Business Tech Small Business

Buyer’s Guide to Quickbooks Online

Deciding whether or not cloud-based accounting software is right for your small business has become a no brainier – deciding which software is best for you, however, is becoming increasingly difficult. With the explosion of cloud-cloud based accounting software, small business owners have seen a rapid increase in accounting efficiency coupled with the decline in the cost of bookkeeping services. Functions like, automatic downloading of transactions, reoccurring entries and online technical support have allowed any small business owner to keep their books and records timely and up-to-date. This article will discuss Quickbooks online, it’s pricing, its features and much more. 

Quickbooks Online

It is difficult to discuss the best cloud-based accounting software without first discussing Intuit’s Quickbooks Online. Intuit remains the dominant market leader with both its desktop and online versions of its accounting software.

With the demand for cloud based accounting technology, Quickbooks launched Quickbooks online in 2001. This subscription based software allows users to login to their accounting software remotely through a secure login via a web browser. Intuit boast the highest number of subscribers for a cloud-based accounting software, making it the most used accounting software among small business owners.


Quickbooks offers new users a 30 day free trial of its online version; no credit card information required. After the 30 day trial expires, Intuit offers 4 distinct pricing options. Note: pricing may have changed after publication of this article.

Self Employed – $10/mo

  • Track miles
  • Track income and expenses
  • Send invoices

Simple Start – $15/mo

  • Track income and expenses
  • Send invoices
  • Send estimates
  • Track sales tax

Essentials – $30/mo

  • Track income and expenses
  • Send invoices
  • Send estimates
  • Track sales tax
  • Manage bills
  • Multiples users

Plus – $40/mo

  • Track income and expenses
  • Send invoices
  • Send estimates
  • Track sales tax
  • Manage bills
  • Multiples users
  • Track time
  • Track inventory
  • Track 1099 payments

Payroll Add-On

Quickbooks offers a payroll add-on to users, at an additional fee, that allows direct deposit and payroll tax tracking. The pricing of the add-on falls into two tiers.

Enhanced payroll is priced at $25/mo with an additional $5 fee per employee. This option offers free direct deposit and e-file capabilities for payroll tax returns. The obligation of filing timely returns falls on the user but if payroll tracking is done properly, filing payroll tax returns is almost automatic.

Full service payroll is priced at $80/mo with an additional $5 fee per employee. This option is popular with small businesses who don’t want to deal with the hassle of withholding and remitting payroll taxes. This option also offers free direct deposit but comes with the added service of Intuit filing payroll tax returns of your behalf.


Quickbooks online offers several features that work great with any sized business. Although Quickbooks online might not have all of the capabilities of the desktop version, specifically Quickbooks Enterprise, its essentials are more than enough to run most small businesses.


This relatively new feature to Quickbooks online offers one of the most customizable interfaces for invoice creation. You can add logos, change font sizes, add columns, change header/footers and more. When creating invoices, saved customer information will automatically populate saving time and increasing accuracy.

Another great feature of invoicing through Quickbooks online is its integration with email. You can easily send email invoices to your customers with options to pay the invoice online by credit card or online bank transfer. The Plus and Essential plans support reoccurring invoices, great for businesses that bill monthly.

Contact Management

Quickbooks online offers one of the most integrated contact management systems on the market. It seamlessly keeps track of vendors, customers and employees by storing detailed contact information. Employees addresses and social security numbers will automatically populate on W2s, vendor balances and payment terms will be easily accessible and promotions/discounts can be emailed to groups of customers automatically.

Bank Feeds

Quickbooks online offers automatic downloading of transactions through online bank feeds. Simply enter your banking information and your online activity will be pulled in for your review. Vendors and customer names will be matched to accounts so that income and expense accounts will be up-to-date.

Inventory (Plus Plan)

The inventory tracking feature is on the Plus version only but offers a well rounded system for small business needs. You can add default sales price, purchase price, SKU numbers, descriptions and even attach images to inventory listings. Quickbooks online also offers a reordering feature when inventory falls below a certain level and allows tracking of current inventory levels in real time.

Pain Points

Although Quickbooks online offers an array of features, it has its common pain points among consumers.

  • Runs slowly – because Quickbooks online is dependent upon internet connectivity, the speed at which Quickbooks online runs can be drastically different for each consumer. Additionally, running large scripts like detail general ledger accounts can cause the program to crash.
  • It’s not Quickbooks desktop – For users of Quickbooks desktop version, switching to Quickbooks online might be a difficult transition. The layout of Quickbooks online is vastly different and does not offer the same capabilities as the desktop version.
  • Your accountant hates it – Quickbooks online is not accountant friendly and makes it difficult to review a company’s ledger and make necessary adjusting entries.


Quickbooks online is a great tool for small businesses and it’s numerous features and affordability makes it the most used cloud-based accounting software on the market. Although Quickbooks online has its high points, it’s not fall all consumers. For those who enjoy the desktop version and rely heavily on most of its features, I would recommend holding off on making the switch. For those new to Quickbooks I would say to give Quickbooks online a try, especially for online eCommerce businesses.





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