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Accounting and bookkeeping

QuickBooks vs Spreadsheets for Small Business Accounting

The choice between QuickBooks and traditional spreadsheets for small business accounting can significantly impact the efficiency and financial success of a business. 

While spreadsheets have long served as a go-to solution for managing financial data, QuickBooks Online (QBO) has revolutionized the landscape by offering a comprehensive, streamlined, and automated approach to small business accounting

In this article, we will explore the difference between QuickBooks vs Spreadsheets in:

The power of automation

One of the most significant differentiators between QuickBooks Online and spreadsheets is the level of automation offered by accounting software.

QuickBooks streamlines repetitive tasks, such as invoice generation, payment reminders, and data entry, minimizing the scope for manual errors and saving valuable time.

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Customers save an average of 15 hours per week on manual data entry.*

Spreadsheet-based accounting often necessitates manual data entry and formula application, leading to a higher margin of error and a greater resource investment in time and labor.

Time-saving capabilities

With QuickBooks, users can swiftly reconcile accounts, categorize transactions, and track expenses with minimal effort. This allows business owners to free up time to focus on core business activities and strategic decision-making.

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75% of customers say QuickBooks saves them more time than their previous method.*

Spreadsheets require a lot of attention to detail, often leading to prolonged data entry and analysis, thus consuming valuable time that could be better spent on business growth and development.

Reporting & insights

Effective financial reporting is crucial for understanding the current state of a business and making informed decisions for future growth. QuickBooks stands out for its ability to provide a comprehensive, centralized platform for managing all aspects of small business finances and providing valuable insights. QuickBooks Online offers plenty of robust reporting tools that allow businesses to:

  • Generate customizable, real-time accounting reports.
  • Provide a comprehensive view of financial performance, cash flow, and profitability. 
  • Identify trends, make informed projections, and adapt their strategies to optimize profitability.
  • Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Track the progress of specific projects or departments.
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65% of customers say QuickBooks gives them the confidence to make smart financial decisions for their business.*

Spreadsheets, on the other hand, lack the dynamic reporting capabilities of QuickBooks, often requiring manual data aggregation and analysis, which can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

Get a complete view of your finances with QuickBooks accounting software for small businesses

76% of customers say QuickBooks gives them useful insights and a complete view of their business.*

Ensuring compliance through streamlined tax management

From tracking income and expenses to tracking GST & VAT for tax preparation, QBO offers solutions that simplify financial management and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements. 

This approach fosters greater financial transparency and accountability, facilitating better decision-making and fostering long-term business success.

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70% of customers say QuickBooks found them tax deductions that they wouldn't have found on their own.*

Consider the scenario of tax preparation. QuickBooks offers tax management features that streamline calculating, organizing, and filing taxes, minimizing the risk of errors and ensuring compliance with tax regulations. 

While capable of handling basic tax calculations, spreadsheets lack the specialized tools and functionalities required for comprehensive tax management, potentially leading to inaccuracies and compliance issues.

Data security and privacy

QuickBooks prioritizes data security and privacy, employing robust security measures to protect your business’s sensitive financial information:

  • Automatic data back-up: QuickBooks automatically backs up data in the cloud, keeping it safe from physical damage, loss, or theft.
  • Encryption technology: QuickBooks is Digi-Cert secured and uses a 128-bit SSL encryption and safe firewall servers to safeguard business data from unauthorized access or breaches.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication: Protect your data with multi-factor authentication so only authorized users can access the account.
  • Permission Levels: QuickBooks allows you to set user permission levels, giving you control over access to your data. 
  • Audit Trail: Access an easy-to-read history of any changes made to a given transaction.
  • Always-On Activity Log: QuickBooks comprehensively records all activities on your account

In contrast, spreadsheets like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets may lack the robust security measures of dedicated accounting software, potentially exposing sensitive business data to risks. Unlike QuickBooks, spreadsheets are often stored locally, making them accessible to anyone with device access.

Moreover, spreadsheets may not automatically back up data, requiring users to adjust settings for regular auto-saving, risking data loss in case of device issues. Viewing historical versions is often more challenging in spreadsheets. While Google Sheets eases some concerns, it still requires manual management of access settings for collaboration.

Customer support and accessibility

QuickBooks offers comprehensive customer support, including the QuickBooks Resource Centre, video tutorials, training materials, and dedicated customer service representatives to assist users with any issues or queries. In contrast, the support options for spreadsheets may be limited, and accessing Excel data remotely can be challenging, especially for businesses with multiple locations or remote teams. 

