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8 posts from April 2009

Did You Check Your QuickBooks Backup Today?

If you are using QuickBooks in a networked environment, it is imperative that you check to ensure that your QuickBooks data is being backed up on a regular basis. Don't leave this critical step to chance or to  guesswork. Remember - you can always get another copy of QuickBooks software. Getting another copy of your QuickBooks data that you have worked so long and hard on to create - that's another story.

During a recent visit to a clients' location, we discovered that NEITHER their automated backup to an external hard drive NOR their online backup software had been properly set to create a backup copy of their QuickBooks data. Needless to say, we immediately created one so they at least had a spare at that time and then took proactive steps to fix that problem going forward.

If you don't feel comfortable in taking the steps needed to get your backup set and configured properly, be sure to get in touch with a reputable IT service provider that can set the backup processes up correctly. In addition, have them explain to you how to monitor things to ensure the backup is working as it is supposed to each evening. Monitoring doesn't have to be complicated or time-consuming, but it is an essential part of your daily routine. If your IT provider says "it's covered, don't worry about it", then ask them to retrieve a backup copy of your QuickBooks file and show it to you to ensure it is being properly backed up.

The two keys to an effective backup strategy are to automate it and ensure the data is stored off-site. In most cases, an online backup service helps you meet both of those goals.

For my online backup service, I use Mozy. It is easy to use and very easy on the budget as well. Mozy recently signed on their millionth customer and was also voted #1 in backup and recovery by Small Business Computing Magazine.


Difference Between QuickBooks Upgrades and QuickBooks Updates

I'd like to take a moment and clear up the confusion that exists when discussing QuickBooks upgrades versus QuickBooks updates.

QuickBooks Updates

These are the software downloads that are "pushed" out by QuickBooks periodically to fix known problems in the software or to deal with other issues and concerns within QuickBooks. In some cases, these updates also add new functionality to QuickBooks (example - the updates for QuickBooks 2009 have added functionality that was not in the initial release of 2009), but generally, new functionality is added with a QuickBooks upgrade (see discussion below).

Here is the dead giveaway for a QuickBooks update:

QuickBooks Update Notice

If you see this on your screen when you start QuickBooks, it is telling you that there are some fixes to the software that QuickBooks needs to install. My recommendation is to choose "Install Now" and download these updates as quickly as possible on all computers that are running QuickBooks.The benefit to you is that you then have the most updated version of the software running in your business.

The R Factor:

When any version of QuickBooks is first released, it is considered Release 1, or "R1" for short. Each successive update to that version of QuickBooks that is released increases the "R" value. You can always quickly tell what Release or "R" you are on with your version of QuickBooks by tapping the F2 key on your keyboard. The following will appear (you can see this is on Release 6/R6):

Release Information

To ensure that you are completely updated to the latest version of QuickBooks updates, simply click on Help > Update QuickBooks > Update Now. Let the download complete, and then restart QuickBooks. (NOTE: If doing this in a networked environment, plan these updates (especially for your server) for off-working hours to minimize disruption and hassles).

Update QuickBooks Now

QuickBooks Upgrades:

An upgrade in QuickBooks is simply the new version/year of QuickBooks that is released. For example, a QuickBooks upgrade is moving from QuickBooks Pro 2007 to QuickBooks Pro 2009. Or moving from QuickBooks Premier 2008 to QuickBooks Premier 2009. Note that the key variable here is the YEAR of the product, not the "R" factor as mentioned in the QuickBooks update information above. Another example of a QuickBooks upgrade would be a move from QuickBooks Pro 2008 to QuickBooks Enterprise 2009.

In the past, QuickBooks has released a new version of their software each fall, sometime between September and November. If history holds true, we should expect the QuickBooks 2010 upgrade to be available in the fall of 2009. Now, if they would only give us a sneak peek into what new features are going to be available in QuickBooks 2010!

Get More Great Tips from Scott Gregory, QuickBooks Expert - download his free QuickBooks guides today!


Don’t Miss This Critical Step in Managing Your Business Finances

Do you have an effective system of monitoring your accounts receivable?

Every dollar you have outstanding on open customer invoices is a dollar you DON’T have in your bank account. If it isn’t in your bank account, you can’t use it for the operations of your business.

Unfortunately, many businesses pay scant attention to the money that is due to them, figuring that their customers will get around to paying eventually. Why hope and pray for this to happen? Develop an effective accounts receivable management system instead.

First of all, ensure that the invoices you send out contain the following critical information: the correct amount due, the correct purchase order number (or other identifying information your customer needs to track it), correct details about what was purchased, your selling terms (i.e. net 30 days), and a remittance address for them to send the check. You don’t want your customer to have any excuses (they have plenty already) about missing information so that your invoice ends up in a pile somewhere in their accounts payable office.

Once the invoice has been created, review the various reports available in your accounting software to monitor the receivables. For example, in QuickBooks, there are several very helpful reports that can be instantly generated to provide a real-time status:  the A/R Aging Summary, the A/R Aging Detail, the Open Invoice Report, and the Collections Report to name a few. Each of these reports provides a unique view on the details of who owes you, how much they owe you, and how long they have owed you. All of this is very critical information that needs to be monitored on a regular basis.

