Is Quickbooks Hard to Learn? (My Experience)

Alright folks, I am in the process of learning Quickbooks on the fly. I have very little schooling or learning about bookkeeping, accounting, or managing a business large enough to need Quickbooks.

I have little kids at home, so a full-time job in my old profession isn’t an option. Recently, someone offered me a part time position with flexible hours. I could come in and work on my own time doing the bookkeeping….as soon as I learned how to use Quickbooks.

Well, I am generally confident in my abilities to learn and adapt and take on new challenges.

calculator laying on a table with a pen and some calculations

And given the fact that flexible, reasonably paying, work when you want jobs are hard to come by, I jumped at the chance.

I reassured the primary finance director person that I could learn Quickbooks in a hurry.

What is Quickbooks? (If you didn’t know)

Quickbooks is a business management software. Companies use it to keep track of the money in a business, store the data so you can look back and see what happened with your money in any given period, and to create reports that provide you with insight about the health of your business. You can also use the software to budget and plan for the future.

What kind of information does Quickbooks keep track of?

Every company is different, I find. Some companies use all the features…while others use only a fraction of the capabilities. In the company I am working for now part-time, they use Quickbooks to:

  • keep track of income (all checks and payments coming in)
  • keep track of all expenses (all bills that come in and then need to be paid)
  • pay bills (create and print checks, track direct deposits)
  • reimburse employees
  • pay employees and contractors
  • create yearly budgets
  • know on a daily basis how much money the company has at any given time

I am certain that Quickbooks does more than that (I know it does, I’ve looked at all the reports options). I just don’t know how to use all of it yet. Or understand exactly how to use the information Quickbooks spits out in those reports.

Getting started with Quickbooks on the fly

Being a complete newbie to Quickbooks, my supervisor didn’t just set me in front of a computer. She also didn’t give me a broad tutorial or a course. Instead, she chose one specific task, and then taught me how to use Quickbooks.

In this instance, the “task” was entering each of the bills the company had received and needed to pay. I didn’t pay the bills or anything. I just had to get the pertinent information off the bill, and then input it.

calculator and three stacks of coins

Here’s what’s complicated about Quickbooks….if you don’t understand what the information you are entering is for, it is really easy to forget to enter it, or to enter it in the wrong spot.

In my case, I am entering the bill amount owed. I am identifying which month the bill should be organized into, when the bill needs to be paid, the vendor info (mailing address, who the check should be made out to), information about what kind of bill it is (telephone charges, utilities, printing, advertising, etc), as well as which department in the company the bill should be assigned to.

Was this part hard? I would actually say it was fairly challenging. When you first sit down in front of the Quickbooks screen, there are a lot of tabs, and a lot of buttons.

And all of them are unfamiliar.

Your supervisor or trainer may have to show you multiple times how to get where you want to go, and you’ll probably do it wrong a lot.

Overwhelm is a real risk. You may get frustrated, or feel like you can’t get it, or that you aren’t smart enough to get it.

I took careful notes about each step, and what needed to be done at each step. Then, when I was given a stack of bills and left alone, I referred back to my notes at each step of the way to make sure that I wasn’t missing anything.

Still, with my notes and my careful attention, I still made mistakes in that first week. Most often I forget to put the bill in the right month, or fill in one of the necessary blanks.

Who will find it easy to get started with Quickbooks?

Naturally, anyone who is very familiar with Quickbooks is going to have an easier time than someone who is not.

Next, if you are a person who has done any sort of data entry as a job, where you are entering information into a wizard, and letting the software wizard organize the information into reports or products that you can then generate, you’ll have an easier time than others.

The trouble with Quickbooks is that you are often entering information without knowing where the info is going. Once you understand the flow and organization of the info (and what is done with it), the wizard makes much more sense.

I think this is why people who have had data entry experience previously will get it quicker. They are used to following the steps and trusting that the machine will put out the right product.

Anyone who has previous finance or accounting will also learn more quickly, as they will have an understanding already of what the data is, where it goes, and how it helps to enter it a certain way.

I think a person who is not experienced with computers or any sort of data entry or management will find Quickbooks very confusing, and will struggle a lot in the beginning to learn to use it.

A person who is used to being very good at things, who hates being bad at things, and doesn’t like making mistakes or being wrong, may struggle to learn Quickbooks quickly/easily.

A person who has a good memory will have an easier time, especially if their attention to detail is well developed.

A person with a poor memory and a poorly developed attention to detail will struggle with Quickbooks (and managing finances in general).

stack of coins with a clock in the background

I found it challenging but not overly difficult to become proficient

Within very little time on that first day, I was competently adding information to Quickbooks, and then producing reports, paying bills, and printing checks for signature.

I did have to pay really close attention to what I was doing (still do), and did have to review my work at the end of the day to look for errors (still do).

I’m not an accountant, though I have experience reviewing P&Ls and balance sheets. I also manage my own finances, and have helped run businesses. These background experiences definitely helped grease my Quickbooks learning curve.

All in all, I would say that anyone who could approach the software with an open mind, humility, and willingness to learn can do it.

What about a course?

A course could be a good way to learn, but I wonder if it is too passive. I am the kind of person who learns best by doing. With experience. Sitting back and watching a screen doesn’t do much to get the information into my head in a practical way.

I learn much better by doing, rather than watching. Because there is so much to remember in any given instance (and what you need to know and do varies so much from company to company), you might be better off training with the company than paying for a big long course.

Actually, a course might be a good idea after you’ve had a few weeks or even months of using Quickbooks. Then you’ll be primed to learn some new tricks, without having to overcome any feelings of overwhelm simply because everything is so new.

Have I learned everything?

No way, not a chance. I’m into this whole accounting assistant gig about a month so far. I have learned a ton about how to pay the company’s bills and setting up their yearly budgets for all of their departments.

I’ve put my attention to detail skills to massive good use by hunting down small errors in piles of paperwork.

But I’m not even close to mastering the product.

But I will say that I am a lot less intimidated by it than I was before I got started. I’d always hired out any bookkeeping I needed done. Having had this experience, I am more likely to consider handling my own personal business bookkeeping needs in the future.

Are you thinking of jumping into Quickbooks? Or seeking a job using the software? Let us know about it in the comments section below.

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