One of my clients has hired me to work on simplifying her foundation’s business records. I have used QuickBooks in the past, and I figured running QuickBooks would be a fairly quick and painless exercise. Unfortunately, I was very wrong.
First, my client had to bring a laptop computer with her from Tennessee to my home in Bettendorf while she was in town. Next, I had to recover a corrupted file through e-mail. Next, I had to register the software because it had not been updated for some time. Finally, I have pieced through a number of different accounts as I’ve worked through the QuickBooks file. Simply put, QuickBooks is far too complicated and bloated for my tastes.
Where QuickBooks lost its way
QuickBooks is the recognized leader in small business accounting software. It is the Microsoft of its field. Unforutnately, QuickBooks has taken its position and turned it into a license to build feature after feature into its system. QuickBooks added multiple products into its lineup. It added feature after feature as its users requested them. They worked more on features instead of working on the user interface. I have worked with a number of new accounting applications like LessAccounting and Xero, and these programs provide great benefits to their users. In one case, I had one client try QuickBooks for several months and request a change to a simpler and more visually appealing system.
The Lessons I’ve learned from QuickBooks
In my short time working with QuickBooks, I have learned four lessons that small business owners should take from my experience with QuickBooks.
- QuickBooks tried to be everything to everybody – QuickBooks has added so many features to its system. It can do just about anything a small business wants to do. Many small businesses do not need or want many of these features. It can take a tremendous amount of time to sift through all of the features to find what you want. We do not have the time to find these features. It’s better by find the benefits your target market wants and build to those benefits.
- QuickBooks rested on its past success – QuickBooks is an incredibly successful product. To this day, it has a huge share of the small business accounting software market. However, QuickBooks rested on this advantage. They did not think about the next round of benefits consumers would want. Many users are moving from Windows machines to Apple computers. Quite honestly, QuickBooks is not good on Macs. These customers needed a new benefit, and QuickBooks could not provide it.
- QuickBooks sacrificed simplicity – I am a fan of simplicity. QuickBooks is not simple. It takes a great deal of effort to find the right menu or link to do what you need in QuickBooks. It just is not a simple application. Many of the newer programs I’ve tested make it much easier to make the entries required to keep financial records. I currently use LessAccounting (affiliate link) for my own books. I love the simplicity of LessAccounting. It is a clean and visually appealing product.
- QuickBooks sacrificed the user experience – Today’s business environment is all about the user experience. From initial contact with a customer until you obtain a raving fan, your business must create a great user experience. QuickBooks makes the user experience difficult. My story with QuickBooks is one of hassle, difficulty, and challenge. I need something that works well and allows me to do my job well. QuickBooks does not do that.
How can you take the lessons from QuickBooks to your own business? Share your thoughts in the comments!