When it comes to managing the finances of a small business, the most popular, customizable, and expandable application available is QuickBooks from Intuit. Back in 2012, Intuit transformed this software-based application that previously ran on a PC or Mac into a secure, online-based application called QuickBooks Online and offered it as a viable option for people who need the ability to manage their company's financial data from anywhere an Internet connection is available.
QuickBooks Online Works with the iPhone and iPad
One of the key benefits to using QuickBooks Online is that the online-based application works seamlessly with the QuickBooks Online apps for the iPhone or iPad. Not only does this mobile app offer a familiar user interface to QuickBooks Online, it allows a user to access and manage all aspects of their company's financial data, and opens up the opportunity to utilize the iPad's hardware to streamline the collection of financial data.
The iPad version of the QuickBooks Online app (shown in Figure 1) caters to business professionals who are required to spend the majority of their workday on the go or working on-site with customers or clients.
Figure 1 All QuickBooks Online features and functions can be managed from an iPad
For example, while working from virtually anywhere, the QuickBooks Online app can be used to create and generate invoices for clients, manage customers, enter pertinent data to create expense reports, record payments, generate sales receipts, and/or compose estimates for clients.
When an estimate is created using the iPad app, it can immediately be presented to a customer or client, who can then approve the estimate using an electronic signature on the tablet's screen (shown in Figure 2).
Figure 2 You can capture signatures and incorporate them into QuickBooks Online financial records and documents from an iPad
If there's a question about a customer's order history, that information is instantly available from the Internet-connected iPad. The QuickBooks Online app securely exchanges financial data in real-time with the QuickBooks Online service. The app also has full access to the tablet's Contacts app and can use other hardware features of the tablet, such as its built-in camera, Push notifications, and Location Services functions.
The app can also be used to remotely process credit card transactions (using a credit card reader that connects directly to the smartphone or tablet). This functionality allows customers to sign the mobile device's screen, and have a sales receipt printed on the spot (using an optional wireless printer) or emailed directly to them from the tablet.
Unlimited use of the QuickBooks Online app is bundled with a paid subscription to QuickBooks Online. The app is free and available from the App Store, but to use it, a subscription to Quicken Online is required. The cost is $12.99 per month, or $124.99 per year.
What's nice about QuickBooks Online is that it is modular, and you can pick and choose which services you want and need. For example, there's an optional payroll module. If you already have your own credit card merchant account, the QuickBooks Online service and app can be set up to manage financial data directly from that account.
However, for startups and small businesses, Intuit also offers its own complete credit card[nd]processing solution called GoPayment (shown in Figure 3). It has its own iPhone/iPad app, which works seamlessly with the QuickBooks Online app for processing and managing credit card transactions.
Figure 3 Intuit's GoPayment app and card reader makes it easy to accept credit card payments from virtually anywhere
Process and Manage Credit Card Transactions with Ease
Intuit's GoPayment service, when used with the free credit card reader and app, allows for credit or debit card payments to be authorized and processed—from anywhere the iPhone or iPad has Internet access—using a 3G, 4G (LTE), or Wi-Fi connection.
Once a credit card transaction is processed, GoPayment transfers the funds directly into the merchant's bank account, and a confirmation of the deposit is accessible directly from the mobile device.
The GoPayment credit card[nd]processing solution can be set up in about 15 minutes, and can be used as a stand-alone application that's linked to the user's personal or business bank account, or it can be used in conjunction with QuickBooks Online or the Quicken software.
Sales receipts for customers generated by the GoPayment app can be fully customized with a company's logo, address, website, and other details. To streamline the sales process, the app can automatically calculate sales tax and allows for up to 50 separate employee usernames for a single merchant account.
Several companies now offer easy-to-implement credit card[nd]processing solutions for the iPhone and iPad that have no start-up fees, no long-term contracts, and very affordable rates.
To set up and use GoPayment, there is a monthly fee of $12.95. In addition, there's a fee of between 1.7 and 2.7 percent of each transaction, plus a $0.30 per-transaction fee associated with using this service. The GoPayment app and the credit card reader are provided for free.
