How often do you procrastinate? Often times, we don’t dive headfirst into daunting tasks because we don’t look forward to the challenges that come along with them. So, is this the real reason why you haven’t started using QuickBooks as your accounting software yet? If so, we’re here to help. Whether you’ve opted for QuickBooks Online or QuickBooks Self-Employed, the following steps will help you get up and running… fast.

Setting Up QuickBooks Online

Step 1: Enter Your Business Details

Once you sign up, you’ll immediately be taken to the Set-Up Wizard.

The first screen will prompt you to add your company’s basic information, including name, address, and phone number.  Be sure to double-check this information, since it’s what will be displayed on all of your invoices.

You can also add a logo if it’s in a square format, which we highly recommend for brand awareness purposes.

As you keep clicking Next you’ll add in things like:

  • Industry type
  • Company type
  • Payroll details

What you select will help to customize options and settings for your niche.

In addition to all of the aforementioned information, you’ll also be asked if you want to import data from another QuickBooks version.

Handy Tip: You have the option of allowing QuickBooks to send you marketing material from time to time. You can opt out of this if you want.

Step 2: Set Up Your Chart of Accounts

Have your chart of accounts ready on a piece of paper or in a different window, to ensure you don’t miss anything. It should include:

  • Bank accounts
  • Credit card accounts
  • Assets
  • Liabilities
  • Income
  • Cost of goods
  • Expenses

Pressing on the Accounting tab will open your Chart of Accounts. This gives you a pre-filled version to work with. You can easily change or delete whatever is necessary so that it matches your list.

After clicking on New you’ll adjust the following details:

  • Category type
  • Name
  • Description
  • Subaccount
  • Balance

Be sure to double check that everything is correct before clicking Save.

Step 3: Connect Your Bank Accounts

This feature is quickly accessible via the link on the far right of your dashboard:

  • Click on Connect Accounts
  • Pick your bank from the list (or you can type in a URL)
  • Sign into your account
  • Pick which accounts you want to connect (remember to only use accounts that are related you your business)
  • Match each one to what you created on your chart of accounts

A Quick Note on Importing Transaction History – QuickBooks Online has an automatic feature of importing 90 days of accounts. If your business has been operating longer than this you need the information in your books. You’ll have to add them manually or via an Excel (csv) file.

Step 4: Create Your Invoice Template(s)

For true professionalism, you should customize your paperwork. Access this via Custom Form Styles, which can be found under Company in Settings.

Quickbooks Online provides you with templates you can edit in terms of:

  • Logo
  • Color scheme
  • Font
  • Margins for printing
  • Content
    • Headers
    • Activity section
    • Footer section
  • Information to accompany an emailed invoice, or reminder email

If you want to use more than one invoice design, Quickbooks Online gives you the ability to add and customize multiple different versions.

Step 5: Add Your Products and Services

This step is extremely important since it forms the foundational backbone of how you’ll organize your business.  It’s also what customers will see on documentation like your invoices. As such, take your time as you’re setting everything up.  Checking for spelling mistakes, so that everything looks professional.

Add your products or services via the Lists feature under Settings.  Add more by using New, and then insert the following details:

  • Type of product/service
  • Name
  • SKU
  • Photo
  • Category
  • Sales information
  • Income account

Remember to hit Save for each one.

You need to go through the following steps for each one, which you’ll see after clicking on the Sales Button:

  • Turn on the Show Column on Sales & Purchase Forms if you want Quickbooks Online to add the information to billing documents
  • If you use SKUs, you can activate the Show SKU Column on Quickbooks Online Products & Service Forms. It’s unnecessary if you use other methods.
  • If you use Quickbooks Online to track inventory, turn on the Quantity and Price Tracking feature
  • You can have Quickbooks Online track available stock by switching on the Track inventory Quantity tab

Step 6: Set Up Customers and Vendors

Note that QuickBooks has an Import function. If you have multiple customers or vendors to add, you can place this information in an Excel spreadsheet. Then use the Import Features option found in the drop-down menu. This function will even help you map the data so that the Excel columns’ data is allocated correctly.

