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9 posts from March 2010

Should I Use Quicken or QuickBooks for My Business Finances?

Here is the short answer:Confused Kid in School

Both software applications are made by the same company (Intuit), but from my vantage point, they serve vastly different audiences.


In case you weren't aware, QuickBooks actually evolved out of Quicken.

Quicken was first created (way back in the days of DOS!) as a solution for tracking household income and expenses. Then the developers said - "but wait, what about tracking business income and expenses?" And thus QuickBooks was born.

From the very first time you see the opening screen of QuickBooks, you just know it is a business solution. I mean, how many times do you refer to "create invoices", "create purchase orders" or "use the chart of accounts" in your home finances? Probably not often, if ever. However, a business will use one or all of these functions daily.

In addition, if you tried to look at the cash flow statement that QuickBooks offers for your personal finances, I would encourage you to take two aspirin and retire for the evening. How helpful is it that you see a line that says "adjustments to reconcile net income" or "net cash increase provided by investing activities" when monitoring your home cash flow? Not very. This statement is even a bit hard for many businesses to comprehend.

Finally, QuickBooks has no clue when it comes to tracking an investment portfolio. You can't download stock or mutual fund information to it, no matter how hard you try. The reason? Most businesses have a hard enough time keeping cash in the main business checking account, let alone worrying about other investments like you might with your personal finances.


Over the last 10 years, I have worked with many businesses that thought they could pocket the $90 price difference between these products and start out with Quicken. Most of them very quickly came to the realization that Quicken "didn't quite cut it" when it came to the needs of their business.

For example, Quicken knows nothing about purchase orders. Yet these documents are integral to many business operations. Nor does Quicken know anything about sales orders - another very useful tool, especially to manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors. I won't even get into the real accounting-speak like "chart of accounts", "journal entries" and the like. Quicken comes up empty there.

Also, Quicken doesn't have the wide range of reports that are geared to a business like QuickBooks does. QuickBooks comes with 120+ different reports right out of the box that are conveniently broken down into such groupings as "company and financial", "customers and receivables", "vendors and payables", "inventory", etc. Won't find many of those in Quicken.

In addition - you can't buy add-on software for Quicken like you can for QuickBooks.There are over 450 applications that integrate with QuickBooks to help solve a specific business need that may not be handled well (or at all) within QuickBooks. For example, you can use the SmartVault document management system that ties very nicely into QuickBooks - tools like that just aren't available for Quicken.


That is true. There is a "migration tool" inside QuickBooks that will allow you to import Quicken data and information.

Here is the reality - in every situation where I've used the "migration tool" over the last ten years, it ends up getting about 70% of things right, and makes a mess of the other 30%.

That 30% that isn't "clean" is a big deal. It is already putting you in a bit of a hole, since there is information and things that show up in QuickBooks that shouldn't be there or that simply cause confusion in the way they were converted.

The tool itself does what it is supposed to - it converts Quicken data to QuickBooks format. However, the end result is not a sparkling clean setup in QuickBooks in my opinion.


When I refer to QuickBooks in this article, I am referring to QuickBooks Pro. While there is a free "Simple Start" edition of QuickBooks, most businesses usually outgrow it pretty quickly. Your business is worth the investment in the Pro version.

There is no question in my mind, that when used properly:

  • QuickBooks is the right choice for a business finances
  • Quicken is the right choice for home and personal finances

Those are my thoughts about these two very popular software packages. It would be great to get yours - just drop a comment in the box below. Thanks for reading!



A Little QuickBooks Humor...

Laughing Little Kid

Some classic QuickBooks quotes to share with you.

They have been pulled direct from the Twitter stream - enjoy! (I sure did!)

  • "Ugh, QuickBooks confuses the crap out of me"
  • "I am not an accountant - I only play one on TV"
  • "You've won this round QuickBooks - but I will be back. Yes, I will be back!"
  • "Didn't get the job I wanted - should have lied and said I knew how to use QuickBooks. How hard can it be? Seriously?"
  • "QuickBooks - I will punch you in the head"
  • "I don't love you QuickBooks"
  • "Dear QuickBooks spell-check - when I typed in FastBrowserSearch I did not mean Flamethrowers. But thank you for an awesome suggestion!"
  • QuickBooks is making me pull my hair out. Soon = bald"

Before things get this bad for you, let's talk. Things don't have to be this way. Click the "Contact Scott" button below to bring more love and less pain to your QuickBooks setup.



2 Critical Things to do in QuickBooks Before You Leave the Office Today

Before you leave the office today, make sure you set aside a few minutes to:Reminder

  1. Run the QuickBooks verify utility to make sure your data is in good shape. Access this tool by clicking File > Utilities > Verify data and following the instructions.
  2. Make sure that you are able to restore a copy of your QuickBooks data from whatever source you are backing it up to. This step helps give you confidence that your backup system is working as it should. Just don't overwrite your live QuickBooks data with the restored copy of it!

