Almost every client we’ve worked with needs some help with their accounting.. Most small businesses start out with a makeshift “system” – something like a Word document, spreadsheets, and a business checking account. That’s fine when you’re at the kitchen table stage of your business. But you should convert to a true accounting system like QuickBooks Online sooner, not later, to help your business grow and keep it organized.

Why switch to QuickBooks? Online Payments

This article is more about the “how-to,” not the why. But I’ll mention the main reason you should be using Quickbooks Online in two words: Online payments. Your customers are looking for a way to pay their bills online, preferably with a credit card.

How to Transition Your Business to Quickbooks Online

The following is not intended to be a complete tutorial or checklist – just a high-level overview of how you would approach this kind of project. It can be intimidating because your accounting software provides the record of your business that’s so important when you pay taxes or if you need a loan. If you’re self-employed and your business is your primary livelihood, you’re going to have to produce these records for personal tax and borrowing situations as well. You need to get it right. Fortunately, we can help.

Involve a CPA

Hopefully you already have a CPA, but if not it’s a great time to find one (we can help with that too). Transitioning the data and setting up the financial accounts so that their opening balances are correct is critical, as is correctly setting up the chart of accounts.

Pick a “Go-Live” Date

You don’t just install and start playing around with new accounting software. Unless you’re going to keep using the old software alongside the new software until the end of time, there’s going to have to be a recognized date of transition. January 1 is an ideal time to start using new accounting software, if you can manage it – if you’re using a calendar year as your fiscal year, you will have the entire year captured on the new software. If not, there’s a couple of ways you can do it:

  • just start on a month (for example, August), and recognize that the records will have to be put together from the old and new systems when it’s time to give annual figures for that year. You will get the income statements and add the key figures together for tax related expenses and revenues. After that one year, the old system’s figures will not be needed, except for historical purposes. More about this below.
  • Go back and add in all the transactions from January 1. Depending on the time of the year and the number of transactions, you can choose to enter all transactions for the year. For most companies of any size, this is pretty tedious, but if you can manage it, you’ll have a bit more history and complete records for the year.

Learn the Software Before the Go-Live Date

Whoever’s doing your bookkeeping will need to be very well versed on the software on the first day that you need to create invoices, purchase orders, and whatever other forms you have to create in real time. We can help with training resources and hands-on guidance.

Decide How Long to Keep the Old System Running

One of the things that keeps people committed to less effective accounting software (or spreadsheet setups that really aren’t accounting systems) is the fear of losing historical data about your customers. There’s a couple of ways to approach this.

  • Export all relevant data. Depending on your business model, if you’re sure you can export all relevant data into the new system and have it available, this will make it easier to keep this data available longer. Things like order history are important to maintain, because your customer shouldn’t have to experience delays or do more work because of your transition.
  • Maintain the old system for historical purposes. It’s actually never a bad idea to keep an older system stood up for several months or even a couple of years after a transition, because it’s hard to anticipate what information you might need to retrieve without a thorough audit of that information. But you should restrict the use of the old system to those who absolutely need it and be sure that they understand that new transactions must go through the new system after the go-live date.

If you set up your transition project in an orderly way, you need not fear data loss or unhappy employees or customers. Don’t hang on to an obsolete system or one you’ve outgrown! We’ll be glad to help. Contact us for a no-obligation evaluation.


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