Is Quickbooks accounting software right for the self-employed or your business

Reading Time: 9 minutes

What is QuickBooks Online?

Since its creation in 2002 (when Intuit launched QuickBooks for small businesses in the US), QuickBooks Online is now trusted by 4.5 million users worldwide (over 200,000 UK users).  

Essentially Quickbooks is a simple to use, yet detailed bookkeeping tool. With it, you can automatically organise, calculate and prepare your Self-Assessment, VAT and Construction Industry Scheme tax. Payroll, invoices, bills and expenses – all covered in one simple subscription. You can also connect your bank accounts so that transactions are automatically imported, just leaving you to allocate a labelled description to them and attach receipts or invoices.

Quickbooks calculates that you can save around two hours a week managing your accounts with its software.

With incredibly competitive monthly fees, plus everything you need to make bookkeeping simple, it is very easy to see why Quickbooks is the ‘go to’ software for so many small businesses and start-ups to simplify their accounting processes.

The software is also constantly evolving with recent new product launches for self-assessment, a payroll portal plus new Workpapers for accountants to help streamline year end reporting.

QuickBooks Online has some great things going for it: strong reporting, customisable invoices, inventory capabilities, multiple currencies, as well as 100’s of free and paid app integrations including Receipt Bank, Expensify, Futrli, GoCardless, A2X & Stripe.

Additionally, there are several features offered by QuickBooks Online that you cannot get with the more traditional QuickBooks Desktop (such as automatic sales receipts, split transactions, scheduled invoices, and location and class categories).

Many customers believe the mobility offered with QuickBooks Online is well worth the upgrade, despite some minor navigational difficulties and the odd technical glitch. You can also invite us as your accountant or your bookkeeper to collaborate on your accounts. This means we will have instant access to your data and any reports.

In this review we will explore the top line features and tools Quickbooks has to offer small businesses, accountants, and bookkeepers to help you decided whether this online software is the right fit for your business.

Fusion Accountants is a Quickbooks Platinum ProAdvisor which means we can guide our QuickBooks clients as to how to best get the most from the online accounting software both from a technical and accounting perspective.

Who does Quickbooks suit best?

Whether you are a small business owner, sole trader or self-employed, QuickBooks makes it easy to manage your business finances from anywhere so you can track all financial data and create a variety of reports summarising all aspects of your business.

For the self-employed you may predominantly want to use it to prepare your self-assessment, connect your bank or credit cards transactions, stay on top of your income and expenses, upload receipts anywhere from your mobile or desktop.

Pricing

Rating – Excellent: 5/5

QuickBooks Online is competitively priced, offering plans for small businesses and self-employed workers. You can add payroll features to the small business plans for an additional monthly fee. A demo of the software is available, which is a good option that allows you to see an up-close view of the software.  There is no contract so you can cancel anytime. But, if you do want to leave, you must give one month’s notice.

Quickbooks current pricing structure offers this as standard across all its packages free of charge:

  • Live chat/Request call back/24-7
  • Screen sharing
  • Mobile app download
  • ‘How to’ guides. video tutorials and community hubs
  • Find a QuickBooks certified accounting professional using their directory

Small Business subscriptions + VAT (pricing as of Feb 2021)

  • Simple Start plan costs £3 per month and is designed for a single user. You can create and send customised, pay-enabled invoices, self-assessment preparation, MTD for VAT submissions, income & expenses management & much more besides.
  • Essentials plan is £5 per month and supports up to three users. It includes all Simple Start features plus trading & invoice in multi-currencies, create recurring expenses and pay multiple vendors and multiple invoices.
  • The Plus plan costs £7.50 per month and supports up to five users. It includes the above mentioned features. Users can also create track products and costs, create purchase orders, manage inventory and manage projects.
  • The Advanced plan is an additional £8 per month and is available across all plans (plus £1 per month for paid employee). In addition to the features in the Plus plan it is perfect for employers who need additional features including HR, pay runs and reporting.
A snapshot of Quickbooks pricing for small businesses
A snapshot of Quickbooks pricing for small businesses

Self-Employed Subscription (pricing as of Feb 2021)

QuickBooks self-employed is specialist software to help prepare and file a Self-Assessment tax return, track your income and expenses and have everything in order for tax year end.

  • The Self-Employed plan costs £2 per month and is for a freelancer or independent contractor. Estimate your future tax bill and see your income, expenses & mileage all in one place.
The Self-Employed plan

Features and benefits

Rating – Good: 4/5

Quickbooks make it relative painless with its intuitive design and layout and plenty of tutorials and helpful material. The downside of this, however, (which also applies to Xero) is that there is quite a steep learning curve. You will need to spend some time understanding how to use it, which is unavoidable.

When you first sign in to your QuickBooks Online account, you will be directed to the homepage dashboard which will display an overview of your company, giving you a quick business update (like the status of your income and expenses, your bank accounts, and more).

Sync with bank. You can connect your banks and credit cards to QuickBooks for a complete, real-time view of all your purchases, cash withdrawals and fund transfers – so no more manual entries! You can import up to 2 years of transactions.

Sync with bank

Create professional invoices. You can create customised invoices and brand them with your logo, then email, print or post. Choose whether you want to accept payments with PayPal or bank transfer and your customers can settle up instantly by debit or credit card using the ‘pay’ button on your invoice. Your dashboard will also show you any due or overdue invoices, prompting automatic reminders.