Taking these small steps today can save you from some really BIG headaches tomorrow!

Confused or need help with these or other QuickBooks issues? Click the Contact Scott button below for personalized assistance.




Creating a Memorized Report in QuickBooks

If you are like me, you're looking for ways to save time when working in QuickBooks. Using the memorized report feature is definitely one way to do that!

As you know, QuickBooks comes with 120+ standard reports right out of the box. However, sometimes those reports don't quite provide what you need and you need to modify them.

Let's take the Open Sales Order report for example (the same thoughts apply to ANY of the reports available in QuickBooks)...

If you click Reports > Sales > Open Sales Order Report from the menu bar, you get the default report. However, this report does not show you the true open balance of the sales order. It only shows the original value of the sales order.

The good news is that you can customize it to also show you the true open balance of the sales order. So we click the Modify report button in the upper left hand corner of the report, and then scroll down the column list until we find the "Open Balance" column and we add it to the report:

Open Balance Column for Sales Order Report

Now that you have customized this report a bit, why not save that customization so you don't have to do it again the next time you run the report?

Saving the customization is easy - just click the Memorize button at the top of the report, and a window appears like this:

Memorize Report Windows

I've typed in the name of the report as I want to see it for easy reference in the future. From there, click the OK button, and this customized version of the report will be ready for easy access in the future.

To get to your list of memorized reports, click Reports > Memorized Reports in the menu bar and then click the report you want from the list:

Memorized Report Listing

The process mapped out above works with any report in QuickBooks. Just open it, modify it, and then memorize it.

Or think of it this way - less clicks = more vacation time for you!



Intuit Exposed: The Deception During QuickBooks Registration Has Got to Stop

An Open Letter to Mr. Brad Smith, CEO of Intuit...

Dear Mr. Smith:

The deception and charades that you force your QuickBooks customers into during the software registration process has got to stop. Now.Stop Sign

In case you weren't aware of the problem, please review my blog post so you can read in detail about the problems and hassles Intuit is inflicting on its' QuickBooks customers each and every day.

For a company that prides itself on listening to the "voice of the customer" (or VOC as you refer to it internally), Intuit is batting a big .000 when it comes to hearing what the customer has to say about the games that are played during the software registration process.

I think Intuit has done a marvelous job of scorching the brand equity your marketing department works so hard to build with this deception and nonsense.


Skeptical about the extent of this problem? Take a quick look at the Twitter feed of your own employee (@ErichatIntuit), who is the director of product registration. I see a definite pattern here. Do you?


I completely understand the need to register QuickBooks software. No problem there.

What I (and thousands of others) don't understand is why they are forced to call and waste anywhere from 5 to 20+ minutes on a call in the first place. This could all be done online.


During every call I have made to register QuickBooks for my clients, I have been subjected to upselling and cross-selling of other QuickBooks products and services. QuickBooks says that I have to call and get a software validation code in order to complete the registration process. It does NOT say that I will be forced to listen to marketing pitches for other products and services in order to obtain this code.

Thousands of other callers have been subjected to the same insulting behavior.


Every caller during the registration process has heard these dreaded words - "please wait while I generate your validation code". And then the wave of upselling begins.

To the unseasoned QuickBooks user, they figure that it is mandatory for them to answer all the questions your representatives ask while "they are waiting for a validation code". The reality is this - with the exception of the question about how many computers QuickBooks will be used on, ALL of the other questions are to provide the opportunity to upsell the caller, nothing more. They have NOTHING to do with obtaining a software validation code.

To the seasoned QuickBooks user that has just plunked down a pretty penny to upgrade to a newer version of QuickBooks,some of them are on to the registration charade and refuse to answer the questions. Others aren't wise enough to know of your games and fall victim to the same upselling pressure that first time callers receive.

After personally enduring this headache for years when I call on behalf of clients, I tell the rep right up front I don't want to hear any marketing or promotional pitches. So what do they do instead? They put me on hold "while they generate the validation code". I've been on hold as long as 10 minutes waiting for them to return to the line.

Seriously - are you using punched card readers to generate these codes?


Honest. I tried to get the attention of your management team before deciding to press the gas on this issue.

After having some very candid dialogue with one of your high level executives, I was told, and I quote - "Currently, we have a high customer satisfaction rating with the QuickBooks registration process".

Really? Your team actually believes that? I can only surmise that the respondents had smoked crack before filling out their survey.

I do give you credit though...

As part of the dialogue with your executive, Intuit did make a change. And the change was to let any accountant use an online registration process to get their QuickBooks registered if they were using the Accountants Edition of QuickBooks.

