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Chapter 3

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So where do you start?

Pardon me for answering a question with a question, but where are you coming from?  Have you been using another accounting package?  Are you doing your bookkeeping by hand, or perhaps starting a new company?  Are you now near the end of your fiscal year, or in the middle?  The first step in most cases is the same:  get away from your computer!  You need to gather a lot of information. 

To work in QuickBooks, you need to be able to work in Windows, and the instructions here assume that you can.  Full instructions for all of the operations would include too much detail here.  Expert proficiency is not required, but the more common controls must be understood.  Chapter 23 introduces Windows 95, and Chapter 24 can get you started in Windows 3.1. At the end of each of these chapters are a few pearls, useful information that it not widely known.

New company :  Before you take  XE "company:new"  XE "new company" money out of a business, it is usually necessary to put assets into the business.  Existing vehicles, equipment, et cetera, may be contributed, but more often the contribution is cash.  These assets may have been contributed by the owners, or loaned by the owners or others, creating a liability.  Money may have been paid directly by the owners for items purchased by the business.  Income tax laws may view some of these as current expenses, but most must be shown as capital investment, usually to be depreciated or amortized.  So you start by rounding up all the documents about your assets.

Existing company, and you  XE "existing company"  XE "company:existing" have been keeping your books with Quicken:  QuickBooks makes the conversion directly.  But QuickBooks has far wider capability than Quicken.  Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable will need some accommodation, for existing transactions.  The conversion will build the chart of accounts, but it should be reviewed before you begin entering data into QuickBooks.  The Quickbooks manuals (paper or on-disk) have good instructions for this situation, and they are not copied here.

Existing company , and you have kept your books with some other computer program: QuickBooks has very limited capability to bring in data from other systems. QuickBooks uses its own form of tab-delimited file, called Intuit Interchange Format (IIF.)  If lists, such as customer lists, can be converted into this format, they can be imported.  Transactions can also be imported, but only if they can be made available in IIF.  Information about IIF may be found in Help, under Managing QuickBooks/Transactions. A chart of accounts could be brought in, but this will not pay unless it is very extensive.

Existing Company, and you have kept your books by hand:  It's like going from walking to driving.  You need some time to learn how;  then it is all saving time.  You have an existing chart of accounts, but it may need some adaptation. Particularly, if you have kept to a few accounts to save labor, you probably will gain by using more accounts in QuickBooks.

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Last modified: May 21, 2004