Once you have researched the report tools available to you, create a procedure so that you can then follow-up on overdue invoices sooner rather than later. Choose a combination of steps that may include: faxing or e-mailing copies of invoices that are overdue by a certain amount of days, calling the customer on invoices that are overdue by a longer period of time, and then getting the principals of the customer involved for invoices that are getting really old. Be sure to document each contact made for each customer in your accounting system so you know exactly who said what about when the overdue invoices will be paid. This also provides a history for you to use in determining whether future sales will be done on open account or other alternative methods of payment.

It isn’t easy to ask for money. But remember, it’s YOUR money! If you don’t ask for it, who will?


Google Alerts: Keeping Up To Date on Web Postings and News About Your Business

Chances are, you know about using Google to perform searches for information on the internet.

However, did you know that you could also use Google to set up an "alert" about any topic or keywords of interest and have the alert delivered to your inbox each day?

The Google Alerts program is what you would use to do just that. Setting up an alert is a snap. Just answer the following questions:

  • What search terms are you interested in?
  • What type of search do you want Google to perform for you? (comprehensive, news only, blogs only, etc.)
  • How often do you want to be notified? (as it happens, daily, weekly)
  • Your e-mail address

Once you have entered this information, your alert is then set and ready to go. You can change the settings or even delete the alert at any time. Best of all, this service is completely free.

For example, I have an alert set up to monitor the search term "quickbooks". Each day, I get a recap of new postings out on the internet that relate to QuickBooks software. This helps me keep up to date on the latest news on QuickBooks without having to go searching for it - Google does it for me automatically!

You can use Google Alerts to monitor the internet for postings about your business, your employees, and anything else that might be of interest to you.

Get More Great Tips from Scott Gregory, QuickBooks Expert - download his free QuickBooks guides today!


Angelsoft - Where Startups and Investors Can Meet

If you have a business that is looking to attract outside investors, the Angelsoft web site may be of interest to you.

The site is broken down with separate pages for start-up companies and investors. It also includes a learning center where you can see videos and read case studies of companies that have received funding.

The learning center also contains a number of other pages with industry statistics, investor and entrepreneur blogs.

On the Angelsoft web site, you can also use the handy search tool to find investors that may be a good fit for your business financing and capital needs.


Importing from PayPal into QuickBooks

If you are running an online storefront, chances are that you are accepting customer payments via PayPal.

Many businesses have been manually entering these payment details into their QuickBooks file, and that approach certainly works well in many cases.

However, if you are processing larger transaction volumes or desire to make the process a little more automated, there are some tools out there that can help you build the bridge between PayPal and QuickBooks.

A couple of tools that I have come across in my QuickBooks consulting practice:

  • SimplePort from Simple Business Systems - billing itself as "the original PayPal to QuickBooks import tool", there are two versions of SimplePort. SimplePort Lite allows you to import up to 100 transactions per month. SimplePort Pro has unlimited download capabilities. Free trials of these products are available.
  • PayPal to QuickBooks Link from Big Red Consulting Systems - Uses the traditional QuickBooks iif file (short for Intuit Interchange Format) to move data from PayPal to QuickBooks. A free trial version of this product is also available.

A word of caution - before using ANY software that integrates with QuickBooks, be certain to make a backup of your QuickBooks data file. That way, in the event things don't turn out the way you planned, you can simply revert back and restore the backup copy of your file. Sure beats the alternative of deleting tens or hundreds of transactions manually!

Even better, consider testing the integration of the software on a sample or test data file before ever connecting it to your "live" QuickBooks company file. This process gives you the perfect opportunity to test everything out without any worries of things not working correctly.

Are you using either of these products (or another one)? Drop a comment below about your experience with them so our readers can hear it first hand!


Vote for My Story Submitted for an Intuit Small Business Grant!

Read the story I have submitted to the Intuit Business Grant contest called - Are You in Pain? Maybe You Should See a Specialist!" and see if the story resonates with you and your business finances and bookkeeping.

If so, please cast your vote for the story. Final judging of the story is based on user ratings, creativity and quality, so your vote counts!

Being chosen for this grant will help me spread the word about how bad books can wreck a business, and help educate business owners on the importance of not being "penny-wise and pound foolish" when it comes to their bookkeeping and finances.


QuickBooks 2006 - Support and Services End as of May 31, 2009

If you are using any version of QuickBooks 2006, you need to know that May 31, 2009 is a very important date.


As of that date, Intuit will no longer support that release of QuickBooks (support for 2005 and older versions ended long ago).

What does this mean to you?

  • If you use any of the QuickBooks payroll services, you won't be able to process payroll properly.
  • If you use QuickBooks online banking in the 2006 version, you won't be able to do that any longer
  • If you e-mail documents out of QuickBooks 2006, that service will be discontinued
  • If you download credit card transactions, that will be discontinued
  • If you use QuickBooks Merchant Services to process your credit cards, you won't be able to continue doing that.

For a complete breakdown of the "QuickBooks Service Discontinuation Plan", visit this special web page for all the details.

To save up to 20% on your purchase of QuickBooks 2009 products, please visit my web site for product details and pricing information.