Quicken Online Is Ideal for Individuals
QuickBooks Online offers a relatively easy-to-implement financial management solution for small businesses that can be used directly from a smartphone or tablet. For individuals who want to manage all aspects of their personal finances from their computer, smartphone, or tablet, Intuit offers its Quicken Online solution.
Unlike the popular Quicken software for PCs and Macs, Quicken Online is a full-featured personal finance solution that's online-based. It can help users manage their bank accounts, investments, spending, and credit card accounts, for example, all from one application. Quicken Online can also be easily set up to provide bill reminders and automatically check account balances. If an account balance gets low, warning messages can be generated on a mobile device to help the user avoid overdraft fees.
Quicken Online syncs financial data, in real-time, with more than 5,000 financial institutions, including banks, credit card companies, and investment houses. So all the user's accounts can be securely monitored and managed from one place.
All the features and functionality of Quicken Online can be handled from any computer's web browser, or using Safari on an iPhone or iPad. However, for individuals who use the Quicken software that's installed on their PC or Mac, the proprietary Quicken 2014 Money Management app for the iPhone or iPad can be used to sync all financial data so it can be accessed and managed from a mobile device.
The Quicken 2014 Money Management app not only gives a user access to their personal financial data but it also helps collect it. For example, using the smartphone or tablet built-in camera, receipts can be scanned and data from them can be automatically incorporated into personal financial records as an expense. Then, with a few taps on the screen, customized expense reports can be generated, printed, or electronically distributed as needed.
Another nice feature of the Quicken 2014 Money Management app is that it offers easy access to all your various financial accounts and uses graphs (on the iPad only) to depict your budget, spending, expenses, and other pertinent information. Alerts can be set up to appear on your smartphone or tablet screen to remind you of upcoming bills, confirm payments, and warn of low account balances, for example.
To use the Quicken 2014 Money Management app, a version of the Quicken 2014 software must be installed on your computer. If you use the Quicken 2013 software on your PC or Mac, the 2013 edition of the app should be used.
Third-Party Apps are Also Available
If you're already a QuickBooks or Quicken user, a variety of third-party apps are available from the App Store that also offer remote access to your financial data from your smartphone or tablet. From the App Store app, enter the keyword "QuickBooks" or "Quicken" in the Search field to find these specialized apps.
For example, Invoice ASAP for PayPal and QuickBooks offers a flexible mobile invoicing solution that is compatible with the QuickBooks software for PCs and Macs. iSlips for QuickBooks is a stand-alone app that can be used to track time, expenses, and/or mileage on a mobile device, and then sync that data with the QuickBooks software.
As a small business operator, you probably have to juggle many responsibilities simultaneously. Using QuickBooks Online, in conjunction with the QuickBooks Online app, allows you to keep constant tabs on all aspects of your company's finances, plus streamline how certain financial data collection tasks are handled.
Meanwhile, if you're an individual, using a single personal financial management solution to manage all your various bank, credit card, and investment accounts will save you time, help you avoid costly errors, and make it much easier to understand your financial situation at any given moment.
While the financial tools offered by Intuit are designed for ease of use, a basic understanding of bookkeeping and finance is required to fully use any of these applications.
Plus, although QuickBooks or Quicken can sync and share account information directly with financial institutions, it's still up to the user to ensure all the necessary information and data is entered into the software, app, or online-based service to ensure the timeliness and accuracy of the data being managed.
Once you make the decision to use one or more of Intuit's financial tools, it's essential that the software (or your online account) be set up correctly and customized around your business or personal needs. A wide range of training programs, instruction books, and online tutorials are available from Intuit and third parties to help you get any of the QuickBooks or Quicken tools set up, customized, and running efficiently.
Most accounting firms can also be hired to help you initially and quickly set up QuickBooks or Quicken on your behalf. Then, once you start using one of these financial management solutions from your iPhone or iPad, get into the habit of using it consistently.
To learn more about Intuit's QuickBooks or Quicken online, app and software-based solutions for managing small business or personal finance, visit www.intuit.com.