That is a step in the right direction.


What about the other 80+% of users that are NOT accountants? Why didn't you just make one change that impacted EVERYONE at the same time? Why do accountants get the special treatment?


My theory is that your mounds of marketing data indicated that your upsell/cross-sell rate for accountants was nowhere near as high as it was for the small business users of QuickBooks. Many accountants are on to your registration charades, and don't buy anything. So why waste call center time on them.

Unfortunately, the small business owner that doesn't know any better DOES buy things because he is pressured into it. I have even been told that some representatives insist on getting the callers credit card number to purchase a support plan or else they would not provide the validation code.


  • I registered Peachtree completely online. I could call to register IF I wanted to.
  • I registered Microsoft Office completely online. I could call to register IF I wanted to.
  • I got hassled to register my QuickBooks on the phone.


I am hopeful that you find a way to stop this nonsense - and stop it now. I have filed a complaint with the FTC about this process and am hopeful they will step in and take a look at what is actually happening during the registration process.

FTC Complaint Box

Put simply, the process of registering QuickBooks should be less than a minute and be able to be done online. No upselling unless the customer asks for it. Period.

Believe it or not, I'm on your side, having worked with QuickBooks since the '99 release. Just think of what some enterprising attorney could make out of this deception if they wanted to?

Mr. Smith, as CEO of Intuit, you can make this whole headache go away with one phone call to your programmers. I hope that call is made very, very soon.

I and thousand of other QuickBooks users would like to hear your perspective on this issue. Please post a comment below.


Scott Gregory

Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor

Certified QuickBooks Enterprise Advisor

Intuit Solutions Provider


QuickBooks Registration: Read This BEFORE You Make the Call!

Before you pick up the phone to get your QuickBooks validation code, you MUST know what you are about to encounter...

Otherwise, you may feel just like the chap in
the picture off the to right.OnHold

MUST READ INSIGHT: See what others who have called before you have endured during this process!

Unless you are an accountant, you currently have no other option but to call Intuit and get a validation code in order to register your QuickBooks software.

You will discover this when you get to the final screen of the registration process on your computer. And what a miserable discovery that ends up being.

BTW - don't think you can skip the call altogether. If you don't call within 30 days of when you install your QuickBooks, it will simply stop working.

So, here is what you need to know about your call:

  1. It is VERY likely you will encounter an overseas call center where language barriers may be a problem
  2. It is VERY likely you will be asked many of the same questions you just answered on the screens as you typed in responses to the registration screens. Why? Only Intuit can answer that one.
  3. Once you have coughed up the details about your business, you will DEFINITELY hear the phrase "please wait while I generate your validation code" - and then the cross-sell/up-sell/sales pitch will begin. I encourage you to fasten your seat belt at that time.

At this stage of your call, it is very likely you will be asked about how your business handles its' payroll, its' credit cards, and other questions that have nothing to do with your need to obtain the validation code and finish the registration process (with the exception of the number of computers where you will be installing QuickBooks).

I have even heard of some cases where the caller was told they must purchase a QuickBooks software support plan in order for them to receive their validation code. That is completely untrue - you do not have to purchase ANY other QuickBooks products or services in order to get this validation code.

My Strategy to Deal With This Registration Hassle

As a QuickBooks consultant, I have called in to register hundreds of copies of QuickBooks over the years for my clients. I simply tell the call center agent whom I am speaking with that they don't need to know the answer to the question they are asking in order to provide the validation code (again, with the exception of how many computers where QuickBooks will be installed). They keep asking, and I keep telling them the same answer - "you don't need to know that". Repeat again.

I have found that my strategy has shaved a good 10-15 minutes off the registration call. Now the call is about 5-7 minutes instead of 20+ minutes. What they usually end up doing is simply putting me on hold for 2-4 minutes "while they generate the validation code".

I don't really care if the call center agent doesn't like my approach and willingness to push back. I care even less that they may not make their quota for up-selling and cross-selling other Intuit products during my conversation with them. This call is completely unnecessary in the first place.


There is no way to avoid having to make the call, so I wish you luck. And wish you a very, very short phone conversation!



Hosted QuickBooks: What Is It + Why It May be a Perfect Option For Your Business

Don't worry - I'm not going to get all geeky and IT-like on you with this post...

Maybe you've heard the phrase "you could use a hosted QuickBooks solution" and weren't quite sure what it meant or if it even applied to your business.

Or, maybe you have multiple locations and need everyone working in centralized QuickBooks data and doing it as simply as possible?


Close your eyes for just a sec...

Imagine sitting down at your desktop or laptop computer and signing into QuickBooks. It doesn't matter where you are located, nor does it matter where your staff is located. As long as you can get to the internet, you can get to your QuickBooks.

