Which Version of QuickBooks Should You Use?

Learn which version of QuickBooks will work best for your small business needs.

Compared to QuickBooks Pro, the desktop version, QuickBooks Online is more affordable and offers more functionality.

Numerous plan choices are available in QuickBooks Online.

QuickBooks Self-Employed is a version designed specifically for independent contractors.

This article is for small company owners who are attempting to choose which QuickBooks version to utilize.

QuickBooks Online vs. QuickBooks Pro

Despite the success of its cloud-based services, QuickBooks nevertheless supports and updates its desktop product, QuickBooks Pro. Due to the fact that QuickBooks Online is the obvious solution for companies of all sizes, we haven’t addressed the desktop program in this article.

In addition to being substantially more costly, QuickBooks Pro lacks QuickBooks Online’s capabilities, connectors, flexibility, add-ons, and enterprise-level security measures. It seems sense that Intuit would discourage clients from using its on-premises solutions.

It makes no sense to use QuickBooks Online over QuickBooks Pro unless your company or industry has strict security and compliance needs that call for local data storage. This is particularly relevant given the gradual phase-out of QuickBooks’ desktop editions, which haven’t received a key security update since June 2021.

QuickBooks Online plans

To meet a variety of user needs and scenarios without overwhelming freelancers and small company owners, QuickBooks provides many versions of its products with changing features and tiered pricing. QuickBooks Online (QBO) and QuickBooks Self-Employed are two popular choices (QBSE).

QuickBooks Online (QBO) and QuickBooks Self-Employed are two popular choices (QBSE).

QuickBooks Online

A simple but versatile tool, QuickBooks Online QBO offers a wide range of features and functions that cover every facet of accounting, bookkeeping, and financial reporting for small and midsize businesses.

Along with more sophisticated reporting and financial management tools like accounts payable and receivable, personnel records, and tax filings, it takes care of fundamental accounting activities like making and sending invoices, keeping track of inventory, and documenting transactions. As a way to expand the possibilities of small enterprises, QBO also permits integrations and applications from third parties.

Although these capabilities may be very beneficial for companies of all sizes, they can also be extremely daunting at first and require a steep learning curve for company owners who have no accounting background. Additionally, more costly is QBO, with the Advanced plan costing between $12.50 and $90 per month.

Which version of QuickBooks Online should I get?

The version of QuickBooks Online you should get depends on what you need it for and your budget. Here’s a quick breakdown of the plans:

Plan Features Pricing
Simple Start
  • Income and expense tracking
  • Invoicing and payments
  • Tax deductions
  • Receipt management
  • Cash flow management
  • General reports
  • Sales tax calculations
  • 1099 contractor management
$25 per month ($12.50 per month for a 3-month package)
  • All Simple Start features
  • 3 additional users
  • Time tracking
  • Bill payments
$50 per month ($25 per month for a 3-month package)
  • All Simple Start and Essentials features
  • 5 additional users
  • Inventory tracking
  • Project tracking
$80 per month ($40 per month for a 3-month package)
  • All Simple Start, Essentials and Plus features
  • 25 additional users
  • Business analytics and insights
  • Batch invoicing
  • Custom user roles
  • Automated workflows
  • Premium apps
  • Online training
  • Dedicated support
  • Data backup and restoration
$180 per month ($90 per month for a 3-month package)

QuickBooks Self-Employed

As its name suggests, QBSE is a solution designed for independent contractors, realtors, freelancers, Uber and Lyft drivers, and other self-employed people or company owners with simple organisational structures.

Starting at only $7.50 a month, this is QuickBooks’ most affordable edition. It offers key characteristics that make it ideal for users with little time to devote to accounting, as well as a straightforward and basic user interface.

In addition to the fundamentals, like recording transactions and sending invoices to clients, QBSE also has strong features that make it simple to classify company revenue, prepare expenditure reports, take images of receipts, and monitor mileage for Schedule C reports.

Which version of QuickBooks Self-Employed should I get?

Here’s a breakdown of the QuickBooks Self-Employed plans to help you decide.

Plan Features Pricing
  • Separation of business and personal expenses
  • Schedule C deductions
  • Automated quarterly tax estimates
  • Automatic mileage tracking
$7.50 per month
Self-Employed Tax Bundle
  • All Self-Employed plan features
  • Quarterly tax payment via QuickBooks
  • Integration with TurboTax
  • 1 federal and 1 state tax filing
$12 per month
Self-Employed Live Tax Bundle
  • All Self-Employed Tax Bundle features
  • Live consultation with a CPA
  • Unlimited help and support
  • CPA for final review of returns
$17 per month


Buying tips for online versions of QuickBooks

We understand that you’re too busy to go through a tonne of software descriptions and decide which QuickBooks edition is best for you. While not all small firms with typical accounting software requirements can benefit from these suggestions, most do.

1. Start with a basic subscription tier.

Keep in mind that software providers like Intuit will always let you update your services. There is simply no incentive to sign up for a greater membership level than you believe you need, despite any pressure from software salespeople to acquire more quickly.

Starting modest and growing your membership as required is almost always better than starting at a premium subscription level, realising you don’t utilise most of the services, and then downgrading your account.

2. Select the right product for your business size.

Do not purchase goods made for small companies if you own an enterprise firm. The majority of small business items won’t work for your needs unless your company is in transition and still expanding toward the enterprise level. There are several packages made specifically for corporate customers by Intuit and other accounting software providers that better meet your demands.

3. Choose a tier that supports the number of people who will use the software.

Avoid attempting to save money by having many workers share one account. Simple Start ($12) and QuickBooks Self-Employed ($7), the two cheapest QuickBooks editions, only support one user. It’s tempting to remain there and divide up a single account across the staff, but you should resist creating this pattern. Allowing numerous users to utilise a single account removes responsibility or transparency and encourages mistakes. QuickBooks data is only as useful as it is correct.

4. Consider hiring a CPA or other financial expert to help you understand reports.

A person with experience in data analysis should always evaluate complex accounting reports. QuickBooks data may rapidly become complex, and although reporting tools are obviously useful, they cannot completely replace a trained and skilled data analyst. Even while statistics are accurate, focusing exclusively on a few figures and giving certain figures (like averages) more weight than others may be quite deceptive. The conclusions that appear clear to you from your QuickBooks reports may not be true or mathematically sound if you have no expertise in mathematics, statistical analysis, statistics, or business intelligence; in this situation, hiring a CPA would surely be helpful.

5. Choose accounting software that works with the other programs you use.

The organisation that controls QuickBooks, Intuit, offers several programmes and applications. Before implementing a software company’s solution, it is advisable to consider the whole ecosystem of its goods. Because they all integrate well, it’s often advantageous to utilise many items from the same manufacturer, so choose your system wisely.

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