Small business owners can access QBO on-the-go from any internet-connected device, including their laptop and smartphone, allowing users to manage their finances from their fingertips. The free QuickBooks Online mobile accounting app allows you to access your account from your mobile device wherever you are.

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68% of customers say the QuickBooks mobile app saves them time.*

While Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel have mobile apps, they don't offer the same functions and capabilities as QuickBooks. For instance, the QuickBooks mobile app allows users to send invoices directly, providing flexibility and functionality that traditional spreadsheet apps lack.

Integration with bank feeds

One of the standout features that sets QuickBooks apart from spreadsheets is its seamless integration with banks, offering a convenient solution for businesses to update and categorize transactions automatically. Through QuickBooks Bank Feeds, users can connect their bank accounts directly to the software, allowing for real-time updates of financial transactions.

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78% of customers say they save time having their bank connected to QuickBooks.*

With the ability to connect directly to bank accounts, the software can categorize expenses efficiently, providing businesses with an accurate and up-to-date overview of their financial activities. 

This level of automation is a significant advantage over traditional spreadsheets, where manual entry and categorization of transactions can be time-consuming and prone to errors.

Integration with business apps

QuickBooks elevates business operations by seamlessly integrating with various apps, fostering a streamlined workflow. This integration enables data synchronization across platforms, offering a centralized hub for comprehensive financial management.

For instance, QBO effortlessly syncs with e-commerce apps like Shopify, seamlessly updating orders and inventory. In contrast, while spreadsheets offer some plugins, they lack the robust integration that QuickBooks provides.

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78% of customers save time by connecting apps to QuickBooks.*

Explore the full range of integrated apps on the QuickBooks App Store, tailored to enhance functionality and meet the specific needs of diverse industries.

Try QuickBooks Accounting Software for Small Businesses Free for 30 Days

Learn how you can manage your business finances at your fingertips.

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Pros and cons of QuickBooks vs Spreadsheets

Consider the pros and cons of QuickBooks vs spreadsheets when deciding which is the best accounting solution for your small business.


Some advantages of using QuickBooks for small business accounting include:

  1. Automation: QuickBooks streamlines repetitive tasks, reducing manual errors and saving time. For instance, it can automatically categorize and reconcile bank transactions, eliminating the need for manual data entry.
  2. Comprehensive Financial Management: Offers integrated solutions such as tracking income and expenses, GST and VAT for tax preparation, and cash flow management. For example, it can generate detailed accounting reports for accurate financial analysis.
  3. Robust Reporting Tools: Provides customizable, real-time reports and insights for informed decision-making. You can easily create detailed sales reports to identify top-performing products.
  4. Data Security and Privacy: Implements encryption and secure data storage protocols to protect sensitive financial information. QuickBooks uses bank-level security to safeguard your financial data.
  5. Customer Support and Accessibility: Offers comprehensive customer support and easy accessibility through various devices. You can access your financial data and contact support on your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
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80% of customers recommend QuickBooks to a friend or colleague.*

Below are some disadvantages of using QuickBooks.

  1. Cost: QuickBooks plans require a monthly subscription compared to the free accessibility of spreadsheet providers such as Google Sheets. 
  2. Learning Curve: Learning to use QuickBooks effectively may require some training and familiarization. For instance, you may need to invest time in learning how to set up and customize the software for your specific business needs.

Excel spreadsheets 

Some advantages of using Excel for small business accounting include:

  1. Cost-effective: Spreadsheets are generally readily accessible and may not require an initial financial investment. You can start using Excel with software you likely already have.
  2. Customizability: Users can create customized accounting systems tailored to their needs. You can design your own financial templates and formulas.

Some disadvantages of using Excel to manage your small business accounting include:

  1. Limited Automation: Manual data entry and formula application can lead to a higher margin of error and consume more time. For example, manually entering and updating sales figures can be time-consuming and prone to errors.
  2. Data Security: Spreadsheets may lack advanced security measures, potentially exposing business data to risks. Unlike dedicated accounting software, Excel files might not offer the same level of data protection.
  3. Lack of Specialized Functionality: Lacks specialized tools for comprehensive tax management and complex financial reporting. For instance, it may not have built-in features for automatically calculating complex tax liabilities or generating detailed balance sheets.
A flowchart of when you should use Excel vs. accounting software.

Scale your business with QuickBooks

Efficient small business accounting is crucial for sustainable growth and success. By harnessing the features and capabilities of QuickBooks, you can simplify your accounting processes and focus more on growing your business. 

With the right tools and knowledge, managing your small business finances can become more manageable and less daunting. Try a free 30-day trial with competitive pricing and see how QuickBooks can help you grow your small business.

QuickBooks vs Spreadsheets FAQs

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