If you can visualize this, you've got the idea of "hosted QuickBooks" nailed down. That's it.


Now, visualize your current configuration to get to QuickBooks. You've probably heard things like "servers, remote desktop connection, terminal services, WAN, VPN connections" and all sorts of other cyberbabble when it comes to getting your team connected to your QuickBooks.

With a "hosted QuickBooks solution", you don't need any of that. Period. Did I mention that you just need a connection to the internet?


That's right. You are outsourcing all the geeky IT stuff that is needed to make all of this work to a company known as a "QuickBooks hosting service". Their team of trained experts does all the heavy lifting on their end so you don't have to.

Did I mention that all you need is a connection to the internet to make this concept work in your business?


Cloud9 is one of the companies currently approved by Intuit that provides this type of service to businesses like yours that are looking for a simple way to connect their team to QuickBooks.

Whether you need to host the Pro, Premier or Enterprise version of QuickBooks for your business, Cloud9 can provide a solution for you.

In addition, they offer the ability (should you need it), to host other software that works with QuickBooks such as Fishbowl Inventory, SmartVault, and Bill.com. 


Let's ask the question another way - how much cost (both hard and soft costs!) is there to keep your current QuickBooks configuration up and running? You probably don't see it directly, but those costs are embedded in your profit and loss report right now.

Naturally, there is a cost involved to use a QuickBooks hosting service. Just be sure to make an apples-to-apples comparison when you are evaluating your options. Don't forget to include the convenience factor into your calculation - did I mention that all you need is an internet connection to use a QuickBooks hosting service?






Attention IT Geeks: Information on QuickBooks and Remote Access

Looking for ways to help your clients connect remotely to QuickBooks software, especially the Enterprise version?

Download this special whitepaper from Intuit:

Maximizing the Value and Performance of QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions with Remote Desktop Services

In addition, make sure to view this knowledgebase article that discusses the compatibility of various types of networks with QuickBooks.

It is extremely important to note that:

  • A terminal services environment is ONLY supported for the Enterprise version of QuickBooks, not Pro or Premier.
  • QuickBooks (any version) is NOT designed to work with WANs
  • QuickBooks (any version) is NOT designed to work with VPNs - you will find the performance to be abysmal
  • QuickBooks (any version) is NOT designed to work with wireless LANs - you will very likely encounter connectivity problems and dropped connections to the QuickBooks data file

Remember, don't shoot the messenger! <grin>

I didn't make these rules - just thought you'd find them helpful.



Downloading Your Way to Disaster in QuickBooks

Now I know one reason why so many people run into trouble when using QuickBooks.

Disaster I was recently working with a client that had asked for some help getting data imported from PayPal and from her bank account into her QuickBooks file.

So we connected remotely and began to review her setup. As I always do in cases like this, we made a backup of the QuickBooks data before we did anything else- always a good habit to get into (just in case of course).

Then, we began to import the data from her bank. A couple of clicks on the data file she downloaded from her bank and the screen was telling us the import was successful.


One look at the results of the download indicated that all was not well. Not well at all.

The file she imported proceeded to create several new bank accounts in her QuickBooks chart of accounts - and it didn't bother to post anything to her main bank account.

To put it simply, this download process did nothing but screw up her QuickBooks. I was shocked at just how much of a mess it made in such a short time. Off to the trash with using that idea.


At that stage, we restored her QuickBooks backup, and then began the import of the PayPal data.

As before, the import itself went just fine - from a technology perspective.

From an accounting perspective, it was a disaster!

When the import was done, she now had 2 new bank accounts in QuickBooks in addition to her PayPal account. It added a PayPal income account and a PayPal expense account. Note that I said all of these were set up as QuickBooks BANK accounts that would show up on her balance sheet report, NOT the profit and loss report which is where they belonged.


We made a couple of quick tweaks to get this imported data corrected, and she was going to do another download from PayPal to see how that turned out. We're keeping our fingers crossed she can at least use that successfully, but I am doubtful. Hope I'm wrong!


  • If you are NOT well versed in accounting or QuickBooks, how will you know if the data you download from your bank or PayPal is posting properly? Just because they say it imports doesn't mean it imports correctly.
  • Walk first- then run. It is critical to first get a solid understanding of how QuickBooks works via some manual entries of the data you plan on electronically importing later. Otherwise, the download process will only put garbage into your QuickBooks data file a whole lot faster!
  • There are many banks that can and do provide a great download/import service.When it is used correctly, the download can be a big time-saver. When it is used incorrectly, it can be a disaster.

RELATED POST: QuickBooks Should Come with a Warning Label!

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Scott Gregory is a specialist with QuickBooks Pro, Premier and Enterprise accounting software. He has been helping businesses "think beyond the ledger" for over 25 years.