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How to Run the QuickBooks 2011 EasyStep Interview

QuickBook 2011's EasyStep Interview offers a series of questions and text boxes to help you set up a new company account in QuickBooks. You can create a new company manually, but if you're new to QuickBooks, you should use the EasyStep Interview.

When you're ready to start keeping your company's books in QuickBooks, fire up the program and choose File→New Company. The EasyStep Interview welcome screen will appear.

The big welcome

The welcome screen provides some general information about setting up a new company within QuickBooks. The screen also provides links to helpful information — such as a link to get help from a QuickBooks-certified advisor. You probably want to read through this screen's information, but when you're ready to begin, click the Start Interview button.

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The EasyStep Interview walks you through a bunch of screens full of information. To move to the next screen, you click the Next button. To move to the previous screen, you click the Back button. If you get discouraged and want to give up, you can click the Leave button. But try not to get discouraged.

Supplying company information

The first few screens of the EasyStep Interview collect several important pieces of general information about your business, including your company name and the firm's legal name, your company address, your federal tax ID number, the first month in the fiscal year (typically January), the type of income tax form that your firm uses to report to the IRS, and the industry or type of company that you are operating (retail, service, and so forth).

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After collecting this general company information, QuickBooks creates the company data file that stores your firm's financial information. QuickBooks suggests a default name or a QuickBooks data file based on the company name. All you need to do is accept the suggested name and the suggested folder location (unless you want to save the data file into the My Documents folder, which isn't a bad idea).

Customizing QuickBooks

After QuickBooks collects the general company information mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, the EasyStep Interview asks you some very specific questions about how you run your business so it can set the QuickBooks preferences. Preferences, in effect, turn on or off various accounting features within QuickBooks, thereby controlling how QuickBooks works and looks.

Setting your start date

Perhaps the key decision that you make in setting up any accounting system is the day on which you begin using your new system. This is called the conversion date. Typically, you want to begin using an accounting system on either the first day of the year or the first day of a new month. you'll need to enter this information in the EasyStep Interview.

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The easiest time to start using a new accounting system is at the beginning of the year. The reason? You get to enter a simpler trial balance. At the start of the year, for example, you enter only asset, liability, and owner's equity account balances.

Adding bank accounts

During the EasyStep interview, you are asked about any bank accounts you use in your business. You just name the bank accounts. Later on, you provide the starting balance on the conversion date.

Reviewing the suggested chart of accounts

At the very end of the EasyStep Interview, QuickBooks suggests a starting set of accounts — accountants call it a chart of accounts — based on the information that you've supplied. These accounts are the categories that you use to track your income, expenses, assets, and owner's equity.

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The accounts that QuickBooks marks with a check are the recommended accounts. And if you don't do anything else, these checked accounts are the ones you'll use (at least to start) within QuickBooks. When the suggested chart of accounts looks okay to you, click Next. It's fine to just accept what QuickBooks suggests because you can later change the chart of accounts.

Looking at the QuickBooks Learning Center window

After you finish the EasyStep Interview, QuickBooks may display the QuickBooks Coach window. This window provides buttons for viewing a tutorial to help you get started with QuickBooks, for ordering a setup consulting service from Intuit, or just for getting started on your own.

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