How to Figure Out Whether Your Business Should Use Quicken

You may be asking yourself, “Does Quicken work for just about any kind of business?” The answer is no. Quicken is a darn good product. In fact, for many small businesses, it’s a great product. But it doesn’t work in every situation.

Answer these three questions to determine whether your business should use Quicken. If you answer yes to two or three of the questions, you should seriously consider moving up to a full-featured, small-business accounting system (such as QuickBooks):

  • Do you regularly need to produce business forms other than checks? If you answer no to this question, you’re in good shape with Quicken, which produces checks easily. And if all you need is an occasional invoice, you can create it easily enough on your computer.

    To produce a handful of invoices per month, for example, you can use your word processor. If you want to, you can also use one of the super-sized versions of Quicken: Quicken Home & Business or Quicken Rental Property Manager. Both of these versions of Quicken can create both invoices and monthly customer statements.

    If you do produce a lot of forms besides checks and invoices — for example, purchase orders — you should probably consider moving to a small business accounting system that produces the forms you want. Consider these options:

    • QuickBooks (by the Intuit, which also produces Quicken)

    • Microsoft’s Office Accounting program

    • Peachtree Accounting for Windows (from Peachtree Software)

    You can probably buy any of these programs at the local office supplies store. The QuickBooks and Peachtree Accounting Web sites sell their products directly.

  • Do you need to track assets other than cash, accounts receivable, or investments? For example, do you buy and resell inventory? Do you have a bunch of fixed assets (furniture, equipment, and stuff like that) that you need to track? Quicken doesn’t do a very good job of tracking these other assets, so you may want to look at one of the other small business accounting products — QuickBooks, for example.

  • Are you having problems measuring your profits with cash-basis accounting? If you can’t accurately measure your business profits by using cash-basis accounting (which is what Quicken uses), you may be able to more accurately measure your business profits by using accrual-basis accounting. So, you need an accounting system that supports accrual-basis accounting.

If you’re a Quicken user but realize that you’re outgrowing the checkbook-on-a-computer scene, check out QuickBooks. QuickBooks looks and feels a lot like Quicken. Plus, it uses the data that you’ve already collected with Quicken, so moving from Quicken to QuickBooks is only slightly more complicated than rolling off a log.

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