QuickBooks 2013: The Missing Manual – Updated and now it’s ‘Official’ – #bookreview

QuickBooks 2013: The Missing Manual
By Bonnie Biafore
(O’Reilly, paperback – Kindle)

Bonnie Biafore’s latest version of her popular “Missing Manual” QuickBooks how-to guide has gained a significant endorsement. It’s now labeled “The Official Intuit Guide” to QuickBooks 2013.

Once again, the updated guidebook provides clear, well-illustrated, step-by-step instructions on how to use the Windows edition of QuickBooks 2013, the most popular version of Intuit’s product, particularly in small businesses.

The 736-page book also gives some basic how-to information and advice on bookkeeping and  accounting – enough to get you past some confusing stumbling blocks as you set up a business and its accounts, but not enough that you should try to skip legal advice and focused training.

“QuickBooks isn’t hard to learn,” the author emphasizes. “Many of the features that you’re familiar with from other programs work just the same way in QuickBooks—windows, dialog boxes, drop-down lists, and keyboard shortcuts, to name a few. And with each new version, Intuit has added enhancements and new features to make your workflow smoother and faster. The challenge is knowing what to do according to accounting rules, and how to do it in QuickBooks.”

The 2013 edition of QuickBooks, she points out, “sports a brand-new look that simplifies the interface, removes clutter, and presents features and options in a much more organized and consistent way.” Her book also describes several features that are new in the 2013 release.

Three words of caution: First, this book does not cover non-USA versions of QuickBooks 2013. Second, the Pro and Premier editions of the software cannot handle more than 14,500 unique inventory items or 14,500 contact names.  And third, the author points out, “QuickBooks for Mac differs significantly from the Windows version, so this book isn’t meant to be a guide to the Mac version of the program.”

There are many different versions of the QuickBooks 2013 software. But this “Missing Manual” puts most of its focus on QuickBooks 2013 Pro, “because its balance of features and price make it the most popular edition.” However, the author also provides “notes about features offered in the Premier edition, which is one step up from Pro.”

For many of us in small business, a QuickBooks “Missing Manual”  is  the best QuickBooks how-to guide, period. And Intuit’s new “Official Guide” stamp of approval should help seal the deal for others seeking the best QuickBooks reference.

The new edition of Bonnie Biafore’s book is divided into five parts containing a total of 26 chapters and two appendices.

Part One covers “Getting Started.” It starts with “Creating a Company File” and “Getting Around in QuickBooks” and advances to setting up accounts, customers, jobs, vendors, items, lists, and managing QuickBooks files.

Part Two’s focus is “Bookkeeping,” and its chapters covers everything from tracking time and mileage to paying for expenses, invoicing, managing accounts receivable, generating financial statements and performing end-of-year tasks.

“Managing Your Business” is the focus of Part Three. These chapters cover managing inventory, budgeting and planning, and working with reports.

“QuickBooks Power” is the title of Part Four. It covers using QuickBooks with online banking services, configuring preferences in QuickBooks to fit your company, integrating QuickBooks with other programs, customizing QuickBooks, and keeping your QuickBooks data secure.

Part Five contains two appendices: “Installing QuickBooks” and “Help, Support, and Other Resources.”

As usual, this “Missing Manual” does not contain a CD, but it does provide a link where “every single Web address, practice file, and piece of downloadable software mentioned In this book is available….”

QuickBooks 2013: The Missing Manual can help you get a small business set up and off the ground while you are learning the program.  But if you don’t have a reasonably good background in bookkeeping and accounting, do not try to rely on the software alone to save you. Get competent help from a consultant and legal advice from someone besides your rich Uncle Bob. And get some training any way you can, as soon as you can.

Then, once you can afford it, hire good people to help you with  your bookkeeping and accounting, while you focus on the bigger picture, growing your business with the help of QuickBooks 2013’s budgeting, planning, forecast, report, contact synchronization, lead tracking, and to-do list features.

One other caution: QuickBooks has a specialized edition specifically for nonprofit organizations. It is more expensive than the Pro package. So some people try to save money and use the Pro package to manage a small nonprofit. But there can be confusions involving some of the terminology, transactions and reports. And there may not be workarounds for some situations. You may be better off buying the QuickBooks Nonprofit edition.

By the way, QuickBooks 2013: The Missing Manual can be used to learn features in earlier versions of QuickBooks. Of course, doing so and seeing what’s missing may convince you to upgrade. And the 2013 screens will appear somewhat different from what you see. If you have an older version of QuickBooks and don’t plan to upgrade soon, consider looking online for one of the earlier editions of this book.

Si Dunn