Quickbooks online for Self Employed

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Which Version Of QuickBooks Online Is Right For You?

What QuickBooks Online plan is best for you? The answer is not simply what you afford or the size of the business. The right solution is based on your business requirements.

Some questions to keep in mind include:

  • Do you need to track accounts payables?
  • Will you need to send out the same recurring invoice?
  • Will you need inventory?
  • Is budgeting important?
  • Do you need foreign currency transactions?
  • Will you need to track different departments?
  • Do you need to be able to track time?

Some of the above points are essential to decide which plan is right for your client. QuickBooks Online is available in three different plans with tiered monthly costs and additional features.

The three plans are:

  • Simple Start
  • Essentials
  • Plus

The consistent features across all three plans are:

  • Payroll free for up to 10 employees
  • Availability on all devices: PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone
  • BAS completion
  • Unlimited downloads of transactions from bank and credit card accounts
  • Quotes and invoices emailed directly
  • Reporting (available across all three versions but various reports are included as you go up in levels)
  • Two accountant user’s available in each file

Differences Between Plans

Simple Start: This is the most basic level of QuickBooks Online which would work for those businesses that have one single user only. It’s great for new businesses with basic bookkeeping needs. You can create an unlimited number of customers, quotes and invoices, and has free payroll up to 10 employees. It will not track your Accounts Payable and includes more than 20 reports.

Essentials: This includes all the features of Simple Start, and three users can access the file at the same time. This version has the ability to set up invoices on a recurring schedule and with automated emails.  Essentials includes Accounts Payable, tracking, multiple currencies, remittance advices and expense receipts. This version includes more than 40 reports.

Plus: This plan is the top of the range and has the most features of any of the three. It contains features from both the Simple Start and Essentials plus lots more. It is available for five users and features Purchase Order tracking, inventory tracking, budgets, time tracking for employees and contractors and billable hours by customers. For businesses with multiple departments, each one can be tracked individually through locations or classes. It features more than 65 reports.

Let’s look at some different examples*. Look for the answers under the matrix below and reasons for that decision.

Example 1:

Brad owns a graphic design business. He has 15 employees, business is in three different states, and needs to track his income and expenses by location. He wants to send out Purchase Orders and needs to track time for his contractors. He wants the option to play with budgets and to allocate budgets to his staff for each location. He needs access for four staff plus himself on QuickBooks Online.

Example 2:

Janine runs a dance studio. She is the only user in the file and needs to invoice out to the customers and enter her expenses when she pays them. She doesn’t need to track her bills. She has two contractors that she pays straight away when you give her their bill. Janine wants to use online banking feeds, and will need to download transactions from three bank accounts and one credit card. She is also registered for GST so will need to process BAS quarterly.

Example 3:

Sharen runs a child mind facility. She has two employees, needs to manage and pay her bills and wants the ability to set up recurring invoices to be emailed out to her customers on a monthly basis to pay for the child minding. She will require three users in QuickBooks Online.

Example 4:

Andrea runs her online retail store from home so she will be the only user of QuickBooks Online. She buys and sells overseas and has no staff. She needs to create purchase orders for her overseas orders and to be able to email quotes to her customers here in Australia. Also, tracking Inventory is very important to her to track the goods that are sold and bought.

*Please note the number of users in these examples are not wholesale billing clients.

This matrix can help you work out which version would be best for each of the examples.
Answers to Examples

Example 1: Brad requires QuickBooks Online Plus.
Relevant features for Plus: locations, budgets, purchase orders, time tracking and five users.

Example 2: Janine requires QuickBooks Online Simple Start
Relevant features for Simple Start: one user and only requires Invoices. All other requirements fit Simple Start.

Example 3: Sharen requires QuickBooks Online Essentials
Relevant features for Essentials: three users, bill tracking and recurring invoices.

Example 4: Andrea requires QuickBooks Online Plus
Relevant features for Plus:  purchase orders and inventory.

Quick Reference Decision Guide


  • Accounts Payable function
  • Multiple currencies
  • Automate invoicing using recurring schedule
  • Up to three users allowed


  • Inventory tracking
  • Purchase orders
  • Time billing for employees or contractors
  • Budgets
  • Billable expenses tracked by customer
  • Classes and Locations required for different departments within the business
  • Up to five users allowed

As you can see the Plus plan has all the features – plus more – that a business would need to run your business efficiently and productively. Is the Plus version right for all businesses? Probably not. Take all the different features into consideration from the matrix when you are taking on a new business.

Don’t forget you can upgrade any time if your business outgrows your plan but you cannot downgrade to a lower version. Let us help you make a smart business decision and get your bookkeeping and accounting in order with the right QuickBooks Online plan.