If you’re doing this manually, navigate to the relevant tab, which can be found under Home on the menu on the left of your dashboard. Whether you’re working with Customers or Vendors, the steps are similar:

  • Choose to add a new item
  • Populate the various fields QBO provides
    • Customer or Vendor details
    • Billing information for customers
    • Payment methods of customers
  • Review everything before saving it

Handy Tips: You need a tax ID number in order to generate 1099 forms and if you add credit card details of customers, make sure it’s accessible by trusted employees only

Step 7: Create Your Statements

The Statements feature helps you improve cash flow as you’ll provide customers with overviews of outstanding payments. The QuickBooks system offers three options of displaying the data:

  • Each transaction can be on a single line, mostly stating invoice totals
  • You can list transactions and detail lines, containing data of what was purchased
  • You can show an aging table, which will appear at the bottom of the page. You can even add this to your invoices.

Step 8: Learn About Additional Features

The versatility of QuickBooks brings you handy extras worth getting to know.


Accounting isn’t only about managing finances, but managing relationships with vendors and customers. Adding a personal touch is important, which makes it vital to customize the messages that will accompany emailed invoices or other documents.

Quickbooks Online provides easy to use tables to enter relevant information, including:

  • Greetings
  • Sales forms the specific message should be used for
  • Subjects
  • The messages themselves
  • Which addresses should be included when they’re sent

Multiple Users

You’re not the only one who will benefit from QuickBooks – it will make it easier for employees and your accountant to manage tasks too. But you must add them to the system first via the Manage Users button.

Invite your accountant simply by using his or her email address and selecting the Invite Accountant button. They can then create their own user IDs and will have the rights of Company Administrator so they can do things like close your books.

Other users in your company can be added by using the New button. You can then allocate responsibilities like:

  • Regular or custom user
  • Company administrator
  • Reports only
  • Time tracking only

You can also pick a type and set individual user parameters:

  • Access rights
  • Administrative rights

Once again, you’ll invite people via their email address.  

Setting Up QuickBooks Self-Employed

Since most people using Quickbooks Self-Employed don’t have personal accountants, setting things up is quick and easy.  

Step 1: Sync Your Bank Accounts

You’ll access the bank portal on the Connect Your Banks and Credit Cards screen. Log in and then Quickbooks Self-Employed will automatically download 90 days of transactions for you.

A Quick Note on Importing Transaction History – If you’ve been in business longer than three months, simply download your transactions in a CSV file from your bank. You’ll see an Import Transactions option, which will guide you through the steps you need to take to include those transactions in with the rest of your accounting data.

Step 2: Set Up Categories and Rules

Now you make it easy to allocate each transaction by creating categories and rules. It’s important to note that you can opt to keep certain items as Personal so they don’t affect your business accounts.

You’ll find an Add Rule button next to each transaction. Pick the appropriate Income or Expense category, which the software will then apply to future similar transactions.

When setting this up, be sure to check the box next to Also Apply to Past Transactions. Now Quickbooks Self-Employed will apply this to all your imported, historical transactions so that you don’t have to do it manually.

How to Create a Category in QuickBooks

You can’t create or customize a new category in Quickbooks Self-Employed, but it does come standard with relevant options already loaded. These align with IRS Schedule C requirements, which makes it easier to keep track of eventual tax payments:

  • Business income for all money earned
  • Business expenses which can be allocated to accounts including:
    • Rent and lease
    • Vehicle repairs
    • Business loan
    • Wash and road services
  • Personal spending

There’s also a user-friendly search tool to help you find the right account for each expense on your bank statement.

How to Split Transactions

The software has a split feature so you can break up one transaction and allocate it to separate accounts. This helps if one purchase included items for personal and business use. This is super practical since you can type in specific amounts or use the percentage function.

Step 3: Activate Your QuickBooks Self Employed App

Download the app onto your smartphone so you can manage almost everything from there.  This is of particular importance if you need to track mileage.

Step 4: Manage Your Miles

In conjunction with the app, you can easily manage trips related to your business. This is why Quickbooks Self-Employed is such a handy accounting setup for Uber drivers. On each trip, simply select whether it’s for business or personal use. The app will then track your trip distances.

You can also enter mileage details manually if you prefer.

Step 5: Stay on Top of Your Taxes

Quickbooks Online is designed to help you monitor your tax payments. As you allocate income and expenses, the dashboard shows you what your estimated tax payment will be. You’ll always be able to find this total in the top right corner.

During setup, Quickbooks Self-Employed will ask relevant personal details to calculate your tax liability, such as marital status and tax-free allowances.

Step 6: Invoices

Quickbooks Self-Employed allows you to send invoices to clients, if necessary. Simply use the Create Invoice tab. For first time, clients you’ll have to enter details manually, but the software will have autofill features for those that are recurring.

Important Note: You can mark an invoice as paid, but this won’t automatically be allocated to your Profit and Loss statement. You must still add the transaction manually.