Deciding to turn your passion or hobby into a small business can be a daunting task. Especially if you’re new to the business world, having to navigate the ins and outs of your new venture can be overwhelming. This especially holds true for many creatives who may excel in some form of the arts (in my case, photography), but aren’t well versed in things like bookkeeping, invoicing and business taxes.

Enter QuickBooks Online — or QBO — a cloud-based subscription accounting software (not to be confused with the QuickBooks Desktop, which is a one-time, licensed software purchase). I did my fair share of research before deciding to take the plunge with QBO and have used it with my small business for the past couple of years. Below are five reasons I ended up choosing QBO to help me manage my photography business.

1. Clean user interface

Coming from a nonexistent background in bookkeeping, it was essential for me to have a simple and easy-to-use interface with my accounting software. QBO is easy to navigate through and doesn’t overwhelm you with too much on one page. I found I was able to start using the system fairly comfortably after setting up my account and watching a few of the provided tutorials.

The dashboard is the first thing you see on your QBO interface. Image credit: Intuit QuickBooks.

2. Tracking your expenses and balancing your books

For me, this is the main use for QBO. The software has a plethora of other functions, such as reporting, budgeting and employee payroll — and I don’t use most of them (but that’s not to say that I won’t in the future).

QBO connects to your business bank accounts and imports all of your transactions. It takes a matter of minutes to review them and balance your books. This makes staying on top of your bookkeeping quite easy and time efficient.

Bank transactions are easily imported and reconciled within QBO.

3. Mobile app

Being cloud-based, QBO also has an app that allows you perform many of the functions in the software while your’e on the go, right from your phone. The app comes in handy when you’re not at your computer and need client contact info, or want to send an invoice to a client while on location, for example.

My favorite feature with the mobile app is the ability to take a picture of any physical business receipt that you may receive and directly upload it into QBO. No more scrounging for lost receipts under the front seat of your car at years end! Making a habit of uploading receipts as soon as you get them is easy and only takes a few seconds.

Image credit: Quickbooks Online
QBO’s mobile app allows you access its features while away from your computer. Image credit: Intuit QuickBooks.

4. Invoicing

QBO offers an efficient and easy-to-use invoicing system that allows you to quickly send out invoices to clients. You can create lists of all of your products and services so that once you’re set up, sending an invoice may only take a few clicks of the mouse.

Every time you invoice a new client, they are added to your client list which makes invoicing repeat customers a breeze. Options to automatically invoice, send reminders, receive payments online and even see whether or not your client has viewed your invoice are all features that I find handy too.

Creating an invoice with QBO is quick and easy.

5. My Accountant feature

Finally, the My Accountant feature is the main reason I chose QBO. Because it is a cloud-based software, you can have a QBO certified bookkeeper or accountant access your books remotely at any time.

This has saved me countless hours of crying over my keyboard! There’s been more than a couple of times where I’ve been confused, or have mis-allocated transactions. Instead of making the situation worse, I’m able to have my accountant sign in and quickly clean up my mess. This peace of mind is completely worth the monthly subscription fee for me. It also makes things very easy for your bookkeeper come tax season.

Overall, I’ve been quite happy with my decision to use QuickBooks Online. While a little bit pricey, I find that the pros outweigh the cons because it allows me to do all of my own bookkeeping, and only pay for a professional’s help the odd time I need it. For someone like me who finds the whole accounting side of things overwhelming and tedious, QBO provides a great one-stop service that allows me to spend less time looking at numbers, and more time looking through my camera.