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Setting Up A New QuickBooks Online File – Step By Step (Plus My Tips)

One of the things we do here, repeatedly, is build new files for QuickBooks Online and Desktop. I’d say it’s mainly science, but it’s really science mixed with a dash of art, and sometimes a lot of patience if you want to set it up right. You start off with entering some basic information, and then follow the easy prompts in succession until you finish your setup. If you goof on anything you can usually fix it once your file is live.

You don’t have to use us to set up your QuickBooks Online file, especially if you are a new business with some business knowledge and don’t want to bring in any history. (Transactions tend to be where things get tricky).

Below I’m going to set up a new company file in QuickBooks Online. Contact us with the below form when you are ready, and we will send a happy your way plus give you a 50% first year discount. Don’t you love gifts and freebies?! I do! To request your trial, fill out the form below or visit our QuickBooks Online info page here:

So, to set up your own QuickBooks Online file, wait for your welcome email from us and get things started.

When you first launch, you will get a few little “I’m working” screens, such as the below:


Just give it a moment to do it’s thing. Next you will be asked to enter some basic information.


Keep in mind if you click the checkbox to bring data in from Desktop, it will not bring in everything. For a full list of import limitations check out this knowledgebase document. For the purposes of today, I’m going to pretend that I’m a brand new business. Let’s call it Katie’s Critters Pet Shop. Since we already have three dogs, a cat, two ducks, and eight chickens, it isn’t much of a stretch!


Next, you will be asked to pick some different things you do in your business. Don’t worry, if you miss something you can always turn it on/off from Preferences in the final file.


Click All Set, and whaalaa, you have your QuickBooks Online!


You can work from the step by step menu in the center of the page, but my personal recommendation would be to click on the gear for “Settings” and to make sure everything shows the way you want it to. People tend to ignore Preferences, but it does have some subtle selections that make your day easier.


Let’s check out the Advanced Tab. You will want to click on all of the tabs, but a lot of the other ones are easy to get through. In the Advanced tab you will want to check all of these settings and make sure they match your tax return or accountant’s preferences.

For example, many many small businesses use Cash accounting. The default is for Accrual. Check your last tax return and the front page of your business return should list how you file your taxes. You can also ask your accountant. Keep in mind you can toggle between Cash and Accrual report settings when you are running reports later, and some types and sizes of businesses are required to be Accrual-based.


For convenience, you can also extend your sign in time at the bottom of this screen.


One of the other tabs you will review will be Payments. If you need Payments set up, give us a call. There are a few options you have, and we can link them to your account for you at no charge.

After you fine tune your Account Settings, go into your Chart of Accounts (also under the gear). Intuit will set up a basic Chart of Accounts that is generally fitting for a lot of companies, but is not fitting for all. Make sure you review the CoA and make necessary adjustments (again, your tax return and accountant can be a great resource for this).


For example, your bank account won’t be set up yet, but you can also set that up from the bank feeds menu, where we will visit next. Non-profits will especially need to change the organization type that the file is based on so that their labels will reflect accurately as well. You can do so under Account Settings, or call us if you have trouble.

Moving on to the bank feeds. This part will be very important – you want to make sure you get your data as live/real time as possible, so do this soon. Most banks will only bring in the last 90 days of transactions. If you disconnect and reconnect you may also bring them in twice, so be careful using this feature.


Once your bank feeds are set up, your preferences are done, etc, you can check out Labs (gear), which is a selection of new features Intuit is offering for people to try out (these can disappear or become permanent features at any time). You can start running reports, link to your accountant, and more. The sky is the limit!

Did I miss anything? Comment below with questions or feedback.


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