Where Should You Get Started When Using QuickBooks?
Before you begin to learn how to use QuickBooks, take some time to review the volume and type of data that you have in your business. The main areas of bookkeeping for a typical small business tend to be invoicing, writing checks, managing sales orders, and payroll.
Once you have determined the basic needs and volume of your business bookkeeping, then choose your QuickBooks program. The two main choices for a typical small business are QuickBooks Online (free trial and then $12.95 per month as of Jan 2011) and QuickBooks Pro (less than $200.00 as of Jan 2011). For a beginner, these are good packages to start with, and you likely will never have a need to upgrade from either of these.
QuickBooks Premier offers specialized packages, such as contractor, nonprofit, or manufacturing packages. These packages can be very beneficial. However, I generally recommend to clients that they start with QuickBooks Pro, become familiar with the programs, and then determine if they want to upgrade to Premier. The data will transfer when you upgrade.
QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions is not really a beginner program and is best installed with the assistance of a skilled accountant or QuickBooks professional. Among other features, it has the capacity to maintain inventory in detail and also has the capacity for much more volume than Pro or Premier. Again, for a beginner or for a small business intending to maintain their own books, it is probably best to start with QuickBooks Pro and then migrate up to Enterprise once you have learned QuickBooks basics and have a very good sense of exactly what functions you want QuickBooks to do for your business.
If you want to have QuickBooks calculate your payroll and print your payroll forms, then you will need to purchase a separate Payroll module, such as QuickBooks Payroll Enhanced to use with your QuickBooks package. This usually costs less than $200.00 per year. This package is not required if you are willing to manually calculate your payroll and fill out your own payroll forms, or if you use an outside payroll service.