Create professional invoices

Track expenses. This feature allows you to automate your expenses and claw back hours of admin time. Any receipts or bills are automatically organised and matched to your transactions. QuickBooks mobile app lets you track every trip, then mark your miles as business or personal travel.

Connect to apps.  QuickBooks offers an extensive number of apps your business. Choose from their library of recommended payroll, invoicing, time tracking & expense apps that will integrate with the software including PayPal, Lendflo, Shopify Receipt Bank and Stripe amongst others.

Invoice payments Create and send invoices that can be paid instantly. Everything is received, recorded and reconciled in QuickBooks and will automatically match payments to invoices so you always balance your books. See at a glance which invoices are outstanding and which have been paid  whether that is in part or in full.

Self-assessment tax return. If you are a sole trader, freelancer or self-employed worker. QuickBooks can be used to prepare and filing your tax self-assessment very quickly and easily, ready to file to HMRC. You can also use it to organise your income tax or Construction Industry Scheme tax.

Online reports. QuickBooks gives you access to various reports that can give you a clear indication of how your business is doing. These include company snapshots, profit and loss statements, as well as balance sheets.

Running payroll. QuickBooks Payroll gives you an easy way to sort out payslips, pensions and statutory pay. You simply enter your employee hours and the software does the rest, then makes real-time submissions to HMRC. Employees can access their payslips, request leave, upload timesheets and expenses (available through the Advanced plan – details below).

Running payroll.

QuickBooks offers two payroll products:

Standard: £4 per month +£1 per paid employee/month+ VAT. Perfect for small employers who need speed and simplicity.

Advanced: £8 per month + £1 per paid employee /month + VAT. Ideal for employers who need additional features including HR, time tracking and reporting.

If you have any questions about adding/using this feature, there is a payroll hotline you can call: 0808 168 4291.

Making Tax Digital for VAT. QuickBooks is recognised by HMRC and is designed in line with MTD regulations. You can run our error checker to surface common mistakes and make an online submission directly to HMRC. QuickBooks supports standard, cash and flat-rate schemes. QuickBooks accounting software calculates the amount of VAT you owe and will remind your accountant when it is due so they can submit it directly to HMRC on your behalf.  

Making Tax Digital for VAT

Quickbooks Customer Service & Support

Rating – Excellent: 5/5

When it comes to resources, advice and support Quickbooks has pretty much got it nailed. Where Xero has fallen down in not providing live chat or contact numbers, and instead focusing on email contact only, Quickbooks has capitialised on this by providing all the above options, plus the obligatory blogs, articles, ‘how to’ videos and webinars.

Quickbooks Customer Service & Support

Quickbooks Review – Summary

Rating – Good: 4/5

The Advantages

So, let us just pause for a moment to summarise the key benefits our Quickbooks UK review has found so far.

Firstly, it should be noted that this is a software comes with a good pedigree. The parent company, Intuit has been developing tax and accounting software since 1983.

Naturally, one of the biggest advantages of using Quickbooks is the time saved, reduced paperwork and hopefully reducing your stress levels around key tax dates. Once you have mastered the various software dashboards you will see how easily you can keep all of your accounting records up to date. It really should become a walk in the park.

For a nominal monthly fee it really is a no-brainer and probably counts as one of the best decisions you will make when running a business particularly if you are looking at it purely on a Return On Investment (ROI) basis as the streamlining of numerous processes should free you up to run and grow your business. There is, of course, their 30-day free trial, which is non-committal.

As mentioned above, the really big advantage Quickbooks has over Xero (in our opinion), is the many options you have as a customer to talk to real people should you encounter a problem, via their helplines or live chat box – all of which are free of charge. Xero relies far too heavily on email only which is a big frustration for many of their customers.

The great thing here is how Quickbooks responds to any issues. With a multitude of support features most clients are very satisfied with the help they receive from a very friendly and responsive support team. This is very reassuring as no matter how good your product is, if your customer services team falls short this can make or break a business, so it is good to know that if you do experience a problem, they will help you solve it quickly and effectively.

There is also the QuickBooks certified accounting professional directory, which you will find us on as a Platinum ProAdviser or  even easier, connect your current accountant for real-time collaboration.

Interested in switching providers? Call our Switching Hotline on 020 8577 0200 for help and guidance.

Quickbooks Review – Summary

The Disadvantages

No product or company is ever perfect and to ensure we present a balanced Quickbooks review it is important we look at some of the disadvantages too.

Firstly, like any software, it is not perfect. Whilst it has an 80% excellent rating on Trustpilot some customers are experiencing technical difficulties particularly around MTD for VAT, linking bank accounts/Paypal and, in addition, not all features are available on mobile devices. Whilst there is no doubt the software has plenty to offer, (again, like Xero) there is a steep learning curve, but there are numerous tutorials and materials that you might find helpful

If you are looking to use this software and would like training to get you up to speed, or a refresher course, we can provide this for you free of charge.

Payroll services do cost extra which does bump up your monthly payment and you might find you have to plump for the advanced package as the standard is too basic for your needs.

So, we come to the end of our Quickbooks review and overall we have found the software to be an extremely attractive choice both for sole traders and limited companies.

The range of features will cover virtually every need while the prices mean that even businesses on the tightest of budgets should not be put off.