/different experiences or if you have used a different platform for organizing your finances when building up your business. Also, neither of us are trained financial advisors and are solely writing on our experiences in trying to figure out (a) how to use QuickBooks and (b) how to efficiently track our expenses and income.
Recently we found out that the monthly subscription price for our QuickBooks was increasing from $15 to $20. Since we are still a small (but growing) business, this $5 a month increase is pretty significant. In searching for answers on how to reduce our price, or possibly switch to a new plan and/or platform we decided to write a post about our experience with Intuit QuickBooks.
Why we use QuickBooks
We started using the online version of QB for tracking our expenses and income. Our main concern was to run reports on our sales and have an easily accessible rundown of expenses for our taxes. It seemed like an efficient system for our basic financial needs, especially since we are not at the point of needing (or affording) a financial advisor or tax expert.
Differences in Plans
As of the writing of this post there are four online plans to choose from: Self-Employed ($10/month), Simple Start ($20/month), Essentials ($35/month), and Plus ($60/month). From the first glance you can see that there is quite a steep financial jump between each plan, which makes it even more crucial in deciding the right plan (note: the price listed above is the prices after the first three-month’s 50% introductory offer expires).
I’m not going to go into the differences between each plan (a good breakdown here) but I will go over the two products that we were deciding between: Self-Employed and Simple Start.
We started with Simple Start online version about 6 months ago, and have been slowly building up our data on expenses and sales in the program. I would love to say we chose Simple Start because it had the same idea of ‘simple’ in mind, but really it was because we just needed to start somewhere, anywhere in fact. This version includes all the basics: tracking income and expenses, basic reports, track sales and sales tax, invoice and accept payments, capture and organize receipts, and maximize tax deductions.
When you first get started with the online version, it is a lot to take in- especially if you have no background in business and/or finances. It took me a while to remember where to go each time after logging in to add receipts, add in our expenses, and to update the charges on our company credit card. This isn’t the fault of Intuit, they are trying to provide everything you need in one place- it is the fault of inexperience with finances.
For half the price of Simple Start, it looks at first glance that Self-Employed does essentially the same thing and even auto-tracks deductible miles on your business vehicle. It does note that it is used only for those freelancers using a Schedule C on their taxes, but other than that it almost seems silly not to use Self-Employed.
Here’s the catch. I called the Intuit helpline to see if we could switch our plan (you can only upgrade online, for all other switches, including downgrades in plans you must call). The representative informed me that in order to switch to Self-Employed I would have to start completely over, since this product is in fact a separate entity and has an entirely different online interface. I’m still a bit confused how a company can have two products advertised on the same page but will still make you start completely over and delete all your data when switching between the two. There is a note on the Self-Employed breakdown on their website that says this plan is unable to upgrade to the other small business plans, but I still don’t understand why.
Other than deleting all our data and beginning again we also found out that the Self-Employed cannot handle multiple users and will not sync data from applications like Square. These last two components were not listed on the website- nor did the representative disclose this to us, we had to reach out to someone familiar to ,but not connected with, Intuit to tell us this.
Not being able to sync data from applications for sales is a huge disadvantage for us, since all of our sales are either cash or from Square. That on top of not being able to transfer our data really makes Self-Employed a tough sell. Once again, it is designed for freelancers and not Partnerships- but we wish there was something at this price level that our business could use.
Online versus Desktop
There is one more option with QuickBooks, the desktop version. It is a one-time buy (kind of). The versions expire every three years forcing you to buy the upgraded version again- BUT big exception here, only if you are using the payroll feature. If you don’t need the payroll version, you won’t need to buy the upgraded version every three years. Currently there are two versions on the Intuit website for a downloadable Desktop version: Pro 2019 ($299.95 but on sale for $219.95) or Pro Plus (299.95.95 yearly subscription- also on sale but for $199.95 for the first year). Doing a quick Google search it looks like you can find cheaper versions of the product using Walmart or Amazon. But the prices listed above are from the Intuit website.
A lot of this post had to do with money, which is not something we like to talk about. But we are also trying to be open about our business struggles not only to help others that are going through the same thing- but also to create a space for commenting if there are other business owners out there that have something to share on how to do it differently.